Evercool is a manufacturer that has been around much longer in the game than I have. Even back in my first steps of overclocking and the pursuit of a cheap cooling solution, Evercool came out on top offering performance and a considerably smaller asking price than most of the competition. This is something that has never gotten lost over the years with Evercool as they are still to this day delivering very satisfactory components at very reasonable price points. There are plenty of times where even I am building a PC that is just going to get run for basic needs, and in no way justifies a $100 cooler to keep things under control. For instances such as this, it is where Evercool steps in and delivers style, performance and user friendly savings.
Looking back into my files, I see it has been almost three years since I have looked at a cooler From Evercool. What is even better, is that the last cooler I looked at is the big brother to what we are about to see. Digging way back into the server, I was able to find the Transformer 4 that lends its name and a similar color theme, but that is really where the similarities stop in relation to the cooler we are about to have a look at. Where the Transformer 4 had four heat pipes and two fans, the newer version has less, but both keep the chromed 120mm fan to compliment the cooler.
As time has passed since the last submission from Evercool, the TDP of processors has dropped quite a bit. The Transformer 3 we are going to look at today boasts a 160W cooling capacity, and for today's processors drawing only 125W the need for massive tower coolers has diminished. Evercool has moved with the times and took what was originally a four pipe behemoth and trimmed the fat a bit to make a cooler that will not only keep your processor under control at stock, but it still offers some wiggle room for a mild overclock. Keep in mind that with the reduction of the Transformer into the smaller 3, there is also a reduction in cost and that is something we can all appreciate. So hang on through the specifications and check out the price before we dig right in and have a good look at the HPM-12025, or the Evercool Transformer 3.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Evercool Transformer 3, as its name suggests, is a tower cooler that surrounds three heat-pipes that are 6mm in diameter of copper. Using an aluminum base, Evercool uses a solution that allows the heat-pipes to make contact with the CPU. As the copper pipes bend out of the base, they soon run into a set of fifty-four aluminum fins and terminate just proud of the top fin and receive caps to cover the actual pipe tips. These pipes, as they come from the base also make a chevron that will not only get air more directly to each pipe, it will also act to direct the air through the cooler. This universal cooler that goes on any AMD since Socket A and any Intel since socket LGA775 is 630 grams and 161mm tall, meaning it should go almost anywhere.
While the heat is drawn into the fins, it is left to the included fan to remove the heat from the cooler and keep what are hopefully reasonable temperatures. Included with the Transformer 3 is a EC12025H12EP 120mm fan that has sickle style blades and both the frame and the blades get chrome treatment. While the 2200 RPM maximum speed and the use of the Ever Lubricate bearing are given information, I had to dig a bit deeper to find the near 80 CFM and 2.79mmH2O static pressure values from their site. Either way, we will see soon enough how well this 4-pin PWM powered fan does once we get to the testing phase of this review.
Looking around through the usual channels, I found that the Transformer 3 is available at eight locations for US buyers. As I mentioned in the introduction, Evercool has always delivered products at great prices and this is no exception. The Transformer 3 can be had for $27.99 via Newegg.com - that's right less than $30. Now, there is the $7 worth of shipping to consider, but we are still well below the $60 mark I just addressed in the last review. So considering the Transformer 3 is only going to put a $35 dent in your wallet, it still needs to be able to handle its job as a cooler first. So let's get to the images and get the testing underway so we can see just what this $35 investment will get you.
The coloring of the background looks like light shining down through water to me, but it is an attractive setting for all of the information. On the front you see the Evercool logo and the PWM feature of the fan with the 160W capabilities of this cooler. There is a window both top and bottom of the Transformer 3 name to look at the fan. At the bottom there are supported socket types and an image of the cooler.
On the side the blue colouring fades into gray with a large image of the Transformer 3 topping the panel. The bottom half has images noting the anti-vibration fan mounts, the heat-pipe configuration, the PWM fan and the fact that the pipes touch the processor.
On the back, the features list is much the same as it was on the sides, but the base is replaced with compatibility information at the top. In the middle there is a diagram of the air flow and heat dispersion of the Transformer 3 and the specifications chart finishes things off.
