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Cooler Master Hyper Z600 CPU Cooler: A Real Heavyweight

May 26, 2008 by Lawrence Lee with Mike Chin

Product
Cooler Master Hyper Z600

LGA775 & K8 CPU Cooler
Manufacturer
Cooler
Master
Street Price
??

Cooler Master is a Taiwanese company specializing in PC cases, power supplies,
and cooling solutions. They made their name with high end aluminum chassis years ago, and now offer a wide range of cases — entry level, mainstream, and enthusiast — that are usually sleek and stylish, rarely gawdy or overdone. CM cooling products are
less well known, despite the fact they have some interesting products including
liquid cooling systems and spherical heatsinks.

The Hyper line of tower heatsinks is relatively obscure, but the new Hyper
Z600 is difficult to ignore. Cooler Master's name does not have the weight of
Thermalright, Scythe, or Zalman, but this massive heatsink carries itself with
an aura of authority that transcends brand names. Weighing in at more than one
kilogram and measuring over six inches tall, the Z600 is a true heavyweight.



The Hyper Z600 arrived a bit worse for wear, but otherwise
unscathed. Despite the cooler's size the box is actually more compact
than most.




The Z600 is an enormous, shiny tower heatsink.


Cooler Master Hyper Z600: Key Features

(from the product
web page
)
Feature & Brief

Our Comment
The interlaced fins maximizes the dissipation
surface to provide superior cooling performance.
We've seen interlaced fins before, specifically
in some Scythe products. It leads to tighter fin spacing, which may not
be ideal for a passive heatsink.
Unique “X” design creates lower
back pressure to make air pass through heatsink quickly and guide more air
pass through the heatsink.
The "X" shape also increases
the span of each fin, which increases airflow resistance. Not good for passive
cooling.
Mirror-coated copper base and 6 heat pipes
ensure 100% contact with the processor to maximize the heat conduction.
It could draw heat from CPU to the heat pipes immediately.
A good base is important, but having
it polished to a mirror shine is not. In our experience, it simply needs
to be flat and reasonably smooth.
Optimum fin space allows air pass through
heatsink quickly.
Narrow fin spacing allows for more fins
and greater surface area. Wide fin spacing improves performance with low
airflow. We'll see if the Z600 has reached the optimum balance.


Cooler Master Hyper Z600: Specifications

(from the product
web page
)
CPU Socket
1) Intel Socket LGA775

2) AMD Socket (Socket 940/AM2/AM2+)
CPU Support
Intel Core 2 Extreme, Core 2 Quad, Core 2 Duo, Pentium
Extreme Ed., Pentium Dual-Core, Pentium D, Pentium 4 Extreme Ed., Pentium
4 HT, Pentium 4, Celeron Dual-Core, Celeron D AMD Phenom, Athlon 64 X2,
Athlon X2, Sempron
Dimensions
127 x 127 x 160 mm
Material
copper base, 6 heat pipes, aluminum fin
Weight
1045 g
Heat Pipes Dimensions 6mm


PHYSICAL DETAILS

When the Scythe Ninja premiered we were amazed by its size. The Z600 goes a
step further.



Scythe Ninja on the left, Hyper Z600 on the right.

The Z600 measures 1cm taller and almost 2cm wider than the already
massive Scythe Ninja. Its fins are also thicker and more rigid. It takes a fair
amount of force to bend them. The Ninja's fins are much thinner, measuring 0.35mm with a micrometer, compared to the Hyper Z600's 0.49mm.



From the top.

The top is capped with a plastic cover that resembles metal.
The center bears a Cooler Master name plate.



Note difference of fin spacing in center vs. the edges.

Like most tower heatsinks, the Z600 resembles a futuristic condominium
raised off the ground by heatpipes, four of which run through the center body
of the cooler while two push out to the outer corners.



On its side.

The Z600's "interlaced" appearance is created by the fact that every
second fin in the upper section extends outward to cover the outer heatpipes.
The gap between the fins at the corners, at 4.44mm, is twice as wide than at the center,
where it measures just 2.18mm.



The base and underside.

A protective film is attached to the base to prevent any damage prior to
installation. As we've seen many times in the past, the heatpipes are sandwiched
between two mounting plates screwed together.

