For those who know me, they realize that I am not a big fan of what many consider to be risky cooling techniques. Maybe I just enjoy my toys too much, but I generally don't take a lot of chances with my system. That said, I went ahead and tested this unit because of the quality that I am accustomed to seeing from the Thermaltake brand name.
For those who have tried to use peltier coolers in the past, you will already realize that it really can be a risk. But Thermaltake has built in some very workable safety devices into this cooler so the risks are very low. The PCI card makes sure that more power is pumped to the peltier unit as the temperatures climb. It is also designed to cause mass instability in the system in the event of something being either too hot or set up incorrectly. To test this theory, I unplugged the fan that sits atop the heatsink and the system went absolutely buggy. It would not boot up at all and went through a rapid 2-3 second run time and then immediate shutdown only to try to boot up again in a few seconds. This gives even the total novice a clue that something is wrong. When I connected the fan again, the system booted as it should.
Another consideration is noise. If you are one of those folks who are on that never ending quest for quiet, then you will be thrilled with this cooler. In all of the cooling setups that I have tested over the years, I have never had a cooler that produced this low of a noise level. Even when the system was running at its most powerful speeds I could hardly hear it over the case fans. It was certainly a very pleasant surprise.
BUT, the cooling potential is just too low for those who are looking for a cooling solution for a powerful rig. Maybe with a more powerful peltier unit things would be different, but the current setup has a very difficult time dealing with overclocked systems. Even that little 1700+ that I tested in that last portion wasn't able to get to anywhere near its speed limit due to the lack of proper cooling. A speed of 2.2GHz produces 83.1 watts and this isn't even the limit of that processor.
Also of note is the cost. Retailing at roughly US$140, it certainly doesn't come cheap. But then the safeguards built into a potentially hazardous cooling method aren't cheap to implement either.
Bottom line...If you've been on the lookout for a means to cool that savage processor with a minimal amount of noise, AND you aren't running an overclocked processor, then look at the SubZero4G. While not the most stellar of cooling results in this area, it is still capable of giving very reasonable cooling with nearly no noise. But if you have a Power Rig and are regularly pushing anything in excess of 74 watts of heat output, then you would be better off looking elsewhere for your cooling needs.
Very quiet operation
Safety features built in to protect system
External power source eases PSU load
Unable to handle overclocked processor
Heatsink base could use a bit more refinement
Rating - 6.5/10
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