Review: CoolerMaster Ultra Vortex HSF

Cooling
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October 10, 2004 by Mike Chin

Product
Cooler Master Ultra Vortex HSF
Manufacturer
Cooler Master
Market Price
US$29~35 (at time of publication)

During times of transition in PC technology, the proliferation of new CPU heatsinks seems to occur at an even faster pace than normal. Currently, there are three main CPU heatsink mounting form factors in use for the biggest variety of desktop processors ever offered at one time. The number of new HSF that have appeared on the market in the last six months is staggering. One can't help but feel sympathy for the poor retailers who have to deal with separating the wheat from the chaff among all the processors, motherboards and heatsinks.

CoolerMaster has been churning out new HSF models almost like popcorn this year, and their web site currently lists no less than 29 separate models for enthusiast and desktop applications alone. The Ultra Vortex is one of the most recent addition to their enthusiast line, one that addresses the quiet market -- at least in the promotional material and packaging, like so many PC products do these days. Thankfully for the retailer, it is also one of an increasing number of HSF that is cross-platform; this one works for socket 478 ( P4 and Celeron) and the AMD K8 (all A64 CPU) sockets.

Our review of the Ultra Vortex will cover all the usual bases: Measurements of thermal performance and noise levels at various fan speeds, design and installation details, and high fidelity sound recording in MP3 format so that you can hear for yourself what the product sounds like at these various test conditions.

DATA FROM COOLERMASTER


Retail friendly but eco-unfriendly packaging uses a lot of clear plastic.

FEATURE & BRIEF
COMMENT
Unidirectional fin heatsink provides maximum heat dissipation area and surround cooling - unlike traditional heat sinks. True for most radial designs, which tend to have the highest cooling efficiency of all heatsink geometries.
Curved copper fins allow airflow to create vortex filaments that blow towards the fin root, thus enhancing air convection. Sounds good (I think?!) but does this effect work at low fan speed and low airflow?
The fins stamped on the cone-shaped copper slug allow smoother air convection and give shorter heat conducting distance, providing much better performance. OK.
Uses a 9 cm circular fan with larger fan blades than the traditional rectangular fan, providing more airflow and better air pressure. Larger fan diameter is good but it's always circular whether the frame is or not.
Ultra silent, only 16dB of noise level at the lowest. 16 dB? That's an eye-popping claim, assuming 1m measuring distance. We'll soon find out, won't we?
Supports P4 in all frequencies and K8. Cross platform is good.

SPECIFICATIONS
Socket Type
AMD K8 (socket 754 / 939 / 940) and Intel P4 (socket 478)
Heat Sink Dimension
108 x 108 x 74 mm
Heat Sink Material
100% Copper
Fan Dimension
92 x 92 x 25 mm
Fan Speed & Airflow
1400~3000 rpm, 26.84~57.51 CFM
Fan Air Pressure
0.036 in-H2O ~ 0.165 in-H2O
Bearing Type
Rifle bearing
Fan Life Expectancy
40,000 hrs
Voltage Rating
5~13.8 VDC
Noise Level
16.6~33.2 dBA
Connector
4 Pin (Power Input), 3 Pin (Speed Detection)
Weight
730 g w/o fan (Note: fan adds at least 70G)
Thermal Resistance
Rja 0.39~0.31C/W
Application
P4 (all frequencies) and K8


Package includes: Front and back panel inserts to mount fan speed control (not in photo), the HSF itself, mounting screws, instruction sheet, and supporting plate that goes beneath the CPU socket.



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