MORE PHYSICAL DETAILS & INSTALLATION



The base.

The large number of heatpipes and the relatively small base means the heatpipes are positioned very close together in the base. The nickel-plated copper base is very flat, and finely polished,
with a small divot at the center, suggesting a circular polishing device was
used.



Mounting hardware and accessories.

The including accessories include a variety of mounting plates,
fan brackets, nuts, screws, and washers. From the amount of materials provided,
you can probably guess at the complexity of the installation procedure.



LGA775 mounting arms.

For LGA775 installation, four screws must first be threaded
through two mounting arms. Washers are then placed over them. The threading of these screws is the reverse of the norm; you turn counterclockwise to tighten. This is to avoid interference when the nuts on the other side are threaded on or off.



Mounting arms installed.

The mounting arms are then screwed onto the base. At this poin,t the screws
have become threaded rods anchored to the base. The shape and size of the fins makes it impossible to remove the screws when the mounting arms are attached to the heatsink.



Backplate installation demonstrated.

The image above shows how the mounting system works. The screwdriver illustrates where the motherboard would be. The screws go through the holes on the motherboard and the holes on the metal backplate, and four nuts are used to
to secure it.



Lug nut.

To tighten the nuts, a lug nut is provided. It must be used
with a philips head screw driver. This is unnecessarily awkward. A complete nut driver would have been far more useful.



Lug nut and nut.

To make things worse, the backplate has a ridge around the
rim, making it difficult to get a proper grip on the nut, especially as the nut is tightened.



Backplate secured.

The instructions suggest flipping the motherboard upside down onto
the heatsink — we decided it was safer as a two-person job, with one holding the motherboard and heatsink steady, and the other screwing the nuts in. The manual
also states that the backplate is optional even though the Z600 weighs over
a kilogram; we would not contemplate installation without the backplate!



While installation is difficult, when it's finished, the heatsink is extremely secure. There
was no give once the heatsink was on.

FAN MOUNTING

The Z600 does not come with a fan, but
two can be added if so desired. Mounting the fan is much easier than mounting the heatsink.



Fan brackets installed.

Two plastic brackets
screw on to the fan's corner holes and they simply snap onto two ridges that
run down the length of the heatsink. As the Z600 is symmetrical, you can use
two fans in a push-pull configuration to maximize performance. There's also
no problem in ensuring that the attached fan blows not towards the PSU but
towards the back case exhaust fan or vent.



Fan installed.




The distance between the center of the fan and the fins is about an inch. It calls for a high pressure fan for ideal airflow.

When a fan is attached, the distance between the center of
the heatsink and the outer edges becomes apparent. This unusually large
space makes it more difficult for airflow generated by the fan to reach
the center and out the other side. Unfortunately, the center, where fin
spacing is tighter, is where high airflow and static pressure are needed
the most.

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.
  • Nexus 120 fan (part of our standard testing
    methodology; used when possible with heatsinks that fit 120x25mm fans)
Nexus 120 Noise and Airflow
Characteristics
Voltage
Noise (SPL)
RPM
CFM
12V
1080 RPM
29 CFM
9V
850 RPM
23 CFM
7V
680 RPM
19 CFM
5V
490 RPM
13 CFM

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 22°C.

TEST RESULTS

Cooling Results

Cooler Master Hyper Z600
Fan Voltage
SPL @1m
Temp
°C Rise
°C/W
12V
22 dBA
39°C
17
0.22
9V
~19 dBA
41°C
19
0.24
7V
<19 dBA
43°C
21
0.27
5V
<19 dBA
47°C
25
0.32
Load Temp: CPUBurn for ~10 mins.

°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (22°C) at load.

°C/W: based on the amount of heat dissipated by the CPU (measured
78W); lower is better.

With Active Cooling: The Z600 performed very well with our quiet, low speed reference 120mm fan. The temperature rise above ambient was modest throughout
testing, even with the reference fan at 5V.

As mentioned on the previous page, the one inch gap between the fan and the center portion of the heatsink's fins probably limits the cooling performance with a low airflow fan like our reference fan. With a higher speed / airflow fan, we would expect the performance to rise in more than linear fashion.

