Given they're a relatively fresh company to the scene, Xigmatek has taken the overclocking community by storm with their H.D.T technology coolers. It seems every time I see a question on a forum about "best bang for the buck coolers", Xigmatek's name is soon to make the list. They have done really well for themselves and have kept introducing more products to the market as they go. Xigmatek is keeping me busy and sends over another addition to our lab for testing.
This time we are taking a look at the Xigmatek Dark Knight S1283, a variation on an already good cooling solution that is based on the S1283 series coolers. The Dark Knight stands the same as the other S1283's, but this time it is dressed in all black. Xigmatek has plated the entire cooler in a black nickel coating. And I mean everything, except for the fan of course. Speaking of the fan, with the Dark Knight Xigmatek ships the highest CFM fan on their coolers to date.
The main idea of this cooler is to not only take a good cooler and paint it black, but to improve performance as well. I think Xigmatek put it best with their own description of the coating with this comment from their site. "Black Nickel causes a very gentle but also noble image, which also increases cooling performance." That being said, with the addition of more CFM's from the fan and the premise that the coating helps to decrease temperatures as well; the Dark Knight should be quite the performer.
Xigmatek has already set the bar pretty high with their previous releases; now let's have a more detailed look and see just how well the Dark Knight S1283 does.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The basic premise of the Dark Knight is taking an S1283 cooler and plating it in a black nickel coating to help improve performance as well as giving the cooler a sleek look. The Dark Knight is the same size as the rest of the S1283 line-up standing 159mm tall. However, Xigmatek has added a bonus over the rest of their CPU coolers by using an 89.45 CFM fan with the Dark Knight. This just happens to be the most airflow out of a fan I have tested in the Xigmatek series. With the Dark Knight, Xigmatek kept the three- piece, 8mm heat pipes to take the heat away from the base into the aluminum alloy fins.
Using Google to search out the Dark Knight brings me to the realization that only a few e-tailers currently carry the cooler in stock. Newegg is on a separate list as well as many others showing these coolers as being out of stock, so attaining this cooler is a bit tough right now to do. One thing to note, there seems to be a variation when looking for this cooler. Xigmatek has released a Dark Knight S1238V version. From what I can gather, the only difference is the included i7 mounting hardware. If you are looking to use this on your new i7 rig, be careful on purchasing the correct version.
The Xigmatek Dark Knight S1283 is currently unavailable, but it's listed at Newegg for $44.99, plus shipping. Xigmatek has done a good job so far with giving the end user a lot of bang for the buck with their cooling solutions. With the Dark Knight using a higher CFM fan than any cooler yet released with a 120mm fan from Xigmatek, I would bet this cooler can handle itself just fine with LGA775 rigs and has a bunch of potential to cool the i7's as well.
The Dark Knight comes packaged in a similar box as the other S1283 coolers. This time Xigmatek has also added a sword to the front behind an image of the cooler. The Sword is a nice touch; after all, what good is a Knight without a sword?
The right side of the package shows Xigmatek's three main features of interest; well, four actually. First, this is yet another H.D.T. cooler with the three exposed heat pipes moving down to the very well engineered anti-vibration fan mounts that work really well at isolating the fan. Onward to the four white LED fan, which brings me to the fourth feature, this cooler is dressed in all black attire.
The back of the box is where the specifications table is pasted.
The left side of the Dark Knight packaging shows what applications this cooler is capable of. Note, this version is not capable of i7 mounting, you need to purchase the version ending in "V" for that mounting hardware.
With the inner package removed you can see Xigmatek didn't change anything with how the Dark Knight is protected. They used the same foam inner as the rest of the S1283s to keep the shipping companies lunchtime football game from adding any damage to the cooler itself.
The Xigmatek Dark Knight S1238
The Xigmatek Dark Knight S1283
While everything about this cooler is based on the same technology that has proven itself for Xigmatek thus far, The Dark Knight has an advantage over its more basic counterparts. Xigmatek has covered the entire fin area, heat-pipes as well as the base in a black nickel coating. This process has a two-fold benefit. First is the attractive and non-tarnishing aspect of the cooler and Xigmatek claims it can be beneficial for another two to three degree drop in overall temperatures.
From the side we can see, once again, nothing completely new with this cooler from here either. They do follow the old adage here; if it isn't broke, don't fix it.
