Thermaltake CL-P0025 Silent Tower CPU heatsink/fan

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The Silent Tower was mounted on my standard P4 heatsink test motherboard. Assembly was fiddly and not straight forward.

  • A steel "H" bracket, a rubber pad and an antistatic plastic sheet all mount on the underside of the board with four long studs. These are all fastened from the top side of the board using four nuts and a set of fiber washers.
  • Next the HSF is placed on top of the CPU and the top "H" bracket is slipped into position over the four protruding studs and into the slot on top of the base of the heatsink.
  • Then the whole thing is clamped together by tightening four little nuts down onto the protruding studs.

This sounds fairly easy but in practice it's not.

The biggest problem is that there's no way to tell when you've tightened the top clamping bracket enough. The mounting studs are fully threaded so there's no way to tell how much tension is "too much". It doesn't help that the top "H" bracket flexes as you tighten up the nuts. This adds a mushy feel to the whole operation making it quite difficult to tell how tight things really are.

Another issue is that the entire heatsink itself can slide from side to side while tightening up the nuts due to the design of the clamping bracket. Even with the board out in the open, it's difficult to access to the tiny nuts on the side nearest the northbridge heatsink. Thermaltake did not supply a wrench to make this easier. I used a set of needle-nosed pliers, which worked, but not easily.

When I had it tightened up as much as I thought was "enough", I noticed that I could still slide the heatsink from side to side. After I got the system running, I experimented with tension. Tightening the nuts down so much that the heatsink wouldn't move didn't make any difference in CPU temperature. With this much tension, the top bracket became quite noticeably bent, which didn't make me feel comfortable.

Mounting hardware. Note the clamp underneath the board to distribute the force.

All the above applies to mounting a P4 CPU with a large integrated heatspreader on top of it. If I was mounting this on an AMD CPU with a bare core, I'd be extremely concerned about chipping the core. It's too hard to tell if you're applying pressure evenly across the CPU and when to stop applying pressure.

The weight of the very tall heatsink will apply a lot of cantilever force to the CPU core when the motherboard is mounted in the typical upright position. I didn't see a problem with the test setup, but the P4 (and the Athlon 64) has the sturdy heatspreader to distribute the clamping force, something that a bare core CPU like the AMD XP doesn't have.

My heatsink reviews are conducted with the reference motherboard sitting flat on a piece of antistatic foam. For this review I also tested the heatsink with the board mounted in a vertical position to see if there was any difference in cooling ability: There wasn't.

Mounted. Note the clearance in the "keep out" area and the overall height.

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