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Introduction

In the line of overclocking, one of the most important things, if not the most important thing after stepping, is cooling. Without it, you could find your processor burning out in minutes; with it, higher clocks can be achieved at the same voltages.

Today I will be reviewing one of Thermaltake's latest forays into the field: the Big Typhoon. Will this monster of a heatsink prove to be as powerful as it is large? Will it allow me to hit the Big Three GHZ? Read on and find out...

Packaging

Front of Package Back of Package

The Big Typhoon comes in fairly minimilastic packing; a simple "pop-open" blisterpack dominated by the cooler itself. You are able to see the cooler, a small box that holds the accesories, and a simple cardboard slide showing the name.

Package Specifications

On the back, there is a cardboard holder that shows the specifications.

Supporting Foam Cardboard base cup

Popping open the package, we can see they placed a large foam piece between the fin area and base for added support. I was rather disappointed to see that Thermaltake didn't think to put any protection between the base and the cardboard cup. Cardboard is quite rough and can marr the base.

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Specifications

Taken directly from Thermaltake's site:

Specifications

Accessories

2x H-clip
1x Mylar
1x Sponge
1x Small H-clip
2x LGA Plate
4x Nut
4x Washer
4x Standoff
4x Screw A
2x Screw B
4x Screw C
1x Package of Thermal Paste (White Goop Variety)
1x Instruction Manual

Accessories



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Appearance

What can I say: this thing is HUGE! It most certainly lives up to its name as "Big."

Comparison with stock heatsink

This thing features a copper base, 6 copper heatpipes, and aluminum fins.

Side A Side B

Thermaltake also included a fan grill bearing their logo already installed. A nice touch.

Fan and Grill

Pulling off the fan and looking inside, we can see that there are actually 2 sets of fins, each with 3 of the heatpipes going through them.

Aluminum Fins

The base finish, unfortunately, was rather deplorable. It looks and feels rather rough. A nice lapping job would probably increase performance for those willing to take the time.

Base finish

Noise

I decided to power on the fan outside of the case. This thing was very quiet, giving off a very low pitched hum. I feel it probably isn't the rated 16 dba; however it is quiet enough to be undetectable in a normal computer environment.


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Installation

Now, considering how massive this thing is, it looks like motherboard removal will be necessary for installation. However, because I was curious, I attempted to do an in-case installation. An important thing to note is that in order to use the normal mounting hardware, you need to have a metal backplate. Some motherboard manufacturers such as DFI, use a custom plastic backplate. The difference between these two besides build material is that the retention stands for the screws are higher on the metal one. With the plastic one, the stands are too low for the screws to reach. In this case, you either have to get yourself a new backplate, or use the one that Thermaltake includes with their package. Installation of this backplate is explained on the installation manual. Thankfully, my board had the normal metal backplate.

First step is to remove the stock retention platform. This is easily done by unscrewing the two screws on either side and pulling it off. It should look something like this after:

Stock retention removed

Next comes the application of the thermal paste. If you use the stock paste that is included, you should spread a thin layer on top of the processors Integrated Heatspreader (IHS). However, for my testing purposes, I used the leading brand of thermal paste: Arctic Silver 5. For this, application is as simple as a rice-sized dot of the paste in the middle of the IHS. I dabbed the extra paste stuck to the tube around the dot for good measure.

Thermal Paste Applied

Next step calls for putting the H-clip onto the heatsink and then placing the heatsink onto the processor. However, I found that it was easier to place the heatsink on the CPU before putting the H-clip in place. Then you just screw the screws in as tightly as possible and you're done! While Thermaltake makes this step sound easy, it's really a large pain. The fin area is so huge that it gets in the way of the screwdriver; thus you have to screw it in while the screwdriver is at an angle! This makes it hard to be sure that the screws are tightened as much as possible. I would suggest using a flat-head screwdriver for final tightening as you can fit the head into the screw much more securely with it. Also, it would be nice if it were possible for the H-clip to actually be fixed to the center of the heatsink so that you just have to line up the screws to make sure the heatsink is centered on the processor.

Screwdriver difficulties

Installed in case Clearance from side

From that last shot, we can see that there is only about an inch of clearance between the fan and the side of the case. This could lead to breathing issues. In anticipation of this, I cut a 120mm fan hole right over the heatsink. However, I will test with a solid side just to see whether it was necessary.

