Thermaltake's Big Contender: The Big Typhoon

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The Big Typhoon is a hybrid between the traditional top-down design, and the "tower" style that currently dominates the high end. It is a tower because the main body of the heatsink is elevated above the base by six heatpipes, but because the fan blows downwards, not sideways, it retains the look of a more conventional heatsink.

It's a good design; heatpipes, which allow heat to be spread across more and larger fins, have proved their worth over and over in the high end market sector. Furthermore, the Big Typhoon gets around two big downsides of the tower design: Excessive height and poor cooling for motherboard components.

Seen through artistic eyes, the Big Typhoon resembles a large, industrial mushroom...

It's a little unclear just how much vertical space the Big Typhoon requires. The technical specifications list a height of 103mm, but that's too low, since it doesn't include the 25mm thick fan. Thus, the effective height should be approximately 130mm... but even that isn't quite right as the fan needs some breathing room above it to be effective. Add in another two centimeters for that, and the height difference between the Big Typhoon and many tower heatsinks almost disappears. And, with most of the weight elevated about three centimeters above the base, the torsion on the mounting system is not insignificant. Like many large heatsinks, the Big Typhoon is probably at risk of breaking loose if the system it is in is handled roughly.

...or perhaps a grove of metallic trees.

It's quite likely that the Big Typhoon could have been made shorter by using shorter heatpipes, but the added height does confer a few benefits. First of all, it makes is easy to work with, as there is plenty of room around the base to fiddle with screws and mounting clips. Second, it reduces the back pressure by allowing more room for air to escape underneath the fins. Given how much the closely spaced fins impede airflow, keeping the back pressure at a minimum is probably quite important to keeping low airflow performance at an acceptable level.

Dense fin spacing, as advertised.

Unlike most heatpipe-based heatsinks, each heatpipe in the Big Typhoon offers only a single path for heat to travel. Heat goes from end to end rather than from the middle to both ends. It's not clear whether this has any effect on thermals, but it does have one nicety: It makes the area around the base more open and easy to work in.

Heatpipes are terminated at the base rather than passing through on either side.

The copper base is not especially well finished, and a few ridges could be felt by running a fingernail across it. Is that enough to make a difference in performance? It depends; certain thermal interface materials seem to "like" different surfaces, and although it is usually true that smoother is better, it's not a universal rule.

The grain of the copper base can be easily seen.

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