Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Enermax and their ETS series of coolers are nothing new to us, but at the same time, we do know that Enermax is not afraid to try new things when it comes to designing a tower cooler for your CPU. From what we can recall, they are all about using tricks of the trade to boost the performance of their tower coolers. From the use of bold fin edge design, using specialized coatings, building pre-coolers into the base, and of course delivering some of their coolers with Twister and TB Vegas fans to provide excellent airflow and a bit of a light show. While they may not be the first name that comes to mind when looking for an air cooling solution for your CPU, they have been trying hard to become just that.
Included in the last cooler they have sent to us, many of these tricks of the trade are present yet again. First, they designed this cooler to use something called PDF, which stands for pressure differential flow. PDF uses a cone-shaped tunnel in the fins to change air flow, boosting it up to 15%. There is an air guide on the back of the cooler, and it is also rotatable so that you can use the exhaust air to cool other components with directionality. The air guide and close side design also lead into the Vacuum Effect air path which helps, even more, to get the most from the fan.
The fan comes with DFR technology, which allows the fan to reverse directions for a moment, to eliminate dust buildup on the fan blades. There is also VGF or Vortex Generation Flow, which are little tabs in the fins which also channel air differently than most coolers. The last two things you will find in this cooler are the HDT base design which needs no explanation at this point, and the use of generation two thermal conductive coating, which is applied to the cooler to create better velocity and thermal conductivity.
Even before we open the box, we can tell that Enermax has put a lot of time and effort into designing the ETS-T50 AXE CPU cooler we are showing off today. While they have been known for many of these design features in the past, it's nice to see that not only are they improving on older patented technologies, but developing new ones and adding them in as well. For those that prefer their CPU cooler to be "murdered out," the ETS-T50 AXE is right up your alley. From what we have gathered in the preliminary stages of researching the ETS-T50 AXE, it stands to be a solid contender in the huge market of air cooling. All we need to do now is have a look at it and what you get with it so that we can get to testing, digest that information, and see just how well the Enermax ETS-T50 AXE stands up to the competition.
Even with the fact that what you are about to see is as black as a cooler can get, we did find that there are two versions of this cooler. There is the ETS-T50A-BVT which is the model we are showing off, but if black is not your thing, there is another choice. Enermax also makes a white version of this cooler, but you need to search for the ETS-T50A-WVS to locate it. These coolers will fit all of the current as well as some EOL sockets. With the fan and air guide in play, the cooler is 138.7mm wide, 111.9mm thick, stands 160mm tall, and weighs in at 860 grams. Coming from the base of the cooler, there are five 6mm diameter copper heat pipes, held in place with an aluminum base. The fins are also aluminum, and we counted fifty-four fins in the stack.
The fan that cools this tower is a Vegas fan which spins on a Twister Bearing. It is a 120mm fan with a speed range of 800 to 1800 RPM. The maximum airflow from this fan is 62.32 CFM, and at that point, the pressure is 1.93 mmH2O. The Vegas fan is rated to run for 160,000 hours, and should deliver no more than 25 dB(A) in noise levels. Dressing up the looks of the ETS-T50 AXE, this fan also includes 36 LEDs which offer five lighting modes. The fan can be set to display the red light, blue light, green light, a mix of all three, or it can also have the LEDs turned off via a small pad switch attached to it. The Vegas fan uses 12V to obtain its maximums we discussed, but the connection on it is a 4-pin connector, which will use the PWM circuitry to deliver only what you need from the fan as well, without having to run it at full speed all of the time.
We were able to find both the white and the black versions of the ETS-T50 AXE easily, but we do see that they are slightly more expensive than the last couple of coolers we have tested. If you plan to shop at Amazon, the white variation rings out at $54.99, while the black version we have here for you today will cost $64.99. Looking at Newegg, we do see that the white AXE cooler is priced the same at $54.99, but the black AXE is slightly more affordable here, with a price set at $58.24. While the ETS-T50 AXE coolers do surpass the magic $50 mark, every bit of this cooler is designed to be superior to what we have just seen of coolers which fall below that mark. On paper, the Enermax ETS-T50 AXE coolers are shown to offer much bang for the buck, but we do need to test them before we deliver our verdict.
