Thermaltake Crystal Orb Chipset Cooler Review

For those looking into the possibility of overclocking their video cards, a good chipset cooler is a must. Thermaltake has a new chipset cooler that they feel is up to the challenge. Come join Darthtanion as he digs into the new Crystal Orb Chipset Cooler and lets you know whether Thermaltake was successful.
| Oct 19, 2001 at 11:00 pm CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Thermaltake

Crystal Orb -

IntroductionThermaltake has been around since 1999, and their main product line has been cooling devices. They were almost immediately recognized for their lineup of Orb coolers. They were designed to work on the newest of processors while giving them an entirely new look. Some folks liked them, some hated them.Earlier this year, though, Thermaltake came out with the Dragon Orb 3 HSF and that took away the doubt as to the capabilities of their product line. Since then, they have been branching off into other needed areas of cooling and have managed to produce some pretty good items that fill a need for our new modern (ie...HOT) systems.This brings us to today's review. The Crystal Orb is designed to work on chipsets instead of processors. Whether you are in need of a better cooler for the Northbridge of your motherboard or a new sink for your favorite graphics card, the Crystal Orb is designed to work for you.So let's see what this new Orb cooler has to offer us...

Crystal Orb -

The Orb
Like other Orb coolers of the past, this one comes completely enclosed. It consists of a 50mm x 50mm x 15mm fan that is encapsulated in a silver colored casing. The fan spins at 5500 RPM and blows 12.4-CFM. Sound output of the fan is only 26 dBA, so it won't be a strain on those with tender ears. It also draws less than two watts of power, so if you're getting close to the limit on your current power supply, then this cooler shouldn't put you over the edge. It also uses a ball bearing fan device, so it will last you for a good while (approx. 50,000 hours according to the spec sheets). It uses a standard 3-pin connector that can be hooked to your motherboard, but there was also a handy converter present to make it into a 4-pin Molex. While the strain won't be a problem for current motherboard fan headers, if you don't have any left, you can still hook to a spare PSU connector.Also included is a small packet containing Dow Corning T-340 Thermal Grease. Since I'm not an advocate of silicone grease, I went head and used my normal Arctic Silver compound for testing. It was a nice addition, however, since not everyone happens to have the "Silver Stuff" sitting around. Finally, there were a couple of punch-pins (my term, not necessarily Thermaltake's) for installing the cooler to the chipset. They are shorter than many since the mounting area of this cooler is much lower than most stock sinks. This will allow for a proper fit of the cooler and allow for the best performance.The Base
When I looked at the box when it first arrived, it said that it had a copper base. When I removed the sink from the box, I didn't see any copper. I was figuring something was wrong, but the sink was just too heavy to be aluminum. So I did a bit of snooping on the Thermaltake website and discovered that it has a copper base that has been plated with Nickel. So now that the mystery was solved, it was time to check it out a bit.The base, thanks to the nickel plating, is absolutely smooth except for the three holes that are used to mount the fan to it. There is no rough edges, no swirls from the cutting of the base metal, no lapping needed. Just use your favorite interface material and install this baby. This is very nice indeed!Installation
Since graphics chipsets are about the toughest beasts to keep cool, I decided to use this means of testing the cooling prowess of the Crystal Orb. I installed it on a Prolink GeForce3 video board since they are known to have the habit of warming right up. We're here to see if this new cooler works, and I figured this to be about the best way to make sure.As we can see, the Crystal Orb cooler fit right onto the board. The standard holes used to mount a stock heatsink are perfectly matched to the mounting holes for this cooler. It was a very simple matter to apply the Arctic Silver, carefully lay the Crystal Orb on top while lining up the mounting holes, and then inserting the push pins to complete the process. That's all it took to install it. Below is a closer look at the installed sink...
One thing that I noticed was that the excess air that will be coming from the sides of the sink should do a very nice job of blowing onto the RAM sinks. While I can't say that it was an intentional designing goal of the cooler, it certainly is a nice touch.
Here is the graphics card installed back into the system with the Crystal Orb in place. It will block off the first PCI slot due to its height, but since that slot shares an address with the AGP port anyway, it is very seldom used. Mine is always empty for that very reason so it's hard say too much bad about it. Besides, if it works well, then the added ability to overclock the video card will be worth the unused slot that it eats in the system.

Crystal Orb -

TestingFor testing, I used my regular testing setup, which includes the following:Antec SX-1030 Case w/ 170-CFM AirflowAbit KT7A-RAID MotherboardAMD Thunderbird 1000 (AVIA)256MB Crucial PC133 SDRAMProlink XX-Player GeForce3 clocked at 230/500I applied Arctic Silver to the stock heatsink so that the competition would be on equal footing. For temperatures, I used a thermal probe that was secured right next to the GPU on the video card. It remained in place during the cooler swap, so temperatures will be consistent to both coolers tested.Ambient temperature was measured with the probe and the result was an even 22C. For testing, I ran Quake III Arena through a normal demo using the VIA Arena Demo. It is very graphically intense, and will do a very fine job of boosting up the temperatures of the GPU itself. I ran the demo all the way through and then took a photo of the probe reading as the demo was ending.So without further ado, here is what happened...Results with stock cooler:
Results with Crystal Orb
WOW! I figured that there would be a few degrees difference in temperatures, but not this much. Over 9 degrees difference by doing nothing more than using a different cooler. Results like this are what make a product stand out from the crowd.

Crystal Orb -

ConclusionAll in all, I'm going to have to recommend this one folks. This is a new product, and I'm not certain what price will be, but I've been hearing somewhere around the US$20 - $25 mark. Is it worth it to have the extra cooling for your video card? Considering that it is already proven that you'll have a higher success rate in overclocking a card when its cooler, the answer is YES!Bottom line...If you have any intentions of overclocking your video card in the future, then get the Crystal Orb and give yourself a much higher chance at success. Very nice job Thermaltake.- ProsExcellent coolingCopper baseReasonably quiet- ConsBit pricey for a chipset coolerRating - 9.5/10 and TweakTown's Editors Choice Award

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:25 pm CDT

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