Just in case saying that this cooler supports anything after Socket A for AMD and LGA775 for Intel and newer, here you have a full list of every processor that they deem that the Transformer 3 and the 160W capacity are capable of controlling the heat of.
As I open the box to remove what is on the inside of the packaging, I found that Evercool chose to surround everything from the sides with thin formed plastic trays. One on each side allows Evercool to keep spacing for the fan and fins to keep damages at bay.
With the box out of the picture, you can see that this simple solution to packaging leaves the fan separated from the cooler, but the hardware box is allowed to rub and bump up against the cooler in transit. It didn't seem to do any damage as the box is almost the perfect size to fill the opening.
The Evercool Transformer 3 CPU Cooler
Starting at the top with the six rounded, chrome caps to cover the pipe tips on top of the cooler, the fifty-four aluminum fins, the three 6mm diameter heat pipes, and the base that make up the construction of the Transformer 3.
From the side we can see the pipes run really straight through the fins and aren't bent in any special way to make better use of the fin space provided. The sides of the fins are less enclosed for the outer edges of the fins to keep the spacing in line all the way across the cooler.
There is a Transformer 3 plaque with a specially designed top fin with bends and shapes that fit the plaque. Around it you can see there is a slight chevron arrangement of the heat pipes that allows them to all get their own air flow and help direct the air through the cooler.
The base of the cooler comes shipped with Intel hardware mounted to it, so things are really easy for Intel users. For those who want to apply this to an AMD system, you will be using the pin at the top in conjunction with an old school AMD locking bracket. So keep in mind the orientation of your motherboard bracket, as Enermax only orients the one way.
To remove the Intel hardware, you simply need to remove the eight Phillip's head screws and the legs will come off. To keep the base finish intact for shipping, there is a thick plastic sticker applied to protect it - make sure to remove this prior to installation.
The spaces filled with aluminum are much greater than the Xigmatek we just saw, and in theory shouldn't be able to transfer as much heat, as a lot of that heat will be dumped into the aluminum rather than the three copper pipes. The surface is flat, but again you will notice the thin gaps between the pipes and the aluminum base. I do wish someone had cleaned this a bit so the oxidation wasn't on the pipes before I even got to use it.
Jumping ahead and opening the hardware kit, I pulled out the rubber fan mounts that isolate the fan from the fins. These mounts simply slide into the groove in the cooler and await the fan. To secure the fan, just send the tips of the mounts through the fan holes and gently pull on the mounts until the fan is sitting behind the thicker part on the right half of the mounts.
Here we have the Transformer 3 with the fan installed and ready for business. Now all we have to do is mount it to the board and get the testing under way.
Accessories, Documentation, and Fit
This is all of the hardware included with the Transformer 3. On the left there is the bag with the eight supplied fan mounts, and of course there is a large AMD latch in the middle under the thermal paste. The rest of the hardware will be used for Intel only. You slip a black washer on one of the screws and add a second washer once it has been passed through one of the four mounting holes of the motherboard and gets tightened into place with a thin thumbscrew. Once the cooler is set on, you use the screws to screw into the larger thumbscrews at the top to secure it all into place.
The instruction paper is pretty basic, but then so are the mounting systems. This side of the instruction sheet covers the AMD mounting while the reverse goes into a bit more detail to explain the installation. You also get a parts list and an image of all the parts spread out in front of you so you can be sure you have all the parts before you start assembly.
There isn't a back plate to show you, and I'm sure you know what the head of a screw looks like, so I moved past it to the point of having the screws held to the board with the thin nuts with washers on both sides of the motherboard for each hole. From here we just need some interface material and we can set the cooler down and use the thumbscrews to mount the cooler.
I have some pretty tall memory heat spreaders that I use with my setup, and the Transformer 3 almost clears the height of this memory. Those with more average height memory or even those without spreaders will fit in here with little issue.
The fan does extend over my first memory slot, but as you can see the fan sits high enough that memory can be installed in the closest slot, just not taller memory like mine.
You can see the descriptive word "shiny" used by Evercool was no joke. The reflection of the lighting in my photo booth makes everything in the background very dark as the camera adjusts to take in all the light reflecting from the Transformer 3.
