Thermaltake MaxOrb Heatpipe Cooler: Maximum Orbness

Cooling
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MP3 SOUND 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 recordings contain ~10 seconds of the heatsink fan sound at each speed tested, with 5~7 seconds of ambient between each level.

The recording begins with the ambient noise of the test room. Please set your playback volume so that the ambient noise is almost inaudible, then don't adjust the volume control again. For best results, save the sound file to your own PC, then listen.

Thermaltake MaxOrb with stock fan at 3.6V, 5V, 7V, 9V and 12V at 1m

Reference Comparatives (all at 5V, 7V, 9V and 12V at 1m)

Nexus "Real Silent 120mm fan"

Scythe Andy Samurai Master w/stock fan

Xigmatek HDT-D1284 with stock fan

Big Typhoon VX with stock fan

Zalman CNPS8700

The recordings are 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.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The MaxOrb was unable to significantly improve on the Zalman CNPS8700's performance, despite triple the number of heatpipes and its much larger size. They are priced comparably, but the CNPS8700 can fit in many cases the MaxOrb cannot, making it a more convenient choice for many. The radial design simply may have hit its peak. It's a sad thought, considering the classic Zalman CNPS7000 initiated many users to quiet computing.

While not our first choice for a top-down cooler (the Scythe Andy and Asus Triton 75 both over better performance per dollar, even when you add the cost of a fan to the total price tag), the MaxOrb is a decent heatsink. It performs well enough, is fairly light and looks great. That said, there are many things that can be improved. We would like to see Thermaltake remedy the mounting system, replace the fan with one that has better acoustics and have it be supported more securely, increase the range of the fan speed controller and make the control knob accessible without opening up the case.

It's nice to see that Thermaltake at least tried something different. The pattern of fin layers within the heatsink is imaginative and beautiful — though from a practical standpoint, it isn't any better than Zalman's simple snake-like heatpipes. In the end, the MaxOrb failed to impress us, but didn't disappoint either. It has the same basic qualities that most Thermaltake products are known for: It performs well enough, catches the eye, but is just too loud.

Thermaltake MaxOrb
PROS

* Good performance
* Top-down cooling
* Pretty as a picture
CONS

* Noisy, tonal fan
* Fan secured on only one side
* Awkward/loose mounting
* Speed control range narrow
* Control not accessible from outside
* Expensive

Our thanks to Thermaltake for the MaxOrb sample.

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Articles of Related Interest
Two Big Top-downers: Big Typhoon VX & Xigmatek HDT-D1284
Xigmatek HDT-S1283 & SD964 "heatpipe direct-touch" CPU coolers
Akasa AK-965 socket 775 tower cooler
Ninja Copper: Scythe's 5th Year Celebration
Asus Triton 75 CPU Cooler
Zalman CNPS8700 LED CPU Cooler: Update of a Classic

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