Cooler Master have never been ones to shy away from innovation and "full on" aesthetics. With the V8 GTS Cooler Master hope to mimic both the power and performance of the Muscle cars, by putting a huge V8 block as the engine into the heart of your PC. Engine analogies aside the V8 GTS is certainly a huge piece of kit, measuring 166.5mm end to end and 154mm across. It is though only 149.8mm in height which should serve to increase case compatibility. The innovation we mentioned lies in the use of a horizontal vapour chamber in the place of the traditional Solid copper heat sink, the reasoning being that this chamber will disperse the heat from the contact plate more evenly between the eight 6mm heat pipes and as such improve overall cooling whilst reducing CPU hot spots. Our hopes are high that the V8 GTS might have what it takes to make it to the 4.6GHz club in our extremely demanding torture tests.
Intel® LGA 2011/1366/1156/1155/1150/775
154 x 149.8 x 166.5mm (6.1 x 5.9 x 6.6 in)
Heat Sink Dimensions
154 x 140 x 153.5mm (6.1 x 5.5 x 6.0 in)
Heat Sink Material
Vapour Chamber / 8 Heat Pipes / Aluminium Fins
Heat Sink Weight
Heat Pipe Dimensions
Ø 140 x 20 mm (5.5 x 0.8 inch)
600 – 1,600 RPM (PWM) ± 10%
Fan Air Flow
28 – 82 CFM ± 10%
Fan Air Pressure
0. 3 – 1.45 mmH2O ± 10%
Fan Life Expectancy
POM bearing – Cooler Master 4th Gen. Bearing (*POM = Polyoxymethylene
110g (0.24 lb) x 2
Up Close: Packing and Contents
The box artwork leaves you in no doubt that the cooler that lies within is no shrinking violet, with two of the four sides depicting the V8 GTS in all it's red LED'd glory. The other two sides give more helpful technical data and key features.
The Packaging itself is robust with the V8 encased in a high density foam rubber box. Accessories are stashed away in their own separate box so as to prevent them damaging the main cooler. Fixings are provided for most modern Intel chips from LGA775 up to the present day, and from AMD Socket AM2 onwards. There's also a small syringe of TIM and a spanner to aid in fitting. For the full list of socket compatibility please see the Technical Specification on page 1.
We often refer to Cooler Masters "Table cloth" multi language instructions, so to add a bit of scale we've shown them below with a 140mm fan taken from the V8. Thankfully though they also come with a separate small fold out sheet which contains the instructions in English only. Our only other real criticism here is that the images could do with being quite a bit bigger
Up Close: The Cooler
As we'll see later when we strip it down the V8 GTS is comprised of three fin stacks. The whole of the top of the cooler is covered in a plastic fascia, and although this may garner performance benefits by better ducting the air it's primary role is undoubtedly an aesthetic one, it's inspiration we guess being taken from the top of a V8 engine block.
The cooler is actually wider than it is deep, but by elevating both sets of outer fin stacks Cooler Master have helped improve RAM compatibility. After all, if you're buying into the V8 lifestyle you're not really likely to have subtle low profile RAM are you?
With the fascia giving near 100% coverage, looking down on the V8 GTS from the top almost nothing of the fin stack and and only the tops of the fans can be seen. What can't be seen however is any evidence of the multitude of Red LEDs, as the upper ones are hidden beneath the central cowling structure and the lower ones are on the under surfaces of the fans.
The eight 6mm heat pipes are split 3 ways, with four entering the central stack and two each entering the smaller end stacks. The general level of finish is good as you would expect from Cooler Master, however there was evidence of fingerprint discolouration of some of the underside. In the pictures below we also get a better view of the LEDs glued into the lower portions of the fans. Any modders out there interested in changing the colour of the LEDs will be pleased to know they are held in place by heat gun glue which is easily cut away. The wiring is also relatively easy to access.
