Thermaltake's Big Contender: The Big Typhoon

Cooling
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FAN DETAILS

The fan is a strange hybrid of orange and black from Taiwanese company Hong Sheng. This is worthy of comment because one of our favorite 120mm fans — the Nexus Real Silent 120 — is also orange. A closer inspection revealed a few other similarities: Closed corner flanges, similarly shaped blades, and a frame that looked nearly identical. In fact, aside from the color of the frame and the label on the hub, we were able to find only one difference: A small tab on one of the support struts that kept the cables in place on the Nexus. The two fans were similar enough that it seems very likely that the original manufacturer is the same for both fans. This is strange, since the original source for the Nexus is reputed to be Yate Loon, not Hong Sheng.


The label on the hub clearly identifies Hong Sheng as the OEM.

After a few puzzled moments, we compared our Nexus to some others in the lab... and realized that there were two distinct versions of the Nexus, with only a very slight difference in the shape of the central spokes to distinguish them. Presumably, the second frame style comes from Yate Loon. A photo showing the two versions side by side can be found in our recent 120mm fan round up.


The stock fan is seemingly identical to the Nexus 120. That's a very good sign.

Although it looks identical, the Big Typhoon's fan is rated for 300 RPM more than the Nexus, and did seem to be louder at stock voltage. However, when matched up rotation-for-rotation, its noise signature was indistinguishable; both had the same smooth growl that quickly disappeared into the background below ~700 RPM. There is little doubt that this fan is a winner.

However...
Revision Note: Big Typhoon VX Fan and Fan Controller

As mentioned in the introduction, the newer Big Typhoon VX has a different fan from the Big Typhoon tested here, so comments about noise and the comparison with the Nexus only apply to the original revision. The VX revision also comes with a fan controller, which further complicates things.


A wire grill is included for looks and safety, but can probably be left off for better thermal and acoustic results.

INSTALLATION

The mounting system is the same fiddly some-tools-required system used by the Silent Tower, with all the same pros and cons. Pros: Security and wide compatibility (Sockets 478 and 775 for Intel, Socket A, K8 and AM2 for AMD). Cons: Very difficult to install, and no indication of when to stop tightening.

While we were impressed that Thermaltake has managed to design a single clip that works for all five of the most recent major sockets, supporting processors from as long ago as 1999, we were less than thrilled to find that installing the clip was both difficult and time consuming.

The installation process is to remove whatever stock mounting system exists and thread thin bolts through a custom backplate, the stock mounting holes, some brass standoffs to secure the backplate to the motherboard, the mounting plate, and finally some tiny nuts to hold it all together. Each bolt needs to be dealt with individually, and some of the bolts can be very tough to get to once the heatsink is in place. The hardest part is putting the nuts on, as no wrench is included and they are too small for most wrench kits. They are too thin and awkwardly placed to use an adjustable wrench. Our eventual solution was to use needle nose pliers to tighten them, but this was time consuming and required a lot of room around the base. It would be nearly impossible to install on a motherboard in a case.


The mounting system uses tiny nuts and bolts... and doesn't include a wrench.

Revision Note: Big Typhoon VX Mounting System

Thermaltake has replaced this clumsy system in the updated Big Typhoon VX, although the revision does not support Socket 478 or Socket A. What it loses in compatibility it gains in ease of use: Custom clips that fit the stock mounting systems easily and without requiring extra tools.



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