IntroductionI enjoy working with new companies. Not only is there a thrill in playing with a little known piece of hardware, but when the test is over I get to spread my newly gained knowledge with you, and that is just as satisfying.Today's product comes to us from a South Korean company called ThermoLab. Even though the company has been doing business since 2003, the chances of many readers already knowing the company are slim. This is mainly due to the types of products the company has been producing until now. Recently the company moved in a new direction with the introduction of the Micro and Nano Silencer. Today we are going to go big, at least in terms of the larger of the two, and test the Micro Silencer. While most enthusiasts are looking for the largest heatsink they can fit in their system, many mainstream and server users are looking to keep their cases small. Small cases require smaller components, and believe it or not, smaller is getting to be a big deal.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Thermalab Micro is the just that, small. As you can see the from specs, the cooler is less than 100mm wide and just under 104mm long. When it comes to the all important height, the cooler is just 6cm tall making it perfect for very small enclosures. Right off the top of my head, when I look at the cooler I vision a custom system built for a carputer, a custom one-off system that is built to operate in an automobile. Another place where slim coolers are required is the 2U server market. Many of the standard 2U coolers are derived from 1U components making them extremely loud and not something you want in your home computer room or living room. After an extensive search, I was not able to find the ThermoLab Micro available for sale in the US. For that matter, I was not able to find them for sale in anything less than distributer quantities. As I always like to say, the proof is in the pudding and if the Micro turns out to be a powerhouse in their application type, it won't be long before they are for sale all over the place.
As you can see, ThermoLab has taken the Thermalright approach with their packaging; a brown box with a company logo. This is not what you want to see on a retail shelf, but if you can pull it off with the success Thermalright has seen, then more power to you.
As stated previously, ThermoLab makes a Micro and Nano model. Both are shipped from the factory in the same box and a mark is made in the box to identify one from the other.
Other than the top and the one side, the rest of the box is plain brown-box cardboard.
From the top you can see the fan that uses a 4-pin PWM connection to the motherboard. Notice how the fan is a little larger than the heatsink, this will provide extra cooling to the surrounding motherboard components like the power VRM circuits.
On the side we see the two heatpipes that aid in moving heat from the bottom of the heatsink to the upper fin area closer to the fan. You can also see the length of the cable which is long enough to reach the top half of the motherboard.
Here we have a better look at the fin area. You can see how ThermoLab cut the fins so they produce less noise.
The fan is connected with the wire hanger method, something that has been gaining popularity over the last couple of years.
From the factory, the heatsink comes with pre-installed heatsink paste pre-applied. We also get a good look at the mounting system. When installing the heatsink you will need to remove your Intel Socket 775 motherboard, place the cooler on the processor and run the supplied screws to the heatsink through the holes. The brackets on the heatsink flex allowing the correct amount of pressure to be applied to the processor.
The CPU to heatsink contact surface is shiny, but not perfectly flat. As you can see in the image there are a few machine marks on the surface.
Accessories and Documentation
Accessories and Documentation
Accessories for the ThermoLab Micro are sparse. You get the included plastic washers to place between the screws and the motherboard and of course the screws, that is all. I would like to see ThermoLab include a couple of extras since they are small in size and easy to lose.
The manual was well put together and covered all of the installation process. It also covered all of the key points of the technology involved with the cooler.
Test ResultsTweakTown uses a different method for testing CPU heatsinks which allows for an even playing field across all product tests. We feel that by using the same ambient temperature and strict lab-like testing procedures we are able to accurately compare one product to another. More information on our testing procedure can be found in the T.E.C.C. article here.
The decisive moment for the ThermoLab Micro and with our high-end processor simulation; the performance was quite poor. The heatsink was not made to take the abuse of flagship 120-watt processors, so I expected these results. I was very disappointed to find that the cooler was not able to surpass the numbers put up by the stock Intel cooler.
When it came to measuring the acoustic foot print, the ThermoLab cooler was quieter than the stock Intel unit most of the time when running at idle and low loads. On the load test the cooler just couldn't keep up with the coolers that had more mass and the fan needed to kick into overdrive, producing more noise than the stock Intel cooler.
Final ThoughtsHere we are with a cooler that is not a performance monster and wasn't made to be. The truth is that the two ThermoLab products I have played with are specialty coolers made for small cases with energy efficient processors, something our test bed was not made to take into consideration since it mimics a high wattage, flagship processor. When it comes to dealing with low wattage processors the ThermoLab cooler will do a fine job, especially if you are building your system in a small enclosure that needs a very small cooler.After having a look around the ThermoLab website I learned several things about this new company. Up until now, they primarily built testing equipment similar to our T.E.C.C. but as you can imagine, on a much higher scale. When looking at the product page for the Micro there are indications that tell me ThermoLab is looking to enter the CPU cooling market with a bang, but unfortunately the Micro is not going to provide the effect they are after.
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Chris Ramseyer started his career as a LAN Party organizer in Midwest USA. After working with several computer companies he was asked to join the team at The Adrenaline Vault by fellow Midwest LAN Party legend Sean Aikins. After a series of shake ups at AVault, Chris eventually took over as Editor-in-Chief before leaving to start Real World Entertainment. Look for Chris to bring his unique methods of testing Hard Disk Drives, Solid State Drives as well as RAID controller and NAS boxes to TweakTown as he looks to provide an accurate test bed to make your purchasing decisions easier.
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