Rather than being a solid copper block the contact plate is actually a cleverly designed horizontal vapour chamber. Look carefully and you can actually see the sealing point to the right of the plate. The idea here is that heat will be dissipated more evenly to the 8x6mm heat pipes, which if allied to a conventional contact plate would all have trouble fitting into the footprint provided. Although not mirror smooth by any means, the contact plate is flat and devoid of discolouration and imperfections.
Up Close: Stripped
Although there are no instructions on how to take the V8 GTS apart it's an easy enough job (Man card upgraded). Two hex bolts on the top of the unit at either end release the large central section, with two bolts on either side of the unit releasing the smaller fan shrouds and fans via a bolt though mechanism. The image below right shows the underside of the central section along with the mounting points for the upper red LEDs and their connection cable.
With the fans and the plastic fascia removed we get a much better view of the body of the heatsink. It comprises of three separate fin stacks, the central and largest measuring 40mm across and the outer ones just 25mm across. The 2x140mm fans are sandwiched between each of the outer and the inner stack creating a sort of 3 way push/pull set up
The eight 6mm heatpipes are split between the outer and central fin stacks. The main central fin stack is fed by four of the pipes, running as they do quite close to the edges of the stack. The other four pipes feed the outer stacks, with two pipes each, passing first vertically up to the stacks and then horizontally within so as to pass over each other from opposite directions. As with the central stack, the pipes are positioned quite close to the edge of the stack.
Some cooler installations are easy, some are not so easy. What's the V8 like to install? Well my old man says if you can't say anything nice you shouldn't say anything at all. On this occasion though i'm going to have to make an exception. it's not that the fitting method itself is complicated, it's actually quite simple, more that the sheer size of the unit should have encouraged Cooler Master to think outside the box a bit and come up with a fitting method that could be accomplished without the need to grow another wrist joint. Ok, so things start fairly easy, with just fitting the appropriate bracket to the base plate/vapour chamber.
Studs are then screwed into the motherboard in the case of the 2011 here, or if using anything else alternate studs pass through to a back plate.
The cooler is then placed on top of the Chip with the appropriate holes lining up with the studs on the motherboard. Bolts are then placed on top of the studs and tightened down, first by hand then by using the supplied spanner. And here's where we have the problem. Due to the large overhang and sheer bulk of the unit it's almost impossible to place the bolt in the top left hand corner, let alone tighten it. We were almost at the point of removing the motherboard, realising that even if we did so to fit the cooler we would then have access issues re-attaching the 8pin CPU cable and screwing down the top row of motherboard standoff location screws. The pictures below show the fitting both with and without it's bolt, this one corner took some 20 mins to get on and tighten. Fortunately the Cooler Master Storm Trooper we use as our cooler test bench has quite a bit of room up top. Had It not we think we'd have been in serious trouble. As it was both the RAM and the rear fan had to come out to give us even the slightest chance of fitting the cooler.
The others are slightly easier to get at, but as you can see are still buried deep under the fin stacks and pipes making access interesting to say the least. On the plus side, there's plenty of RAM clearance.
Most CPU coolers look quite lost inside the cavernous "Test Trooper". Not so the V8 GTS. It's one of the few coolers we've put in here that actually look well proportioned and at home, though at just 149.8mm in height it should fit in a good many mid towers as well as the lager full towers.
Whether you are onside with the intended V8 engine theme of the looks it's hard to deny that looking down onto the top of the V8 GTS is a lot nicer than looking down onto a sheet of aluminium with a number of crimped of heat sink nipples sticking out of it.
Powering up the PC brings the V8 GTS to life with the myriad of red LEDs illuminating the cooler. The light from the LEDs is actually surprisingly subdued and in no way offensive or blinding. This pleasing effect is down to the intelligent positioning of the LEDs, placed as they are on the underside and under the fascia to give an overall glow and down lighting effect. We're actually quite taken with it.
