ThermoLab is an impressive company that seems to have gotten its roots in developing heat exchangers back in 2003 and then moving the technology into computers. With small steps and development they had gotten all the way to building a complete CPU cooling solution, a couple of which are already on the market. These would be the Nano Silencer and the Micro Silencer, both of which are for smaller form factor cases. This is ThermoLab's first go at a tower style cooler and since the other two coolers were just released last year, I have to say this is a big step for ThermoLab.
ThermoLab has sent us the BARAM CPU cooler for testing. The BARAM is a Korean word which translates to airflow in English. Thermolab has taken great measures with BARAM to impart this cooler with that philosophy. ThermoLab looked at the basic tower style cooler design and came up with solutions to improve on this idea. With that quest, ThermoLab has developed some very innovative concepts which are put into practice with the BARAM. While a lot of this tech is nothing new, very few manufacturers have put it all together in one complete package.
The cooler ships from ThermoLab without a fan included. This does two things that benefit the end user in my opinion. First, it allows them to keep manufacturing costs down a bit and they can pass that saving on to their customers. Secondly, it allows the end-user to pick and choose what fan has the best CFM while still staying within satisfactory sound limits, depending on what each individual ear can take. For testing I went average on my fan choice and I'll explain later why I made that choice. Enough with all this talk, let's get to the BARAM and see what ThermoLab has come up with this time.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The BARAM comes from ThermoLab with an aluminum base, five 6mm heat-pipes and 54 aluminum fins. The overall dimensions of the BARAM are 67mm long by 132mm wide by 160mm tall; this is about 10mm shorter than average height and may be a solution in the more cramped accommodations. The cooler weighs in at 625 grams. Keep in mind this is the weight without the addition of one or two fans.
The BARAM benefits from a few design implementations from ThermoLab, keeping with the name meaning "airflow". These are simple changes, but their efficiency gain is what Thermalab is banking on. By uniquely pacing the heat-pipes, the use of alternating fin design and the air tunnel effect that gets created, it puts this cooler in good contention for good performance. The BARAM fits sockets LGA775, LGA1366, AMD AM2 and AM2+, although this kit was released before the addition of the 1366 mounting hardware.
This section of chart is to show the specifics for the fans I actually tested with. I used the Yate Loon D12SH-12 as my choice of fans for three reasons. The first reason is that the Yate Loons have an air flow of 88 CFM, 2200 RPM and are on par with the ratings of most fans included on the premium coolers. Secondly, I had a matched pair lying around to be able to use. Lastly and most importantly, they had the proper 3-pin connections to use in our testing rig. These fans are slightly on the loud side as I know firsthand from running them previously, but I feel they really fit the bill on all other aspects than noise levels.
Availability at this time is still non-existant. ThermoLab has yet to release this cooler to any retailers. I'm sorry to say but I don't even have a projected date of arrival either. Searching Newegg leaves me with the fact that they don't list ThermoLab coolers yet and Google turns up empty as well. Judging by the amount of reviews this cooler has already received I can only take an educated guess and say it should be soon, hopefully.
The projected pricing on the ThermoLab BARAM is at the $50 mark and that doesn't seem like too harsh of an asking price. Keep in mind that the cooler does come fan-less, so you need to incorporate the price of one or two fans into the overall total. This seems to be an ongoing trend of manufacturers allowing the end-user to pick the fans and get whatever performance level you desire with the choice of a suitable fan for your personal requirements.
ThermoLab ships the BARAM CPU cooler in a nondescript, plain brown box with a very legible black stamped logo.
The right side of the package shows the BARAM name as well as the Korean symbols. Also displayed is the meaning of BARAM which is airflow and it is proudly labelled "made in Korea".
The left side of the BARAM box shows the applicable CPU socket types and the overall dimensions of the BARAM CPU cooler. Be sure to note that this cooler does not come with a fan and that they have patented the fin design of this cooler.
After unfolding a protective separating layer of cardboard, you can get an idea of how well the BARAM is packaged. It fits very snugly inside this box and made it to me in terrific shape from Korea. The cooler is wrapped in a plastic bag with a pouch of anti-moisture crystals to keep any overseas oxidation away. All the hardware is shipped in the right end of the box and is kept separate from the cooler with the cardboard that folds out.