The box is colorful and should attract your eyes from quite a distance. The Enermax name and logo are found at the top, just above where we see the 250W TDP and name of the cooler. Four of the lighting effects are shown on here as well with three smaller cooler images, and the largest of them displaying all three LEDs active at once.
On this side, the manufacturer and product name sit at the top, and there is yet another image of the cooler on the right side. This panel is used to deliver a list of seven features in text, and then has icons across the bottom to go along with them.
This smaller side of the box has changed from black to blue and is where the bulk of the technical information is found. The left side covers all of the specifications, while on the right we find three renderings of the cooler with dimensions on them, and there is also a QR-Code to deliver you to the ETS-T50 AXE product page.
More images are what this panel is all about, that and explaining what they are for. The first two images cover the DFR technology and show fan blades after six months of use, with and without it. There are pictures of all five fan LED modes, and at the bottom, the asymmetric design, the air guide, the PDF, and the inclusion of DOW grease is covered.
The last of the panels is also blue to match the other side of the box, but here the information is more direct and concise. There is a brief description of the cooler found inside of the box, and in a list on the right, it states what can be found inside of the box.
Inside of the box, protecting the ETS-T50 AXE is a cardboard inner packaging that slides together to form sections. The cooler body and fan come attached to each other and ride in the largest compartment with the manual slide in with it. As for the hardware, it gets its section where we see the white box.
Enermax ETS-T50 AXE CPU Cooler
Behind the solid black frame and shiny transparent blades of the Vegas fan, is the black tower cooler. The fan covers the majority of the fin stack and is easy to remove and replace it for mounting.
The side view of the ETS-T50 AXE is black on black on black. The fan is at the left of the 54 fins with enclosed side, and the air guide is clipped onto the right side. Everything, the pipes, the fins, the mount, the fan, and the guide all keep that "murdered out" theme going strong.
Currently, the air guide on the back of the ETS-T50 AXE is blowing in an upward direction. The center section can spin 360-degrees and offers a vacuum effect to the cooler, as well as delivering the airflow with an intended direction to point at the motherboard, end of the video card, or to dump air to the top of the chassis.
Both the fan and the air guide use plastic frames which allow them to lock onto the fins with e pair of tabs, making life with this cooler very easy for maintenance. Looking lower, we can see that there are five heat pipes, but note the angle to the back they use, which allows access to all of the memory on mainstream motherboards.
At the top of the cooler, we see the Enermax name painted on the air guide, while the fan shows nothing but the black frame. The fins are where all of the magic happens. They have a special coating on all of them, they all have the V down the middle to push air outwards, and with closed sides, and it traps the air. There is an offset layout of the five pipes, and each is followed with little tabs which force air around it and into the next pipe in line.
The back is slightly different with deep valleys at the other end of the V shape. The leading edge of the ETS-T50 AXE is highest on the edges, sloped down to wide flat sections. The middle of the cooler has two deep sections behind the mass of airflow, and the center of it is raised to match the sides.
At the bottom of the fins, we find the coated copper pipes to be pressed into the fins. It is also a bit easier from here to see how the air is forced to zig-zag through the tower, getting the most of what the Vegas fan delivers.
The top of the base is made of aluminum and is anodized rather than having the coating applied. Not only is this how you mount the cooler onto the hardware, but Enermax builds in a pre-cooler to the base as well.
Most HDT cooler bases are not done this well. The base is assembled with layers of copper separated by thin layers of aluminum. Once the base is completed, it is then machined flat across the entire surface. Not only that; but the gaps between the two metals are the tightest we have ever seen.
