Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
We have seen many ways to address low profile CPU cooling, just about every style possible, that was until today where we can add another first to that list. Most coolers that are smaller than 80mm fan based tower coolers have only a few options. There are the C-Style coolers that afford all sorts of surface area and typically do rather well at cooling. The issue is C-style coolers are often too tall still. This is where the much smaller coolers come into play. While some make coolers that look like stock coolers and perform about the same, there are others that offer an actual base, a transfer medium whether it is direct touch between them or heat pipes in some fashion. But this is the first time we see one use a vapor chamber with this style of cooler.
ID-Cooling knows there are plenty of Mini-ITX users out there having issues finding a cooler that will work well with all the restrictions found there. They also know many users build media systems that are super low on the power draw and do not need a ton of cooling to keep an i3 or 25 processor under control at stock levels. While we have indeed seen coolers such as this one, with its 45mm overall height, and a design that would require another cooler all together to accommodate AMD users, as the Intel hardware is also built right into this cooler to save time and effort during the install. For such a small design, ID-Cooling tried their best to make this tiny cooler as efficient as possible, while still staying within that 45mm maximum height.
Up front, the concept has been proven in coolers such as this, and we are interested to see how well the Vapor Chamber copes with our test system. Stick around and see if this cooler might be something you could use, and see how it places in our charts.
The ID-Cooling IS-VC45 is only capable of being installed on Intel LGA115X and LGA2011 sockets and offers a reliable TDP rating of 130W. The cooler itself measures in at 94mm long, 92mm wide, and with the fan installed stands only 45mm in height. We mentioned the Vapor Chamber in the base, which is made of copper then nickel plated, with aluminum fins standing off the top of the transfer plate. All told, including the fan this time, the IS-VC45 weighs in at only 330 grams.
The included fan is a 92mm square, it is only 15mm thick, and as you will soon see, it is brown. This fan will spin in a range from 800 to 2500RPM delivering 44.3CFM, and an astonishing rating of 3.24mmH2O for the pressure coming out of it. The cooler can be installed in any of four directions, and this also allows the fin gaps to point at say the memory or the power management system on the motherboard to use that airflow as it leaves this cooler as well.
The IS-VC45 is easily located on this side of the pond. If you are shopping with Amazon, expect to have to shell out $65. If you venture over to Newegg, they offer the same cooler at $48.63 and are including shipping in the deal. This is in the range of the Noctua low profile solutions as well as some others, so as we tally things up to this point, things are looking up for the IS-VC45, and being able to access them in the US is a great starting point.
Packaging is kept super simple for the IS-VC45 CPU cooler. In a plain brown cardboard box is what it arrives in, and on the top of the box we do find the ID-Cooling name and logo along with their slogan printed here.
On one of the sides we are offered the name and logo again, this time much smaller.
One of the slightly longer of the two sides is not completely blank as the other is. On this side, we do see a sticker including the product name and a bar code.
The last panel to offer any information is what we are showing here. There is a sticker to the left with IS-VC45 in larger text, and in smaller print we see it is a CPU cooler made in China. To the right of that is the company information along with their web address.
Inside of the box, the cooler is surrounded by a dense foam used for the inner packaging. This fully protects the cooler and fan in one compartment, while in a smaller on the hardware is placed for the ride.
ID-Cooling IS-VC45 CPU Cooler
Looking at one end of the IS-VC45, we find ourselves looking into the flat sides of the fins. We also notice the outer fins are shorter than the bulk of them to allow room for the mounting hardware. The other end of the cooler is identical to this; the only change is that the ID-Cooling logo is reversed on the other side.
The same goes for the sides of the cooler, but this time everything is identical. The fins are soldered to the transfer plate at the bottom and are equally spaced across the full cooler. In total, fifty fins are standing up across the IS-VC45.
As we peer down at the top of the IS-VC45, we see the surface is flat across all of the fins. We also see they have tabs to support each fin and those tabs are then covered with a thin layer of foam to keep the fan frame from chattering against the fins.
One look under the cooler and is does not take a genius to see the rather large Vapor Chamber included in this design. At the top is what is left of the filler port of the chamber, and over the base we see a warning stick that is used to protect the surface of the base.
With the sticker now out of the way and the fan used as a reference, it is easy to see how finely polished this base is. It is also slightly convex in the center, and not exactly perfect as we can see a couple of distortions in the fans sticker.
We went ahead and grabbed the wire fan clips and strapped this 92mm fan to the top of the IS-VC45 so we could get a look at everything together. Also, the included fan is powered with a 4-pin PWM connection.
Accessories and Documentation
Under the cooler, stuck into the foam at the bottom, we found the LGA115X back plate. It offers 3M tape to attach it to the motherboard if desired, and the studs at the corners are cast into the plastic backplate and will not spin.
