SUMMARY: Vantec’s Flip Chip CPU cooler does a better job than the Intel OEM cooler but it’s not an Alpha killer. It is questionable whether the modest improvement justifies purchase relative to other solutions.
The Card Cooler was nice enough to send me the Vantec Flip Chip CPU Cooler to try out. It comes in Aqua, which seems to be the new thing – colorful heatsinks. As the picture shows, it is slightly larger than Intel’s OEM unit but smaller than the Alpha PAL6035. It sports a 50 x 20 mm fan turning about 5750 rpm. Vantec’s clip is quite firm and squarely mounts the heatsink on the FCPGA package – no off-kilter alignment. There was no problem getting the Vantec on or off.
I tested the Vantec against the Alpha PAL6035, RDJD K601 and Intel’s OEM unit. I used my PIII 500E @ 667 MHz (133 FSB) while running Prime 95. I let the temps stabilize, then recorded the results from 500 one-second samples. Results are shown below:
|PIII 500E @ 667 MHz|
|Heatsink||Low Temp||High Temp||Average Temp|
|Alpha PAL 6035||26C||27 C||26.9 C|
|Vantec Flip Chip||29 C||30 C||29.0 C|
|RDJD K601||31 C||32 C||32.0 C|
|Intel OEM||32 C||33 C||32.1 C|
The results are pretty self-explanatory – the Alpha a clear winner at 26.9 C with the Vantec second at 29.0 C, followed by the K601 and Intel at 32 C – the latter two surprisingly close. The temp spread among the tested units is fairly narrow – only about 5 C. The one problem with the Alpha is it’s size – it will block some DIMM slots on narrow boards such as the SOYO +IV. None of the others have this problem.
The FCPGA package is a marvel – it is the coolest running CPU I have ever had “out of the box”. The decision I think people face with this chip is finding a superior alternative to the OEM unit (if you buy a retail chip). No question at extreme overclocking every 0.1 C counts; but if that’s where you’re headed, the Vantec is not the answer. It outperforms the Intel unit, but the question is whether to spend the money on the Vantec for a modest improvement or spend more for a better solution.
I get emails from folks who are running the 500/550Es at 150 FSBs and higher with the Intel OEM cooler – at first I thought these were exceptional situations. Considering what we found out here, I’m not so sure. Within a band of “tolerable” overclocking (say around 133 MHz), you may find that the Intel unit is a perfectly acceptable cooler – not the best, but OK. Never thought I would say this.