OCZ Gladiator MAX CPU Cooler Page: 1
Introduction

Aftermarket heatsinks for Intels 1366 socket are starting to appear on the market now and OCZ's first entry is the Gladiator Max. While this heatsink is not directly compatible with skt1366 'out of the box' a separate backplate and i7 mount are now available to allow the cooler to be used on Intels latest CPU range. As OCZ have included this adaptor, it would be rude not to put the Gladiator Max through it's paces on an i7 based system, which is exactly what we intend to do.

The new Gladiator Max heatsink, hailing from OCZ technology, is the latest heatsink to carry a similar design to the popular Xigmatek HDT 1283/4 and OCZ's own Vendetta series. The technology behind this design, H.D.T (Heat-pipe Direct Touch), allows the four 8mm copper heat pipes of the Gladiator to come in direct contact with the IHS of your chosen CPU. As no base plate is used this should allow unrestricted conduction of heat from the IHS to the Heatpipes. The heat then travels up the heatpipes to the 40 Aluminium fin plates which are vectored to aid airflow, for the heat to be dissipated by the included 120mm fan.

Weighing in at 780 grams and standing 161mm tall no one can accuse the Gladiator Max of being a lightweight nor huge rather it is comparative to the high end coolers on the market today. OCZ do have a smaller version of the Gladiator available which is called just that, the Gladiator, minus the 'max' as the 'normal' gladiator carries a 92mm fan instead of the 120mm we have for todays review.

Let's hear what OCZ have to say about it:

Combining a distinctive stacked fin array, heat-pipe direct touch (HDT) design, and a large low-noise fan, the Gladiator series is built to take on the cooling challenges of today’s most powerful processors and ensure your system functions at its peak.

Utilizing the proven performance of the latest HDT design, the Gladiator series has direct contact with the processor using four copper heat pipes to ensure the most rapid heat transfer. The unique “folded” fin configuration also helps maximize surface area while maintaining a compact form factor.

Engineered to aggressively dissipate heat produced by high-speed CPUs, the Gladiator series can tackle any challenge in the overclocking arena. These coolers run quiet courtesy of a large fan mounted with anti-vibration rubber connectors to reduce excess noise, perfect for a media center or office desktop where silence is a top priority. The versatile and user-friendly Gladiator series is compatible with AMD AM2/939/754/755 and Intel 775 sockets and can be installed quickly and easily by end-users at all skill levels.


Specification

The specification below was taken directly from OCZ's website:

For Sockets AMD 754/755/939/940/AM2, Intel LGA775 *
4 Pure Copper heat pipes for superior heat dissipation
Pure Aluminum alloy fins for ultimate durability


Fan Specs
Size: 120mm x 120mm x 25mm
Weight: 780g (with fan)
Rated Voltage: 12V DC
Fan Speed: 800-1500RPM
Noise Level: 19.6-26.4 dBA
Bearing type: rifle
Life Expectancy: 40,000 hours
Connector: 4 pin with PWM

Dimensions:
Heatsink: (L)63 x (W)120 x (H)165mm

Includes:
120mm Fan with rubber connectors
Mounting Hardware for all above CPUs
Generic Thermal Compound
Installation Manual

Also included in todays review is the Socket 1366 kit, which while not warranting a separate review will be included in todays setup.

Let's take a look at the heatsink itself...


OCZ Gladiator MAX CPU Cooler Page: 2
Packaging & Appearance

Looking very similar to the Vendettas packaging, the Gladiator Max  is distinguished by the units title situated at the bottom of the box. To the rear of the box we find a perspective picture of the cooler showing it's vertex fins and HDT technology. Key features adorn one side of the box with the applications and specifications on the opposite side.

box1 box2

box3 box 4
 
Opening the box up we find a well packed Styrofoam package containing both the cooler and accessories. The accessories themselves are nothing too remarkable with the AMD type pressure clip just sitting on the mid plate of the cooler and the push pin Intel fitment requiring two screws to attach to the cooler itself. Four rubber anti vibration mounting posts are also included which are a great commodity for those who desire silence. This are pulled through the fan holes and then slide in between the fins on the cooler which, while fiddly to fit are very secure, perhaps more so than some of the metal type clips used on the Gladiators competitors. With a small packet of paste also included everything is here to get you going. That is of course except a kit for skt 1366 fitment.