The ThermoLab BARAM
Two of ThermoLab's innovative design elements are seen here. First is the staggering of the five, 6mm heat-pipes to aide in more dissipation area for the pipes to transfer heat to the fins. Secondly, being the fins themselves. The BARAM uses a wavy shape with their fin design and alternates each fin to have the opposite wave pattern. The orientation of the fins allows the air to penetrate the fins with more flow and thus dropping temperatures.
The side of the BARAM gains a bit more perspective on how they have alternated the 54 fins. You can also see that the heat-pipes are sandwiched and soldered between a two pieces base.
Seeing the top of the BARAM gives the really good look at the wave I have been discussing. This view also provides you a look at how the heat-pipes are oriented with the BARAM. As you can tell, this isn't the typical in-line design. This is specifically designed again for more flow through the pipes as well as allowing more across the fins themselves. Both of the edges of the fins have a slight bump out on the tip; this is to snugly seat a 120mm fan and keep said fan from sliding around.
The base of the cooler has the five pipes taking some pretty tight bends to get them into the correct orientation. Also, you can see that ThermoLab uses a press fit for the fins to snugly stay attached to the fins for thermal transfer. Lastly is the top view of the mounting holes, for both AMD and Intel mounting hardware.
The base of the BARAM is polished to a mirror finish. I had to retake this image five times before I got something other than my lens in focus in the reflection. The base is relatively flat against a razor with minimal light coming in using a corner to corner test. Nothing to worry about, though, as no IHS that hasn't been lapped is completely flat either. You can also see the ledge that the hardware rests against when the mounting hardware comes into play.
I chose to again use the Yate Loon's that I had used on my other fan-less coolers to keep the playing field even. This is of course with only one fan installed with the supplied hardware. This angle also shows just how much area the heat-pipes actually use.
Here we have the BARAM with two fans strapped and ready to cool. One thing I did notice with the BARAM over most other coolers it that the cooler itself seems more compact. You can see that the 120mm fans are a bit bigger than the BARAM. This in my mind is a good design, as it gets more fins inside the flow of the blades and not what the corners cover as well, again improving the BARAM's ability to do its job.
Accessories and Documentation
ThermoLab sends the BARAM with a number of pieces of mounting hardware. Both AMD and Intel have a back plate and two piece top mounted bracket for both installs. They also include a large assortment of screws that are specific for each mounting choice. Each set is separated in little baggies when you get the cooler, so it's hard to mess things up here. The BARAM also comes with mounting wires for two fans and a tube of ThermoLab thermal grease.
The manual that ThermoLab includes is very comprehensive and shows great images of what they are discussing at that moment. I found these instructions very easy to follow and it made installation a breeze. One side is presented in English, while flipping the instructions over you will find them repeated in Korean.
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 ThermoLab BARAM performs really well in the two-fan testing, falling just short of the Thor's Hammer with the same fans being used. The single fan testing of the cooler was admirable as well and shows just how efficient this design of cooer is. In the extreme world of overclocking, every degree counts, but in normal use I have to say the single fan configuration is enough. These results are just a rough idea of what to expect, as most users won't have these fans and variances in fans will yield different results.
These fans have been tested before, so the numbers here are no surprise. Again, usage of a different fan or fans may result in better sound levels.
It looks like the time and effort that ThermoLab put in to the design and development of the BARAM has paid off well for them. Their take on heat-pipe placement and the alternating fin design seems to be very effective for getting the job done. Like I said in the results, these aren't even the best fans available, just an average fan, so your results may be even better than mine.
The heat-pipe heat dispersion, the pitch of the fins and the fin structure and design all lead to really good performance numbers. This cooler is also a bit shorter than most of the tower style coolers on the market, giving you an extra bit of room inside the smaller cases. The weight of this cooler is a real non-issue as the mounting mechanism is sturdy and secure; the BARAM isn't going anywhere if installed correctly.
The only issue I can bring against the BARAM is the lack of availability. While the cooler has been reviewed by most major sites, by this point I would have expected Google to come up with something. Every time I tried to locate the BARAM, Google shopping shows nothing on the market yet. The only hits I could get were for the reviews themselves. I really hope to see these coolers hit the e-tailers soon, as I think ThermoLab has a winner on their hands with the BARAM.
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