Remembering back to when I tested the V10 and the V6, I knew then that Cooler Master wasn't afraid to push the boundaries of what we would consider "normal" in air coolers for your CPU. Back in that time, they were experimenting with TEC assisted cooling, like what was delivered in the V10, and they were also very keen to supply all of the V-series coolers with a black plastic shroud hoping to inspire the look of an engine sitting in the middle of your PC. A few things that stick to every cooler in the series is that you will find aggressive styling with angular lines and red LED lighting, the black, red, and silver coloring of each of them, and that most of these coolers, minus the V8, shipped with a pair of fans to help remove more heat than the typical solutions from other manufacturers.
Getting back to why we are here today, we are about to see the latest take on the V8 released a couple years ago. With the V8 there were four towers of fins, a staggering eight heat pipes and 180W TDP support. The design team over at Cooler Master thought to themselves what would happen if we took the Vapor Chamber technology we were working on with the TPC coolers, and try that in the V-series? They also took considerations with the design to allow for much better memory clearance, and have also included a new hardware kit to mount this new design, but honestly, these are some of the more mundane things about this new cooler.
Cooler Master brought us here today to look at the V8 GTS. This refresh of an old design has been completely redesigned from head to toe with just hints of the original V8. Four towers have been reduced to three, the single fan of the V8 has been doubled so that the V8 GTS has plenty of air flow, it keeps eight heat pipes, but his time offers a TDP of 250W since the Horizontal Vapor Chamber used in this design allows hot spots from the CPU to even out, and also allows all eight pipes a way to transfer the heat since eight pipes in a base is way too large to work on a CPU IHS.
I am pretty sure that with this list of features and the newer heat rating, we may very well be looking at the new top dog from Cooler Master, but you will just have to continue reading to find that out.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
As you can see by scanning the chart provided by Cooler Master above, the V8 GTS will accommodate any Intel socket since LGA775, and will do the same with AMD since socket AM2. Overall the cooler is 154mm tall, 149.8mm wide and 166.5mm wide from intake to exhaust. The tower is comprised of a large plastic shroud, the Vapor Chamber, eight 6mm diameter copper heat pipes, and 45 aluminum fins in the main stack and 37 aluminum fins in each of the smaller stacks. In total, fans included, the V8 GTS weighs in at 854 grams, or just near two pounds.
The pair of fans that ship with this cooler are A14025-16CB-4FBP-F1 140mm fans that were made specifically for this cooler, since one of these fan frames even sports the V8 GTS name molded into it. These fans spin on the fourth generation of POM bearings, and are capable of speeds of 600 to 1600 RPM to allow you to dial in the noise levels. These 20mm thick fans are capable of delivering up to 82 CFM each, while pushing 1.45mmH20 of static pressure to try to get the air flow through all three fin stacks. Lastly these fans are PWM controlled, but they can draw up to 3.72W of power, so keep that in mind if you are using an average fan controller - you may exceed the channels capabilities.
There is an NDA on this product as I tested and wrote it up, and that expires today. I would assume you will be able to locate the cooler at that time only from Cooler Master directly, but within a week or two, the V8 GTS should start to arrive on shelves. With all that Cooler Master has incorporated into this cooler design, the price is a bit weighty and may be a little tough to bear for some.
I am told that the MSRP has been set to $99.99, and while a few locations may stick to that number, expect others to do a bit of gouging to take the price well over $100 even before taxes or shipping has been applied. The real question now, is can it hang with other $100 air cooling solutions, or was that money spent to make it look pretty instead? Let's find out over the next few pages.
The V8 GTS comes in some very attractive packaging. On the front is the "chromed" company name and the product name near the bottom, along with a large image of the powered cooler. It also points out at the bottom that this cooler uses Vapor Chamber tech, offers maximum cooling performance, and has a super long life bearing on the 140mm fans.
The next panel offers another angle to view the V8 GTS, but this time near the bottom Cooler Master places the socket compatibility lists.
The back offers information about the triple tower, its eight pipes and cooling performance; it also addresses the Horizontal Vapor Chamber, and finishes with information on the bearing and the 160,000 hours of life to the fans. This is all then repeated in seven other languages, before you run into the dimensional drawings at the bottom.
The last panel on the packaging uses the purple background we always see with Cooler Master products, and on it you will find the specifications chart that we covered on the last page.
Inside of the box you will find the white hardware box first. After removing that you can pull the top half of the dense foam inner packaging to remove the cooler. You can tell from the earlier images that the box took a pretty good hit in transit, but due to the two piece of foam surrounding the cooler, there was no damage to the cooler - it arrived in perfect condition.
