Akasa AK-965 socket 775 tower cooler

Cooling
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Typical Use

None of the above test scenarios are quite right for the AK-965. With its low price and 4-pin PWM fan, it's a good candidate to plop in as a substitute for a nasty stock Intel HSF and let the motherboard's BIOS-level fan controller adjust its speed based on CPU temperature. In such an application, the noise / cooling will depend quite a lot on the motherboard's fan control system. The AK-965 is obviously capable of very good cooling as well as pretty quiet operation; whether your motherboard's fan control system can take advantage of both these aspects is something you can find out only by trying it. Each motherboard's fan control scheme is a bit different.

The alternative is to use a manual controller (either in the BIOS or externally) to reduce the fan speed down to an acceptable level, monitor the CPU temperature over time to be safe, and adjust the fan speed if necessary. Chances are, this approach will work fine, and you won't risk the fan speeding up and down annoyingly due to a poorly designed BIOS thermal fan control system.

AGAINST COMPETITORS

In most SPCR heatsink comparisons, because one of the reference fans has been used, we can simply lay out a table showing the temperature rise for each voltage/speed of the reference fan for a number of different heatsinks. Here, this is not possible. Virtually no other heatsinks were tested in the last couple of years with our reference 80mm fan, which was used in the test. Trying to lay out a simple comparison for data for several different SPL points for each of several fans is almost impossible.

So which noise level would most readers be interested in? Probably the 22 dBA@1m reached in the AK-965 with the stock fan at 7V. Various heatsinks tested in the past were sought out for performance data closest to 22 dBA@1m SPL, never mind the fan used. This will include comparisons with HS that have the advantage of better/bigger fans that blow more air at the same SPL. This is not a "fine" comparison, but a rough guide. (The prices are the best I found in a quick online search, March 14, 2008.)

Akasa AK-965 vs. Competition
Model
Price
Voltage
dBA@1m
°C Rise
°C/W
Akasa AK-965
$21
7V
22
27
0.35
Arctic Cooling Alpine 7 Pro
$16
7V
22
36
0.46
Gigabyte Volar
$35
5V
20
31
0.40
Zalman CNPS8700 LED
$50
5V
24
23
0.29
Scythe Ninja Mini
$32
9V
22
21
0.27

Arctic Cooling Alpine 7 Pro - The only one priced lower in our database of heatsinks reviewed on the same platform, it also comes with an integral fan and cools much worse at the same SPL.

Gigabyte Volar - Much higher price and aspirations, the Volar comes with an integral 120mm fan. It may cool slightly worse at the same SPL.

Zalman CNPS8700 LED - More than double the money, with integral fan, and probably performs about the same at 22 dBA@1m if you can get the fan to spin slower.

Scythe Ninja Mini - Its performance is clearly better at the same SPL (with the Scythe 80mm fan it was supplied with), but it also costs $10 more.

AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, studio quality, digital recording system, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files. It represents a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review. The recording contains ~10 seconds of the heatsink fan sound at each speed tested.

The recording begins with the ambient noise of the test room. Please set your playback volume so that the ambient noise is almost inaudible.

Akasa AK-965 with stock fan at 5.5V, 7V, 9V and 12V at 1m with 7 seconds of ambient between each level. (For best results, save the sound file to your own PC, then listen.)

Reference Comparatives

Nexus "Real Silent 80mm fan" at 5V, 7V, 9V and 12V at 1m

Nexus "Real Silent 92mm fan" at 5V, 7V, 9V and 12V at 1m

The recording is intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds 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. For best results, set your volume control so that the ambient noise is just barely audible. Be aware that very quiet noises may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

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



CONCLUSIONS

The Akasa AK-965 offers very good value for money, and it can be run quietly in many Intel-based systems. The combination of large fin area, multiple heatpipes, good mechanical integrity at the joints, and very high pressure clips makes for excellent cooling performance. The fan is noisy when allowed to run at full speed, but when slowed down to under half speed, it's probably quiet enough except for the most demanding users, while still providing decent cooling.

The pressure of the mounting system seems excessive, and users should exercise care to ensure no damage is done to the motherboard during installation. Even though it uses push-pins, it's safer to mount the heatsink with the motherboard ouside the case.

There's little in the way of posturing, fancy packaging, or excessive verbiage in this product. The absence of large amounts of plastic is nice to see. There wasn't even a plastic bag!

It's not the cat's meow among performance coolers, nor is it a product that silent enthusiasts will whisper loudly about, but the Asaka AK-965 is a worthy low cost replacement heatsink for socket 775 processors. In the hands of a modder, with a top-notch 120mm fan, and perhaps through-the-board bolt mounting, it could easily be the equivalent of a poor man's hot rod.

Pros

* Very good cooling
* Fan's quiet when undervolted
* No waste packaging
* Efficient design, not too heavy
* Great price
Cons

* Mounting could be too tight
* Fan could be quieter

Much thanks to the Akasa Group for the AK-965 sample.

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Articles of Related Interest

Recommended Heatsinks
SPCR's unique heatsink testing methodology
SPCR's standard fan testing methodology
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7
Thermalright Ultra 120
Arctic Cooling Alpine 7 Pro
Asus Triton 75 CPU Cooler

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