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Heatpipes:::...

晨怡热管 2008-5-3 0:40:33

Introduction:::...

Anyone who owns a P4 Prescott CPU is, like me, probably of the opinion that air cooling of any kind is on its way out unless we see the emergence of some new core-cooling technology.

PC cooling has gone through several phases, from the time when people wanted high airflow at any cost and were happy to tolerate the noise to get it, to today when it seems the only good PC is a quiet PC.

The difficulty in building a quiet PC is that you either have to go the way of liquid cooling it, or use low power parts that generate less heat. There are niche technologies like phase change but these tend to be overkill for most systems, and expensive overkill at that. They're not always particularly quiet either!

The cooler I'm looking it comes from high-profile newcomers SilverStone, and claims to offer the benefits of heatpipe powered passive cooling when CPU output and case airflow allows it, and top-notch fan powered active cooling when it doesn't.

It looks unique in its design and comes with three relatively huge 8mm heatpipes to ship heat away from what is a fairly insignificant base to the much more substantial fin matrix, positioned to take full advantage of either your PSU or case fan depending on socket orientation.

Before we take a closer look here's the specs.

Material

Copper base, fins, and heat pipes

Heat Pipe Type Powder
Color Copper
Motherboard ATX, Micro ATX
Application Pentium 4 Socket 478
Cooling System 2 x 60mm (optional with included shroud)
Net Weight

587.67 g

Dimension 130 mm (W) x 108 mm (H) x 95 mm (D)

 

No doubt you've noticed that several coolers offer heatpipe cooling of late, but not all heatpipes are created equal. Not only are these large, they are also of the more expensive sintered powder variety.

Heatpipes:::...

There are several types of wick structures used in heat pipes, there are are grooves, felt, screens and sintered powder. Sintered powder metal wicks are the more costly as a rule and offer several advantages over other wick structure including that a sintered powder wick can work in any orientation, even against gravity.

A liquid, usually come kind of water and alcohol mix, is sealed inside a copper tube. Heat applied to one end evaporates the liquid and the vapor then moves to the cooler end of the tube, cooling as it does. At the cooler end of the tube, usually assisted by fins and/or airflow, the tube is cooled and the vapor condenses back to a liquid, giving up its heat to the tube walls then on to the fins or what ever else has been used to conduct the heat away and dissipate it to the air. The liquid then soaks into the wick structure and is drawn back to the hot end by capillary action, where the whole process starts over.

 

The sintered powder lining is actually a porous metal lining and is more expensive to manufacture than cheaper felt wick or groove structures.

One thing SilverStone do well is their packaging. A lot of Asian manufacturers use packaging that, while I'm sure it's appealing to a home audience, tends to look a little odd to western palettes.

The NT01 box is classy in black and the cooler is nicely supported inside.

The Box

 

The NT01 was designed for P4 only, though we hear there's an Athlon64 version in the pipeline, so to speak.

Along with the cooler and a pair of retaining clips you get a syringe of silicone based thermal grease and a selection of screws for mounting a variety of thicknesses of fans and an instruction pamphlet.

Contents

 

That odd look is due to the protective plastic covering the radiator shroud to keep scratches at bay.

Top View

 

Top/Front View

 

Front View

 

Not expensive to create yet it's the simple touches like this logo glistening from the top of the fan shroud that make a lasting impression and give that sense of quality.

Radiator Top

Regardless of performance it has to be said that SilverStone have gone all-out on looks and quality, usually a goos sign that a company has absolute faith in their product. And why shouldn't they? It's well built using quality materials and is based on proven

Those large, 8mm heatpipes are pointless unless they can unload their heat somewhere, and although it wasn't obvious, SilverStone claim they are soldered where they pass through the fin matrix. The holes in the fins are made in such a way that there's a small collar that "hugs" the heatpipe so even if the soldering isn't perfect there should still be reasonably good contact between the two.

Heatpipe/Fin Interface

 

At the other end, the heatpipes are pressure bonded to the copper section of the base. There's plenty of contact area for the base to transfer its heat to the pipes but being quite thin it has no capacity to buffer heat and not much surface area to help radiate it.

Top of Base

 

I'm not sure precisely what process is used to bond the pipe/base assembly together but it certainly works and there were signs of solder there too so far as I could see.

Base Rear

The copper section of the base is recessed slightly from the aluminium mounting section and though I haven't tested it, I do wonder if this will be a problem with motherboards where the socket is offset by 45 degrees like ABIT's AI7. At a glance it looks to me like it's likely to end in disaster.

Base Finish

That base finish, while perfectly adequate with a little of the supplied thermal grease applied, isn't great by any means. Fortunately, though very rough in appearance, the scouring is very shallow and was easily removed in a few seconds even with an ultra-fine paper used dry.

Being a P4 socket 478 only cooler, installation was very simple though no may need to give a little thought to the orientation.

SilverStone suggest that when using their TJ06 with its rear 120mm exhaust fan, you should be able to use the orientation at the top of our three diagrams below. Certain other cases may also fascilitate this orientation too depending on the power and placement of the rear exhaust fan. Take not though, you need to have the correct socket orientation to achieve this, and failing that you'll have to opt for one of the two bottom configurations.

The reason for the middle configuration is that on some motherboards where the socket sits quite close to the edge, there may not be enough room to fit the cooler as it is in the bottom diagram without it fouling the power supply. In this middle configuration there's pretty much no air moving through the fins and you'll need at least a single 60mm fan on there, possibly two if you're running a Prescott.

