Thermalright Archon SB-E X2 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on March 5, 2013
Let’s test the Thermalright Archon SB-E X2, a CPU cooler with a tower heatsink, eight U-shaped heatpipes, and two 140 mm fans.
Figure 1 shows the minimalist designed cardboard box of the Archon SB-E X2.
Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: heatsink, fans, a syringe of thermal compound, a manual, a Y-harness for the fans, a wrench, a case sticker, and installation hardware.
Figure 3 displays the heatsink of the Archon SB-E X2.
This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.
Figure 4 illustrates the front of the Archon SB-E X2. Notice that the eight U-shaped heatpipes are distributed on six rows (three rows at each side) inside the radiator.
Figure 5 reveals the side of the cooler.
Figure 6 unveils the top of the heatsink, where the tips of the eight heatpipes are visible.
Figure 7 shows the view of the base of the Archon SB-E X2. There is a plate of nickel-plated copper soldered to the heatpipes, and the surface has a mirror-like look.
The Archon SB-E X2 comes with two 140 mm PWM fans, shown in Figure 8.
Figure 9 presents the Archon SB-E X2 with the fans installed. There are four rubber pads to help absorb vibration.
Figure 10 shows the backplate for use with AMD processors (on the left), the backplate for Intel systems (at the center), and the frame that goes on the component side of the motherboard (on the right). At the bottom of the picture, you can see the transversal bar that goes over the cooler base and attaches to the frame. This bar has a screw at the center that allows the user to adjust the pressure over the CPU.
Figure 11 reveals the four spacers on the solder side of the motherboard. Those spacers are fastened to the backplate’s screws.
Over the spacers goes the frame, shown in Figure 12.
Put the cooler in place, and attach it to the frame using the transversal bar with two screws. Use the included wrench to fasten the center screws that increases the pressure between the cooler and the CPU.
The last step is to install the fans, as shown in Figure 14.
We tested the cooler with a Core i5-2500K CPU (quad-core, 3.3 GHz), which is a socket LGA1155 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 4.0 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x40 multiplier), with 1.3 V core voltage (Vcore). This CPU was able to reach 4.8 GHz with its default core voltage, but at this setting, the processor enters thermal throttling when using mainstream coolers, reducing the clock and thus the thermal dissipation. This could interfere with the temperature readings, so we chose to maintain a moderate overclocking.
We measured noise and temperature with the CPU under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all cores, we ran Prime 95 25.11 with the “In-place Large FFTs” option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)
We compared the tested cooler to other coolers we already tested, and to the stock cooler that comes with the Core i5-2500K CPU. Note that the results cannot be compared to measures taken on a different hardware configuration, so we retested some “old” coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read on the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that comes with it.
Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings.
During the tests, the panels of the computer case were closed. The front and rear case fans were spinning at minimum speed in order to simulate the “normal” cooler use on a well-ventilated case. We assume that is the common setup used by a cooling enthusiast or overclocker.
The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed near the top opening of the case. This measurement is only for comparison purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.
Operating System Configuration
We adopted a 2°C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2°C are considered irrelevant.
The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, the fan was set at the full speed.
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Temp. Diff.|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3||18 °C||50 dBA||2850 rpm||69 ºC||51 °C|
|Corsair A70||23 °C||51 dBA||2000 rpm||66 ºC||43 °C|
|Corsair H100||26 °C||62 dBA||2000 rpm||64 ºC||38 °C|
|EVGA Superclock||26 °C||57 dBA||2550 rpm||67 ºC||41 °C|
|NZXT HAVIK 140||20 °C||46 dBA||1250 rpm||65 ºC||45 °C|
|Thermalright True Spirit 120||26 °C||42 dBA||1500 rpm||82 °C||56 °C|
|Zalman CNPS12X||26 °C||43 dBA||1200 rpm||71 °C||45 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9900 Max||20 °C||51 dBA||1700 rpm||62 °C||42 °C|
|Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition||22 °C||50 dBA||2400 rpm||65 °C||43 °C|
|SilenX EFZ-120HA5||18 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||70 °C||52 °C|
|Noctua NH-L12||20 °C||44 dBA||1450 rpm||70 °C||50 °C|
|Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme||21 °C||53 dBA||2550 rpm||71 °C||50 °C|
|Gamer Storm Assassin||15 °C||48 dBA||1450 rpm||58 °C||43 °C|
|Deepcool Gammaxx 400||15 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||60 °C||45 °C|
|Cooler Master TPC 812||23 °C||51 dBA||2350 rpm||66 °C||43 °C|
|Deepcool Gammaxx 300||18 °C||43 dBA||1650 rpm||74 °C||56 °C|
|Intel stock cooler||18 °C||41 dBA||2000 rpm||97 °C||79 °C|
|Xigmatek Praeton||19 °C||52 dBA||2900 rpm||83 °C||64 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P SE2||18 °C||42 dBA||1300 rpm||69 °C||51 °C|
|Deepcool Frostwin||24 °C||46 dBA||1650 rpm||78 °C||54 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio Advanced||13 °C||56 dBA||2000 rpm||62 °C||49 °C|
|Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition||9 °C||48 dBA||2100 rpm||53 °C||44 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio Extreme||21 °C||53 dBA||1750 rpm||59 °C||38 °C|
|Noctua NH-U9B SE2||12 °C||44 dBA||1700 rpm||64 °C||52 °C|
|Thermaltake WATER2.0 Pro||15 °C||54 dBA||2000 rpm||52 °C||37 °C|
|Deepcool Fiend Shark||18 °C||45 dBA||1500 rpm||74 °C||56 °C|
|Arctic Freezer i30||13 °C||42 dBA||1350 rpm||63 °C||50 °C|
|Spire TME III||8 °C||46 dBA||1700 rpm||70 °C||62 °C|
|Thermaltake WATER2.0 Performer||11 °C||54 dBA||2000 rpm||49 °C||38 °C|
|Arctic Alpine 11 PLUS||11 °C||45 dBA||2000 rpm||82 °C||71 °C|
|be quiet! Dark Rock 2||10 °C||41 dBA||1300 rpm||58 °C||48 °C|
|Phanteks PH-TC14CS||16 °C||47 dBA||1300 rpm||58 °C||42 °C|
|Phanteks PH-TC14PE||16 °C||48 dBA||1300 rpm||57 °C||41 °C|
|SilverStone HE01 (Q)||19 °C||44 dBA||1150 rpm||63 °C||44 °C|
|SilverStone HE01 (P)||20 °C||57 dBA||2050 rpm||62 °C||42 °C|
|Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (S)||17 °C||44 dBA||1250 rpm||52 °C||35 °C|
|Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (E)||17 °C||53 dBA||1900 rpm||50 °C||33 °C|
|Deepcool Neptwin||11 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||56 °C||45 °C|
|SilverStone HE02||19 °C||49 dBA||2000 rpm||64 °C||45 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9900DF||23 °C||45 dBA||1400 rpm||68 °C||45 °C|
|Deepcool ICE BLADE PRO V2.0||22 °C||43 dBA||1500 rpm||67 °C||45 °C|
|Phanteks PH-TC90LS||24 °C||47 dBA||2600 rpm||95 °C||71 °C|
|Rosewill AIOLOS||20 °C||40 dBA||1600 rpm||94 °C||74 °C|
|Corsair H60||20 °C||49 dBA||2000 rpm||64 °C||44 °C|
|Zalman LQ310||27 °C||51 dBA||2050 rpm||65 °C||38 °C|
|Noctua NH-L9i||24 °C||44 dBA||2500 rpm||95 °C||71 °C|
|NZXT Respire T40||20 °C||45 dBA||1850 rpm||76 °C||56 °C|
|NZXT Respire T20||21 °C||45 dBA||1900 rpm||77 °C||56 °C|
|Zalman LQ315||20 °C||52 dBA||1950 rpm||57 °C||37 °C|
|Corsair H80i (Quiet)||19 °C||44 dBA||1100 rpm||61 °C||42 °C|
|Corsair H80i (Maximum)||19 °C||57 dBA||2500 rpm||55 °C||36 °C|
|NZXT Kraken X40 (Silent)||25 °C||44 dBA||1050 rpm||66 °C||41 °C|
|NZXT Kraken X40 (Extreme)||25 °C||53 dBA||1650 rpm||62 °C||37 °C|
|Zalman LQ320||20 °C||52 dBA||2100 rpm||57 °C||37 °C|
|Corsair H100i (Quiet)||22 °C||45 dBA||1150 rpm||58 °C||36 °C|
|Corsair H100i (Maximum)||22 °C||61 dBA||2500 rpm||54 °C||32 °C|
|NZXT Kraken X60 (Silent)||26 °C||46 dBA||1000 rpm||62 °C||36 °C|
|NZXT Kraken X60 (Extreme)||26 °C||60 dBA||1650 rpm||60 °C||34 °C|
|Prolimatech Genesis Black Series||25 °C||46 dBA||1150 rpm||69 °C||44 °C|
|Phanteks PH-TC12DX||25 °C||51 dBA||1850 rpm||74 °C||49 °C|
|Corsair H90||23 °C||51 dBA||1550 rpm||61 °C||38 °C|
|Corsair H110||27 °C||58 dBA||1500 rpm||60 °C||33 °C|
|Evercool Venti||23 °C||49 dBA||2250 rpm||72 °C||49 °C|
|Thermalright Archon SB-E X2||22 °C||45 dBA||1400 rpm||68 °C||46 °C|
In the graph below, you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.
In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.
The main specifications for the Thermalright Archon SB-E X2 CPU cooler include:
* Researched at Amazon.com on the day we published this review.
The Thermalright Archon SB-E X2 is impressive in its construction. Eight heatpipes (actually working as if there were 16, since they are U-shaped) is not a common feature, and two 140 mm fans is the current standard for high-end air coolers.
Unfortunately, the cooling performance was good, but not at the level we expected in light of its excellent specifications. On the other hand, the Archon SB-E X2 is very quiet, which is nice.
Being a good cooler, with good cooling performance, but not a good buy due to its relatively high price, the Archon SB-E X2 receives our Bronze Award.