IntroductionI recently looked at the ThermoLab Micro and found it to be an energy efficient processor-only cooler that was designed for small enclosures. Today we are going to look at the ThermoLab Nano, an even smaller cooler made for the same type of application; extremely small enclosures and cases. Before you start to yawn I will go ahead and say upfront that the Nano performed better than the Micro, even though it is a smaller cooler and fan. What is really attention getting is the size of the cooler and the custom applications that modders will be able to use with it. ThermoLab is a small South Korean company that specializes in thermal testing equipment. Recently they expanded their operation to include small coolers for custom systems. Their two current offerings, the Micro and Nano are not currently available on store shelves, but they should be before too long.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The ThermoLab Nano is very small, even smaller than the Micro we tested just a few days ago. While the base is nearly the same as the Micro, the Nano is 39mm tall, a full 20mm shorter than the Micro. This will give case modders looking to make extremely small cases the opportunity to do so and still keep their energy efficient processor cool. The Nano uses an 80mm low noise fan that could be swapped out with another 80mm fan since it uses the wire hanger method to hold everything together. The fan is only 10mm tall so most standard 80mm fans will add to the overall height of the unit, but it would be possible to make the heatsink perform better.As of this writing I haven't found ThermoLab products listed for sale anywhere in the US, Canada or Europe. That will change before too long since I was able to find the products available at the export and distributer level.
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.
On the heatpipe side we see that the Nano uses two heatpipes that move heat away from the processor die and move it out to the edges of the heatsink. By spreading the heat to the outside of the heat area, more of the fin area is able to cool down the base, making for a more efficient cooler.
As stated before, the cooler with the fan is only 39mm tall. Here you can see just how small that is.
On this side image we see that the fins are not packed too tight making low speed fans ideal for cooling the heatsink. When the fins are packed close together you need a higher output fan to be able to move the air over the surface.
The Nano uses an 80mm fan with a 4-pin PWM connector, allowing your motherboard to take control of the fan speed. In our testing we use 7 and 12 volts to simulate this type of control.
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, but 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 temperature testing is where the big surprise is. The Nano performed just a little bit better than the Micro even though it is smaller. The bad thing is that they both performed poorly when used on our flagship processor simulator, but both the Nano and Micro were never built to take on such a powerhouse.
In the acoustic footprint test, I found that the Nano was a quieter cooler than its larger brother was. This was not a big surprise as most 10mm tall 80mm coolers tend to be very quiet. The Nano is a much quieter cooler than the stock Intel heatsink and will do very well in HTPC applications when low wattage processors are used.
Final ThoughtsThe ThermoLab Nano Silent is a very small CPU cooler that has a market with case modders and those looking for a special application cooler. Small is in; just look at the new Apple notebook and many of the new boutique systems that are small enough to be placed on a coffee table. As computers evolve, they become smaller in all markets other than giant enthusiast systems. Before long, we will see computers the size of today's Playstation and Xbox systems since mainstream users want more space.Since enthusiasts are generally on the leading edge of trends we will see more and more small Shuttle style systems being made, and ThermoLab has created a product to allow that to happen.Availability is a concern at this time since I was not able to find units for sale at the retail level. As stated previously, I did find units at the export/distributer level so it won't be too long before we see the coolers offered on our favorite e-tail locations. I can't imagine the cost of the cooler going over 30 or 40 US Dollars, but that is speculation at this time.Performance wise, the ThermoLab Nano is a good product when used appropriately with a low wattage processor. Unlike some of the other small coolers we have tested in the past, ThermoLab didn't add Intel's Extreme line of processors to their compatible list since they are not looking to make their product out to be something it isn't.
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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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