First, let me start with a bit of knowledge about GamerStorm, since this is the first product under that name that we have had a chance to review. GamerStorm is the high-end cooler label for DeepCool, makers of the GAMMAXX S40 cooler and the M6 Audio cooling pad that we have already seen. Think of this as more along the lines of Cooler Master and their Storm series. They all come from the same place, but the packaging and the offerings have been upgraded to denote the fact that these products are special, and deserving of their own name and market share. I am also sure it is financially a better move as well, but that has very little to do with the product we are here to look at.
The basic concept of the cooler we are about to see is that GamerStorm has taken a crack at the dual-tower air cooling segment with this entry. Along with all of the others like the D-14 that started this craze, the idea they were striving for is superb performance, with very little noise. From what we have already see from this new cooler, GamerStorm pulled out all the tricks of the trade to help improve on the efficiency of this design, and we will see soon enough if these things actually bolster the performance, or if they just make for a good looking cooler that will swallow the top half of your motherboard.
That being said, there are many points we need to cover with this design. Can you remove the memory once this is installed? Can you use normal heat spreaders, or do you need very short or no spreaders at all? Can you still get the 8-pin plugged in once this twin-tower covers the majority of the top half of the motherboard? The list goes on and on. So, not only are we going to be covering the performance of the GamerStorm Assassin that brings us here today, we are going to be looking at it with a fine toothed comb, because I know what is achievable with much smaller coolers.
In my mind, GamerStorm better have a very solid product here, because with the cost and size of this cooler in consideration, there has to be more than style and size to make me want to go back to using a twin-tower cooler.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The chart that GamerStorm provides dives right in with the measurements of the cooler with and without the fans installed. Since it is highly unlikely that users of this cooler are going to do it passively, the 144mm wide, the 154mm deep, and the height of 160mm is what most will be dealing with. Most staggering about the Assassin is that with the fans and the cooler, you are hanging 1378 grams on the socket. They then jump over to the heat pipes, where this cooler has eight 6mm diameter copper pipes that run through both towers. Each tower consists of 49 aluminum fins that remove the heat from the pipes. To start off the heat transfer, the copper base plate that has the pipes soldered into it takes the brunt of the load.
There are two fans that come in the box to supply airflow into these towers. One of which is a 140mm offering that will spin between 700 and 1400 RPM delivering up to 80.28 CFM of flow. This fan does ship on a Hydro bearing, but there is no mention of the amount of static pressure either fan will produce. The second fan is a 120mm offering that tops out at 1200 RPM, while delivering only 53.35 CFM. The way this cooler is designed to work is that you would use the lower rated and smaller fan on the front of the cooler to get things started as far as air flow is concerned. Then the stronger and larger 140mm fan is placed in the middle and helps to draw more of the flow from the front fan, while having enough power to also cool the second tower more efficiently, since is it dealing with mostly pre-heated air flow going into it.
They also go to great lengths to use quite a few of the tricks that have been successful for many other manufacturers over the years. First off they went ahead and closed off the sides of the fins on each tower. This alone is a huge help to keep the fans from wasting their airflow, as it just escaped through the sides of coolers, without this being done. They also use a saw toothed pattern between the two towers to allow the middle fan room to accept some cooler air, as well as creating spaces for turbulence and static pressure to build. They also incorporated the pyramid shape to the front and back of this tower. This allows the front fan, or even a potential third fan to have better chances of better utilizing less air flow to cool the tower since the large pockets will allow the fans air flow to get some steam, before it reaches the leading edge of the fins. Remember, it isn't all about blowing masses of air over a surface to cool it, you also need turbulence and breathing room for the fans to be at their most efficient levels to help tame today's processors.
Availability inside of the US is nil for this cooler currently, but it should make it to our side of the pond any time now. I am also finding it very difficult to even locate any information on pricing. I looked at Hong Kong based sites, I looked at US based news and information, and everyone is glossing over the cost of this cooler. On top of that I even sent an email asking about this to my representative, and the letter must have gotten lost in the mail, as I was not given a reply to either the date of when we can expect this cooler to hit the shelves or the MSRP for it.
I will say this though, even at near $100 to obtain this cooler, you will see soon enough that this cooler can contend at that price point. I did, however, see that there is a listing on Amazon for a Logisys branded Assassin that is listing currently at $82.95.
Most of the front panel is done in a matte finish to allow the shiny half of a face from their logo to take up most of this panel. You are also told of the heat pipes, there is a full green logo at the top, and in the same green at the bottom there is the Assassin name of this CPU cooler.
The right side of the packaging doesn't offer much more than the matte finish with the GamerStorm name and logo at the top, the Assassin name in the middle, and the company's web address at the bottom.
Around the back, there is the logo, company, and cooler name at the top, but as it moves down the panel, you are given specs for the cooler, each fan, and also shown the socket compatibility.