Performance and Testing
The test set up consisted of the following
Intel i7 3960X Stock@ 1.1v (undervolted) 4.0GHz @ 1.25v 4.4GHz @ 1.35v 4.6GHz @ 1.45v Gigabyte X79 UD3 Corsair Vengeance LP Memory Corsair HX850 V2 Corsair Force GT 60GB Coolermaster Storm Trooper.
As usual we'll be testing our coolers at varying levels of overclock and increasing levels of voltage. this in turn of course means increasing levels of heat which the coolers need to dissipate. To begin with we start with the undervolted stock speed. Why undervolted? well if you have things set on "Auto", you may well be using more volts than are actually required to run at the chosen frequency, for example our 3960s will run quite happily at just 1.1volts, solid as a rock, 24/7, and as such we use this as our starting point.
Continuity is very important in testing, and for this reason we keep as many of the potential variables as locked down as possible. We will be using OCCT in Linpack X64, AVX compatible with all logical cores tested and 90% free memory utilised. The test is set up to run automatically with just a few clicks to set it going. A 10 minute idle followed by 30 minutes of testing and a 5 minute cool down is the order of the day and brings the total test time per clock speed to 45 minutes. So as to remove subjectivity in determining whether a CPU has failed, OCCT is set to stop the test and register a fail should the max temp exceed 80 degrees. In testing we noted that if even just one of the cores exceeds 82 degrees OCCT halts the test and a fail is recorded.
The V8 GTS doesn't come with any low noise adapters or additional fans so for once the testing was a relatively simple and quick process, simply fit it (yeah right) and fire up the tests.
With a Delta temp of just 26.1 at stock the only other air cooler in the charts that betters the V8 GTS is the Nuctua NH-D14. It even beats the Eisberg 120 and the Corsair H60 although only by a small margin. These low volt low overclocks are not where the actions at though so let's wind things up a bit.
Turning now to the 4GHz test we up the voltage to 1.25 volts, this is what is deemed normally as stock volts. Something we are always harping on about on the forums is AUTO does not mean stock volts, and normally if you overclocking with "auto" volts the motherboard will be upping the volts much more than needed if you were to do it manually. By whichever means it happens, upping the volts (especially from our 1.1v undervolt) does have a big impact on temps, with an average increase of 10-15 degrees seen in the results.
At the higher levels of heat generated by the increase in voltage required for the 4.0GHz overclock, fan performance, although still a factor becomes less critical, replaced instead by a coolers ability to conduct the heat up the heat pipes and more crucially the total surface area of the fins enabling convection to the atmosphere. The V8 GTS again beats all air coolers aside from the mighty D14, being some 3.5 degrees adrift, and again it gets the better of quite a few of the AIOs in the charts.
Upping the volts still further we achieve a stable 4.4GHz overclock at 1.35 Volts. It's here we start to separate the wheat from the chaff, with lesser coolers not able to disperse the increased heat effectively. Again we see a jump of 10 degrees or so from the figures at 4GHz. Both the H100 and the well-respected D14 are creeping into the 70s here, indicating that only the cream of the crop will excel at this level.
This is where we start to separate the men from the boys. So how did the V8 GTS do? Well it's beating the Mugen but only just and is now 5 degrees off the pace of the D14. Not a bad showing by any measure.
Having gotten this far we were really quite hopeful that the V8 GTS might make it into the hallowed 4.6GHz club, but sadly it was not to be with the temps popping over 80 degrees some 20 minutes into the test and triggering an automatic fail.
Whether you buy into the Cooler Master marketing of the cooler as "Seemingly channelling the power of the muscle cars that inspired its design" or not there's no denying that the V8 GTS is a substantial bit of kit. It measures 166.5mm from end to end and is 154mm deep. Thankfully though that's where the mega measurements cease as the height of the assembly is a mere 149.8mm. A smart move by Cooler Master enabling the V8 GTS to fit into not only huge cases such as the Storm Trooper we use as our heat sink test case, but also a good many more diminutive mid tower cases.
