What You Get
To begin with, there are three different versions of this cooler. While the base cooling system is the same in all models, you can choose between three different fan speeds to handle the load you need. From 28dBA to 39dBA, you can choose the noise level and performance that best suits your own rig.
As far as what you get once you crack open the plastic shell packaging, you get the sink, the fan of choice, mounting hardware, and a PCI rheostat along with the cabling necessary to keep everything running smoothly. Also included but not pictured is a plastic frame that you'll use to attach the fan. When I first saw this I had assumed it was nothing more than packing material, so don't make a mistake and throw it away. You'll be able to see this frame after the unit is installed.
It doesn't take long to see that this is not your average heatsink. The main purpose of the design is to allow the attached fan to cool not only the sink, but also the components close by and the motherboard. But even with this design in mind, this still isn't your average cooler.
Take note of the round tubing and the three tubes that rise through the aluminum fin array. I say tubes because that is exactly what they are. This isn't your run of the mill heatpipe setup with a gel inside to help dissipate heat; no, this is that combination I was mentioning in the introduction.
Inside the tubing is a liquid refrigerant (R134a) much like what you would use in a phase change cooling setup. The concept is also similar in that the processor creates heat that is carried into the copper base, which heats the refrigerant in the round evaporation chamber and causes it to turn into a gas and rise. As it is rising, the cooler air blowing through the aluminum fins dissipates this heat, which causes the cooling refrigerant to return to a liquid state and sink back into the lower areas of the cooler. While this is a very basic explanation of the process, it does indeed create a cycle of rising heat and falling refrigerant that should, in theory, do an adequate job of keeping everything nice and cool. All this in a package that only weighs in at just over 350 grams with the 92mm fan attached! If this thing can cool a processor under load at this weight, it will be a very pleasant change indeed.
Pulling off the protective boot from the base shows a pre-applied TIM. By this time I'm sure most of you know the next step I will be taking...removing this stuff and using some Arctic Silver 5. So lets remove the white goop and take a closer look at the base of this cooler.
Overall it is not in bad shape, but it could use a good lapping to make everything operate at peak efficiency. There were no gouges noted and the surface area looks to be quite smooth. Since this is a formal test, however, I'll run it through its paces as it was received from the factory.
The mount is nothing fancy, but since it has cutouts that fit the base of the cooler, it is incredibly simple to install. Once the AS5 is applied to the processor, simply slip the bracket over the base and set it into place. Secure the unit in place with the motherboard screws and the job is finished. It is that simple.
The final component of note is the included rheostat. It is a PCI bracket that fits easily into an empty slot. The back side of the bracket has ports for the included cabling so that the unit will be powered from a standard 4-pin Molex and the rheostat can then be hooked to the fan and the speed controlled manually. Again, nothing fancy but it is effective.