Gigabyte Volar CPU heatsink/fan

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The installation method is different for Intel and AMD-based systems, but both methods utilize the stock system.  For Intel systems, this means push-pins, while AMD systems use the standard AM2 (or 939) retention module. As we may have noted in other heatsink reviews, we much prefer the AM2 mounting system; the push-pins used for stock socket 775 heatsink mounting are often painfully awkward to use, especially with large heatsinks.

Out of the box, the Volar can be dropped straight into an AMD system with minimal fuss.  It comes with two steel wings that seat the heatsink securely in the retention module and a long clip that locks the heatsink in place.  No tools are required, and, as long as there are no obstructions in the case, the installation only takes a minute or two.

The steel "wings" keep the heatsink centered over the CPU in AMD systems.

Intel systems are a little more complicated because the required brackets don't come preinstalled.  The two AMD "wings" must be replaced with a pair of push-pin brackets that are compatible with Socket 775 mounting holes.  The switch is quite straightforward, and there is plenty of room to work with.  The hardest part is dealing with the tiny screws, but this is a minor inconvenience at worst.  Intel's pushpin installation system could certainly be improved, but that's hardly Gigabyte's fault.

Intel systems need to install a pair of pushpin brackets.

Clearance around the CPU socket is not an issue; the bulk of the heatsink sits well above the motherboard, so there is plenty of room for tall chipset coolers. However, the height and breadth are not small; case clearance is more likely to be a problem than motherboard compatibility. The height could probably be reduced a bit without any problem simply by bending the heapipes a little manually. Width is more fixed, however. On our test bench, the Volar hung more than a centimeter over the top edge of the motherboard. In a small case, it's quite likely to interfere with the power supply.


Fan provided by Everflow.

The fan is branded with a large Volar label on one side, and Gigabyte's logo is printed prominently on the other. Close examination reveals some small text at the bottom — "Everflow" — the fan's manufacturer. A search for the model number on Everflow's web site turned up no results, but that's no surprise for a fan that has obviously been customized to Gigabyte's needs. The "S" and "L" at the end of the model number suggest a low speed, sleeve bearing design. However, Gigabyte lists the bearing type as EBR, and 2,000 RPM isn't especially slow for a 120mm fan — at least by SPCR's standards.

A simple resistor helps drop the voltage in the fan control cable.

Gigabyte's simple pass-through resistor cable drops the fan speed down to 1,500 RPM from 2,000 RPM. Gigabyte's claim that this drops the noise from 23 dBA to 18 dBA is implausible; even the best 120mm fans have a hard time getting as low as 23 dBA at 1,000 RPM, never mind 1,500 RPM. A quick multimeter test showed that the cable dropped the voltage to just under 9V with a regular 12V input. Perhaps this drop is enough to achieve a 5 dBA drop if the cooler is used in conjunction with a motherboard-embedded fan controller.

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