Cooler Master V10 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on July 31, 2009
Today we reviewed Cooler Master V10, a giant air cooler that besides having 10 heatpipes also uses a TEC (Thermo-Eletric Cooler), a.k.a. Peltier cooler. Will this device really make a difference in refrigeration performance? Let's see.
V10 design is really very different to anything else we have seen before. At first glance it is even difficult to have an idea how it really works because it does not look like any other cooler. Let's dissecate it in order to understand its anatomy.
The box is big, firm and eye-catching, with a nice black and red looks and the model logo, bringing also a socket LGA1366 compatibility disclaimer.
The cooler comes "stuck" into a foam protection and it takes some time to take it out of the box.
Inside the box we find the cooler, user manuals, installation hardware and a Cooler Master ThermalFusion 400 thermal compound sample.
In Figure 4, you can see the cooler. As we said, at first it is difficult to understand how it is positioned on the CPU. Looks like it will not fit in any position and not even inside a case.
The base, made in anodyzed copper, is very well polished. In Figure 5, you can see the reflex of a screw on the base surface.
Removing the huge plastic cover that envolves the whole cooler we can have a better idea of how it really is. There are three heatsinks with aluminum fins connected to the base by copper heatpipes, two of them in vertical position and the other one in the horizontal. They are cooled by two 120 mm fans. After V10 is installed this horizontal heatsink is positioned over the memory modules area, helping cooling the memories.
These 120 mm fans are all connected to the same wires and have their rotation controlled by the motherboard, using a mini four-pin connector with PWN signal. They are made of translucid black plastic with red LEDs, with a nominal rotation varying between 800 rpm and 2400 rpm.
In Figure 8, you can see the heaksink set without the fans. An interesting detail is the fact the fans are not fixed to the heatsink, being screwed to the cover instead. However there is no vibration absorbing mechanism.
The heatsink that stays over the memory modules is connected to cooler base by four heatpipes. The vertical heatsink near it, however, uses only two heatpipes.
Besides its size, the presence of two fans and three heatpipes, the true differential of this cooler is the presence of one TEC (Thermo-Eletric Cooler) device, also known as Peltier cooler, because it works based on Peltier effect, were a semiconductor device works as a thermodinamic machine, "pumping" heat from a cold source to a hot source. So this cooler does not work just as a heat radiator like regular coolers; it works as a small refrigerator.
This device, however, has some disadvantages: the first one is the cost, which reflects on the high price from V10. The second one is the fact that a Peltier cooler demands energy to work, and it is not irrisory: this cooler "steals" up to 70 W from your power supply. The third one is the fact that, when it is at full operation and the cold side reaches low temperatures, it can cause air moisture condensation, creating water drops just like a cold water glass "creates" water on the outside.
But Cooler Master has managed to solve this last two problems in an amazing way: a controller circuit, which regulates the power delivered to the TEC device according to the temperate on the cooler base. If this base is below 20 °C, the plate is simply turned off. Above this the controller increases voltage according to the temperature, up to 12 V at 70 °C, when the cooler pulls 70 W. This controller is inside the little black box you see on the opposite side from the cooler base in Figure 10. The TEC cooler itself is located on the side of the base, with its cold side connected to the base through four heatpipes, while its hot side is connected to a heatsink using two U-shaped heatpipes. So, this third heatsink is not in charge of cooling down the CPU but the TEC cooler.
V10 comes with three sets of holding clips: one for AMD CPUs, one for Intel socket LGA775 CPUs and a third one for socket LGA1366 processors. All of them have a piece that is screwed to the cooler and a metal structure that stays under the motherboard.
This system is good because the cooler stays very firm in place and it does not bend the motherboard, but the problem is that you must remove the motheboard from the chassis in order to install the cooler, unless your case has a window on the motherboard tray that allows you to access the motherboard back side.
In Figure 13, you can see V10 installed on our motherboard. It's really a huge cooler. Our greatest fear, however, did not come true: we thought our memory modules would not fit under the cooler, because they have very tall heatsinks, but they fit perfectly.
Installing the motherboard back into the case, however, was a very hard task. As the cooler covers almost half the motherboard, fastening the screws under it is complicated. Connecting power cables was difficult too.
