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Cooler Master HAC-V81 XDream HSF Review (Page 2)

By Mike Wright on Dec 13, 2002 11:00 pm CST - 4 mins, 36 secs reading time for this page
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Cooler Master

The Sink

The first thing you notice about the sink is that it is made of aluminum. While all-copper models were the rave not too long ago, a lot of manufacturers have been going back to a hybrid design using the cheaper aluminum and a central copper slug. Maybe the lower overhead costs are driving this concept, but I do wish that more would continue with the full copper design.

Be that as it may, what we have is still a large mass of aluminum that still does a very passable job dispelling heat away from the processor. It measures in at 80mm x 69mm x 45mm and consists of 21 fins that go through the sink itself. The use of aluminum will help keep weights down and ensure that you will have no problems with the stability of it when using a clip to hold it in place.

The Base

As I hinted to above, this cooler is a hybrid model that uses aluminum as the main sink material and also includes a copper slug in the middle. Since the copper is a better conductor of heat, it can do a much better job of passing that heat upward from the processor core so that the attached fan can get rid of it.

The base itself is very smooth, but lacks the polish that some use. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, however, since I have found that several of these pretty bases have had a lacquer added to make it shine. This takes away from the copper's thermal qualities and can actually inhibit heat dispersion. Not so with this one, it is smooth and will require very little work on your part to get it looking like a mirror.

The Fan

The fan is a Cooler Master model that measures in at 80mm x 80mm x 25mm and has a variable speed rating. This has become quite the fad lately and it is a very welcome one. We'll talk about how the variable speed thing works in a bit, but first we'll check in on the other features of this fan.

The model used in this unit is a 12v fan that spins at speeds between 2500RPM and 4800RPM while producing upwards of 62-CFM airflow. The company claims a top noise level of 46dBA, but I'm not convinced of this figure. While I don't have any sound meters to physically measure the noise output, I do have an ear that isn't nearly as offended by this fan's maximum speeds as several others on the market. It is even quite a bit quieter than the popular Thermaltake fans that are often used.

Also of note is that a simple device has been added; a fan grill. Nothing fancy, but then it doesn't need to be. Just something there to keep your wiring out of the spinning fan blades. After all, finger mend but wiring costs money.

The Clip

When I first saw this clip I thought that it had a good look to it. The tab on top is large enough to actually use without having to resort to a screwdriver and the hinge is smartly placed on the front side. But then I installed the HSF and had to think twice about it.

You see, the metal used in this clip was very soft and pliable. If you're the type user who throws a cooler on and leaves it there, then you'll do fine with this one. But if you're more like me and are always playing here and there, those coolers have a tendency to have to be removed. When a piece of metal is bent several times, it becomes very weak. This appears to be the case with this clipping mechanism. The operation is wonderful, but the material really needs to be a bit sturdier.

Adjustable Fan Speeds

With the processor speeds going through the ceiling, cooling has become more challenging of late. It has been a common adage that if you want decent cooling, you need to also equate in a lot of noise. Remember those 60mm Delta screamers? It almost sounded as if your case was asking for clearance to lift off!

But Power Users have rebelled against these high-speed fans that put out so much noise and gone with alternative fans. With the larger size of the 80mm units you can spin them at lower speeds but still attain workable airflow rates. But what happens when the processor speeds keep rising? The fans have to keep spinning faster to get the temperatures down. Such is the case with this model. The fastest speed is 4800RPM and while not totally outrageous in noise levels, it still manages to get your attention.

Enter the ability to adjust the fan speeds. The method used for this cooler consists of a panel that fits into any empty PCI slot on the back of your enclosure. It is simple to install and simpler to use. Once it is in place, just give a quick twist to the knob and you'll be able to hear the difference.

So if you're just doing some writing, office applications, listening to music or whatever, then you can keep the speeds of the fan at a minimal level and also keep the noise down to earth as well. But if you get a hankering for a Fragfest, then just crank up the fan and you'll get cooling levels more in line with a performance rig. It is as simple as that and the external accessibility is a very welcome addition.

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