This panel than gives you the story behind the Assassin, and also covers the secret weapons like the twin-tower design, the shark teeth fins as they call them, the mirror finished base, and the rubberized coating they added to the fans.
Once out of the outer box, you find one thing box on the top with a 120mm fan in it. After removing that one, you get the larger box with the cooler inside of it. Then at the bottom, you will also find another thin box containing all of the hardware.
Removing the actual cooler body from its box and plastic bag that helps to further protects the fins from vibrations and fine scratches, there is yet one more box to find. Inside of this box, you will find the 140mm fan, and it also works as a spacer to keep the towers spread apart.
GamerStorm Assassin CPU Cooler
Looking at the Assassin dead in the face, you can almost see the pyramid design of the fins, but more importantly, from this angle is the way that those eight, Nickel plated, heat pipes come out of the base, and are evenly spaced in the tower to get airflow across every one of them.
From the side, it looks like many other twin-tower cooling solutions out there, but here they took the time to close off the sides of every fin. This has two benefits - one is that the cooler is structurally stronger this way, and the second is that there is no air escaping through them.
Since the back looks exactly like the front, and this cooler is designed to be universal in that matter, I thought I should get to a better perspective to show the way the edge of the fins were designed. This is something that Scythe is well known for using, and it has always worked for them.
While each tower has six grooves that run down the sides of the cooler, only the wider grooves are important for usages. These wider grooves are what will accept the wire fan clips for this cooler.
Looking at the top of the Assassin, you can see the wide gap design of the leading and trailing edges of this cooler, and you can also see the shark teeth design in the middle. Outside of the fact that there are eight pipe tips sticking out of both sides, there are also inverted logos applied to each tower so that the cooler can go on both ways and still show the logo correctly.
The top of the base is extruded with fins in place to help dissipate some heat immediately, but the main purpose of this design is to allow the wide channel in the middle to accept the cross bar that mounts the cooler to the rest of the hardware.
I can see no evidence of actual solder on the pipes around these fins, but even if they are just pressed onto the pipes, the way the fins wrap the pipes is a very snug fitting with nothing as far as gaps to mention.
At the other end of the pipes, where they leave the base of this cooler, there are definitive remains of the soldering process used to mount them inside of the base. This is also a great way to transfer the heat from the base into the pipes.
The mating surface of the base is polished to a mirror shine, and with a razor set against it, the only gaps or deflections were near the edges. Where this cooler makes contact with the CPU, that area is deal level.
I jumped ahead and found the fans and clips and assembled it all so that you have a better perspective on just how big this cooler really is when it is read to sit over the top of you CPU, and it is highly likely to cover the memory as well.
I also took a shot of the Assassin from this angle so that you can see the green blades of the fans. You may also notice the rubberized coating that has been applied to eliminate the need for PTFE strips, like what is shipped on other twin-tower designs.
Accessories and Documentation
While all of the hardware ships inside of one box, there is a lot of it, so I broke it up to make it easier to discuss. At the top you are given the cross bar to mount the cooler, and to its right are four rubber caps to use with the back plate to keep the screws in place. Moving down they also supply a syringe of thermal grease, and you will see the Intel top brackets on either side of the universal back plate. Off to the right, we have the four black plastic spacers, the four screws to use with the back plate, and the four thumbscrews for use over the top mounting brackets.
The rest of the hardware includes the eight wire fan clips on the left side and the metal case badge with the GamerStorm logo on it. In the middle, there is a bag with the LGA2011 screws, another bag with the AMD mounting kit, and even another bag with LGA775 parts. You are also given a Molex to four pin fan adapter to deliver 12V to these fans at all times if you wish, and there is also a Y-splitter provided for those who don't have dual CPU fan headers on their motherboards.
I also wanted to show both of the fans outside of the cooler. The center hub on both fans is chromed and offers the company logo in them. Around that both fans offer nine green blades to move the air, and again, both frames are black, but coated to keep any hard plastic from chafing against the fins.
Folded up and stuck inside of the hardware box is where you can locate the manual. It is slightly larger than the box, so even if the hardware slides out, this will tend to stay in the box.
Inside of the manual, once it is all unfolded, it starts off with a parts list so that you know you have everything you need before getting started. At the bottom, they offer AMD mounting being done in three easy steps, with clear illustrations to help guide you.
On the other side you will find separate instruction for the Intel LGA 2011 and the rest of Intel's offerings. Since both AMD and Intel setups are similar in the way they work, you use the same three step guide, just be sure to pay attention to the parts you use.
Installation and Finished Product
To prep the back plate, I took the screws with the large heads on them, aligned them in the correct holes for our LGA1150 test system, and once the head of them slips into the frame of the back plate, you then hold it all in place with the soft rubber caps that slide over both parts.
The back plate just fits inside of the access hole in the Thermal Armor of this ASUS motherboard, but it does fit, and that is what we needed. Even though the other side of the plate is plastic coated, the rubber caps actually raise the plate a bit more, and it definitely will not accidentally ground anything out.
