Spire Coolwave SP441B0-F HSF review

Cooling
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RESULTS

The included Coolwave fan controller is adjustable from a low of 6.5 volts to a high of 11.5 volts so I initially tested it at both extremes. Afterwards I removed the controller and install a Zalman Fanmate1 so I could test the fan at 5 volts as well. Both other heatsinks were also tested at 5V, 6.5V and 11.5V with the help of the Fanmate1.

For °C/W - TDP calculations, Intel's TDP of 66W was used. For °C/W - MP calculations, CPUHeat & CPUMSR Projects' estimate of 75W was used.

At 11.5V the Coolwave certainly cooled well but was very noisy. The fan made a rather loud whine and there was a lot of wind noise as well. It's sonic characteristics reminded me of a slightly toned down 80mm Delta screamer. There's no way this could be used in a quiet system at it's full speed setting. At 11.5V the Intel fan was also fairly noisy, but not nearly as bad as the Coolwave fan. The Intel fan also had a noticeable whine and lots of air noise. Both of these fans are 70mm, that may help explain their similar noise traits. The Zalman at 11.5V was certainly audible, but not nearly so objectionable as the two other fans. It's had only a very slight whine and a lower pitched type of wind noise. It uses a 92mm fan which probably helps.

11.5 Volt Results
Heatsink
idle
load
°C rise
°C/W MP
°C/W TDP
>>Coolwave<<
24°C
40°C
18
0.26
0.27
Zalman 7000
24°C
40°C
18
0.26
0.27
Stock Intel HSF
25°C
46°C
24
0.34
0.36

°C rise refers to the rise in temperature over the ambient at load.

At 6.5 volts, the Coolwave fan was much quieter. The whine was still noticeable but was at a much lower level. The air noise was also quieter but was still easy to hear from one meter away. A new noise started to show up at 6.5 volts, the dreaded "clicking" sound so common when fans are undervolted. It was pretty easy to hear and was made even more annoying because it changed frequency and level regularly. It still cooled pretty decent though. If it wasn't for the bad clicking sound, this could almost be acceptable in a system that was running around 30-35dBA. The Zalman worked well at 6.5V and it's noise was pretty unobtrusive. It consisted of a slight bit of air noise and a quiet clicking. The Intel HSF was already starting to run out of gas at this voltage and still had a bit of whine and air noise.

 6.5 Volt Results
Heatsink
idle
load
°C rise
°C/W MP
°C/W TDP
Zalman 7000
24°C
41°C
19
0.27
0.29
>>Coolwave<<
26°C
47°C
25
0.36
0.38
Stock Intel HSF
28°C
55°C
33
0.47
0.50

At 5V the Coolwave's whine diminished to more like a low hum. Its wind noise was pretty low but the "clicking" noise still persisted. All things considered, 50°C max for a 5V 70mm fan is pretty good. This small heatsink and 70mm fan combo does a better job than I would have expected, but the noise of the fan is barely tolerable at 5V. As I expected, the Zalman was still working just fine down at 5V. It's cooling performance was still very good and it's noise level was very, very quiet. I could barely hear any wind noise and just the slightest bit of very quiet clicking from about .5-1 meter away. The Intel HSF was basically worthless at 5V. Load temps were pretty high and it's whine and hum were a little quieter than the Coolwave's.

5 Volt Results
Heatsink
idle
load
°C rise
°C/W MP
°C/W TDP
Zalman 7000
26°C
45°C
23
0.33
0.35
>>Coolwave<<
27°C
50°C
28
0.40
0.42
Stock Intel HSF
28°C
64°C
42
0.60
0.63

Extrapolated Performance with Prescott 3.4

Spire is claims "we have designed our CoolWave™ cooler to meet the extreme cooling demands of Intel's 3.4 GHz+ Pentium 4™ Prescott™ processors", but I've only tested it with a 2.4GHz, 66 watt CPU. I did this so the Coolwave could be directly compared to all the other high performance P4 coolers that have been tested here at SPCR over the past year. We can however, use the "°C/W" numbers to extrapolate the theoretical performance of the Coolwave to any other P4 processor, including the 100+ watt P4 3.4GHz Prescott.

According to Intel's TDP, the 3.4 Prescott puts out 103W. The estimated Maximum Power is 115W.

Let's look at a chart of the theoretical temperatures of the Coolwave heatsink in a P4 3.4GHz Prescott system, running the cooling fan at 11.5V, 6.5V and 5V, based on the same ambient temperature (22°C) that I tested the 2.4C CPU at:

1) Coolwave temps for a 3.4GHz Prescott TDP
Fan Voltage
°C/W TDP
°C rise
load
11.5V
0.27
28
50°C
6.5V
0.38
39
61°C
5V
0.42
43
65°C

*

2) Coolwave temps for a 3.4GHz Prescott -MP
Fan Voltage
°C/W MP
°C rise
load
11.5V
0.26
30
52°C
6.5V
0.36
41
62°C
5V
0.40
46
68°C

As expected, the predictions based on Maximum Power provide slightly worse results. So, depending on how much faith you have on the accuracy of either set of calculations, it looks like the Coolwave is capable of performing as Spire claims. Of course the fan noise issue is what will make or break this HSF in the eyes of most SilentPCReview readers.

FINAL THOUGHTS AND CONCLUSIONS

The typical DIY builder would probably consider a heatsink to be acceptable if it cools the processor to a decent level. Using only cooling performance as a guideline, it looks like the Spire Coolwave would indeed be a suitable cooler for the hot running Prescott's. At $26 MSRP, it's also priced in the low to mid range of aftermarket P4 coolers.

However, here at SPCR, we also factor noise into the equation and when you do this to the Coolwave, it skews the results, not in a good way. Yes, the HSF works well but the little 70mm fan is its Achilles Heel. The fan is quite loud at it's full voltage and is fairly objectionable even at it's lower voltages. I could marginally recommend it at 5 volts, if there was a way to get rid of the clicking/rattling noise, but otherwise it's probably too loud for the majority of SPCR readers, even though it cools rather well.

It might be a possible solution in a small HPTC or SFF case where space its at a premium and the user was willing to give up a little noise for fairly good cooling

PROS

* Rather inexpensive
* Very easy to install
* Fairly low profile
* Good performance
* User adjustable fan speed

CONS

* Little 70mm fan is too loud
* No room on fan bracket to install a larger fan

Much thanks to Spire for the opportunity to review this HSF.

* * *

Discuss this this article in the SPCR Forums.



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