The top view of the cooler shows that the new black nickel coating does have a more reflective quality than the aluminum alloy version. Also note that they covered the heat-pipes all the way to and including the tips. This keeps the black theme continuing throughout the entire cooler. If this is your first time looking at Xigmatek product, the round cutouts on each side of the fins is where the anti-vibration fan mounting slips into place.
A close up of the top of the base again shows that Xigmatek has left no stone unturned with the black coloration. With the base itself, this angle is to show where the AMD mounting bracket slides into place. Also noticeable is the screw holes for the LGA775 mounting clips.
Here we have the so called money shot of the Dark Knight. Xigmatek has milled the cooler and then added the black nickel coating to cover every aspect. One major change I see here is that the base is now milled with the pipes. On previous coolers I have tested the aluminium base didn't even go all the way to the bottom of the heat-pipes. As you can see here, it looks to be milled all at one time.
Here is a shot of the anti-vibration fan mounting once it is installed. The rubber mounting slides around a fin tip and into the round cutout I mentioned earlier. On the fan side of this mount, it is as simple as pulling the rubber mounts through the holes until you see the ring that holds the fan into place make it out of the hole.
Here we get a good look at the seven bladed, 89.45CFM, four white LED fan mounted to the Dark Knight. As you can see, this fan gives great coverage to the fins.
Another shot from the side shows how the LEDs are mounted in the fan, as well as the setup of the Crossbow mounting kit. Not very clear to see, but the wiring included is long enough to reach even the furthest CPU fan headers.
Accessories and Documentation
The Dark Knight comes with the usual hardware that is shipped with most of the S1283s. Included is the easy to follow instruction manual, AMD slide-in mounting bracket, four anti-vibration fan mounts and the hardware to apply the cooler to LGA775 boards. To be honest, the instructions aren't really needed as the Dark Knight is relatively simple to install. Either slide in the AMD bracket and lock it down to the socket, or mount the legs to the base with the two Phillip's head screws supplied, then it's just a matter of tightening the bolts.
Gone are the days where Xigmatek used the push-pins on their coolers, at least with the Dark Knight. They include with this hardware package a Crossbow mounting system that was usually sold separately from their earlier releases. The Crossbow is very simple to use. There is a white mounting sticker that can be used to mount the back plate to the motherboard, so it will stay in one place while the actual mounting is taking place. Of course, to do this the motherboard will need to be removed in order to use this mounting hardware.
The actual mounting with the LGA775 Crossbow set-up should be done prior to applying the fan to the Dark Knight, as with most of the Xigmatek line-up. If the fan is applied prior to mounting, it covers two of the screws and makes it really tough to get them tightened properly. I'm sort of surprised that Xigmatek didn't supply the little wrench to go along with the mounting kit on the Dark Knight. To me it was beneficial in making certain that the screws were in fact tightened all the way. But to be fair, it honestly isn't needed if you have a quality screw driver.
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 Xigmatek Dark Knight S1283 performs right about where I expected it to in the trio of testing I have recently done for Xigmatek. It falls behind the Thor's Hammer by about 3 at idle and 2 at load from the two fan results previously posted. But for this solution only offering a single fan cooling configuration, I think it shows admirable performance.
A nice thing about the Dark Knight is while the motherboard isn't calling for more cooling to be applied through the PWM control, this cooler is virtually inaudible. It does, however, peak right up there with a bit of noise at load, registering at 68 dB.
The Xigmatek Dark Knight is the best looking S1283 cooler I have seen to date. I really can't imagine how they could make this cooler have any more appeal than they have done with the all-black, nickel plating. This cooler is "dark" through and through and the fan choice is an excellent addition to accent the Dark Knight.
The performance of the Dark Knight is really good based on its listed selling price. With only a minor gap in testing between the Dark Knight and the Thor's Hammer (depending on your fan choice), for those who don't need the latest in fin design the Dark Knight is a cheaper alternative. If you are looking for a good bang for the buck cooler I think the Dark Knight S1283 should be put on your list of choices.
I don't really have anything to address, as far as issues go, with the Dark Knight. Everything was pretty much what is expected from Xigmatek, but this time in a sexy black nickel coating. I for one am a sucker for "bling", and overall appeal of a cooler. With the Dark Knight being in the sub-fifty dollar cooler market, the Dark Knight can stand atop the hill and do battle with some of the best coolers out there. I would personally buy this cooler if I hadn't seen the Thor's Hammer first. Based on pricing alone I feel this cooler has a bit more value to offer than the Thor's Hammer does.
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