Thermaltake ISGC-100 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on August 17, 2009
Today we tested Thermaltake ISGC-100, a "small" horizontal cooler with three heatpipes and a 92-mm fan with a special fan blade design to reduce noise. But will its cooling performance be comparable to the performance of other coolers we tested recently?
By the way, ISGC stands for "Inspiration of Silent Gaming Cooling". No, we also don't think this expression makes any sense at all. Maybe it is another "Engrish" expression.
ISGC-100 is a relatively small cooler and can be installed in SFF cases. Its box (also small) can be seen in Figure 1.
Inside the box besides the cooler itself we found the user manual, a sticker for the computer case, a small white thermal compound bag and the hardware necessary to install the cooler on AMD or Intel (socket LGA775) processors.
The general aspect of ISGC-100 is good. It is much smaller than coolers we tested recently, but it has three 6-mm copper heatpipes, two of them folded and passing again into the heatsink, working as if there were five heatpipes.
Three of the heatpipes endings are protected by plastic caps, which we could not figure out their purpose. As you can see in Figures 4 and 5, the fan is attached to the heatsink by two steel clips, being very easy to remove. It touches the heatsink directly, with no mechanism to avoid the vibration from the fan to be transferred to the body of the cooler.
Over the cooler base there is an aluminum heatsink in charge of the heat dissipation.
Removing the fan we can see how the heatsink looks like, being smaller than the ones used on 120mm fan coolers obviously. The fan covers the entire heatsink. The heatpipes curves projects out a lot, which can cause some installation trouble if the heatpipes interfere with motherboard components.
The 92-mm fan has a classical frame, but the blades are white with an exclusive design. As you can see in Figure 7, its power connector is a four-pin miniature type, with PWM control pin, i.e., the motherboard controls the fan rotation speed.
The base is made of copper, with a very smooth finishing. In Figure 9, you can see a screw reflected on the base. You can also see how three heatpipes can look as five.
To install ISGC-100 on AMD processors (sockets AM3, AM2+, AM2, 939, 940 or 754) you just need to put the clip seen in Figure 10 over the base and then fasten it.
To use it on Intel socket LGA775 CPUs more work is required. First you need to screw both clips shown in Figure 11 to the cooler base. Then you must remove the motherboard from the case (unless your case has a windows on the back side of the motherboard tray), put the cooler in place and screw the nuts on the back side of the motherboard, using the included rubber and silicon washers to avoid damage to the motherboard tracks.
Thermaltake ISGC-100 is a little bigger than Intel stock cooler, but very smaller than some coolers we reviewed lately, as you can see in Figure 12.
As ISGC-100 is not a tall cooler, you can install it on SFF cases. In Figure 13, you can see how it looks inside our case.
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, Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro, Akasa Nero, Cooler Master V10, Thermaltake TMG IA1, Zalman CNPS10X Extreme and Thermaltake ISGC-100. Each test was made with the CPU idle and the with the CPU fully loaded. On BigTyp 14Pro and TMG IA1, the tests were done with fan at full speed and at minimum speed. With Intel stock cooler, Akasa Nero, V10, Zalman CNPS10X Extreme and Thermaltake ISGC-100, 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|
|TMG IA1 (max. speed)||16 °C||47 dBA||1500 rpm||22 °C||30 °C|
|TMG IA1 (min. speed)||16 °C||57 dBA||2250 rpm||21 °C||30 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||16 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||21 °C||29 °C|
|Thermaltake ISGC-100||18 °C||44 dBA||1450 rpm||35 °C||49 °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|
|TMG IA1 (max. speed)||16 °C||47 dBA||1500 rpm||27 °C||63 °C|
|TMG IA1 (min. speed)||16 °C||57 dBA||2250 rpm||25 °C||60 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||16 °C||51 dBA||1900 rpm||24 °C||50 °C|
|Thermaltake ISGC-100||18 °C||50 dBA||1800 rpm||58 °C||93 °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.
Thermaltake ISGC-100 main features are:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
Thermaltake ISGC-100 is a very quiet cooler and can be installed on SFF (Small Form Factor) cases. Besides this we could not find any good thing to say about it.
It cooled our CPU a little better than Intel stock cooler under full load, but in idle state its performance was worst than Intel stock cooler. We were expecting more from it, because of its heatpipe design, copper base and a 92 mm fan. And not forgeting that, according to the manufacturer, this fan can offer 15% more airflow than "common" CPU coolers. But even with all this features its cooling performance was awful. It does not have a "cool" looks and it is not easy to install on Intel CPUs.
But the worst thing is its price, too high for the achieved performance. We can find cheaper options with better cooling performance and still producing a low noise level. So we cannot recomend this cooler, unless you have a SFF, a low TDP processor and you are only looking for a cooler that is quieter than the cooler that comes with the processor.