Test System & Thermal Results
The testing done on the CPU coolers is done using the system in the chart above. Keeping the room between temperatures of 24.5C and 25.2C is done for all coolers tested. There is a slight variance due to the heat of the CPU and its effect on the ambient temperature during the testing phases. To ascertain temperature readings, I use RealTemp 3.60 as it has proven itself to be very good when it comes to Intel thermal readings.
Verifying the speed in the screen shots you will soon see, I used the latest version of CPU-Z, which is version 1.58 at the moment. To load the processor to deliver the abuse to all of the coolers I am currently testing, I selected Intel Burn Test version 2.52 to deliver the most heat out of the processor and memory controller as possible to gain realistic results for the enthusiasts who really like to push their hardware.
There are runs at both stock, which in the case of the GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD5-B3 is 3.8GHz with 1.25V to the CPU, and overclocked to 4.513GHz with 1.35V to the CPU. To add a bit more pressure to the situation, for the stock runs the RAM is tuned to 1600MHz with CAS6 timings, and for the overclocked runs I set 2133MHz at CAS9 to utilize the memory controller in the CPU.
For those who want to see the actual results, I have added this so you can see where I got my results for the overclocked run of the testing. While the stock run is just as important to those who will run the processor stock, this is an enthusiast sight, as I assume you all will overclock, making this the more important of the two images.
With the fan hovering near 1000 RPM for the idle testing results, the Evercool Transformer 3 didn't show anything spectacular, but 32 degrees at stock and 33 degrees when overclocked at idle isn't all that bad.
For the loaded portion of the testing, the Evercool Transformer 3 didn't fare so well, but I was still able to pass the testing without any CPU throttling, so I say it has done the job. While some may cringe at that 77 degree temperature, it is only a $30 cooler and still delivers something the stock cooler will not do.
Noise Level Results
The sound levels that weren't heard are pretty impressive for a cooler at this price level too. So far the cooler is "shiny", and now I can also agree on the "silent" used by Evercool about the Transformer 3 as well.
While the results were pretty good here too, I found a discrepancy for the RPM rating. While the box shows this fan should be capable of near 2200 RPM, I was only able to get a maximum reading of 1815 RPM, and that was with the PWM feature of the BIOS turned off and 12V applied to the fan. Either way, while keeping the processor at acceptable temperature levels, the sound levels reaching 51 dB is noticeable, but not something that will get annoying real fast.
At this point I am going to get right down to reality. There is quite a bit to consider when looking at the Transformer 3. Most notable is the pricing - I mean there are only two coolers that come to mind that really compare here; the CM Hyper 212+ and maybe the AC Freezer 7 Pro. Both are relatively close in price and the Hyper 212+ was the budget cooler that gets recommended most. The Transformer 3 offers the same thing the Hyper did, and that is a good base for a really good price. As with the 212+, this cooler really needs a pair of fans, and ones with more potential than the one supplied with the Transformer 3, at least for me as an overclocker. If you plan on running your processor at stock speeds and just want to replace the boring Intel stock cooler, the Transformer 3 is the perfect solution, as-is!
I get that you really do get what you pay for, and this is no exception to that rule. The cooler feels light in your hand and isn't the most beefy cooler available, and the mounting hardware also takes a hit due to the pricing. With AMD mounting coming down to a stock style clamp, it's like why even try, really? The Intel hardware is a bit better, but I much prefer a cooler with a back plate to keep the socket supported and the board level and flat. On this note, even with the basic setup for Intel installation, the cooler mounted fine and there was no warping of the motherboard from the screw pressure. I get that everything involved in the system has to increase the price, but I would have liked at least a bolt-through system for AMD mounting, and while I am here, make it one that allows the cooler to be oriented correctly on any AMD board.
This whole review I kept leading back to the price of this cooler. The Transformer 3 is capable of handling what I dished out to it, but I can't really see enthusiasts buying these coolers unless it is to cool a secondary rig, as it needs some help to take on anything closer to that 160W capability that I wasn't even at yet with our testing. The front of the box hit the nail on the head when Evercool described the Transformer 3 as "cooling, silent, and shiny", as it is all of those things and very well priced to boot. With the price of $27.99 at Newegg.com the Transformer 3 is hard to ignore. Just be sure you are fully aware that you may need to add fans to take this cooler to its maximum 160W rating without running into scary temperatures.
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