Accessories and Documentation
First out of the box are the AMD top bracket, on the left, which has mounting holes at the top and bottom, and the cooler attaches to the threads at either side. To the right is the universal backplate, which is used for AMD and Intel motherboards.
Starting with the bits at the bottom, we located four standoffs to use with the backplate, and they have a flat side to keep from twisting, while on the right are the LGA2011 standoffs. At the top, we have a set of four spacers which co over the universal standoffs, and there are also the nuts to secure the Intel top brackets.
The DOW thermal paste tube is decent sized, and ships in a protective plastic container. Across the bottom, we have two of the standoff clips for the universal backplate, the Intel top brackets in the middle, and the other pair of clips on the right.
The manual for the Enermax ETS-T50 AXE cooler is the end all be all for getting this cooler in action as quickly as possible. It starts off with a parts list and description of usage, and then the manual walks you through AMD, Intel, and LGA2011 installations. As long as you have this manual and all of the parts, there is no reason one should run into issues.
Installation and Finished Product
Getting underway with the installation process, we are told to assemble the backplate, standoffs, and clips. Align the standoffs so that they have the flat side matching the holes offered, and to keep them in place, the clips slide over the ends, and hold each standoff into the locked position.
Once it is assembled, you align the standoffs with the holes in the motherboard and allow it to slide through. Orientation does not matter, as both the long ends are cut the same, and the sides are cut short enough not to be an issue either.
After flipping the motherboard over, you slide on the black plastic spacers, lay the Intel top brackets on either side of the socket, and using the provided nuts, lock them into place. There are arrows on the brackets, and they should be facing the CPU.
Both the fan and the air guide need to be removed to access the mounting screws, but with how easy they go on and off, this isn't an issue. Alternating sides with a few turns each, we took the screws down until no threads were left and the springs are compressed.
The Enermax ETS-T50 AXE sits centered on the CPU, but still, affords room to populate the first PCI-e slot. We also had no issues with the ride height of the fan, as it can tuck in behind the memory.
The clearance afforded in the ETS-T50 AXE is ideal for mainstream users, as they will have no need to remove the cooler to access the RAM. Even on LGA2011 motherboards, the air guide does not cause conflict with the view of the RAM either.
Even with the raised coverings over the power delivery systems of this motherboard, fitment is good, again, allowing the fans to say level with the top fin of the cooler. We made the 4-pin connection to the CPU fan header and were also sure to leave the pad switch exposed to change the LED lighting.
While there is nothing fancy about the top, as far as clever covers, LED lighting, or even branding found on this tower, the design of the fins are a work of art and deliver a pleasing aesthetic. At least the Enermax name is present on the air guide.
Once we could, we got to looking at the LED displays. At this moment, we have the blue LEDs enabled. Something we noticed is that when power is applied to the system, the fan flashes the LEDs as it spins backward. Once the DFR process is complete, the fan turns regularly, and the LED mode stays illuminated.
With one press of the pad switch we left exposed, you can change the LEDs from blue to red.
Pressing the button again drives the Vegas fan with green LEDs illuminating it.
This is the last mode to be used, where all three LED colors are active at once. You can also press the switch one more time and turn the LEDs off, but we think one of the four options will fit a theme well enough that it will be on in one of the modes.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus VIII HERO (Intel Z170) - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- CPU: Intel Core i7 6700K - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: Patriot Viper 4 3000MHz 4X4GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Graphics Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: INWIN D-Frame - Read our review
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS 1050W - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: RealTemp 3.70, AIDA64 Engineer 5.75.3900, and CPU-z 1.77.0 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 (October 2016) for more information.
The 56-degree result in the stock testing is not bad at all. While not the best, it is slightly better than the $50 options and is less than three degrees out of the lead.
From the first place, with the overclock applied and the PWM circuit still active, the gap widens. 72-degrees is respectable, as the ETS-T50 AXE holds its position.
