Thermaltake TMG IA1 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on August 6, 2009


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

Continuing our series of CPU cooler reviews, today we tested Thermaltake TMG IA1, which uses the now classical tower design with U-shaped heatpipes, using a fancy shape on the heatsink fins. Will this design be translated into higher performance? Check it out!

TMG IA1 box looks quite alike BigTyp 14Pro box, with a transparent window that allows you to see part of the cooler.

Thermaltake TMG IA1
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Figure 1: Box.

Inside the box we found the cooler itself, user manuals, installation hardware, a small bag of thermal paste and a sticker for your case.

Thermaltake TMG IA1
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Figure 2: Box contents.

The cooler is big and heavy. The fins are very firm and the general aspect is of a very well-made cooler.

Thermaltake TMG IA1
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Figure 3: Thermaltake TMG IA1.

TMG IA1 fan has 120 mm in diameter and is made of transparent plastic. In the base of the fan there are three blue LEDs. An interesting detail is the fact the fan has no frame, which is not good in most cases because the airflow tends to spread, but with this cooler this seems to be a good idea because the heatsink fins involve the fan.

Thermaltake TMG IA1
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Figure 4: Front view.

Introduction (Cont'd)

In Figure 5, you can see the top view of TMG IA1 and have an idea of the shape of the heatsink fins. At first look it seems like the front tabs are a good idea because, as we said on last page, these tabs "involve" the fan, but the rear shape seems to be of more an aesthetic effect than of a performance-increasing system.

Thermaltake TMG IA1
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Figure 5: Top view.

The power connector is a three-pin micro type, without the speed control pin (PWM). However, the fan speed can be adjusted through a little potentiometer attached to the fan. The cable from this potentiometer is very short and thus you cannot adjust the fan speed without opening the case. A pity.

Thermaltake TMG IA1
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Figure 6: Base, potentiometer and power connector.

TMG IA1 base is made of well-polished copper, resulting in a mirror finishing that you can see in Figure 7. You can also see that the four copper heatpipes do not touch directly the CPU, being connected to the base.

Thermaltake TMG IA1
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Figure 7: Mirror-like base surface.

Installation

TMG IA1 comes with a clip that allows you to install it on AMD CPUs with socket AM3, AM2+, AM2, 939 and 754. With those processors installation is very simple: you only need to put the cooler over the CPU and fasten the clip on the motherboard retention mechanism.

Thermaltake TMG IA1
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Figure 8: Clip for AMD processors.

In order to use it with Intel socket LGA775 processors, however, you need to first attach the two clips shown in Figure 9 to the base of the cooler.

Thermaltake TMG IA1
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Figure 9: Clips for socket LGA775 processors.

After that, the retention mechanism is identical to the one used on Intel stock coolers. So, there is no need to remove your motherboard from the case in order to install TMG IA1.

Thermaltake TMG IA1
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Figure 10: Clips in place.

In Figure 11, you can see how the cooler looks like after installed. Besides its size, the installation was easy. The only detail was that we cut our hands on the heatsink fins when installing the memory modules, so watch out!

Thermaltake TMG IA1
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Figure 11: Installed in our case.

In Figure 12, you can see how the blue LEDs glow when the cooler is working.

Thermaltake TMG IA1
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Figure 12: LEDs glowing.

How We Tested

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.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

Software Used

Error Margin

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

Our Tests

On the tables below you can see our results. We ran the same tests with Intel stock cooler, BigTyp 14Pro, Akasa Nero, Cooler Master V10 and Thermaltake TMG IA1. Each test was made with the CPU idle and then with the CPU fully loaded. Keep in mind that with Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro and TMG IA1 we ran the test with the fan at minimum speed and then at full rotation. With the other coolers the motherboard controls the fan speed based on CPU load level and temperature.

CPU Idle

CoolerRoom Temp.NoiseFan SpeedBase Temp.Core Temp.
Intel stock14 °C44 dBA1000 rpm31 °C42 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)17 °C47 dBA880 rpm29 °C36 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)17 °C59 dBA1500 rpm26 °C34 °C
Akasa Nero18 °C41 dBA500 rpm26 °C35 oC
Cooler Master V1014 °C44 dBA1200 rpm21 °C26 °C
TMG IA1 (min. speed)16 °C47 dBA1500 rpm22 °C30 °C
TMG IA1 (máx. speed)16 °C57 dBA2250 rpm21 °C30 °C


CPU Fully Loaded

CoolerRoom Temp.

Noise

Fan SpeedBase Temp.Core Temp.
Intel stock14 °C48 dBA1740 rpm42 °C100 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)17 °C47 dBA880 rpm43 °C77 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)17 °C59 dBA1500 rpm35 °C70 °C
Akasa Nero18 °C48 dBA1500 rpm34 °C68 °C
Cooler Master V1014 °C54 dBA1900 rpm24 °C52 °C
TMG IA1 (min. speed)16 °C47 dBA1500 rpm27 °C63 °C
TMG IA1 (máx. speed)16 °C57 dBA2250 rpm25 °C60 °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.

Thermaltake TMG IA1

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 TMG IA1

Main Specifications

Thermaltake TMG IA1 main features are:

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

Conclusions

Before starting our tests we were not expecting much from TMG IA1: we thought it would perform worst than its "big brother", Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro. Its fancy design seemed to us just a cosmetic feature. Its looks and ease of installation, however, made us to like it.

But when duty time arrived, it really impressed us: TMG IA1 performs better than BigTyp 14Pro and Akasa Nero, cooling our CPU almost like Cooler Master V10.

With its fan in low speed it was very quiet and even then its performance was excellent in our tests. We only didn't like the fan speed potentiometer, with its short wires requiring you to put your hand in the computer "guts" when you need to adjust fan speed. A fan with automatic speed control (by the motherboard PWM pin) could be a better choice.

Another potential problem with this cooler is the absence of socket LGA1366 clips. Probably Thermaltake will sell these brackets, but if you have a Core i7 processor or intend to buy one soon maybe looking for another cooler is a good idea.

Because of its great looks, nice price and excellent performance, we are giving Thermaltake TMG IA1 the Hardware Secrets Golden Award seal.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Thermaltake-TMG-IA1-CPU-Cooler-Review/781


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