With a trio of heatpipe direct touch CPU cooler reviews under our belts, I can definitively say that the tech is quickly catching on and spreading like wildfire. I am standing strong behind my statement from the last review of a H.D.T. cooler that I think this is the direction most CPU heatsinks will go in the future; much like the way nearly all CPU coolers use heatpipes nowadays.
Until a few weeks ago I was unaware that the OCZ Vendetta was the first H.D.T. cooler available in the United States. I do remember being shown the cooler at CES a couple of years back, but at the time my focus was reviewing graphics cards. The big story at the time from OCZ was the Cryo-Z, so the Vendetta flew under my radar. XIGMATEK played a major role in the Vendetta and Vendetta II, the follow up product by OCZ. They are the makers of the technology and 'till this point have been quietly manufacturing units for other companies.
Fast forward to 2008 and things are starting to change. XIGMATEK is looking to stake their claim on the enthusiast cooler market and are now ready to release a line of products to the global market. XIGMATEK coolers are starting to appear at Newegg, Directron and a couple of other major U.S. e-tail shops with more to come.
Today we are going to take a look at the HDT-SD964 from XIGMATEK. Unlike all of the Heatpipe Direct Touch (H.D.T.) coolers we have looked at thus far, this cooler does not use a 120mm fan. The HDT-SD964 uses a 92mm fan and is a little shorter than the others. This will allow the cooler to be placed in smaller enclosures like 4U server chassis' and equal sized media center cases.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
As you can see, all of the favorite buzzwords are covered with the HDT-SD964. A copper base with four copper 6mm heatpipes lead to aluminum fins that are cooled with a 92mm fan.
The fan uses a 4-pin PWM connector and is capable of pushing up to 54.6 CFM at 34 dBA. To aid in reducing noise and longevity, the bearings are rifle bearings and although the lifespan is rated at 50,000 hours, I would expect the fan to last several years with this type of bearing.
With the fan attached, the overall weight is only 466 grams; a relative light weight when compared to some of the truly heavy heatsinks we have seen in the past.
I think the real story here is the price. After a quick scan online, here in the states I was able to find the HDT-SD964 listed at Newegg for only 27 Dollars with a 10 Dollar mail-in rebate making the total only 17 Dollars. This is much cheaper than most of the coolers I have tested here at TweakTown and I think most enthusiasts shopping around may over look the product because of its low cost. Let's dive in and see if the HDT-SD964 is a budget cooler as the price suggests, or if it is a power house that will make our Must Have list.
Nothing about that packaging says budget on this cooler. The colourful box allows you to see the fan in a window and a lot of information is given on the front.
The side of the package clearly shows appropriate processors that the heatsink can be used with.
The back of the package shows all of the specifications for the cooler.
The other side shows some images of the cooler and feature points. My only complaint with the packaging is that there should be a picture of the overall cooler and not just bits and pieces.
A look at the inside packaging shows that the cooler is very secure in the package. It would be nearly impossible for the cooler to arrive at your door damaged if shipped across the country. My sample was shipped from Asia and it arrived perfect. After receiving a few coolers from other manufacturers this year that were damaged due to poor packaging, this is starting to be one of my pet peeves. XIGMATEK must be aware of competitors' poor packaging and are not making the same mistakes.
The XIGMATEK HDT-SD964
Topside, there isn't much going on. The fins are straight as an arrow and the heatpipes are pretty conventional.
A look at the side shows the same thing; many of the newer heatsinks we have looked at bend the fins to raise surface area, but the HDT-SD964 uses perfectly flat fins.
A look at the other side; now with the fan installed. I really like the way XIGMATEK mounts their fans. The rubber piece acts as a buffer between the fan and the fins eliminating all noise caused by vibration. It is best to mount the fan before installing the heatsink to the motherboard, since you will need to pull the rubber through the fan.
Here we see the front of the fan after being installed on the heatsink.
Here we see where the action is really at. The base of the cooler places the heatpipes where they come in contact with the processor directly. This eliminates the need for heat to be passed through a layer of metal before being taken to the fins.
The top side of the base has four tracks cut for installing the cooler to AMD processors. At first I thought it would be possible to mount the cooler either way, but the heatpipes get in the way of mounting the cooler one direction.
Accessories and Documentation
The accessory package includes a little bit of everything. The best thing I found here is that you can mount the cooler to both Intel and AMD motherboards without the need to remove the motherboard from the case.
The only thing that I have found so far that really shows the budget price with the cooler is the thermal paste that is included. Many companies are starting to include premium paste with their coolers, but for only 17 Dollars this can slide by and I can afford a tube of aftermarket paste.
The documentation wasn't the greatest, but it was still conclusive. The images will help get everything installed, but to be honest most of our readers are not even going to need the manual to get this cooler installed.
TweakTown 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.
Going in, I was a little worried about the price of the HDT-SD964. Would the cooler end up being a dud or would it shine? - The results show that my concerns were justified. But there is some things to consider. First; all of the HDT coolers we have tested so far have been 120mm models and our XIGMATEK sample uses a 92mm fan. While the results show the cooler performs a little worse than the 120mm models, the difference is right around 3-4 degrees Celsius. Given the larger surface area and additional CFM of the larger coolers, I would bet a 120mm variant would compete with our other coolers.
92mm fans generally run a little louder than 120mm fans, just as 80mm fans are compared to 92mm. This is because the fan blades need to spin at a faster speed to move the same amount of air than their larger counterparts. The 92mm used with the HDT-SD964 puts the cooler at a disadvantage in the noise category when compared to some of the others, but it is a trade-off you make when trying to stuff an enthusiast class cooler into a smaller enclosure.
The XIGMATEK HDT-SD964 is a crossover product. On one hand we have a cooler that costs less than many retail, OEM replacement coolers. On the other hand we have the latest CPU cooler technology that is only available on enthusiast class coolers.
The HDT-SD964 is clearly a price performance leader, no matter what market segment you are in. This holds more weight with the Joe Sixpack guys who are looking for the best bang for the buck. If that sounds like you, then look no further. Enthusiasts tend to think with their maximum overclock and not their wallet. And although I consider the HDT-SD964 a performance cooler, these guys will want to look a little further up the price chain when trying to obtain higher overclocks.
The XIGMATEK HDT-SD964 is going to puzzle many buyers, including myself. The product breaks many of the traditional rules that we have come accustom to. The latest technology in any market isn't supposed to also be the lowest price. What kind of a message is XIGMATEK trying to send to consumers and other CPU cooler manufacturers? - Hopefully the early XIGMATEK products are not just a fluke and they continue to follow this trend and the other guys take note. I for one don't like the thought of spending 80 Dollars on a cooler when I would much rather put that money in moving up factory processor speeds. I really like what these guys are doing and can't wait to see the 120mm model; the HDT-S1283.
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