Cooler Master does a good job of keeping our labs busy with a varied assortment of CPU coolers. Some of their more recent submissions to us were the Hyper Z600R and the Hyper 212, both of these being 120mm fan using coolers. These are going to be my guideline for comparison and testing of Cooler Master's latest submission. Continuing from Chris' earlier thoughts that things are changing over at Cooler Master, as seen with the Hyper Z600R, the arrival of this package came highly anticipated to my doorstep.
Today we are looking at the Cooler Master V10 200+W Hybrid T.E.C. cooler, that's right, I said T.E.C. - Cooler Master has designed the V10 Hybrid to be partially cooled with a peltier cooling device installed to the side of the base of this cooler for additional cooling potential. The irregular shape and design of the V10 is due to Cooler Master adding the horizontally placed section to also cool the RAM. Both the horizontal and vertical fins are cooled with 120mm fans. Judging from what we have recently seen with Cooler Master, it only stands to reason that the V10 with Hybrid T.E.C. should be quite the performer.
Being so highly anticipated by me personally and the premium packaging that surrounds the V10, I can't wait any longer to get to the bottom of how well this additional T.E.C. technology works on an air cooling solution. Let's open it up and get to the chilling facts of this adaptation of T.E.C. and air cooling.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The V10 with Hybrid T.E.C. is the largest and heaviest cooler I have tested by far; do not underestimate the overall size of this. With an overall length of 235mm, or really close to 9" long, this cooler requires a bit more breathing room than most other coolers. All of the three sets of aluminum fins are cooled by one of the two included 90 CFM, 120mm fans that are oddly rated at a minimum of 17dBA. With a total of ten, 6mm heat pipes, only six of those are dedicated to cooling the CPU directly, one set that are vertical and a another set that are horizontal which further act as a RAM cooler.
This leaves four pipes traveling from the base on the opposite side of the V10. This is where the Hybrid T.E.C.comes into play. These four heat pipes are soldered to a metal plate which is in direct contact of the cold side of a 70 Watt peltier plate and these pipes are terminated at this point. On the hot side of the T.E.C., Cooler Master soldered two more "u" shaped heat pipes to a plate to eliminate the heat created when the T.E.C. is active through its own third section of the fins.
Cooler Master has set today the release date for the V10 with Hybrid T.E.C. and I have seen a few sites taking early purchases with shipments as soon as February 17th. As when Cooler Master releases any product, it soon hits the shelves in good quantities and is usually readily available to purchase. I can only assume this release will be no different, but we shall have to wait until it actually populates e-tailer's warehouse shelves.
I had got in touch with Cooler Master directly to ask about pricing, since this article goes out upon release. Their response to me was a suggested retail price to be set at $139 US. FrozenCPU has this cooler for pre-order at that pricing, but I have, however, been able to locate this cooler for a bit less, somewhere in the $113 US dollar range. With this kind of a premium price tag, I expect good things from the V10 and we will let the later test results speak for themselves. Lastly, this cooler is fully compatible to mount to anything from AMD socket 939 and above as well as Intel LGA775 and LGA1366.
The V10 with hybrid T.E.C. cooling comes packaged in an eye catching black box with a brilliant red "V" outlined behind the V10's image. The bottom of the box shows that this is capable of cooling 200+W processors, mostly due to the addition of the T.E.C. section of this cooler and it is also shipped as being i7 compatible. Lastly, there is a sticker noting the inclusion of ThermalFusion compound to use when mounting this cooler.
The right side of the package has different views of the background logo and the V10 itself. Again Cooler Master uses the bottom to show off the CPU compatibility.
The back of the box is where you are going to find all of the technical data. The specs, the size and weight of this cooler are clearly stated, as well as a section on the T.E.C. and images of how it all works. The bottom is reserved for the SKU and UPC codes as well as including 17 other ways to pronounce "CPU cooler" in something other than your native tongue.
The left side of the package is a mirrored image of the opposite side.
Once the outer box is removed you are left with a dense foam enclosure that cradles the V10 to your door. With snug cut-outs for the cooler and the hardware and literature, there is no way things are going to be moving around inside during shipping. This is also covered with a 3/8" of foam to keep this open side covered completely.
The Cooler Master V10 200+W Hybrid T.E.C.
