Titan Amanda TEC Cooler Page: 1
Introduction
 
In the air cooler market today, there is a vast amount of competition. For a specific product to stand out amongst the crowd, they either need outstanding performance or to bring something new to the table. The latter seems to be the objective of Titan's monstrous heatsink, the Amanda.
 
What makes this heatsink different from the others? Well, Titan seem to believe that numerous heatpipes, twin fans and a huge array of fins, as most other high-end sinks have, aren't enough. So they decided to strap a Thermo-Electric Cooler (commonly known as a TEC) to the bottom of the unit so that it's got that little extra kick. Here we have a few of the promotional images from the Titan homepage.
 
Site1 site2
 
Site3
 
The Amanda boasts low temperatures at even lower noise levels. So without further ado, on with the review.
 
 
Packaging
 
The Amanda arrived in a surprisingly large cube-shaped box, decorated up to advertise the product it contained.  It sports a little window on the front so that you can catch a glimpse of the cooler inside and a plastic handle on the top. While this is such a simple thing, I felt it was a nice touch.
 
Box_front
 
Box_Back
 
The left and right sides of the box were riddled with info about the product, with one side being a features list in several languages plus a few graphs showing its 'thermal resistance' levels and the other listing the specifications of the cooler plus the masses of awards it has been given.
 
Side1
 
Side2
 
Upon opening the box, you are presented with a smaller box sitting safely, along with the cooler, inside a moulded plastic carrier that did a fantastic job of protecting the contents. The Amanda should be well-protected from the roughest of couriers.
 
Open_box
 
Packaging
Package
 
As you saw, the Amanda's extras came all stuffed inside a little box. This TARDIS-like box contained a lot more than I expected and, once taken out, I had no idea how Titan managed to fit it all into the space it occupied.  The package consisted of:
Package
 
There are a few interesting things bundled with the cooler. The first thing that struck me was the inclusion of a PCI card. Although it was apparent that the card was needed, there was no real explanation for it. It has 3 status LEDs on the back that inform the user about the status of the TEC and temperature of the base. However, this card came with no drivers whatsoever and didn't need any to operate.
 
The next inclusion that was a little different was what Titan called a 'Weight Reduction System'. This basically consisted of a few pull cords with which you strapped one end to the fans and the other to a vacant hole in the case, taking the weight of the fans off of the rubber brackets holding them on.
 
All in all, there is a decent package combined with the Amanda: a lot more that comes with the average cooler at least.
 
On the next page we will take a look at the cooler itself...


Titan Amanda TEC Cooler Page: 2
 
The Cooler
 
After removing the cooler from its packaging, the first thing that struck me was its size. The cooler is rather large, but this isn't really an oddity among high end CPU heatsinks these days. I think it was made a fair bit chunkier by the inclusion of the two 92mm fans. It sports some flashy stickers depicting a scantily clad broad with a sword on both the sides and top of the plastic cover. The cover creates a wind tunnel effect, ensuring that the two fans' airflow is directed properly.
 
Amanda_side Amanda_top
 
The Amanda carries 8 heat pipes total, with four protruding from the hot plate of the pelt and four (kind of strangely) from the cold plate.
 
TEC
 
The TEC is sandwiched between the hot and cold plates of the cooler, which is held together by quite tightly sprung pins with a type of circular clip. A jungle of wires surround the base leading to the TEC itself, with the little thermocouples on the base of the unit and the fans on each side, all leading to two plugs situated under the intake fan.
 
Bottom
 
The underside is made up of copper according to the box. Presumably it has been plated with something to make it look better and/or last longer. The base of the cooler wasn't nicely polished like many we see, but it proved to be flat enough to make good contact when tested on a piece of glass with a drop of water. Note the picture here shows the base with the 775 mounting hardware in place.
 
Fan
 
The fans of the Amanda were installed via some rather clever rubber pushpin-style mounts. They did a good job of holding the fans at a distance from any part of the cooler that might cause a rattle. The fans themselves were branded as Titan's own, and according to the specifications, rated at 1500RPM at <20dB. The fins of the fans were painted silver and certainly looked the part.


Titan Amanda TEC Cooler Page: 3
 
Test Setup
 
To put Amanda through her paces, I installed it into the following system:
 
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
Abit IN9 32X Max
1GB Crucial Ballistix PC6400
Sparkle 8800GT
 
To load up the Q6600, four instances of Prime95 were used. Ambient temperature throughout testing was 20°C (+/- 0.5°C).
 