open box accessories
 
Available separately is the Skt1366 kit which contains a semi/permanent backplate for both Skt775 and skt1366. The difference with the skt1366 kit and skt775 (apart from the size of course) is the way that the kit attaches the cooler to the motherboard. Rather than use a push-pin setup the skt1366 kit utilises a much more professional spring/screw kit allowing for a better mount. Not only this but the included backplate will also allow for a greater application of pressure ensuring a solid  but more importantly, even mount.

skt 1366 kit 1366 kit

backplate 775 backplate 1366
 
The cooler itself is similar to many other coolers on the market today.  In that the heatpipes are threaded through a fin array. Perhaps the most individual feature of the Gladiator is the way the fins are arranged. Rather than having a flat appearance, the fins on the Gladiator are shaped to allow lower airflow resistance while directing the passing air towards the headpipes themselves which in turn should aid the dissipation of heat.

Cooler front cooler back

cooler top cooler perspective
 
Using the HDT technology we covered earlier, the four heatpipes are slightly larger than the 6mm used in other heatsinks which in theory at least, should allow even greater heat conduction. Eradicating the dodgy soldering of base plates, H.D.T technology is rapidly becoming the most efficient process of wicking away heat from the CPU IHS. There is however a drawback to H.D.T in that more paste is used to fill in those inevitable gaps in the coolers base. Also worthy of note are the four pegs which protrude from the Aluminium base to wick as much heat as possible from the base of the cooler.
 
cooler back
 
Let's take a look at our test setup and see how we got on fitting the Gladiator Max with the Skt1366 kit to our test bed...


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Test Setup

To ensure all our CPU cooler tests are as equal as possible we intend to use the same base setup, CPU clockspeed and BIOS settings. We also take special consideration to ensure that the ambient temperature is as near to 23 degrees centigrade as possible throughout the testing thanks to an digitally controlled air conditioning system.

CPU Coolers:
Intel Stock i7 920 skt 1336 cooler
Asus Triton 81 HSF
OCZ Gladiator Max

CPU: Intel Nehalem i7 920 Skt1366 2.66GHz
Motherboard: DFI X58 T3eH8
Memory: 3x2GB Corsair Dominator DDR3 1600mhz @ 8-8-8-24
HD : Hitachi Deskstar 7k160 7200rpm 80GB
GPU: Nvidia GTX280
Graphics Drivers: GeForce 180.60
PSU: Gigabyte ODIN 1200w
 

Fitting the cooler with the Skt1366 kit was a little fiddly as I did not wish to stick the backplate to the motherboard and as you can see, the 1366 fitment does not have protrusion that fit through the motherboard like the skt775 backplate has. Once screwed down however a solid and excellent mount was achieved thanks to the chromed screws and springs.

cooler fitment backplate
 
Even though the cooler is quite large, due to the height of the heatpipes we did not encounter any clearance issues in fitting the cooler to the DFI X58 nor the Asus P6T which both have large chipset heatsinks. Even with the fan fitted this did not interfere with the clearance of over sized memory heatsinks.

 heatsink clearence
 
In short a very good looking cooler which thus far has presented us with no issues that we can find fault with. I would have preferred to have seen the i7 kit included with the original unit but I guess this keeps the cost of the cooler down for those that have yet to make the upgrade leap.

 
Testing Methodology

I will be testing the OCZ Gladiator Max on an Intel Core i7 920 processor to assess the heatsinks ability to handle the heat-load of a quad-core. Whilst I appreciate that the OCZ Gladiator Max is also compatible with lower end CPU's, the Core i7 is renowned for being very toasty so should prove to be a very good test of the OCZ Gladiator Max's cooling capabilities.

