OCZ has been playing with aluminum in a copper world. Their new Dominator HSF is designed for the "Budget-Conscious" buyer who wants some cooling for their mighty Thunderbirds. But can they succeed with an aluminum sink when everyone else is using copper? Come join Mike as he delves into this question and let's you know just what is hot about the Dominator... or what's not.
IntroductionOCZ has been making quite a name for themselves during the past year or two. They are a company that designs, creates and sells items that are designed specifically for the overclocker. Whether it's a processor that they guarantee will overclock, or something like today's review item, they are here for we who like to push our systems to the utter limits.Today's contestant is their new heatsink design. It's called the Dominator, and is an aluminum heatsink made for those on a budget. Retail price for this unit is US$15.99, and that includes the large fan pictured above.To be honest, when I saw that it was an aluminum sink, I wasn't expecting a whole lot. Sure it has a big fan set on top, but come on...it's ALUMINUM! It's a good thing that I took the time to test it, though because the results were a huge surprise. I won't give away results just yet, but you may want to rethink the aluminum sinks for a moment before tossing that idea out of your head.But enough of that. Let's see what we have here...
We have seen a similar heatsink to this on the Gladiator, but that one was copper. When I first saw the fins, I noticed that they appeared to have been coated with something. After some research and contacts with the OCZ Tech folks, I learned that it is their new design. It is called Textured Fin Technology and is a special way to cut the fins from the aluminum. What it does is to give the fins a little more surface area so that it can better dissipate the heat from the processor. We'll see later how well this new technology works.Other than this, it is very much the same as the Gladiator. It features a solid base, thin fins that go across the unit, and a split down the center to accommodate the clipping mechanism. It also has an aluminum housing that surrounds the fins. It has a duel role of protecting the fins from damage, and it also works as a means to attach the fan without having to run large screws down through the fins.The Base
Don't you just love it when someone else does your work for you? Though my camera skills are still in training, it is easy to see that the base of this heatsink is polished to a mirror finish. There are absolutely no ridges or mars to be found, so you can expect a very nice fit to the core of your processor. Now THIS is what is meant by "lapping".Another very nice change of pace was the omission of the thermal tape. Since it is usually of dubious quality, it's nice to not have to remove it for once. It also keeps you from accidentally scratching the bottom of the sink when you have to remove it. The nice mirror finish is intact and ready for some loving attention as we get ready to install it.The Fan
In case you have been wondering about the monstrosity that resides on top of this sink, it is a huge Delta unit. It measures in at a whopping 60mm x 60mm x 38mm, spins at a fast 7,000 RPM, has an airflow rating of 43-CFM and emits a very loud 50.5dBA of sound output. Now that we have those numbers out of the way, let me tell you a bit about this fan. Not only is it huge, it is a good bit louder than even the Black Label Delta 38-CFM fans that are so popular. While I can still maintain a level of sanity with it running, there are some who will probably want to throw it right out the window. If you don't want the loud whine of a fast moving fan like this, then you might want to check out the YS Tech fan option on the OCZ site.The fan also came with a grill attached. This seemingly unimportant little piece of metal is a huge benefit for those with clumsy fingers. But in my case, I like to have the grill in place so that stray wires don't get sucked into the very powerful fan. There's nothing quite like the feeling of your gut wrenching after you've just heard the grind of some wiring getting pulled into your fan.The Clip
The clipping mechanism on the Dominator is one of the easiest that I have ever installed. The back of the clip easily went down far enough to attach to the rear lug with no problems. The pressure necessary to mount the front stud was not too much at all, and was easily accomplished with a little force of the index finger. I was concerned at first that it might not be enough pressure to the core, but after checking it out, the heatsink was secure on the socket and didn't move around.
TestingTesting for this sink followed my normal guidelines so that I can have results that are fairly compared to other heatsinks without bias. Ambient temperature during testing was 21-22C, voltage was set to 1.80 volts and the test system consisted of:Antec SX1030 Tower CaseAMD Thunderbird 1000 (AVIA)Abit KT7A-RAID Motherboard256MB Crucial PC133 CAS2 SDRAMArctic Silver Thermal CompoundProlink XX-Player GeForce3Temperatures were taken at stock speed, again at 1100MHz, and a final time at 1333MHz. This will give us an idea as to the effectiveness of the sink during both normal, moderate and aggressive clock speeds. The 1333MHz speed testing is a new one that I have incorporated, but with the 1GHz processors and above going to much higher levels, it seemed necessary to see what coolers would be effective when these processors are pushed to these higher limits.Testing itself included measuring the temperature at idle, after a Quake III Deathmatch battle, and again after a continuous looping of MadOnion's 3dMark2001 Demo. These are the same testing criteria that I have been using in the past, so am maintaining some consistency for the sake of comparison.As I stated earlier, I wasn't really expecting too much from this aluminum beast. With most manufacturers trying their best to make better copper units, it almost seems a step backward to revert to an aluminum model. But I think you'll be surprised at its performance. I know that I was. So to satisfy your curiosity, lets get down to some serious benchmarking...- 1000MHz (57.4 Watts)
Its looking like that new textured fin technology is paying off in spades here. I am getting constant results that are outperforming some of the best selling copper sinks on the market today! If this keeps up, we're going to have something do some rethinking on the topic of heatsink material. But can it keep up this pace? Let's see...- 1100MHz (62.2 Watts)
OK...Tell me again why we want a copper heatsink? To better dissipate heat? Hmm...As I told you earlier, the results will surprise you. The performance has been not only on par with the copper sinks out there, but in many cases it has surpassed them altogether. And to think that this heatsink was made for those who are budget-conscious too. But before we rant, let's see how the Dominator hangs with a 33% overclock of the processor...- 1333MHz (73.6 Watts)
WOW! The Dominator was able to handle the stress all right. It handled it as well as the Dragon Orb, and that is a pretty decent sink too. Not too shabby considering that aluminum has all but been tossed out the window as a viable material to make heatsinks from anymore. So lets wrap it up...
ConclusionWhat can I say here? The OCZ Dominator has done a very good job of living up to its name. If you were to just compare it to other heatsinks that were made out of aluminum, it truly dominates them. But even when you compare it with top-notch copper units, it is still able to hold its own. Add to this the fact that it costs under US$16, and you have one great buy.But the down side to this sink is the noise. While I can handle the loud noise, some won't. If you're still looking for a great cooler that is quiet also, you will want to continue your search.Bottom line...If you are in the market for an outstanding cooler and don't mind the noise that this sink puts out, then take a very close look at this Dominator. At under $16, it's a deal that you just can't beat.- ProsGreat performanceInexpensiveLightweight- ConsLOUD!Rating - 9.5/10 and TweakTown's Editors Choice Award
Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:25 pm CDT
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