Apack ZeroTherm BTF80 & BTF90 CPU Heatsink/Fans

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COMPARISONS

We would not recommend running the stock fan above 5V, so it makes sense to compare the BTF80 / BTF90 at this noise level. Due to the extreme limitations on airflow that this noise level imposes, many heatsinks do not do well at this level, as can be seen in the table below. Please note that the comparison is approximate; data is collected from past reviews, which may have been performed under slightly different thermal or acoustic conditions. For this reason, not all of the noise levels are identical, but they are close enough for comparison.

Heatsinks Compared at ~20 dBA@1m
Heatsink/Fan
Noise
(SPL - dBA@1m)
Fan Voltage
°C Rise
°C/W MP
APack ZeroTherm BTF80
19
5
28
0.28
APack ZeroTherm BTF90
19
5
26
0.26
Arctic Cooling Alpine 64
19
7
40
0.40
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro*
20
9
32
0.32
Spire Verticool II SP601B3
20
5
48
0.48
Scythe Ninja, Nexus 120
20
9
22
0.22
Thermalright XP-120, Nexus 120
20
9
27
0.27

The ZeroTherm heatsinks are outperformed only by the Scythe Ninja, and they come in at roughly the same level as the Thermalright XP-120. That's not bad considering that these heatsinks achieved the 20 dBA@1m noise level using our reference Nexus 120mm fan, which is both bigger and quieter than the stock fans on the ZeroTherm heatsinks. Every other heatsink that we've tested on our Socket 775 test bed is beaten decisively at this noise level.

NOISE RECORDINGS IN MP3 FORMAT

APack ZeroTherm BTF80 & BTF90: 5V-7V-9V-12V, 5s Ambient between levels: One Meter, One Foot

Comparatives:

Zalman CNPS8000: 5V-7V-9V-12V, 5s Ambient between levels: One Meter, One Foot

Arctic Cooling Alpine 64: 5V-7V-9V-12V, 5s Ambient between levels: One Meter, One Foot

Scythe Mine w/ stock fan: 5V-7V-9V-12V, 5s Ambient between levels: One Meter, One Foot

Nexus 92mm fan: 5V-7V-9V-12V, 5s Ambient between levels: One Meter, One Foot

HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE

These recordings were made with a high resolution, studio quality, digital recording system and are intended to represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review. Two recordings of each noise level were made, one from a distance of one meter, and another from one foot away.

The one meter recording is intended to give you an idea of how the subject of this review sound in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. For best results, set your volume control so that the ambient noise is just barely audible. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The one foot recording is designed to bring out the fine details of the noise. Use this recording with caution! Although more detailed, it may not represent how the subject sounds in actual use. It is best to listen to this recording after you have listened to the one meter recording.

More details about how we make these recordings can be found in our short article: Audio Recording Methods Revised.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

Call my manhood into question if you must, but I can't help but be charmed by these butterflies. I'm not usually one to fall for looks (at least, not where computer hardware is concerned), but the fact that the butterfly profile appears to work with the design instead of hindering them is impressive. The excellent performance shows that, even if the butterfly design doesn't contribute to performance, at the very least it doesn't seem to hurt.

Either of these ZeroTherm BTF heatsinks is capable of adequately cooling almost any processor with the fan at 5 volts. The "almost" in that sentence can be eliminated if you're willing to deal with more fan noise than we are. We are confident that they can handle even Intel's hot Prescott processors with under 30 dBA@1m of noise. Only heavy overclockers need look for more.

Unfortunately, the proprietary fan is not good enough for use in a system that is silent — and it will not be easy to replace it with one that is. Good as the heatsinks are, they are better suited to a quiet gaming system that is likely to have some residual noise, not a no-holds-barred silent machine.

However, noise and performance are only relevant if you can manage to get your hands on one of these — which could be a problem at the moment. They do not seem to be available for purchase anywhere just yet. We hope that APack manages to get wide distribution of these heatsinks, since they deserve a strong recommendation.

Pros

* Excellent performance
* Do you like butterflies?
* Simple installation procedure
* Good low airflow characteristics
* Performs well enough to use fan at 5V
* Uses stock K8 retention bracket
* Fan can be easily "aimed"
Cons

* Irritating fan noise
* Fan difficult to replace
* Fan must be removed for socket 775 mounting
* Poor / nonexistent distribution

Much thanks to Apack for the ZeroTherm BTF80 and BTF90 samples.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest

Recommended Heatsinks
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro
Scythe SCNJ-1000 Ninja Heatsink
Thermalright XP-120: 1st 120mm fan CPU Heatsink

* * *

POSTSCRIPT, Aug 7, 2006: The fan just slides out.

It turns out that removal of the fan is much simpler than we originally thought. The fan is actually mounted on a sub-assembly that is plastic parts are tongue and grooved to fit into the main red plastic piece that's the anchor for the fan. Just push up from the bottom or pull up, and it slides out easily as shown in the photos below. It slides and clicks back in securely. There's no need to undo screws and remove the whole fan assembly. Our thanks to Max Page, editor of www.frostytech.com, for pointing this out.

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