Many of you may be familiar with the original Volcano 7 HSF. While a good concept, the self-adjusting fan on it didn't work as well as intended. But now that a new version has hit the streets, things have changed a bit. Come join Mike "Darthtanion" Wright as he takes a look at the new Thermaltake Volcano 7+ HSF. The new design promises both cooling prowess and quiet, so let's see if it succeeds in these lofty goals.
IntroductionFor those who have been keeping up with Thermaltake, you'll remember all the controversy about their ORB line of coolers. But here recently, they have proven themselves to be a manufacturer of high-quality sinks that cool well and look good at the same time.One of their most recent hits was the Volcano 7 HSF. When we reviewed it, it showed to be a very cool looking unit that had a speed control built in to it. While this was a good idea to help keep the noise down, it didn't work out well with cases that have an abundance of airflow.Enter the Volcano 7+. It has grown a little more distinguished since it's inception, and our goal is to see whether the new design is viable in a Power User's system. So let's kick this thing into gear and see what we have here...
Volcano 7+ HSF -
The sink of the Volcano 7+ is just a little smaller than it's older brother. While this may cause some concern, it shouldn't since the newer version is all copper. The original was an aluminum heatsink that had a copper pillar at the core. Thermaltake has decided to take the size down a little, but managed to maintain a hefty mass to help in the cooling chores.The sink measures in at 70mm x 70mm x 25mm, and consists of 36 copper fins that use a process called Thin Fin Technology. We have seen in the past that the greater the mass and surface area, then the better the overall cooling. The thin fins will allow for more to be used in the same amount of space, so it gives more surface area for the heat to spread to. This makes it much easier for the fan to dissipate the heat and give an effective cooling solution.The Base
Like most of the coolers that I've received from Thermaltake, this one had a very smooth base. It was all copper and was polished to a mirror finish. One thing that I was particularly happy about was the missing frag tape that is normally on the base of these heatsinks. Instead, the folks at Thermaltake decided to add a small packet of a thermal compound in the package. Very nice since it saved me the time it normally takes to remove the offending substance.The Fan
The Volcano 7+ has a full shroud similar to it's older brother, but they have elected to reduce the size of the fan. You'll remember that the original had an 80mm fan, but the newer version has a 70mm model. It still wears the Thermaltake tag on it's belly, but manages to put out a better airflow than the larger version.The fan included with this sink measures in at 70mm x 70mm x 25mm and puts out a maximum airflow of 49-CFM @ 6000RPM while only emitting 47 dBA of sound. When I was running the fan at full speed, I could hear it above the case fans in my system, but it didn't have that ear-piercing whine that is common with the high-speed Delta 60mm fans. This made for a nice change of pace and didn't bother me at all while working on the system.Fan Speed Controller
Remember when I stated above that the maximum airflow of the fan was 49-CFM? That's because there's a little gem included that allows the user to manually switch the speed of the fan. This gives you the flexibility to use a slower fan speed setting when you're not trying to save the world by killing everything that moves. The benefit of this? LESS NOISE! With so many consumers looking for cooling that is not only effective, but quiet as well, this helps set the Thermaltake unit apart from the crowd.The Fan Speed Controller has settings for High, Medium and Low speeds. Here's how it breaks down:
This is the first heatsink that I have seen that is designed to work on either an AMD platform or an Intel one. Depending on which setup you are cooling will determine how to assemble the heatsink (yes...some assembly required). Included will be enough screws and clips for either setup.
Since I have an Athlon based system, only a single clip is required. Assembly is a no-brainer, and the installation of the sink was very easy as well. In the past, Thermaltake has had a few coolers with clips that are very hard to put on (and therefore dangerous to the core), but that seems to be ancient history. This clip slid easily onto the back lug, and with a small screwdriver, it was easily attached to the front lug of the socket. Pressure was not too heavy, and there should be no concerns about damaging the processor. Once attached, the clip held the heatsink firmly in place without any movement.
Volcano 7+ HSF -
TestingSome interesting innovations we have here. But how better to see just how effective they are than to run this sink through the gauntlet? After all, we need to be able to see if it can actually cool a processor...don't we?Here's what the test system looks like:Antec SX1030 Tower Case w/ 170-CFM airflow EPoX 8KHA+ Motherboard AMD Thunderbird 1000MHz Processor @ 1400MHz (AVIA) 512MB Crucial PC2100 DDR Memory Prolink XX-Player GeForce3 Western Digital 20GB Hard DriveArctic Silver II The core voltage of the processor is set to 1.8v, and memory is set to 2.6v. Ambient air temperature was sitting at 21.6C (about 71F) and didn't fluctuate during testing. Processor speed was firmly at 1400MHz, which puts out about 76.8 watts of heat. Testing will consist of measuring the temperatures at idle, after a Quake III Arena Deathmatch, and after a continuous looping of the 3dMark2001 Demo. These are the main types of stresses that today's systems face, so we'll concentrate on them.Results (Degrees Celsius)
To say that I am surprised would be an understatement. While I had expected some reasonably good results from the Volcano unit, I wasn't prepared for the awesome results garnered here. It managed to set the record for idle temperatures, and ties the Demo Loop score of the OCZ Goliath, and at a considerable reduction in noise output. Even at the highest fan speed, the noise is very tolerable.But wait...Remember that there are three choices for fan speed? I would hate to leave everyone in the dark about the total performance of this cooler, so let's see what the lower fan speeds have in store for us. The tests were simply the idle temperatures and the same Quake III Arena Deathmatch tests that I normally run. I used the Q3A benchmark because it produces the higher temperature of the tests I use. This will let us see how the heatsink is able to handle the stresses of a hot processor while the fan spins at a lower rate. Also included in the table will be the actual fan speed that was measured during testing.
To give you an idea as to the quietness of the reduced fan speeds, I couldn't hear the heatsink at all using medium and low speeds. Neither could produce enough noise to sound off over my standard case fans. While the low speed would really only be used for simple web surfing and such, the medium speed could be used at nearly all other times. Sure, use the higher speed for that weekend fragfest, but the medium still performed admirably.
Volcano 7+ HSF -
ConclusionFrom the beginning, I liked the idea of being able to control the speed of the fan of the cooler. It gives you the flexibility to adjust the system for either performance or quiet. While the self-adjusting fan speed of the original Volcano 7 was a good idea, it proved to be useless for those (like me) who have a good bit of airflow moving through the case. Thermaltake has certainly fixed that problem here. The three settings should be able to take care of even the hardest of hardcore users who want a good amount of cooling prowess as well as the opportunity to keep the noise levels at an acceptable level.On the other side of the coin, however, is the odd fan size. While it makes for a good fit atop the socket, it makes it difficult to go out and get a more powerful fan to use without having to get a reducer. There are some monstrous 80mm fans to be had, but the choice in the 70mm size is rather limited. Also of note is the fact that it doesn't fall into the budget category. Retail pricing of this HSF is in the neighborhood of US$45, but if you like quiet, then that shouldn't be too much a turn-off.Bottom line...If you're one of those folks who are sick and tired of the fact that good cooling equates to lots of noise, then let me introduce you to this cooler. It provides outstanding cooling power without the ear-piercing whine of a lot of sinks available. While it fits into the middle-range of coolers price-wise, it is well worth it for the luxury of a quiet operation.- ProsExcellent performanceFan speed controlCopper sinkMade for both AMD and IntelNo thermal tape- Cons70mm fan sizeRating - 9.5/10 and TweakTown's Editors Choice Award
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