Review: CoolerMaster Ultra Vortex HSF

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The Ultra Vortex is a variant of the basic radial heatsink design, first popularized for PC processors by Thermaltake many years ago with their successful Orb series. A radial design maximizes the cooling fin surface area accessible by the direct airflow of a standard round fan.

Clear round frame 92mm fan looks cool atop chunky radial copper fin HS.

In the Ultra Vortex, CoolerMaster has employed large fins press-fitted to a copper cylindrical core, a 92mm fan and though-the-board bolt mounting to provide security for the ~800 gram weight (HS & fan combined). The implementation is somewhat similar to the Zalman 7000 series, with two major differences:

  • The 92mm fan in the Zalman fits into a recess that ensures all the kinetic energy of the fan blades (including the turbulence at the tips) is used to force air through the HS fins. It is completely frameless. The Ultra Vortex fan sits on top of the HS in more typical fashion. The fan is screwed to a clear plastic frame press-fitted to the top of the HS. There are cross-bars that go across the airflow path, both on the fan and on the mounting frame.
  • There has to be some thermal resistance / loss between the press-fitted fins and the copper slug of the Ultra Vortex. There is no break between the fins and the base on the Zalman 7000, and the multiple fins are clamped so tightly that they act essentially as a solid copper base.

The center copper slug has a tapered conical profile claimed to increase airflow and reduce turbulence.

The base is the bottom of the central slug from which the fins protrude.
The two middle screw pods are for K8; the remaining four are for socket 478.

The HS mounts with bolts that go through the motherboard to a supporting plate beneath the CPU socket. This approach is probably wise, given the high mass of the HSF -- although it has to be said that the center of gravity is relatively low and will not stress a vertically mounted motherboard anything like the tall heavy heatsinks, such as CoolerMaster's own Hyper 6.

The mounting points, which splay out from the bottom like landing pods of the archetypal UFO, are actually part of a single piece that's fitted very securely to the base of the copper slug. This piece is made of heavy gauge steel (?) and unlikely to be bent accidentally. (I had cause to test its strength in the course of this review.)

The two center lugs are used for K8 sockets with the bottom plate flipped one way.
The bottom plate is made of steel with a tough skin of insulating plastic on both sides.
The contact surface of the base is nicely smooth and flat.

With the bottom plate flipped the other way, the four corner mounting holes line up together for P4 mounting.

The 92mm fan is unusual in several ways:
Clear plastic, built-in speed control, round frame with mounting holes that are standard for 80mm fans.

An important note about the fan: It is rated for 0.41A. The typical quiet 80-92mm fan is rated for under 0.2A, so this is not a good sign. We can only hope that it ramps down smoothly.

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