Cooler Master V8 GTS CPU Cooler
Looking at the V8 GTS from the side that will be nearest the GPU, you see a T-shaped shroud that holds the pair of fans between the trio of fins stacks. You also can see the heat pipe arrangement of two to the left stack, four in the middle stack, and again, two to the right fin stack.
This is the intake side of the V8 GTS. As you can see, air is drawn through the smaller stack, with the 140mm fan allowing for a bit of pre-cooling with the two pipes delivering heat to the 37 fins of this section of the cooler, before that fan blows on the main stack.
The V8 GTS is now in a position as if we were able to see it from the top once installed. You can see both sides are identical, but there is a pair of 4-pin PWM fan power leads connected to a Y-splitter to power the fans on this side of the cooler.
That leaves us with the exhaust side of the V8 GTS. So, once the air has passed the pre-cooler, pushed through the main stack with the first 140mm fan, then after the main stack another 140mm fan is sucking air from the cooler and pushing its flow over the last of the three fin stacks.
If any of that was too confusing, I went ahead and removed the shroud and fans so that you could get an unimpeded view of the fin and pipe arrangement.
Under the cooler, where the heat pipes originate under, is the fan support and mounting top plate. The grooves at the top support a plastic post on both fans, and the whole at both ends is to allow a screw through to secure legs to the base.
With the heat pipes soldered to the top plate, and to this base, thermal conduction is increased. If they had gone with a copper base here instead of the large Horizontal Vapor Chamber seen here, eight pipes would have been too much without a way to evenly spread the CPU heat into those wide spread 48mm of just heat pipes. The base is flat against a razor, and even with the sticker still on, you can see the roughness of the milling.
Accessories and Documentation
Inside of the plain white box you find atop the cooler, you will find two back plates. The one on the left is universal for all Intel sockets except LGA2011. To the right is the AMD back plate that has been isolated under it to protect things from shorting out.
You will also find three sets of legs for the coolers base, and a pair of screws to mount the appropriate set. To the left are the long AMD brackets to align the cooler one way, and next to it are the shorter ones to allow the cooler to blow left to right, rather than bottom to top. That leaves the universal Intel legs to the right.
Up in front in this image above you have the open and closed ended wrench to aid in the mounting of the cooler, and just behind is a tube of Thermal Fusion paste to use with your cooler. The back row has the top mounting nuts to the left, and on the right are four things labelled as "screws" and even though the renderings don't show it, I believe they are for AMD sockets.
Here we have the LGA 2011 risers for the top of the socket, the universal risers for Intel with the pre-applied nylon washers on the bottom of them so they don't scuff the motherboard. The washers on the sheet to the right are for AMD mounting, again to protect the motherboard.
While I had the shroud off and one of the fans dismounted from it, I figured I would snap this image of the sticker on the back of it. Along with the number I rattled off in the specifications, there is the DF1402512SEHN naming as well.
The paperwork is broken down into three sections. At top left is the multi-lingual user manual for the V8 GTS. The larger one to the right is strictly English instructions, leaving the largest one in the image, the information and terms of the two year warranty.
Installation and Finished Product
For Intel, after you set each of the ends to the proper notch for your socket type, mine being the middle of three, you just drop it in on the back of the board. No need to worry about the screws or anything no matter which direction it is installed.
Once the back plate and its four threaded posts are aligned in the holes, you simply tighten the knurled nuts to the top of them making the back plate now part of the motherboard.
You also will need to hole the appropriate legs under the top piece of the base to secure them. The threads are in the sets of legs, not in the aluminum the screw is running through.
After working just a bit in close quarters to secure the top nuts to keep the legs secured to the board, the cooler is finally installed. Since the pre-cooler is so small and raised up from the base, it allows for 50mm of memory and heat spreader to easily pass under its fins.
From the top of the board, not only can you put large heat spreaders in here without blocking much of the cooler, all four slots are easily accessible, and the same can be said on the opposing side for LGA2011 users that want to populate all of the slots.
With the board now in the test chassis, the V8 GTS is large and in charge from this angle. It covers the view of almost everything, but as I showed you, you can still access the memory slots, and access to the 8-pin is generous as well. But wait, it gets better.
We now have the V8 GTS in her illuminated glory. Both of the 140mm fans offer four red LEDs in each fan, and the shroud offers six lined up at the top for a total of 14 LEDs illuminating the components that surround this very attractive looking design.