All we has to do was set the risers on the screws that came through the motherboard, add the Intel top brackets and tighten them in with the knurled nuts. After that we placed some thermal paste, placed the cross bar into the base, and without the fan in the middle, there is room to get a screwdriver in to secure this massive cooler.
We did have to remove the flame tips of our memory, but just to clear the fan, and not the Assassin's cooler body. From this angle, outside of the fan, a bit of cooler behind it, and the memory, there is nothing else to see since this cooler blocks it all out.
For my configuration of two sticks of memory, the cooler does not interfere with my installation. If you are populating all four slots, you need to take the height of the memory into consideration, but you may also not be able to remove the closest stick once the cooler is mounted.
As it hangs from our motherboard, you can see nothing but cooler above the GPU on the right three-fourths of the motherboard. While this cooler may cause issues populating the first PCI-e slot, or ever getting a view of your memory again, it does leave room at the back to access the 8-pin, and also offers spacing for an exhaust fan on the cooler, and at the back of the chassis.
Test System and Thermal Results
I would first like to thank ASUS, InWin, Corsair and Fractal Design for supplying products for me to test with. To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article for that information.
The loaded stock settings result shows the Assassin to be very efficient at this level of the testing. After a few runs and averaging of the temperatures, the GamerStorm Assassin delivered a 49.75C average.
While not the best performance on out charts, it does now take top honors amongst the air coolers we have tested, beating the NiC C5 by over two degrees. When we took this thermal reading, the 120mm fan was spinning at 820 RPM, and the 140mm fan topped out at 949 RPM with the PWM in control during this phase of testing.
This is where the Assassin earns its name. Not only is it capable of topping out air cooling results, from the testing we did, this is the first cooler to give me the same exact average of temperatures across all orientations of the chassis. Every test, the cores average was 70.5C, not only surpassing the best air cooler by more than two degrees, it also climbed into the ranks of the latest AIO coolers that we have tested - simply an impressive cooling solution.
Also, at this point of the testing, with 12V to the fans, the 120mm was running at 1197 RPM and the 140mm stopped at 1400 RPM.
Noise Level Results
With 7.5V being sent from the Adjust 108, you really have to get your ear close to this cooler to hear any wind noise or any sort of a hum from the moving parts.
Once we stepped back to the one foot range where we always take a reading, we found these fans to only be producing 27 dB of noise, and placing third for silence when the fans are left in their idle state.
Just like we found in the thermal results, the Assassin is not ready to give up any ground. While the levels may have increased to 45 dB, when we applied 12V to the fans, it still stays in third place overall as one of the most silent offerings currently on the market.
So, not only is this cooler capable of taming a 4770K with relative ease, it also does this without disturbing the user too much audibly.
Usually my theory has been that most coolers have to give in some fashion to get to the top of our charts, but the Assassin has proven to be the exception to that rule. GamerStorm is able to not only deliver a silent cooling solution that is on the top three, they also handed all of the other air coolers on our charts their bums on a plate.
The third factor that is associated in my formula is the pricing, and even here, while it does require a more premium price point for an air cooler, relative to all other twin-tower designs, the Assassin even falls in line here. All of the tricks of the trade, along with a concept that didn't waver all the way until this cooler was built and released definitely worked out for the advantage of DeepCool and GamerStorm with what is now the best air cooler we have tested on this system. I really can't say enough about the results we found - they really are just fantastic.
That isn't to say that the Assassin gets away from this battle without a mark on it. Quite the opposite really, in my opinion. While it is able to crush the competition, I am really over coolers that take up half of my motherboard. While I could get to the screws to mount the board, and get the 8-pin plug in fairly easily, there are some major things to consider with this design. First of all is the weight, you are mounting near 1400 grams of cooler to the socket. Then there are the dimensions - it will cause issues with the top expansion slot, more specifically; the fan clips will rub the card. Not only that, but as I said, dual sticks of memory will require at least the removal of the fan, if you need to remove four sticks, you are going to need to remove the cooler completely.
I know these points may not affect everyone who will build a computer with this cooler, but it is a high-end product for high-end users, and as a high-end kind of guy, I like access to swap things out for testing various memory. And what if I were to use this for case builds, things would definitely come up with clearance issues in smaller cases, too. It's just all information to ponder when considering this cooling solution over the others on the list.
For what it is, the Assassin is well priced; there is no way to argue that really. Reflecting back to the charts, you can get a $50 cooler that is within a couple of degrees, but this cooler went on to take on a $129.99 AIO and tied it. Basing my pricing on the one listing I was able to find, the near $83 dollar pricing is reasonable for all you get with this design. It may be big, it may look a bit plain, the fans may be green and hard to color match for a themed build, but there is no doubt in my mind, that even while they waited for many other dual-tower coolers to pave the way, the GamerStorm Assassin kicks ass and is taking names at this point.