 

The tesing was done using SiSoft Sandra 2004's Burn-in wizard with the CPU arithmetic test run twenty times. I started with much more but in our fairly low ambient conditions the temperature didn't increase after about the 12th run anyway.

Naturally I had no intention of making life easy for it so this is our test setup:

DFI 865PE Infinity
Intel P4 (Prescott) 3.2GHz
1GB GeIL Ultra-X PC3200 2-5-2-2

Temperatures were read from the Prescott's internal thermal diode.

 

 

With an idle temperature of 81 Celsius and a reading over 91 degrees after the first cycle I wasn't surprised to see the machine shut down before completing the second cycle.

At this point I had to go and rummage for a couple of 60mm fans to strap on. I was amazed I still had any actually, I haven't used 60mm fans for anything for a long time now.

This is how the second run went with the fans in place:

That's a twenty one degree advantage just under idle conditions!! That rates in the "significant" category to my mind, and really highlights the limitations of passive cooling.

That's not to say I blame the NT01 for the poor performance. Its fins were so hot I couldn't touch them, and that in turn means those heatpipes were working superbly. There just wasn't enough air moving through those copper fins to dissipate the heat quickly or effectively enough.

Don't necessarily conclude from those excessively high temperatures that passive cooling is out of the question for all modern CPUs. Most heatpipes have an optimal working range. though it's usually a very wide one, and stepping outside of this has an impact on performance that's far larger than you might imagine due to flooding, where too much coolant builds up at the condensation end (the cooler end), or dryout, where the fluid is no longer condensing and returning to the evaporation end (the hot end). As a result I imagine the performance can fall off rapidly as you step outside the optimum range.

Interestingly it's quite easy to mount a single 70mm fan to the NT01 which seems to provide nearly as good a performance for a good deal less volume, and though it doesn't look as neat this is probably the route I'd take.

70mm Fan Alignment

 

70mm Fan Alignment

 

 

Conclusion

The 3DVelocity 'Dual Conclusions Concept' Explained: After discussing this concept with users as well as companies and vendors we work with, 3DVelocity have decided that where necessary we shall aim to introduce our 'Dual Conclusions Concept' to sum up our thoughts and impressions on the hardware we review. As the needs of the more experienced users and enthusiasts have increased, it has become more difficult to factor in all the aspects that such a user would find important, while also being fair to products that may lack these high end "bonus" capabilities but which still represent a very good buy for the more traditional and more prevalent mainstream user. The two categories we've used are:

The Mainstream User ~ The mainstream user is likely to put price, stock performance, value for money, reliability and/or warranty terms ahead of the need for hardware that operates beyond its design specifications. The mainstream user may be a PC novice or may be an experienced user, however their needs are clearly very different to those of the enthusiast, in that they want to buy products that operate efficiently and reliably within their advertised parameters.

The Enthusiast ~ The enthusiast cares about all the things that the mainstream user cares about but is more likely to accept a weakness in one or more of these things in exchange for some measure of performance or functionality beyond its design brief. For example, a high priced motherboard may be tolerated in exchange for unusually high levels of overclocking ability or alternatively an unusually large heat sink with a very poor fixing mechanism may be considered acceptable if it offers significantly superior cooling in return.

 

The Mainstream User ~

Excellent quality and an unusual design coupled with extremely efficient operation makes the NT01 an extremely attractive air cooler, but whether it can live up to the promise of passive cooling depends on your CPU, your case and the fans you have in it.

The biggest drawback is that when not used passively, your only option (in theory) is either one or a pair of 60mm cooling fans, a size that much of the industry has moved away from because of their generally high noise levels.

I'd really like to see an adaptor supplied so you can have the option to use a single 70mm, 80mm or perhaps even 92mm fan rather than a pair of 60mm fans.

As a passive cooler it's an impressive piece of kit that should cool as efficiently as any passive cooler you can buy, but as an active cooler, the need to use 60mm fans makes it a poor choice due to the noise unless you're prepared to buy low profile, low noise 60mm fans or add a fan controller to turn the speeds down a notch, which will almost certanly still give enough airflow to make all the difference.

The only spoiler for me is the price. £32.00 plus the VAT makes this one of the more expensive coolers on the market.

 

NA

 

 

The Enthusiast ~

This is heatpipe technology come of age, but is it too late? At a time of large fans or abandoning air cooling completely there have to be compelling reasons to spend this much money and in its current configuration it only really scores big as a passive cooler if you have suitable hardware to pull it off. As an air based cooler it's very effective, but there are lots of coolers around that cost less and can match or beat the performance of the NT01 simply due to them using larger fans, and this means quieter fans too.

 

The engineering is excellent, the performance is equally excellent, the price is high and the flexibility is limited. It's a great cooler but it needs the option to use a bigger fan, even if only one of them, to make it a compelling purchase. You can get most sizes of fan to bolt on to some extent but it's not pretty.

 

All told its a great cooler but it only becomes exceptional in exchange for some serious volume. If that doesn't bother you then get one!

 

 

 

NA

 

We're always looking for ways to make our reviews fairer. A Right To Reply gives the manufacturer or supplier of the product being reviewed a chance to make public comments on what we've said. They can explain perhaps why they've done the things we were unhappy with or blow their own trumpet over the things we loved. It's easy for us to pick a product apart but sometimes things are done a certain way for very specific reasons.

Should SilverStone decide to exercise their "Right To Reply", we'll publish their comments below:

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