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Five Large P4 Coolers
Date 10th December 2004
Author James "Agg" Rolfe

Gigabyte 3D Rocket:
Gigabyte have only entered the CPU cooler market fairly recently, being more well-known for their motherboards and video cards in the past. This new offering is similar in basic concept to the previous two coolers in this roundup, but executed somewhat differently. There's a copper base with two heatpipes running across it and a cylindrical aluminium radiator section above. The two heatpipes curve towards each other, running almost parallel over the centre of the CPU, then each end rises into the radiator.

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What's unusual is that the fan is a radial type, mounted low in the centre of the radiator. The top of the radiator is actually sealed with a clear plastic sheet. Air is drawn in through the extremely-tightly-packed fins in the top section of the radiator and exhausted out the bottom and sides of the unit, beneath the rocket-fin-like plastic skirt which presumably gives this cooler its name. This air therefore travels through the radiator section twice - once on the way in and once on the way out - which has to help heat transfer. It then blows out across the motherboard away from the socket - the box notes that cooling the capacitors around the socket could extend their lifetime. Voltage regulators certainly don't mind a bit of extra cooling either.

Click to Enlarge   Click to Enlarge

In the large retail pack you receive the cooler itself, mounting hardware, a decent manual, some Gigabyte-branded thermal paste and a "fan speed control cable". This cable has an in-line resistor which lowers the fan speed to 2500rpm from the default 3000rpm, so maybe "reduction" rather than "control" would be more accurate. Still, it's a nice inclusion. The thermal paste is in fact Shin Etsu, according to the manual, which is an almost mystical thermal paste recommended by the CPU manufacturers. Mounting hardware is included for S478 and LGA775 on the Intel side, as well as SocketA and A64 AMD motherboards. The box notes "Easy Clip Installation - No Tool Required."

Click to Enlarge

Sonic's services aren't required for this cooler, as the sticker provides a clear reflection in the heatsink base.

The 3D Rocket's install mechanism is similar to the Hyper 6 and fairly fiddly, but uses the stock mounting bracket with no backplate. However the mounting clips are a lot more confidence-inspiring because they are forcing upwards into the bracket and they seem much less likely to slide off the side of the heatsink base than the Cooler Master design. Again, there's a surprising amount of pressure on the socket so a fair bit of force is required on the mounting clips during installation.

Click to Enlarge   Click to Enlarge

Due to the air flowing through the cooler downwards, towards the motherboard, the northbridge cooler and the back of the video card receive a constantly-moving stream of air. Under heavy CPU load this air can be quite warm, so may not have the intended effect.

In terms of motherboard compatability, it's similar to the Silent Tower in that it rises directly up from the socket so shouldn't clash with motherboard components. However, the plastic skirt on the radiator section may foul the PSU if your CPU socket is very close to the top edge of the motherboard, in a case where the PSU is also close to the top edge.

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