Pushing full power to the fan, with the overclock still applied, the performance gained is less than a degree. While we would have liked to see it do better, it shows that Enermax has set the fan curve perfectly to get the most performance with the least amount of noise.
Noise Level Results
Inside of a chassis at this point of testing, the ETS-T50 AXE would not be audible, but in the open air, a foot away, it reports in at 29 dB. The chart makes this seem like a poor result, but anything under 30 dB we consider a pass for this round.
Noise levels move well into the audible category with the overclock applied and testing under way. 41 dB does not seem that bad, but once we look at all of the other coolers we have tested on this system, there are many which cool with less noise involved.
This chart shows what we were alluding to in our last thermal chart. The jump in noise is not worth the 0.75-degree boost in performance. With 54 dB of droning coming from the cooler, we have a new appreciation for the previous noise results, and it shows how well the curve for this fan is set.
While there are those who will want the ETS-T50-WVS white AXE cooler, we are digging the "murdered out" appearance of the ETS-T50-BVT we just got up close and personal with. The number of patented technologies is impressive. Enermax pulls out every trick of the trade when it came to designing this AXE cooler; no doubt about that.
Everything from the coating, the self-cleaning fan, the LED options, the look, use of a pre-cooler, offering an air guide, closing off the sides of the fins, even the use of plastic frames to mount the fan and air guide; it all lead to this cooler leaving a lasting impression on us. Noise levels are a bit higher than many competing coolers, but not to the degree of causing distress, especially if it is inside of a closed chassis.
Performance is where it should be in our opinion. We did not expect miracles, but we did need it to beat the more affordable coolers, which it did in standard testing. The ETS-T50 AXE may not have had more to give with the fan screaming at us, but we more than appreciate the PWM fan curve getting nearly every drop of performance out of this cooler without becoming obnoxious.
The hardware is on point, and Enermax covered everything needed to successfully have this cooler running on your motherboard with little strain and effort. We love that the standoffs lock into the back plate, we like that unless you are using AMD, the orientation of the backplate does not matter, and all of the threads were clean, and mounting the cooler to the hardware is just as simple to accomplish. Clearances are found on all sides of this cooler too. The asymmetrical design allows the ETS-T50 AXE to stay away from the motherboard covers, the RAM, leaves sufficient room to populate the first PCI-e slot, and does not block access to the motherboard screws either. Any way we look at this cooler, literally or figuratively, we cannot find any reason to detract from what Enermax has delivered in this CPU cooler.
Are there more affordable coolers on the market? Yes, we just saw a pair of near $50 coolers get beat by this, though. Are there quieter fans to cool your tower? Most definitely, but the level in which the Vegas fan delivers noise is not that bad, and you do get an attractive LED light show to go with it. Five to ten dollars does break that magic $50 mark, but to be blunt, we would like to have this cooler in our system more than the others tested as of late. While the MSI cooler was flashy and pleasing to the eye, the Thermalright was almost dull in appearance. With this Enermax ETS-T50 AXE, you may have to shell out $54.99 for the white one, and up to $64.99 for the one tested today, we think many will gravitate to this cooler.
It is one of the most advanced designs we have seen as far as tricks of the trade go and using advanced technologies that it looks great, it is easy to mount, and what makes this cooler even better is that Enermax thinks down the road as well. Not many coolers will reverse the fan's direction to keep it clean for you, and if the need arises for deeper cleaning, the clips used to make life as easy as possible too. The ETS-T50 AXE may not be a chart-topper, but it is well worth thinking about when it comes to looking for a new candidate to cool your CPU.
|Quality including Design and Build||98%|
|Bundle and Packaging||95%|
|Value for Money||89%|
The Bottom Line: Enermax's ETS-T50 AXE has every technology available to it, it performs fairly well, the noise is more than most, yet it is an affordable solution! Enermax offers a cooler that looks great, it is easy to use, we just expected slightly more from it in terms of cooling performance.
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