Gigabyte 3D Coolers
We took a look at Gigabyte's first 3D cooler some time ago, built on a heatpipe design with multiple retention clips to fit any socket, it certainly made quite a good impression on all of us.
Gigabyte has expanded the 3D coolers to include a few new modules - two based on pure copper designs and the last on a wind tunnel philosophy.
From Left to Right we have the PCU31-SD, in the middle we have the newest PCU22-SE and far right we have the PCU31-VH GT Edition. Each of these coolers are based on the Gigabyte 3D Cooler design that we first tested some months ago, and to be honest, we were quite impressed with its performance.
First on the list is the PCU31-SD. This model is a base line model with dual speed fan, which is selected by installing a 3 pin extension cable that has a resistor installed to reduce the voltage supplied to the fan. Personally this is quite an annoyance as if you wish to go from silent to full power (for overclocking) you have to unplug the fan, remove the extension cable and then plug the fan back in - however, you can simply connect it to a rheobus, which will eliminate this problem.
The base of the unit is solid copper with four tubes extending from the base, these coolers run on the heatpipe principle, which laptops quite frequently use. These four tubes run up through over 40 copper fins. These fins are cooled by a cylindrical fan in the middle allowing for a much better cooling affect than the traditional over head fan design of heatsinks.
The PCU31-VH follows most of the 3D design with a major exception. Rather than having to use a 3 pin cable to reduce the fan speed, this one has a built in circuitry board with a potentiometer system that can be mounted into a 3.5" drive bay or a free PCI expansion slot. This is much more appealing as the fan speed can be controlled much easier and with greater range.
The PCU22-SE or "Rocket Cooler" as Gigabyte now calls it is a further development of the 3D cooling design. This one stands 1/3 taller than the PCU31 series, and has two stages on it - one to cool the CPU area as well as a venting system to promote better cooling of other motherboard components. This unit has a copper base with four pipes; however, the cooling fins are alloy, making the unit somewhat lighter than its other two siblings. For fan speed, the same 3 pin extension cable is used to give full speed or low speed operations, however, a Rheobus would be better option as this is what we used to run the fans in our tests at full and low speeds.
All three coolers are compatible with Socket A, 478, 754 and 939/940 due to the three different mounting clips Gigabyte include. This means the cooler can be used on your current CPU, and if you change platforms, it can go with you and not be left behind. With the new LGA775 converter Gigabyte supplies now, all three coolers can be used on the LGA775 series. The PCU22-SE comes with one as standard, the others need a separate purchase.
For our tests we placed the cooler on the hottest CPU we could get our hands on - Intel Pentium 4 560 (3.6GHz) and compared it to the Intel stock heatsink that is supplied with the Prescott series of CPU in order to determine if this can replace the stock Prescott cooler and provide better results.
Here we can see that all three coolers are just slightly warmer than the Prescott cooler under load.
When at full speed, they totally blow the stock Prescott cooler away. Running at half speed, the cooler is still silent enough yet allows better cooling than the rather loud Prescott default cooling. It is great to see a Prescott cooler running quiet while still cooling the CPU effectively.
We give the PCU31-VH 9 out of 10 and the PCU22-SE and PCU31-SD 8 out of 10 due to the fan speed reduction system.
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