There's a very good reason for this bulk, under the subtle red LED lit top cover and fan fascia can be found no less than three fin stacks. The central stack being the biggest at 40mm thick, with two smaller lateral stacks measuring 25mm thick. A total of eight 6mm heat pipes are split between the three stacks, with four running into the central area while the remaining four are split two each between the lateral stacks. These lateral stacks are also elevated to improve RAM compatibility. Sandwiched between both lateral and inner stacks are a pair of Custom Cooler Master 140mm fans. The 20mm thick fans are rated between 600 and 1600RPM, generating between 28-82 CFM of airflow and 0.3-1.45mmH20 of static pressure. On the down side all this performance comes at a price, a very loud price in fact with the fans generating between 16 and 36dBA. The numbers are pretty arbitrary but believe us when we say that at full chat, which is how we do our testing, this is one cacophonous cooler.
We've fitted a fair few coolers in our time here at OC3D. For the most part mating the cooler to the CPU is a breeze with a few exceptions gaining our praise over the years for innovative fitting mechanisms which make the installer’s job so much easier. The fitting method for the V8 GTS does not fall into this category, in fact it falls a long long way away from this category. It's not that the method is complicated, it's not, it's actually quite simple. It's that in its simplicity it ignores the size of the cooler and the fact that human hands only have one wrist joint and that finger joints only bend in one direction. If ever there was an excuse for developing a slightly more complicated fitting method that overcame the obstacles created by the sheer bulk of a cooler this is it. Our inner Zen prevents us from further ranting but if you want to detail head over to page 5.
With a few choice, some not so choice and to be honest some quite frankly startling swear words out of the way we were able to put the V8 GTS through its paces. Across the board the cooler performs, ticking all the boxes and out performing all other air coolers in the charts aside from the mighty D14. Not only that but it also sees off a good few of the smaller AIOs. Sadly despite our high hopes the V8 GTS failed to make into the hallowed 4.6GHz club.
So the Cooler Master V8 GTS is a bit of a mixed bag. With its black clad Red LED lit fascia it certainly has great case presence. Performance is also exemplary with all but the best of the air coolers having their hides tanned. The cost of all this performance is a fitting experience that will leave you both physically and mentally scarred and a noise level at 12 volts that will have you reaching for the ear plugs. Granted if you step the fan speeds down the noise levels will drop, but then so will the performance. All this brings us neatly to the price. £70 is a fair wedge to pay for a cooler. It also happens to be much the same money as you would pay for a D14. Undeniably the D14 out performs the V8 GTS but it's also easy to argue that the V8 looks a damn site better than the rather dated looks of the D14 with its Prosthetic limb coloured fans. The real competition for the V8 though lies not amongst the great and the good of the air cooler market, but with the current crop of AIO water coolers. You see although the V8 GTS might perform slightly better than the H60, it's also a bit more expensive which coincidently brings it very close to the price of Cooler Master’s own 240mm based Seidon 240 not to mention the offerings from both NZXT and Corsair, and let’s face it cool though the V8 GTS is it's not nearly as cool as having a closed loop water cooling system in your case.
Assuming for a moment that you're stuck with a case that won't support a 240mm radiator, or that you're the sort that isn't prepared to accept he witchcraft that mixes water with electronics, then the Cooler Master V8 GTS is a very viable option, especially if you happen to be rocking a red and black themed build or be lucky enough to be providing lodgings for an ASUS ROG motherboard. Other than that we think we'd point our wallet at an AIO, all of which also makes us wonder that with AIOs becoming ever more popular and affordable that the days of the performance Air Cooler may be somewhat numbered. For the time being, the V8 GTS does provide a viable alternative. The V8 GTS might not scoop our coveted gold award, but for its performance and full on looks we are awarding it our Gamers Choice accolade.
Thank you to Cooler Master for sending the V8 GTS in for review, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.