One way to improve performance might be to simply close the top and bottom openings between the fan and the fins, which would force more of the airflow to go through the fins, rather than to escape out the gaps at the top and bottom. Closing the bottom opening is probably unwise, however; the wash of airflow from this gap helps to cool the VRM and other hot components on the motherboard around the CPU.

Passive Cooling: Due to our testing setup (outside the case, flat on the test bench
with no extra airflow), no heatsink has ever managed to cool our test processor
passively. The Z600 did a lot better than others in this regard however. Without
a fan, the temperature rose leisurely, taking more than 10 minutes to pass the
70°C barrier. However, the temperature continued to increase after this
point, showing no signs of stabilization. The test was stopped at 75°C.

Inside a real system, there is almost always peripheral airflow from other fans, mainly the exhaust case fan, and the power supply fan, both of which would normally be positioned very close to the Hyper Z600 on a typical motherboard. Under such conditions, the Z600 could easily cool many a CPU without a fan directly attached to it, much like the Scythe Ninja has done in so many SPCR-enthusiast systems.

Comparables

The Hyper Z600 performs similarly to the Scythe Ninja Copper, another behemoth
in both size and weight. Considering its dimensions and the ordeal of installation,
we expected better. We can only hypothesize that the big gap between the fan and the
center of the heatsink limits it. If the Z600 was
a simple square-shaped block like the Scythe Ninja/Copper, it probably would
fare better. It would also fare better with a higher speed fan, but then there'd be the the issue of greater noise.

Comparison: °C Rise Above Ambient Temperature
Reference 120 Fan
Ultra-120 eXtreme
Xigmatek S1283
Scythe Ninja CU
Hyper Z600
Scythe Andy
12V
12
13
17
17
16
9V
14
15
18
19
20
7V
17
18
20
21
24
5V
24
22
23
25
29


FINAL THOUGHTS

The Cooler Master Hyper Z600 looks very impressive, but it does not take the heavyweight heatsink crown — at least not for cooling performance with a low speed fan. It's tall and has plenty of
surface area, but its shape makes it challenging for a low-speed fan.
That said, it still performs extremely well, more or less matching the
Scythe Ninja Copper.
Like the Ninja Copper, its size and large surface area makes it a viable option for
passive cooling, although not with the hottest processors. It should
have no problem cooling a mid-range Intel or AMD processor without a fan.

Compared to the competition, the Z600's installation process is tedious.
While we can see why they opted for tightening the assembly from the motherboard's
underside — the heatsink's size leaves very little room over the standard
LGA775 mounting holes — better hardware should have been used. The current hardware and mounting procedure is quite a pain.

We don't know exactly how much the Z600 will end up costing on the retail market
— we suspect it will be at least around $50. There's heavy competition in that price range. The Xigmatek
HDT-S1283
, especially, with its low cost, size, weight, and exceptional performance
is an immediate competitor not easily countered. The Hyper Z600 is a very good, quiet cooler when equipped with a low speed fan; but mated with a high speed fan, we suspect it will enjoy greater success with the overclocking and gaming crowd .

Cooler Master Hyper Z600
PROS



* Great performance

* Dual-fan ready

* Very secure mounting
CONS



* Gigantic

* Heavy

* Difficult installation

Our thanks to Cooler
Master
for the Hyper Z600 heatsink sample.


POSTSCRIPT - May 27, 2008

The question of whether the gap between the fan and the fins could be closed — and what the effect of this might be — came up in the forum discussion of this review. It was a simple experiment to try. A piece of ordinary packing tape was used to block the hole at the top. The bottom portion was left open, as it's needed for VRM cooling anyway.

The result was a small but measurable 2°C improvement in cooling at all fan speeds. There was no impact on noise. This experiment demonstrates clearly that there is a significant loss of airflow — an airflow short-circuit — caused by the big gap between the fan and the center of the heatsink fins. Using a square-shaped cover rather than one that's the same X-shape as the fins would improve performance.

Cooler Master Hyper Z600
Fan Voltage
SPL @1m
Gap open (normal)
Gap closed (taped)
12V
22 dBA
39°C
37°C
9V
~19 dBA
41°C
39°C
7V
<19 dBA
43°C
41°C
5V
<19 dBA
47°C
45°C
Load Temp: CPUBurn for ~15 mins.



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* * *

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