From the side of the V10 you can see the progression from the Z600R to the V8 with its black shroud, to the evolution of this behemoth of a cooler with the T.E.C. portion being at the lower left. You can see three separate sets of fins here and from the left they are for cooling the T.E.C., through a fan and into the second set dedicated to the CPU base, then to the third set which is also for the CPU, but acts additionally to cool the RAM as well.
The rear of the cooler or the air outlet side shows that the V10 has quite a large intake area that starts by cooling the T.E.C. radiated fins first. At the bottom is another view of the peltier and how it's mounted to the V10.
The top of the V10 Hybrid is similar to the others with its chrome "bling" factor, but on a much larger shroud this time. Keep in mind the right half of this cooler is cooled with a 120mm fan, just to give a realistic perspective.
Here we have a look at the inbound side of the V10. You can see that the air gets pulled through both sections of this cooler at once. This set up allows good flow to the CPU specific sections of the cooling fins, but leaves the T.E.C. cooler to be the last in line for cool air.
Standing this cooler up to get a look at the underside shows that this cooler follows its name sake as it does include 10 heat pipes. It is also more apparent as to the three sections of the cooler I have been describing.
The heat is transferred from the CPU to this flat, almost mirror like and plated, copper base. You can see there are traces of the milling process visible in the base, but this is minor and should have no ill effects on the transfer of heat.
Here we see a close-up of Cooler Master's built-in temperature activation module. The 70W T.E.C. needs a temperature of 25° Celsius to even start to become active. Anything lower than 25° in temperatures causes the T.E.C. to rest in an idle, non-powered state. The connection on this side is to the actual peltier; the power connection to supply this is located on the other side.
From this angle you can get a really clear idea of just how the T.E.C. does its job on the cold side of things. Just under the plate with the four Phillips head screws lies the cold side of the pelt. This cools the plate and transfers that into the four attached pipes, which in theory should aide in cooling the CPU, due to the laws of thermal dynamics.
The Cooler Master V10 200+W Hybrid T.E.C. - Continued
With the shroud and fans removed the skeleton of this cooler is more easily seen and discussed. The left bit of the fins is connected to only the hot side of the peltier and is soldered to its transferring four heat pipes via the plate on that side. Then there is the gap for the first 120mm, 90 CFM fan, and on to the second bit of fins. This second set only transfers heat from two of the pipes exiting that side of the base. This leaves us to the horizontal bit to the right. This carries the opposing side of the T.E.C. pipes. The second matching fan is laid down on the top of these fins and directed to blow downward.
This view gives a better look at how the heat pipes are distributed.
Here we get an inside look at the temperature control module. To the left are the powering wires that use a 4-pin molex connector that will hook up to any PSU on the market. These then go inside of the box to the PCB and temperature probe that awaits a 25° temperature reading to kick into action.
Here we get a good look at the T.E.C. of which I have exposed the hot side. Once I removed the four screws from the two plates, the fins lifted right off. Note the pattern in the TIM; they do make excellent contact with each other.
This is what the hot side of the T.E.C. depends on for survival. In order for a T.E.C. to function at its best the hot side needs to stay as cool as possible to allow the cold side of the peltier to get even colder. As long as this part of the V10 doesn't get saturated with heat, the cooler stands a good chance of doing a better job at controlling temperatures.
Cooler Master has supplied a matching, wired together set of black 120mm fans; a nice touch of wiring them together so that there is no need for adapters or using multiple motherboard headers to power this cooler. Both fans are capable of putting out up to 90 CFM and are both lit with red LED's.
Here I wanted to show that Cooler Master even thinks ahead and installs spacers on their fan that stands up inside the cooler. This keeps vibrations to a minimum as the fit is quite snug. Barely visible is the horizontal fan, but as you can see it is plainly set atop the fins, then it just mounts with the screws in the shroud. Be careful during cleaning and replacement of the shroud, the wire to the horizontal fan can be pinched if not laid into proper position before slipping on the shroud.
Here's a closer look at what I meant about how the fan just sits there. There are no anti-vibration rubber inserts for the V10; Cooler Master relies on the screws from the shroud to keep this fan in line. Also note how the wiring to the fan is laid prior to reassembly.
