Thermaltake SlimX3 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on March 18, 2011


Introduction

The Thermaltake SlimX3 is, as its name suggests, a low-profile CPU cooler with two heatpipes and an 80-mm fan. Let's see if it can cool our CPU.

The SlimX3 box is very small and simple. You can see it in Figure 1.

Thermaltake SlimX3
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Figure 1: Package

In Figure 2, you can see what comes inside the box: a white thermal compound bag, manuals, clips, screws and, of course, the cooler.

Thermaltake SlimX3
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Figure 2: Accessories

In Figure 3, you can see the Thermaltake SlimX3.

Thermaltake SlimX3
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Figure 3: The SlimX3 CPU cooler

In the next pages, you will see this cooler in detail.

The Thermaltake SlimX3

In Figure 4, you see the front of the cooler. It is only 36 mm high, due to the slim fan and the tiny fins.

Thermaltake SlimX3
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Figure 4: Front view

In Figure 5, you can see the side of the cooler.

Thermaltake SlimX3
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Figure 5: Front view

In Figure 6, you check the cooler rear side. Here you can see the heatpipes.

Thermaltake SlimX3
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Figure 6: Rear view

In Figure 7, you can see the top of the cooler, where almost only the fan is visible.

Thermaltake SlimX3
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Figure 7: Top view

The Thermaltake SlimX3 (Cont'd)

In Figure 8, you check the heatsink without the fan. We are wondering why to install heatpipes on such small heatsink: the purpose of a heatpipe is to carry the heat from one point to another, and there is no point in taking the heat so close from the point it started. It could be better to build a heatsink of the same size, without heatpipes, but with copper fins.

Thermaltake SlimX3
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Figure 8: Heatsink

In Figure 9, you see the fan. It supports PWM speed control (note the four-pin connector).

Thermaltake SlimX3
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Figure 9: Fan

The base of the cooler is made of aluminum, not copper. It is not polished enough for a mirror-like aspect. Here there is another issue: the base should be made of copper, or at least the heatpipes should make direct contact with the CPU, in order to bring the heat directly to the fins.

Thermaltake SlimX3
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Figure 10: Base

Installation

Before installing the cooler, you need to attach the retention clips to the base of the cooler. Those clips are compatible with sockets 775 and 1155/1156. After that, just put the cooler on the CPU (there are plastic washers to avoid short-circuits on the motherboard) and fasten four nuts at the solder side of the motherboard.

Thermaltake SlimX3
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Figure 11: Clips installed

In Figure 12, you can check the cooler installed in our computer. Note that it is barely higher than our memory modules.

Thermaltake SlimX3
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Figure 12: Installed in our system

How We Tested

We tested the cooler with a Core i7-860 CPU (quad-core, 2.8 GHz), which is a socket LGA1156 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 3.3 GHz (150 MHz base clock and 22x multiplier), keeping the standard core voltage (Vcore), which was the maximum stable overclock we could make with the stock cooler. Keep in mind that we could have raised the CPU clock more, but to include the stock cooler in our comparison, we needed to use this moderate overclock.

We measured noise and temperature with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all threads, we ran Prime 95 25.11 (in this version, the software uses all available threads) with the "In-place Large FFTs" option.

We compared the tested cooler to the Intel stock cooler with a copper base (included with the CPU), as well as with other coolers. Note that in the past, we tested coolers with a socket LGA775 CPU, and 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 in the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that accompanies 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 left panel of the case was open.

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 case and video board cooler fans so they wouldn't interfere with the results. 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.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2 °C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.

Our Tests

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 idle and 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 minimum speed on the idle test and at full speed on the full load test.

