Spire Verticool II SP601B3 tower heatsink

Cooling
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COMPARISON

Only three other heatsinks have been tested on the same test bench as the Verticool II: An Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro, and two long-time favorites, a Scythe Ninja and a Thermalright XP-120. The Ninja and the XP-120 belong to a different class of heatsink; they are heavyweights that cost close to double what the Verticool II does. The Freezer 7 Pro, on the other hand, is an ideal candidate for comparison with the Verticool II. Both fall into roughly the same price category, performance is similar, and they even share a similar design.

The heatsinks were compared at two noise levels: A "quiet" level where the noise level was good enough for most users without sacrificing too much performance, and a "silent" level where the fan was simply cranked down as far as it could go.

"Quiet" Comparison at 24 dBA@1m
Heatsink/Fan
Noise
(SPL - dBA@1m)
Fan Voltage
Load Temp
°C Rise
°C/W MP
Spire Verticool II SP601B3
24
9V
45°C
24
0.24
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro*
24
9.5V (est.)
50°C
29
0.29

When compared at a constant noise level with a moderately high fan speed, the Verticool II clearly beat the Freezer 7 Pro. At 24 dBA@1m, the Verticool II was still performing quite close to its peak performance, making it difficult for the Freezer to compete. Only when the fans were turned up to full speed did the Freezer 7 Pro manage to outperform the Verticool — at the cost of much higher noise.

"Silent" Comparison at ~20 dBA@1m
Heatsink/Fan
Noise
(SPL - dBA@1m)
Fan Voltage
Load Temp
°C Rise
°C/W MP
Spire Verticool II SP601B3
20
5
69°C
48
0.48
21
7
56°C
35
0.35
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro
20
9
53°C
32
0.32

However, when the noise level was dropped close to the ambient noise level in the test lab — ~20 dBA@1m — the situation was reversed. Here the Freezer was clearly the better of the two, as the fan on the Verticool needed to be turned down too far to reach such a low noise level. The performance of the Freezer 7 Pro barely changed when the noise level was dropped, but the Verticool lost more than 20°C. Even reducing the gap by increasing the noise level slightly to make things more competitive did not help the Verticool beat the Freezer in the "Silent" comparison. These results suggest that the airflow impedance represented by the spacing and depth of the fins in the Spire is higher than in the Freezer 7 Pro.

NOISE RECORDINGS

Spire Verticool II SP601B3:

MP3: Spire Verticool II SP601B3 - 5V / ~20 dBA@1m

MP3: Spire Verticool II SP601B3 - 7V / 21 dBA@1m

MP3: Spire Verticool II SP601B3 - 9V / 24 dBA@1m

MP3: Spire Verticool II SP601B3 - 12V / 27 dBA@1m

Recordings of Comparable HSF:

MP3: Arctic Cooling Freezer 4 (original version) - 7V - 20 dBA@1m

MP3: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro - 9V / 20 dBA@1m

MP3: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro - 10V / 28 dBA@1m

MP3: Arctic Cooling Super Silent 4 Ultra TC, 22 dBA@1m

MP3: Nexus 120mm fan - 12V - 41 CFM - 22.5 dBA@1m

MP3: Nexus 120mm fan - 8.8V - 35 CFM- 19 dBA@1m

HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE

These recordings were made with a high resolution studio quality digital recording system. The microphone was 3" from the edge of the fan frame at a 45° angle, facing the intake side of the fan to avoid direct wind noise. The ambient noise during all recordings was 18 dBA or lower. It is best to download the sound files to your computer before listening.

To set the volume to a realistic level (similar to the original), try playing this Nexus 92mm case fan @ 5V (17 dBA@1m) recording and set the volume so that it is barely audible. Then don't reset the volume and play the other sound files. Of course, all tone controls and other effects should be turned off or set to neutral. For full details on how to calibrate your sound system playback level to get the most valid listening comparison, please see the yellow text box entitled Listen to the Fans on page four of the article SPCR's Test / Sound Lab: A Short Tour.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

The Verticool II is the first Spire heatsink we have seen that does not have a very loud fan. So long as the fan speed isn't turned down too far, it offers a good cooling-to-noise ratio for its price range. While it can't compete with the heavyweights, it does give the Freezer 7 Pro a run for the money.

Unfortunately, it does not deal with low airflow well, and the noise threshold for acceptable cooling performance is a bit higher than we would like. Although it is a quiet heatsink, silence is beyond its capabilities.

In terms of performance, the Verticool is probably best mated with an AMD processor that is cooler than our Intel 520. For current Intel socket 775 processors, a beefier heatsink is needed for low noise levels. With this in mind, it is too bad that the installation system for AMD processors is so inflexible; the ability to direct airflow in a tower heatsink is a very important feature. The thoughtless screw positioning on the K8 brackets was also an annoyance.

Ultimately, the biggest thing going for the Verticool II may be its price. It can be had for as little as US$25 online, and its performance and noise are both quite acceptable for a budget system.

Pros

* Easy to install (Socket 775)
* Relatively quiet fan
* Decent performance with enough airflow
* Inexpensive
* Light Weight

Cons

* Poor low-airflow performance
* Tedious to install (K8 Sockets)
* Quality of noise could be better

Much thanks to Spire Coolers for the Spire Verticool II SP601B3 sample.

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