Ambient temperature will be taken using a standard mercury thermometer and allowing it time to normalise. Processor idle/load and overclocked temperatures will be obtained using Real Temp 2.70 with the TJmax set to 100c, Each core temperature will be recorded. All testing will be conducted 3 times and an average taken to ensure the uniformity of results. All of the heatsinks were removed, and then re-installed a total of three times to ensure the elimination of any poor mounting issues. Arctic Silver 5 will be used on all of the coolers to eliminate the influences TIM may have on temperatures.

The program we will use to put the CPU under highest load will be IntelBurn Test ver 1.60 by AgentGod:

Linpack by Intel(R) is an extremely stressful program that will put even the most powerful X86/X64 CPU in the world at its knees. Load temp under Linpack will be up to 22*C higher than the competing software Prime95. This program will make usage of Linpack easier and more practical.

Ambient temperatures during testing ranged from 22.8 - 23.4 degrees Celsius.

Testing for noise is very subjective and without the correct decibel measuring equipment that is calibrated professionally including any results would be pointless. I will point out though that the OCZ is significantly quieter than both the stock Intel cooler and the Asus Triton that we reviewed previously. This is not really surprising as the Gladiator Max takes advantage of its bigger size by utilising a 120mm fan which turns at less revolutions than the 92mm fan of the Triton.

With the formalities out of the way let's crack on with the testing...


OCZ Gladiator MAX CPU Cooler Page: 4
Test Results

I ran the test at both stock settings and overclocked settings in both idle and load conditions to best simulate the working environment of a Home/Office PC.

Stock Settings

The idle temperatures were taken 10 minutes into Windows Vista and CPU load was checked using Windows Task Manager. The Load temp was taken through Realtemp 2.70 and was the maximum recorded temperature during 5 runs of IntelBurn Test 1.6.






Overclocked Settings

The idle temperatures were taken 10 minutes into windows Vista and CPU load was checked using Windows Task manager. The Load temp was taken through Realtemp 2.70 and was the maximum recorded temperature during 5 runs of IntelBurn Test 1.6.
 



 

Results Analysis


At stock settings the OCZ Gladiator is clearly the best cooler beating both the Intel stock cooler and Asus Triton by a clear margin. Matters change however once we begin to overclock the CPU to 3.8Ghz. The Asus gained a lot of ground on the OCZ here and while not quite matching the idle temperatures of the Gladiator it was ever so slightly better when the CPU was put under 100% load. This however comes at a cost as the OCZ was whisper quiet throughout the testing which is a lot more than can be said of the Asus.

Let's head over to the conclusion where I gather my thoughts on the Gladiator Max...


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Conclusion

The OCZ Gladiator Max is a direct evolution of its forbear, the OCZ Vendetta and as such we expected great results. We were not disappointed as the Gladiator performed well beating both the Intel Stock cooler and Asus Triton comfortably. It wasn't until we overclocked our CPU to 3.8ghz that the OCZ began to struggle against the more expensive Asus Triton 81.

Considering that the Gladiator 'makes do' with a single 120mm fan against the Tritons 2x92mm fan configuration I was surprised it did so well. It was certainly much quieter than the Triton when pushed which is key for most aircooled setups. Not only that but it weighs in £10 cheaper (+the skt1366 kit which could make up the difference) making it a sensible choice for those looking for a high performing cooler which won't make your ears or your wallet bleed.

Given the choice, my money would certainly go on the Gladiator as overall it's the better of the two heatsinks but only just. It's a good performer, a good looker and runs very quiet. While these attributes are admirable, I can't help feeling there is better to come so for now I will hold off giving this cooler a prestigious award and simply award it our recommended badge until we have a wider choice of i7 compatible coolers from which to draw a more complete picture.

The Good
- Whisper quiet even when under load
- Included 120mm Fan
- No clearance issues despite it's size
- Anti Vibration fan mounts

The Mediocre
- Fiddly fitment of socket brackets
- No i7 compatibility in stock state (Available separately)

The Bad
- Nothing to Report



Thanks to OCZ for providing the Gladiator Max for Todays Review. Discuss in our forums.