Accessories and Documentation
The V10 comes with a pretty descriptive set of assembly instructions. If followed closely, these instructions can get the V10 hybrid mounted to any applicable motherboard with relative ease. This cooler does follow its predecessors as far as the hardware included for mounting, no real surprises in mounting technology this time. The verbal instructions are repeated in many languages as well to accommodate all of Cooler Master's buyers.
Along side of the folded manual stands Cooler Master's warranty information fold-out. This states that in the USA the Hybrid V10 carries a 2 year warranty, but this varies from place to place. Also included is a small fold-out pertaining to the T.E.C. itself; a bit on how it works followed by the specifications.
Cooler Master ships the V10 Hybrid T.E.C. cooler with the usual mounting hardware and the addition of four pieces this time around. These three are the LGA1366 back plate, each of the two mounting legs for LGA1366, as well as a sample of ThermalFusion 400 thermal compound. The mount for i7 is really nothing new, just a slightly redesigned plate with wider spacing to accommodate the larger socket. It again mounts with the same nuts on the back of the motherboard and can be tightened with the supplied socket.
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.
The Cooler Master V10 200+W Hybrid T.E.C. cooler performs admirably against the competition. It's in direct competition with The Z600R and Hyper 212, as well as the majority of the Xigmatek line. Oh, wait a minute, that's right, This V10 has a T.E.C. on it!
As you can see, there isn't very much benefit to having this strapped to the monster sized cooler, just the benefit of your wallet lightening due to the use of more electricity for a couple of degrees. I tested the cooler both with the T.E.C. active and without it being plugged in. Without the T.E.C. the V10 alone loaded at 56° Celsius, so in essence with 70W worth of peltier, it's only good for around a 3° gain in performance. I find this slightly disappointing, as I had higher expectations of the V10's T.E.C. cooling efficiency.
As I stated earlier, I found it odd that Cooler Master only rated their fans at the minimum rating of 17dBA. Since I did run both idle and load tests without the T.E.C. being powered, I could get a reading on the fans in both situations without the added noise of the PSU that was needed to fire up The V10's pelt. An idle reading of 58dB isn't all that bad, but the loaded dB of 67 ties the V10 with another and is bested by only one other as the loudest cooling solution on the list.
The Cooler Master V10 200+W Hybrid T.E.C. cooler is no joke when it comes to overall size and need for case space to allow this cooler to function at its best. I personally have an Antec 900 and I really don't think there is enough room to allow this cooler to do its job properly. My suggestion is to measure twice and order once if there is any doubt whether this cooler will fit or not inside of your given case. Given what Cooler Master has released as of late with the Cosmos Black and their previous coolers, it looks like every rise to greatness has a few bumps along the way.
The performance of the new V10 Hybrid cooler leaves me a bit confused. With a premium selling price of well over $100 US dollars I can hardly recommend this cooler based on anything other than the "wow" factor, but even that goes away soon after you get your first temperature readings. This is where I felt my hopes got crushed a little bit. I actually had plans to run my rig with this cooler and have something that works as well as my water loop, but without the noise of the fans that I am currently running. While the V10 is a touch quieter, I don't see the justification for a swap and for now I will keep my loop intact.
It was in my findings that I believe the T.E.C. section of the cooler is getting saturated too easily with heat. This is making the T.E.C. virtually useless, as you have to keep the hot side as cool as possible to allow the potential of peltier cooling to really show its face. Maybe if it wasn't the last bit of fins to get air circulation it would perform better, but during testing the heat pipes on the cold side were hot and the hot side pipes to the fins were even hotter. Maybe T.E.C. cooling should be left on better cooling mediums such as water loops for the removal of heat to improve effectiveness!
The hard fact to swallow here is that Cooler Master has produced a very efficient cooler on its own with the V10, but the extravagant cost to obtain this cooler isn't at all justified. Considering I could go to any e-tailer on the market and grab one of a couple of contending coolers for around $50 and a Corsair Dominator RAM fan for another $20, I don't see any point in spending what they are asking. This fact is also backed by Cooler Master's own lineup of products. The Hyper Z600R is now available for $59.99 at Newegg and the V10 is almost twice the price with very little performance gain. Don't get me completely wrong here, I do feel the cooler is a solid well built oddity of the CPU cooling world, but every time I try to love this cooler the price simply slaps me in my face and brings me back to reality.