Well, despite those difficulties, this beast is installed and ready to go. We now know that it is quite possible to do an in-case install. I even uninstalled it just to make sure that would be possible too. In a smaller case, things could get quite cramped; however I believe that it is easier due to the fact that you don't have to deal with motherboard removal and reinstallation. Now let's see whether this labor was worth it!


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Test Setup and Method

Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe
AMD Athlon 64 3700+ San Diego Core
Corsair TWINX2048-3200
BFG 6800GT OC
Antec TruePowerII 430W
Raidmax Scorpio 868B case
4 80mm intake fans, 2 80mm exhaust fans

Tests were conducted in 3 different situations: fully closed side, 120mm hole over heatsink, and 120mm fan in the hole.

Closed side 120mm hole over heatsink

120mm fan over heatsink

Ambient temperature was 21.5°C +/- 0.5°C. The processor was at 3 different clocks: 2.20 ghz & 1.40v, 2.87 ghz & 1.44v, and 3.01 ghz & 1.52v. Temperatures were taken using Asus PC Probe. Idle temperatures were measured after letting the system sit for 5 minutes; load temperatures were measured after 15 minutes of Prime95.


Performance: Stock Fan, Closed Side

Now let's start out with the somewhat common situation of a completely closed up case. As shown earlier, there is only about an inch of clearance for the heatsink's fan. Thus, we may see some air starvation issues.

2.20 ghz, 1.40v core:

Closed side, 2.20 ghz, 1.40v idle Closed side, 2.20 ghz, 1.40v load

2.87 ghz, 1.44v core:

Closed side, 2.87 ghz, 1.44v idle Closed side, 2.87 ghz, 1.44v load

3.01 ghz, 1.52v core:

Unfortunately, this was unattainable at the temperatures it reached. It went up to 48°C and became unstable.

These are just about the same as what was attained using the stock AMD heatsink assembly; however when I had been using the stock heatsink, it was at an ambient temperature of about 5°C lower. Thus, we can hypothesize that there was a 5-7°C improvement was attained, a solid advancement. However, I feel it will be able to do much more with a breathing hole.


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Performance: Stock Fan, 120mm hole

2.20 ghz, 1.4v core:

120mm hole, 2.20 ghz, 1.40v idle 120mm hole, 2.20 ghz, 1.40v load

2.87 ghz, 1.44v core:

120mm hole, 2.87 ghz, 1.44v idle 120mm hole, 2.87 ghz, 1.44v load

3.01 ghz, 1.52v core:

120mm hole, 3.01 ghz, 1.52v idle 120mm hole, 3.01 ghz, 1.52v load

Wow, some major improvements here, up to 4°C! However, when I placed my hand by the hole, I felt very little air moving; it seems that the fan is not strong enough to fully utilize the available fresh air. That ready supply could be put to good use with the help of a 120mm fan and will probably make a difference. Let's find out shall we...


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Performance: Stock Fan, 120mm fan in hole

2.20 ghz, 1.40v core:

120mm fan in hole, 2.20 ghz, 1.40v idle 120mm fan in hole, 2.20 ghz, 1.40v load

2.87 ghz, 1.52v core:

120mm fan in hole, 2.87 ghz, 1.44v idle 120mm fan in hole, 2.87 ghz, 1.44v load

3.01 ghz, 1.52v core:

120mm fan in hole, 3.01 ghz, 1.52v idle 120mm fan in hole, 3.01 ghz, 1.52v load

Amazing! Adding the 120mm fan for a solid supply of fresh air seems to be very beneficial, dropping the temperature once again up to 4°C!


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Final Results

2.20 ghz, 1.40v graph

2.87 ghz, 1.44v graph

3.01 ghz, 1.52v graph


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Conclusion

Thermaltake has put out a powerful contender in the air cooling field. It managed to beat out (theoretically of course, but no doubt true) the stock AMD heatsink by a solid amount despite being half-starved for air. That being said, as tests continued, we saw a larger and larger dependence on space and air. For some people, providing for these needs will require a bit of case modding, thus making this option less attractive. Also, mounting was a large pain with several difficulties, some of which could have been avoided with better design. However, despite all of this, it is well worth the labor.

Pricewise, this is one of the higher options (currently £24.95 at Overclockers and $52.99 at Jab-Tech), but you most certainly get what you pay for.

Pro's
Great Performance
Quiet Operation
Includes Fan Grill

Con's
Difficult Installation
Dependent on Air (may require case modding)
Low Quality Base Lapping
Slightly Costly

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