Installation
 
The first and foremost point I'd like to raise about the installation of the Titan Amanda is the fact that they chose not to use Intel's twist n' push rubbish. This is an immediate plus point. Please note that the board used to demonstrate the installation here was an old K.I.A. P5N-E SLI and not the IN9 used in testing.
 
To start the procedure, you screw in the little brackets suitable for your chosen socket to the base of the cooler. This is a nice method of making the cooler universal to all sockets.
 
brackets
 
The next step consisted of slipping the insulation over the prongs for the 775 backplate. I used the neoprene-style insulation pad out of the two for no real reason. This is used simply to protect the motherboard from shorting out on the metal backplate, as I'm fairly sure the cooler's pelt isn't effective enough to warrant condensation protection.
 
Backplate
 
The backplate then slides in behind the motherboard, prongs sticking through the mounting holes.
 
Plate_in_place
 
The cooler is then placed snugly over the top of the bolts so that the brackets attached in the first step match up to the chosen backplate.
 
Mounted1
 
Next up you screw the spring and nut combo onto the protruding thread, twist them a few times until they are tight enough, and the cooler is ready to go... Almost. So far the installation was an easy procedure, following a pretty much standard pattern that has been tried and tested and works fantastically.
 
Mount2
 
The next part is slightly unusual for a cooler. You start by plugging in the thick, braided cable to the two loose sockets at the base of the cooler, and then plug the two fan connectors protruding from them into the headers. The first time I installed the cooler, I was following the instructions to the T and did it in the order I've described here. After this first time, it became apparent that it would be a lot easier to plug the braided cable into the sockets on the cooler itself first.
 
Plugs
 
The last part of the installation is to slip the PCI card (yes, a cooler has a PCI card) into a spare slot and plug the other end of the fat braided cable into this card. Adding a molex from the PSU to the party completes the installation.
 
 PCI_Card
 
On the next page we will analyze test results...


Titan Amanda TEC Cooler Page: 4
Test Results

The Amanda was put through its paces as described on the previous page. I tested it against the stock Intel heatsink. I've not included any previous results taken from air coolers due to the difference in the hardware used, environment and the achievable overclock.

Stock
 
Stock_temps

As you can see, the Amanda did a fair job of cutting the temperatures at stock. With a drop of 16°C at full load and 4/5°C at idle, it clearly dissipated the heat much better than the stock cooler.

Overclocked

Load_temps

The overclocked results show a similar trend as the stock, with the Amanda beating out the Intel sink fair and square. However, there was a slight oddity in the results. The temperature of the CPU at load after the full 30 minutes was, as the graph depicts, quite satisfactory. But while the test was running, every few minutes the temperature would rise up to the max temp shown in the graph before plummeting very quickly down to the level of the final result. I can only guess that this is the TEC turning on and off automatically to try and save power. A nice thought, but I would have liked to see this as an optional feature rather than have no control over it.

Noise

With no expensive equipment to quantify the volume of the fans on the Amanda, you will have to rely on my judgemental ear. Note that the only other fans running during this test were the ones on the 8800GT and the Seasonic M12, both of which were exceedingly quiet.

Amanda was a whisper over the already quiet machine. The rubber mounts on the unit did a good job of keeping vibrations down and the fans themselves were far from screaming.
 
Finally, flip the page to see the final conclusion and scores...


Titan Amanda TEC Cooler Page: 5
Conclusion
 
Thermoelectric coolers have always made me raise a skeptical eyebrow. The idea behind them always seemed impractical to me. The Amanda, however, has taken the idea and simplified it to a level that the average user can adopt into their everyday setup.
 
The cooling ability of the Amanda was quite satisfactory. The results with the Q6600 show that it's a capable heatsink, beating Intel's reference design outright. Unfortunately, I get the sinking feeling that the very point that the Amanda tries to sell itself with is the very point that lets it down. The TEC turning on and off with no user control got a tad unnerving at times. The air emerging from the exhaust fan on the unit was really quite hot, making me wonder if Titan would have been better avoiding the TEC and having a solid base. Nit picks aside, the Amanda delivers exactly what it promises and does it quietly.  
 
The Amanda can be found over at Tekheads for the sum of £64.04. This is quite a steep price considering that other, simpler coolers can be had for less.
 
The Good
+ Cooling ability
+ Looks pretty good
+ Easy Installation

The Mediocre
* Cables, cables everywhere

The Bad
- Price compared to some other high end air coolers
 
 
 
Thanks go out to Titan for providing the review sample.
 
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