The Test System and Thermal Results
Testing for the CPU coolers is done with the use of RealTemp to ascertain temperatures, Intel Burn Test to deliver the load to the CPU and CPU-Z to verify the CPU speed and the voltage being used in Windows. All of the testing is done with an ambient temperature of 24.5-25°C and humidity is maintained to 35% sometimes less.
For the "stock" runs, it's more of a plug and play setup where the PWM of the motherboard is in control of the fans speeds for both the idle and load results. Speed Step is active and the processor idles at 1600 MHz and loads at 3500 MHz for the stock settings. I also set the memory to run at 1600 MHz for stock. As for the overclocked runs, I load the CPU at 4.5 GHz and idle results are obtained with 7.5V to the fans while the load run is set to deliver 12V to the fans. This allows me to gauge the lowest and highest fan ratings for my charts.
You will also see that the charts have been slightly adjusted. From now on I will mention the idle temperatures if there is something worth noting other than an average of twenty-five to twenty-seven degrees as the PWM controls and Speed Step allow for almost ambient results in most instances. What you are now getting is a stock speed loaded temperature chart and an overclocked loaded temperature chart. To clean up the audio results, I also removed all of the fans that aren't on the thermal charts. If you want to compare those results to new coolers, the old chart is still available in the older reviews.
While the 50 degree result looks mediocre in the stock testing chart, look closer. It is only six degrees behind the best solution I have tested, and a mere degree behind some of the best air cooler money can buy.
With the Intel 2600K CPU pushing near 125W of heat load, you can see the V8 GTS has fallen a bit in the efficiency it shows at stock levels. 73 degrees is a good result, but against the best air cooler, the V8 GTS falls five degrees away from the top results in air cooling. Still, admirable results and performance levels anyone can appreciate.
Noise Level Results
When I gathered the 34dB result for the stock runs, I was monitoring the speeds, and with 1055 RPM, this is the result I saw on the meter. Not too shabby considering that this is really just a barely audible hum at this level.
When we moved over to the overclocked runs and allowed the motherboard to deliver 12V to the pair of fans, I could easily hear them from across the office. With the fans now showing 1603 RPM in AIDA64, I took out the meter and saw the 58dB reading, shown in the chart above.
The V8 GTS is really the best of all worlds. You get much better than average performance out of the cooler, and it isn't the typical tower cooler that looks plain and boring, but rather a very unique design that will look good in any build, especially all of those red and black themed builds out there. Having the idea to use so many heat pipes needs a new way of thinking as to how to deliver the heat into each of them, and with the Horizontal Vapor Chamber, it not only looks good, but it is super efficient at getting the heat from the CPU and into the flow of the pair of 140mm fans.
There are a lot of features that make the V8 GTS an obvious choice - like aesthetics, uniqueness, performance, even the massive amount of memory clearance, but that is not to say there aren't little things that need considered. Mounting the cooler is largely a pain in the butt, but once you go through the trouble of mounting the V8 GTS, you can be sure the cooler will go nowhere, as it really becomes one with the motherboard. There is also the noise factor to take into consideration. While most times with the PWM covering your cooling needs, you won't see the high results I got with my overclocked runs, but nevertheless, at 58dB the cooler is quite loud and is something you will have to deal with. The last thing was found when I actually powered the cooler. I had some issues getting the fans in and out at first, but didn't think much of it. Come to find out, that hit the cooler took in transit actually bent in the first pre-cooler stack, and the fan did rub on the fins until I adjusted said fin stack. Just little things, that aren't great detractors of a purchase, but just things I thought you should be aware of.
In the end, even though there are more efficient solutions to buy at $100, the Cooler Master V8 GTS still wins me over. While not the greatest performer on the list, placing in the top ten air cooling solutions I have tested is no easy accomplishment. As I said, you can get better cooling, but nothing that looks this good, and as a point of fact, with the Thermalright coolers listed, as well as a few of the others, memory clearance is a definite issue with those. As for the Thermaltake and Noctua solutions, they are cheaper, but none of them look as good as the V8 GTS will in your rig. I do think this cooler could seek much better at a price point near $80, but that huge vapor chamber along with a triple set of fin stacks, while still offering users great access to their memory is still a commendable feat, even if a touch on the pricy side of things.
At the end of all of the thought and consideration, I really do think Cooler Master is stepping up their game since the original concept of the V8, as well as improving on what the TPC 812 had to offer, and if you can afford this cooler, I know you are going to love it once installed in your PC.
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