 

Idle Processor

Processor at Full Load

CoolerRoom Temp.NoiseSpeedCore Temp.NoiseSpeedCore Temp.
Intel stock (socket LGA1156)14 °C44 dBA1700 rpm46 °C54 dBA2500 rpm90 °C
Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G114 °C47 dBA2050 rpm33 °C56 dBA2900 rpm62 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme14 °C45 dBA1400 rpm27 °C53 dBA1950 rpm51 °C
Thermaltake Silent 115614 °C44 dBA1200 rpm38 °C49 dBA1750 rpm69 °C
Noctua NH-D1414 °C49 dBA1250 rpm27 °C49 dBA 1250 rpm53 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Performa14 °C46 dBA1500 rpm28 °C52 dBA1950 rpm54 °C
Prolimatech Megahalems14 °C40 dBA750 rpm27 °C60 dBA2550 rpm50 °C
Thermaltake Frio14 °C46 dBA1450 rpm27 °C60 dBA2500 rpm50 °C
Prolimatech Samuel 1714 °C40 dBA750 rpm40 °C60 dBA2550 rpm63 °C
Zalman CNPS8000A18 °C43 dBA1400 rpm39 °C54 dBA2500 rpm70 °C
Spire TherMax Eclipse II14 °C55 dBA2200 rpm28 °C55 dBA2200 rpm53 °C
Scythe Ninja317 °C39 dBA700 rpm32 °C55 dBA1800 rpm57 °C
Corsair A5018 °C52 dBA1900 rpm33 °C52 dBA1900 rpm60 °C
Thermaltake Jing18 °C44 dBA850 rpm34 °C49 dBA1300 rpm60 °C
GlacialTech Alaska18 °C43 dBA1150 rpm36 °C51 dBA1600 rpm60 °C
Deepcool Gamer Storm18 °C43 dBA1100 rpm35 °C48 dBA1600 rpm62 °C
Corsair A7026 °C56 dBA1900 rpm40 °C56 dBA1900 rpm65 °C
Deepcool Ice Blade Pro23 °C45 dBA1200 rpm38 °C52 dBA1500 rpm64 °C
AC Freezer 7 Pro Rev. 223 °C47 dBA1750 rpm44 °C51 dBA2100 rpm77 °C
Corsair H7027 °C60 dBA1900 rpm37 °C60 dBA1900 rpm61 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 Max27 °C55 dBA1600 rpm38 °C58 dBA1750 rpm63 °C
Arctic Cooling Freezer 11 LP25 °C45 dBA1700 rpm51 °C49 dBA1950 rpm91 °C
CoolIT Vantage26 °C60 dBA2500 rpm37 °C60 dBA2500 rpm62 °C
Deepcool Ice Matrix 60025 °C46 dBA1100 rpm41 °C53 dBA1300 rpm69 °C
Titan Hati26 °C46 dBA1500 rpm40 °C57 dBA2450 rpm68 °C
Arctic Cooling Freezer 1327 °C49 dBA1950 rpm41 °C53 dBA2300 rpm70 °C
Noctua NH-C1426 °C52 dBA1300 rpm37 °C52 dBA1300 rpm61 °C
Intel XTS100H26 °C49 dBA1200 rpm42 °C64 dBA2600 rpm68 °C
Zalman CNPS5X SZ23 °C52 dBA2250 rpm38 °C57 dBA2950 rpm69 °C
Thermaltake SlimX321 °C50 dBA2700 rpm46 °C50 dBA2750 rpm99 °C

In the graph below, at full load 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.

Thermaltake SlimX3

Main Specifications

The main features of the Thermaltake SlimX3 CPU cooler include:

* Reseached at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

We were not expecting a good performance from the Thermaltake SlimX3 CPU cooler. Actually, we are just expecting it to be quieter and more efficient than the Intel stock cooler that comes with socket LGA1156 CPUs, which is a very small and presents poor performance.

The SlimX3 was relatively quiet during our tests, but it was worse than the stock cooler. In fact, it is the worst CPU cooler we've tested to date. We tried to install it in other orientations, but the temperature was exactly the same.

The only reason why anyone would buy this cooler is if he or she has a very low-TDP CPU inside a case that is so small that the stock cooler won't fit. If this is not your case, forget about the Thermaltake SlimX3.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Thermaltake-SlimX3-CPU-Cooler-Review/1221


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