In The Box
After emptying the box, we find ourselves looking at the HSF, a controller box, a bag containing the mounting hardware and wiring harnesses, and a small instruction manual. At first glance it doesn't look much different than many other products currently on the market.
Beginning with the cooler, we see a larger sized box that sits high above the processor. This is pretty much standard fare for heatpipe designs as there is a requirement for a certain amount of piping to be effective.
Turning the cooler over shows the aluminum fins that provide the heat dissipation capabilities for the heatpipes. The shroud that surrounds the unit keeps the airflow moving through the fins to ensure the best cooling possible. The fan itself is a 92mm model that is controlled by the cooling system. It spins at higher speeds when needed and this speed ranges from 2000-2600RPM. Noise output is 24 dBA at the lower speeds and 34 dBA at the high range. A little louder than many coolers, but not to the extent that it becomes too much to bear.
Moving down toward the lower portion of the cooler shows us the heatpipe technology being used. This is already a proven concept that has produced very good cooling results. This particular design uses four full heatpipes to remove the unwanted heat from the base area of the cooler. There are two pipes removing heat from the base of the TEC and two pipes removing heat from the top portion of the TEC.
Above is what makes this unit different from the rest of the kids on the block. For those not familiar with this type of cooling solution, it is a TEC unit, also commonly referred to as a Peltier cooler. The simplified concept behind this type of cooling is that when you pass a current through two dissimilar metals that have been connected at two junctions, you experience the Peltier effect. One side of the plate gets much cooler and the opposite side gets much warmer. This makes a TEC very useful for cooling electronic components, but if you get the processor to remain below ambient temperature, you have issues with condensation building up around the processor and core areas. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this isn't a good thing.
Enthusiasts have been using Peltier cooling for several years now, but always with care. What the folks at Vigor Gaming have done is to create a lower powered Peltier unit that doesn't do all the cooling work itself, but works in conjunction with a heatpipe cooling solution. While the Peltier is capable of accepting a good deal more voltage for higher performance, this unit allows only a 5A draw from the 12v rail, so is only rated at 60 watts maximum. This gives you the benefit of Peltier cooling but without the high power draw that most coolers of this type require. Most power supplies should have no issues with this little of a pull, and if your system does have issues, then it was time to upgrade anyway.
Something else to consider is that since this TEC is working in conjunction with the heatpipe cooling and not alone, you won't have those drastic changes in temperature in the event your processor puts out more heat than the device is designed to dissipate. Heatpipes work well by themselves to start with, so you have a firm foundation from the beginning and are simply adding more fuel to the fire, so to speak.
Moving down to the base shows a very smooth finish, but no lapping. If you are one of those who just have to have a shiny base, be very careful when grabbing for the fine sandpaper and polishing compound. The base of this cooler is actually copper and the silver coloring you see above is due to a nickel plating that has been used on the copper material. Nickel isn't the best as far as heat conductivity is concerned, but we'll see how it performs when we start cranking up the heat during our tests.
Besides the heatsink, we also have a monitoring device included with this package. It is a very simple device and includes an LCD display area that allows you to monitor the temperature of the Peltier cooler. That's right, it monitors the Peltier and not the processor temperature, so don't confuse yourself. While some may view this as a downfall, I find it a good idea as you only need to glance and can immediately tell that the Peltier is working properly.
The buttons allow you to change the color of the LCD background and adjust temperature readings from Celsius to Fahrenheit. Pretty simple design overall.
Our final stop in the box consists of the contents of that plastic bag with the cabling and mounting hardware. Also included is a case badge and small tube of thermal interface material. While it isn't the stark white of a silicon based TIM, I will forgo the use of it and stick with the Arctic Silver 5 so that the results will be consistent with previous tests conducted.