Thermaltake CL-P0025 Silent Tower CPU heatsink/fan

Cooling
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WITH HOTTER CPUs

Thermaltake rates the Silent Tower to "P4 478, up to 3.2Ghz", but I only tested it with the (relatively) moderate output of the 2.4C processor. We can however, use the °C/W numbers to extrapolate the theoretical performance of the Silent Tower HSF to any other P4 processor, including the 100+ watt P4 3.2GHz Prescott. According to Intel's "TDP" specs, the 3.2 Prescott puts out 103W. The higher "MP" power rating for the 3.2Ghz Prescott is 115 watts so we'll use those numbers to calculate the estimated maximum CPU temperature for a 3.2E running 2x CPUBurn:

Extrapolated Silent Tower temps for a 103W, 3.2GHz Prescott using TDP power rating
Fan Voltage
C/W
°C rise
load
12 volts
0.20
21
42°C
7 volts
0.27
28
49°C
5 volts
0.38
39
60°C
Extrapolated Silent Tower temps for a 115W, 3.2GHz Prescott using MP power rating
Fan Voltage
C/W
°C rise
load
12 volts
0.17
20
41°C
7 volts
0.24
28
49°C
5 volts
0.33
38
59°C

These extrapolated temperatures show that the Silent Tower with the stock fan would effectively cool even a toasty 3.2E Prescott processor, at >7V fan settings. It's a shame that the stock fan is so loud. Swapping the quieter Panaflo 92L gives similar cooling but whether it's quiet enough at 7V is up to the individual user.

DUAL PUSH-PULL FANS BETTER?

I mentioned earlier that I tested the Silent Tower in a two fan "push-pull" configuration. Thermaltake promotes this as a feature and includes two sets of pre-tapped mounting holes on the "downwind" side of the shroud, one in a 92mm pattern and the other in an 80mm pattern. Since the cooling ability with the stock fan and the Panaflo is quite good but too loud, I decided to test the push-pull configuration using 92mm Nexus fans.

The Nexus 92 is very quiet, but lacking in airflow at lower voltages. A pair in a push-pull configuration would increase the air pressure through the heatsink fins, possibly improving cooling with less loss of airflow induced by back pressure. I tested this configuration at all three reference fan voltage levels and at each level got about 1-3°C better cooling compared to running just one fan. That's slightly better performance, but at the expense of a tiny bit more fan noise. Is it worth it? You be the judge.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

Thermaltake offers a mixed bag with the Silent Tower. Once installed properly, it certainly performs well even with fairly low airflow, and its design lends itself to being used in a ducted system for efficient system cooling. However, the awkward mounting system is a near-fatal flaw. I'd never use this on a CPU without a heatspreader. It's hard to recommend even for heatspreader-protected CPUs because there are many other HSF options at similar or better prices that provide as good or better cooling and acoustics without the mounting hassles. It's not as if well-proven heatsink mounting mechanisms don't exist: It's yet another example of engineers who have forgotten about using springs to control clamping force.

SPCR has always insisted that after-market heatsinks must be appraised not only for the quality of the main heatsink but also the ease and efficacy of the mechanical mounting system Without providing the typical user a positive way to achieve safe, correct pressure between the heatsink base and the CPU, even the most awesome heatsink metallurgy cannot ensure adequate cooling performance. The Silent Tower and its mounting system is akin to a high powered sports car with skinny tires that belong on a soapbox racer.

Despite the "Silent" nomenclature, as with so many similarly labeled mainstream products, the stock fan misses the mark by a huge margin. If the mounting system was better engineered, and if it was sold without a fan, I'd be a lot happier with it. As it stands, the Silent Tower is difficult to recommend except for hardcore modders if it can be obtained at a fire sale price.

PROS

* Very good performance with modest airflow
* Can cool today's hottest CPUs
* Fits most modern platforms
* Not ridiculously heavy

CONS

* Stock fan is way too loud
* Mounting system poorly designed
* Overall height may preclude smaller cases
* Instruction manual designed for midgets

Our thanks to Thermaltake for this opportunity to review the Silent Tower.

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