Review: Arctic Cooling Copper Silent 2 TC

Cooling
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Oct 8, 2003 by Russ Kinder

Product: Arctic Cooling Copper Silent 2 TC (rev 2)
Manufacturer: Artic Cooling
Supplier: Frontier Computer
MSRP: US$20

Thermally controlled fans on CPU heatsinks attempt to balance the best of both worlds: Silence whenever possible, and maximum cooling ability when needed. It’s simple in concept, but very difficult to make work in practice. In order to work well, a whole range of features must be combined in a single unit:

  • It must be based on an efficient heatsink.
  • It must have a fan that has an excellent noise/CFM ratio.
  • The fan must operate well across a range of speeds, without buzzing or clicking as the voltage changes.
  • It must have a thermal control system responsive enough to adjust quickly to changes heat output, while not making the fan speed changes so obvious and abrupt to be annoying or intrusive.

Finding a heatsink that does any one of these things well is a rarity, but Arctic Cooling has presented their Copper Silent 2, which they hope will do all of them well, and for only US$20 at that.

SPECIFICATIONS

Recommended for All AMD Duron & AMD Athlon XP up to 3200+
Heat Sink: 84 x 76 x 41 mm
Copper Plate: 44 x 44 x 5 mm
Overall Dimensions: 88 x 82 x 79 mm
Rated Fan Speed: 2200 RPM
Power Consumption: 12 V, 0.13 Amp.
Air Flow: 29 CFM
Weight: 395 g (including fan)
Noise Level: 18 dB
Thermal Resistance: 0.30 °C / Watt

It should be noted that no details are given for the noise level and thermal resistance measurements, although it could be assumed that the noise measurement was made at 1 meter with the fan at the minimum RPM and the resistance with the fan at max.

THE DESIGN

The heatsink is a fairly large aluminum extrusion 84m long by 76mm wide. The 26 fins are 41mm tall and are widely spaced and tapering. Soldered to the bottom of the aluminum is a 44 x 44 x 5 mm copper plate. The plate is located off-center relative to the rest of the heatsink, so that it is centered over the CPU die when installed. By placing the copper plate at just the heat source Artic Cooling hopes to gain the most benefit possible from the copper, while minimizing the added weight and cost of heatsinks that make more extensive use of copper.

Artic Cooling uses "a super-thin tin film" as the bonding substance between the copper plate and the aluminum, which "has the advantage of approx. 25-times higher heat conductivity of tin compared with the thermal compound" often used for such interfaces. Some of this bonding tin can be seen on the edge of the copper plate in the photo above. (Are they saying they do more than just screw the copper plate to the aluminum? Could "a super-thin tin film" possibly be a type of... solder?! Indeed, that's precisely what it is.)

The attachment mechanism on the CS2 is nothing revolutionary, but is well made and easy to use. The clip is symmetrical, with a screwdriver notch and pivot point at each end. Having each end be the same makes it easier to install the unit inside a case, and the pivots allow you to hold one end over the lugs while pressing the other side down to secure it. It is easier to use than the original AC Super Silent Pro TC's "tool-less" clip.

While the heatsink is rather conventional, that 80mm fan mounted atop it is nowhere close to a normal fan. For starters the motor is mounted well above the fan blades on little stilts. This arrangement reduces the turbulence noise from the motor supports, while allowing the fan to be as close to the HS as possible. We've seen it before in the Arctic Cooling Super Silent 4 Pro TC. They claim "the patented 'reversed-hanging' fan is able to practically eliminate the typical buzzing sound of 80mm fans."

FIT & FINISH

The copper plate is machined smooth, but not highly polished. There are fine machine marks that can be felt with the fingernail. The mating surface is “musical” while being cleaned -- that is, it makes noise when an acetone-soaked swap is wiped across the surface. That’s a sure sign that there are surface imperfections remaining. Lapping would probably provide a few degrees improved performance.



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