In Figure 15, you can see how V10 looks when working. Its fans glow with red LEDs.
We are adopting the following metodology on our CPU cooler reviews.
First, we chose the CPU with the highest TDP (Thermal Design Power) we had available, a Core 2 Extreme QX6850, which has a 130 W TDP. The choice for a CPU with a high TDP is obvious: as we want to measure how efficient is the tested cooler, we need a processor that gets very hot. This CPU works by default at 3.0 GHz, but we overclocked it to 3.33 GHz, in order to heat it as much as possible.
We took noise and temperature measurements with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to achieve 100% CPU load on the four processing cores we ran at the same time Prime95 in "In-place Large FFTs" option and three instances of StressCPU program.
We also compared the reviewed cooler to Intel stock cooler (with copper base), which comes with the processor we used, and also with some other coolers we have tested using the same methodology.
Temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer, with the sensor touching the base of the cooler, and also with the core temperature reading (given by the CPU thermal sensor) from SpeedFan program. For this measurement we used an arithmetic average of the four core temperature readings.
The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed 4" (10 cm) from the fan. We turned off the video board cooler so it wouldn't interfere with the results, but this measurement is only for comparative purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be done inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, what we do not have.
We adopted a 2 °C error margin, i.e., temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.
On the tables below you can see our results. We ran the same tests with Intel stock cooler, BigTyp 14Pro with fan speed set at its minimum, BigTyp 14Pro with fan speed set at its maximum, Akasa Nero and Cooler Master V10. Each test was made with the CPU idle and the with the CPU fully loaded. Keep in mind that with the Intel stock cooler, Akasa Nero and V10 the motherboard controls the fan speed based on CPU load level and temperature.
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Fan Speed||Base Temp.||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock||14 °C||44 dBA||1000 rpm||31 °C||42 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)||17 °C||47 dBA||880 rpm||29 °C||36 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)||17 °C||59 dBA||1500 rpm||26 °C||34 °C|
|Akasa Nero||18 °C||41 dBA||500 rpm||26 °C||35 oC|
|Cooler Master V10||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||21 °C||26 °C|
CPU Fully Loaded
|Fan Speed||Base Temp.||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock||14 °C||48 dBA||1740 rpm||42 °C||100 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)||17 °C||47 dBA||880 rpm||43 °C||77 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)||17 °C||59 dBA||1500 rpm||35 °C||70 °C|
|Akasa Nero||18 °C||48 dBA||1500 rpm||34 °C||68 °C|
|Cooler Master V10||14 °C||54 dBA||1900 rpm||24 °C||52 °C|
On the graph below you can see the temperature difference between the cooler base and the room temperature with the CPU idle and fully loaded. Values shown are in Celsius degrees. Remember that the lower the number the better is cooling performance.
On the next graph you can have an idea on how many Celsius degrees was CPU core hotter than room temperature during the tests.
Cooler Master V10 main features are:
Cooler Master V10 is a cooler of its own category. It's not fair to compare it air coolers, since the presence of a TEC gives it a great advantage. So, the manufacturer categorizes it as a "hybrid cooler". The TEC cooler is not user at full power all the time, but only when needed and with the required power level. When the CPU is idle, it works stealing low power from the power supply, with no water condensation and fans rotating very slowly. When the CPU dissipates more power, however, it shows its "muscles" and can handle any current CPU, even the hottest ones. Cooler Master claims it can cools CPUs with TDP up to 200 W or even more.
Compared to the coolers we tested to date it performs far better, keeping the CPU core about 12 °C colder that our best result until now. Its noise is almost inaudible when the CPU is idle and under full load it is still under comfortable limits.
But V10 is not a cooler for everyone. Mostly because its price, more than two or three times the cost of most high-quality coolers. But also because it will not use its cooling potential with a low-TDP processor, when it practically will not use the TEC. Other problem is the fact it is way too big, so it will interfere with the handling of other computer components inside the case.
But if you have a CPU that generates a lot of heat and want to overclock the most you can, have a big case, power to spare on your power supply, a fat wallet and you're looking for the best air cooler you can find, V10 is the cooler for you.
We are giving our "Golden Award" seal due its incredible performance, but keep in mind it is not the best choice unless you fit the abovementioned characteristics.