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Spire Verticool SocketA CPU Cooler
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Date 26th September 2004
Author Evan "SLATYE" Slatyer
Editor James "Agg" Rolfe
Manufacturer Spire Coolers
Vendor LowNoisePC

Testing and Results

Testing and Results:
I tested the Falcon Rock II, Whisper Rock IV, Verticool, and an AMD stock heatsink. AMD has several designs for their stock heatsinks, but this was the plain aluminium one using a 60mm low-profile fan. I recorded CPU and northbridge temperatures at idle (at the Windows XP desktop for 20 minutes) and load (Prime95ís Ďlarge-FFTí test, which aims for maximum heat and power consumption). The ambient temperature was measured with an external thermometer and stayed at a constant 21 degrees throughout testing.

The test setup was as follows:
Athlon XP 2500+ @ 2145Mhz, 1.925v.
Abit NF7-S v2.0 with Zalman NB47J northbridge heatsink, using TicTacís 3dFire v2 BIOS
512Mb Geil DDR400
Samsung 120Gb HDD
Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste

Temperatures were measured with SpeedFan v4.09

The AMD stock heatsink quickly reached 65 degrees under load, and showed no signs of stopping there. I turned the system off to prevent damage to the CPU.

The results for the Falcon Rock II, Whisper Rock IV, and the AMD stock heatsink were relatively logical. In the DansData review of the Whisper Rock IV, it was found to have poorer performance than the older Falcon Rock II, and this was something which I noticed. The AMD stock heatsink performed poorly, as a result of the 60mm fan and the simple aluminium construction.

The northbridge temperatures were interesting, because I had always assumed that the Falcon Rock II and Whisper Rock IV provided no cooling for the north bridge. However, both heatsinks have a wide channel where the clip fits, and through this channel a fast stream of cold air flows directly onto the northbridge heatsink. The AMD stock heatsink, with no side outlet, provides no cooling and the northbridge quickly grew hot. The Verticool, which draws air directly over the fins, should have performed well, but the fan is mounted high enough that it only cools the top of the fins. However, it recorded load north bridge temperatures equal to those of the Falcon Rock II and Whisper Rock IV.

The results which really surprised me were those of the Verticool. As a heatpipe-based cooler, I was expecting around five degrees better performance than the Falcon Rock II, with a lower noise level. I had also expected excellent cooling for the northbridge, since the fan draws air directly over the fins of the NB47-J. The results, which essentially equalled the Falcon Rock II, seemed unusually bad for a heatpipe-based cooler. Repeated tests (of both the Falcon Rock II and the Verticool) showed no difference in results. I suspect that the reason is that the heatpipes are held onto the base by thermal adhesive, the 80mm fan is a low-noise, low-speed model, and the mounting clip does not put very much pressure on the CPU core.

In order to see how each heatsink scaled with different speed fans, I tried both the Whisper Rock IV and Verticool heatsinks with the fan from the Verticool running through a Zalman adaptor. This adaptor is a simple resistor, but it reduces the voltage to around 7v, at which speed the fan is essentially silent. I did not include the AMD stock heatsink in these tests because there is no way to easily mount the Verticoolís 80mm fan on it. I did not include the Falcon Rock II because it is really just a Whisper Rock IV with a different fan.

When swapping the fans, I noticed an interesting fact about the Whisper Rock IV: it has a small metal clip between the two main blocks of fins. The purpose seems to be to keep the mounting clip from getting too close to the fan. Testing indicated no change in performance with the small clip removed, which is logical because itís directly below the fan motor hub (an area where there is no airflow).

The tests were done with an ambient temperature of 18 degrees, with the same system as before.

The Falcon Rock II gave poor performance, almost in line with the AMD stock heatsink (although it was much quieter). The Verticool gave a good performance, managing to keep the CPU at a reasonable temperature even with the slower fan.

I suspect that these results are due to the designs of each heatsink. The Falcon Rock II is a very traditional heatsink, with a fairly high resistance to airflow from the fact that the fan is essentially blowing air directly onto a flat base. This means that with a slower fan, the airflow is significantly reduced. The Verticool has a much lower resistance because the fan blows straight through and very thin fins are used.

Given these results, Iíd have to conclude that for a quiet heatsink, the Verticool is excellent. Itís not far from being completely silent with the default fan (it was easily drowned out by the 40mm fan on my video card, and the Antec TruePower 380w PSU). With a suitable resistor or fan controller, it is essentially silent and still offers good performance. The Falcon Rock II is a better heatsink for those on a budget, simply because it costs so much less. It still offers great performance, and excellent scaling with fan power (as shown in the DansData review). This makes it a good candidate for a cheap and high performance heatsink, since even after paying for the cooler and a new fan it is likely to cost less than the Verticool. While the Whisper Rock isn't a great performer, as a near-silent replacement for the AMD stock cooler it's definitely a good option.


All original content copyright James Rolfe.
All rights reserved. No reproduction allowed without written permission.
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