Ixtrema Pro Heatsink by Silenx Author: faceless105 -- Posted: 2008-07-17
One thing we really love to cover here is cooling. It has a number of applications and is arguably the most important element to running any PC out there. With that said I think it's safe to say that keeping your CPU cool is the single most important component to keep cool. Keeping these temps down will directly improve performance more then any other area of your PC. This is why today we're happy to bring you a full review of the IXTREMA CPU Cooler by Silenx.
Right out of the box, the Ixtrema is huge. Unquestionably it's larger then a lot of the other CPU coolers out there. The cooler is designed to fit either one or two 120mm fans, so it needs to be large. This can pose a problem for smaller cases, but for the average mid-full sized cases it should fit fine, but if you're worried you can always run a quick measurement. We've also included a comparison shot of the cooler next to the Freezer 7 Pro. The Freezer 7 has been out for a while so it should make a good point of reference for a lot of people. As you can see below, the Freezer 7 has a single 90mm fan, and only three heat pipes. The Ixtrema can equip two 120mm fans and has four significantly larger heat pipes.
A common practice starting to popup in high profile coolers is HDT. This is the practice of allowing the heat pipes to directly touch the CPU. This has been found to improve the heat transfer, and is probably a practice we'll keep seeing more and more of. The first time I reviewed a CPU with this feature I was worried about the surface being perfectly smooth. While I don't have a depth gauge or anything to thoroughly test this, it feels completely smooth to the touch, so I'm no longer concerned about this.
The fans they use for the CPU can be bought separately. The CPU comes with a single fan, so if you want a second it only makes sense that you buy the identical fan. The included fan is able to move up to 84 CFM while keeping the volume below 18 dBA. The fan is the Ixtrema Pro Series 120mm fan. An additional fan was included with the CPU. This one can push 46 CFM and keep the noise down below 11 dBA. This isn't the strongest fan in the world, but it's still a good level for anything. You also want to keep in mind that by using two fans you've got double the power moving the air while keeping the noise to a minimum.
Now it's time for the first hand experience...
Attaching the fans is a very simple task. They come with a metal bracket that the ends fit into the screw mounts of the fan, and then wrap it around the cooler. This is a pretty simple task, but due to mobility, I'd recommend doing this before you fix your CPU cooler in place.
The CPU cooler is designed for the common CPU types, Intel: LGA775; AMD: 754, 9xx, & AM2. For the LGA775, the install isn't your common push pin install. First you fit a plastic bracket into the four holes for the CPU mount. Then the cooler clips onto the ring much like they used to in the days of the Socket A Processors. The only thing I'd like to warn you on is to make sure the plastic ring is completely secured, as this gave me a bit of work. I also want to note that due to the design, unlike with the majority of the push pin CPU coolers, the fans do no get in the way of attaching the cooler to the base ring.
Additionally the cooler also comes with a fan controller, so while we found this to be an incredibly quiet cooler, you can dial it down even lower if you feel it's necessary. As usual we aim to test the noise levels of the products we review just to confirm their noise levels, but this product ran below the accurate testing levels of our equipment.
Now it's time for what everyone has been waiting for, the temperature tests...
We've constructed our test bed to properly simulate an E6600 core-two duo processor at stock speeds. Now I would like to stress one last time that the size of the unit might be a concern for some people, but your standard case shouldn't have any problems fitting it. These tests were run with an ambient open air temperature of 22.9 C (or 73.22 F) and left to stabilize the temperatures for a good 20-30 minutes before each reading has been taken so that we could be sure the temperatures had leveled off.
The overall performance is pretty decent. The dual fan doesn't add as much to the performance as we had thought it would but I think this is easily corrected with higher power fans, just remember this can significantly up the noise.
The other thing we really want to note is the volume from the cooler. Even with both fans in place, it still ran at a level that was barley audible, even in a completely open air environment. With this setup, once in a closed case, you shouldn't ever have problem with noise from the cooler, even with the size of it.
- The cooler is pretty large, and can operate more efficiently.
- Noise is barley audible
- Installation of all parts is minimal and very straight forward
- The size is large so it probably won't fit in the lower profile cases.
- The base ring once installed isn't designed to be removed, and doing so on a regular basis might run the risk of loosening its grip on the mother board.
Overall the Ixtrema had some good performance and works very efficiently. I'm especially impressed that it's able to keep the noise down, especially for a cooler of its volume. If you guys are in the market for a new cooler, and volume is an issue this might be a great place to start looking. I'd like to thank Silenx for giving me the opportunity to review their IXtrema CPU Cooler.
I know this review really covered a lot so if anyone has any questions or comments, don't hesitate to ask!