Thermaltake MaxOrb Heatpipe Cooler: Maximum Orbness

Cooling
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TESTING

Testing was done according to our unique heatsink testing methodology, and the reference fan was profiled using our standard fan testing methodology. A quick summary of the components, tools, and procedures follows below.

Key Components in Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Pentium D 950 Presler core. TDP of 130W; under our test load, it measures 78W including efficiency losses in the VRMs.
  • ASUS P5LD2-VM motherboard. A basic microATX board with integrated graphics and plenty of room around the CPU socket.
  • Samsung MP0402H 40GB 2.5" notebook drive
  • 1 GB stick of Corsair XMS2 DDR2 memory.
  • FSP Zen 300W fanless power supply.
  • Arctic Silver Lumière: Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed specifically for test labs.

Test Tools

  • Seasonic Power Angel for measuring AC power at the wall to ensure that the heat output remains consistent.
  • Custom-built, four-channel variable DC power supply, used to regulate the fan speed during the test.
  • Bruel & Kjaer (B&K) model 2203 Sound Level Meter. Used to accurately measure noise down to 20 dBA and below.
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented in our standard fan testing methodology.

Software Tools

  • SpeedFan 4.32, used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensor. This sensor is not calibrated, so results are not universally applicable
  • CPUBurn P6, used to stress the CPU heavily, generating more heat than most real applications. Two instances are used to ensure that both cores are stressed.
  • Throttlewatch 2.01, used to monitor the throttling feature of the CPU to determine when overheating occurs.

Noise measurements were made with the fan powered from the lab's variable DC power supply while the rest of the system was off to ensure that system noise did not skew the measurements.

Load testing was accomplished using CPUBurn to stress the processor, and the graph function in SpeedFan was used to make sure that the load temperature was stable for at least ten minutes. The stock fan was tested at various voltages to represent a good cross-section of its airflow and noise performance.

The ambient conditions during testing were 19 dBA and 20°C.

TEST RESULTS

The Fan: A quick analysis of the fan's rotational speed and noise level showed that the fan has a wide operational range as the starting voltage was only 3.6V. The manual fan speed controller's limits are 1300 RPM and 2050 RPM, approximately 7V ~ 12V. It's a fairly loud fan that can be made reasonably quiet with undervolting.

MaxOrb Stock Fan Measurements
Fan Voltage
Fan Speed
Noise Level
12V
2050 RPM
40 dBA@1m
9V
1620 RPM
35 dBA@1m
7V
1290 RPM
29 dBA@1m
5V
920 RPM
24 dBA@1m
3.6V
640 RPM
20 dBA@1m

Cooling Results

12V
Thermaltake MaxOrb
Fan Voltage
Noise @1m
Temp
°C Rise
°C/W
12V
40 dBA
35°C
15
0.19
9V
35 dBA
37°C
17
0.22
7V
29 dBA
39°C
19
0.24
5V
24 dBA
41°C
21
0.27
3.6V
20 dBA
45°C
25
0.32
Load Temp: CPUBurn for ~10 mins.
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (20°C) at load.
°C/W: based on the amount of heat dissipated by the CPU (measured 78W); lower is better.

Fan @ 12V: With a 40 dBA noise output, it was hard to discern the fan's acoustic character. The turbulence simply overpowered any other sounds. Cooling performance was excellent at only 15°C over ambient.

Fan @ 9V: It was still fairly loud, but the 5 dBA drop in noise level revealed some buzzing at one meter's distance. Otherwise the overall sound was smooth but too loud. The CPU temperature increased by only 2°C.

Fan @ 7V: The buzzing decreased but was replaced by a low-pitched hum, with some ticking when listened from a foot away. It exhibited nasty tonal qualities (narrow bandwidth peaks) like previous Thermaltake and Zalman fans. Again, performance suffered by only 2°C.

Fan @ 5V: Most of the noise disappeared, leaving only a bit of turbulence and a low-pitched hum. Though 24 dBA is fairly quiet by the standards of the average person, the tonal hum would make it conspicuous in most indoor environments, even if the ambient noise was around the same level. The CPU temperature increased once more by 2°C. At this level there was a reasonable balance between SPL and cooling performance.

Fan @ 3.6V: Only a touch of hum remained at 20 dBA. Inside a case, it would probably fade away into the background from one meter or more. Temperature was a respectable 25°C above ambient.

Comparisons:

Compared to the last Thermaltake heatsink we tested, the Big Typhoon VX (using the stock fan), the MaxOrb performed more or less equal to it, except when each fan was producing 20 dBA or lower, at which point the MaxOrb outpaced it by 5°C. In a showdown with the Zalman CNPS8700, it was basically a tie.

Thermaltake MaxOrb: Comparables
CNPS8700
MaxOrb
Big Typhoon VX
SPL @1m
°C Rise
SPL @1m
°C Rise
SPL @1m
°C Rise
33 dBA
17
35 dBA
17
33 dBA
19
28 dBA
19
29 dBA
19
n/a
24 dBA
23
24 dBA
21
25 dBA
22
n/a
20 dBA
25
~19 dBA
30

Compared to other top-down coolers at low fan speeds (and noise), the MaxOrb is overpriced. The Zalman 8700 could not be included in this comparison because it was not tested with its fan at 20 dBA.

Comparison: Top-down Coolers
Model
Price
Fan Voltage
SPL @1m
°C Rise
Scythe Andy (ref. fan)
$35
9V
20 dBA
20
Asus Triton 75 (ref. fan)
$40
9V
20 dBA
20
Xigmatek HDT-D1284 (ref. fan)
$??
9V
~19 dBA
22
Gigabyte G-Power 2 Pro
$40
5V
20 dBA
23
Thermaltake MaxOrb
$50
3.6V
20 dBA
25
Xigmatek HDT-D1284
$??
7V
20 dBA
26
Thermalright SI-128 (ref. fan)
$45
9V
20 dBA
26


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