There is also a set of four screws to be used with LGA2011 sockets, as the screws in the cooler are in an oval hole and can adjust for both. We are also given a small tube of thermal paste to use, and a guide to show us more than telling us in text us how to install this cooler for both sockets.
We looked over the manual before we pulled out the wire fan clips and thought something was odd. We see in the guide some fancy clips that likely work much better with the IS-VC45 than these flat ones, but we did manage to use them, they are just tough to release once installed.
That 9mm fan that is 15mm thick is where we found this sticker covering the hub of it. This fan sips the power, and if it needs to be replaced, you are looking at finding the HA9215M12F-Z model fan.
Installation and Finished Product
Since we did not plan to use this cooler long term, we opted not to use the tape as we slid the backplate over the socket retention plate, mindful of its orientation. Also, we had no issues with the plate not being taped when it comes to mounting the cooler either.
After applying a bit of thermal paste, it is time to pick an orientation for the cooler and screw the four screws onto the backplate studs. We were able to alternate screws and ended up stopping when the threads ran out.
As a lot of motherboards do now, they tend to have large coolers on the side or above the CPU, and this makes the fan a bit tougher to install with it being so low on the motherboard. Again, we managed, but we were fighting these clips anytime we had to mess with the fan.
There is also plenty of room for memory with this cooler. It doesn't matter if it is ATX like this or even Mini-ITX motherboards, this cooler stays well away from everything around it.
The IS-VC45 obviously does not take up much space at all and is not even taller than the memory we use. There is plenty of fan cable to get it connected, and we can see no reason a cooler such as this would not fit into any system build there is.
Once we had everything in the D-Frame again, it puts perspective on how small this IS-VC45 is. With the cooler installed there is full access to the motherboard screws to mount it, and it also stays clear of the PCI-e slots, which is a huge sell for Mini-ITX users.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Sabertooth Z87 - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: G.Skill F3-2666C11D-8GTXD - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: HIS Radeon HD 7950 IceQ - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Patriot Torch 120GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: IN WIN D-Frame - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Power Supply: SilverStone ST85F-G - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: RealTemp 3.70, AIDA64 Engineer 5.20.3400 and CPU-z 1.72.1 x64
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 more information.
When it comes to testing this cooler, well there is no real way of sugar coating a last place finish now is there. Considering its company, and near 20 degrees between them, it is hard to shed more light on this other than it being ten degrees less than the stock solution.
As much as we knew things looked bad for this test, we ran it. After roughly three minutes into the test, three of the four cores hit 100 degrees and prompted us to shut down the testing as soon as possible.
Noise Level Results
As we ran our idle test runs, we had the fan supplied with 7.5V and saw it spinning at 1700RPM, and it peacefully delivered a barely audible 24dB of noise.
As we allowed the fan to do its thing, we saw speeds reported at 2550RPM, well within spec, and at this time noise raised a bit to 39dB. To be honest, we would have gladly taken more noise for better performance, but in an HTPC or stream box, silence is the key to those builds.
What we ended up with is a very low profile cooler that to us looks good, and while the brown takes some getting used to, we appreciate its uniqueness as well. There are a couple of coolers that offer the same overall height on the market, but none of them thought to attempt using a large Vapor Chamber under the cooler to take the brunt of the rated 130W TDP.
While we do feel this number is slightly exaggerated, we feel anything rated over 95W is going to be tough to tame with this design. Of course, you also have to think that we do not test with the PWM active, so in reality, the fan noise will be typically towards the higher-end most of the time, but it should also lower the temperatures a few degrees compared to our results.
The hardware is pretty solid, and getting the IS-VC45 mounted to any LGA115X or LGA2011 socket is simple and easy to do. There is only one complaint that we have, and that is with the wire fan clips. We still are not sure if we got the wrong ones, or if the drawing is wrong, but to us, the ones in the drawing would offer bits of the clip to allow it to be much more easily removed - the ones we got are truly a pain to work with. Outside of that, we could kick it a bit for its lackluster performance, but we are pretty sure seeing the results in those charts is doing all the kicking needed, so we won't throw salt into that wound.
What at first looked like a solid contender to throw into any Mini-ITX rig, stream box, or anywhere else a compact design and near silence are needed, turned out to let us down a bit. It is not a horrible cooler by any means, as it is still much better than the stock solutions, and trying to overclock on it, well we knew that wasn't going to end well before we even started the test, so no shock there. We even had high hopes for this IS-VC45 as it is available right now inside of the US, and at $48.63, it's a tad rich, but still reasonable for a niche product. But in the end, there are better coolers for the money, and they can fit within these same constraints.
|Quality including Design and Build||85%|
|Bundle and Packaging||90%|
|Value for Money||60%|
The Bottom Line: It does beat a stock cooler and uses less height to do it, but at this price, and with the lackluster results we found in the IS-VC45, we feel there are other options that are more worthy of your investment.
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