Xigmatek Dark Knight CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on July 27, 2011
The Dark Knight is a CPU cooler from Xigmatek, with a tower heatsink, three direct-touch heatpipes and a 120 mm fan. Check it out!
The Dark Knight box is small, with a transparent window in the front, which allows you to see the fan, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 2 shows what the box contains: the heatsink, fan, manual, installation hardware, and a small bag of thermal compound.
It seems to be different versions of the product. The manufacturer website presents only the S1283W model, but the sample we received is referred to as S1283V. We couldn’t find out what is the exact difference, but our sample didn’t come with the hardware necessary for installation on AMD processors (although the box says it is compatible with AMD sockets). So it is a good idea to check if it is compatible with your CPU before buying it.
Figure 3 presents the Xigmatek Dark Knight heatsink.
This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.
Figure 4 reveals the front of the heatsink, which has a very conservative design.
Figure 5 presents the side of the cooler. Only small parts of the side are closed.
Figure 6 shows the back of the cooler.
The top of the cooler is shown in Figure 7, where you can see the shape of the fins. Notice that the dents where you attach the fan exist only at the front, which means that the Dark Knight doesn’t support two fans.
Figure 8 shows the base of the cooler. The three 8 mm heatpipes touch the CPU directly, and there is a gap between them. All the parts of the cooler, including the base, are nickel-plated for a dark, shiny look.
In Figure 9, you can see the 120 mm fan that comes with the Black Knight. It uses a four-pin connector, thus is compatible with PWM speed control. It also has white LEDs.
The rubber fan holders are shown in Figure 10.
Figure 11 shows the clips used to install the Dark Knight on Intel CPUs, which must be screwed to the base of the cooler.
After that, put the backplate on the solder side of the motherboard, put the cooler over the CPU, and fasten the four screws. Figure 12 reveals the Dark Knight installed in our computer.
Figure 13 shows the LEDs glowing in the fan.
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 with the "In-place Large FFTs" option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)
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.
Operating System Configuration
We adopted a 2 oC error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 oC 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 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.
Processor at Full Load
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock (socket LGA1156)||14 °C||44 dBA||1700 rpm||46 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||90 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G1||14 °C||47 dBA||2050 rpm||33 °C||56 dBA||2900 rpm||62 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||14 °C||45 dBA||1400 rpm||27 °C||53 dBA||1950 rpm||51 °C|
|Thermaltake Silent 1156||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||49 dBA||1750 rpm||69 °C|
|Noctua NH-D14||14 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||27 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||53 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Performa||14 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||28 °C||52 dBA||1950 rpm||54 °C|
|Prolimatech Megahalems||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||50 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio||14 °C||46 dBA||1450 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||50 °C|
|Prolimatech Samuel 17||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||40 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||63 °C|
|Zalman CNPS8000A||18 °C||43 dBA||1400 rpm||39 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||70 °C|
|Spire TherMax Eclipse II||14 °C||55 dBA||2200 rpm||28 °C||55 dBA||2200 rpm||53 °C|
|Scythe Ninja3||17 °C||39 dBA||700 rpm||32 °C||55 dBA||1800 rpm||57 °C|
|Corsair A50||18 °C||52 dBA||1900 rpm||33 °C||52 dBA||1900 rpm||60 °C|
|Thermaltake Jing||18 °C||44 dBA||850 rpm||34 °C||49 dBA||1300 rpm||60 °C|
|GlacialTech Alaska||18 °C||43 dBA||1150 rpm||36 °C||51 dBA||1600 rpm||60 °C|
|Deepcool Gamer Storm||18 °C||43 dBA||1100 rpm||35 °C||48 dBA||1600 rpm||62 °C|
|Corsair A70||26 °C||56 dBA||1900 rpm||40 °C||56 dBA||1900 rpm||65 °C|
|Deepcool Ice Blade Pro||23 °C||45 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||52 dBA||1500 rpm||64 °C|
|AC Freezer 7 Pro Rev. 2||23 °C||47 dBA||1750 rpm||44 °C||51 dBA||2100 rpm||77 °C|
|Corsair H70||27 °C||60 dBA||1900 rpm||37 °C||60 dBA||1900 rpm||61 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9900 Max||27 °C||55 dBA||1600 rpm||38 °C||58 dBA||1750 rpm||63 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 11 LP||25 °C||45 dBA||1700 rpm||51 °C||49 dBA||1950 rpm||91 °C|
|CoolIT Vantage||26 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||37 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||62 °C|
|Deepcool Ice Matrix 600||25 °C||46 dBA||1100 rpm||41 °C||53 dBA||1300 rpm||69 °C|
|Titan Hati||26 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||40 °C||57 dBA||2450 rpm||68 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 13||27 °C||49 dBA||1950 rpm||41 °C||53 dBA||2300 rpm||70 °C|
|Noctua NH-C14||26 °C||52 dBA||1300 rpm||37 °C||52 dBA||1300 rpm||61 °C|
|Intel XTS100H||26 °C||49 dBA||1200 rpm||42 °C||64 dBA||2600 rpm||68 °C|
|Zalman CNPS5X SZ||23 °C||52 dBA||2250 rpm||38 °C||57 dBA||2950 rpm||69 °C|
|Thermaltake SlimX3||21 °C||50 dBA||2700 rpm||46 °C||50 dBA||2750 rpm||99 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper 101||21 °C||50 dBA||2600 rpm||38 °C||57 dBA||3300 rpm||71 °C|
|Antec Kühler H2O 620||19 °C||52 dBA||1400 rpm||34 °C||55 dBA||1400 rpm||58 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro||20 °C||46 dBA||1100 rpm||36 °C||49 dBA||1300 rpm||62 °C|
|GlacialTech Siberia||22 °C||49 dBA||1400 rpm||34 °C||49 dBA||1400 rpm||61 °C|
|Evercool Transformer 3||18 °C||46 dBA||1800 rpm||33 °C||51 dBA||2250 rpm||65 °C|
|Zalman CNPS11X Extreme||20 °C||51 dBA||1850 rpm||34 °C||56 dBA||2050 rpm||61 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio OCK||15 °C||44 dBA||1000 rpm||27 °C||64 dBA||2200 rpm||51 °C|
|Prolimatech Genesis||18 °C||49 dBA||1050 rpm||30 °C||49 dBA||1050 rpm||54 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer XTREME Rev. 2||15 °C||41 dBA||1050 rpm||32 °C||44 dBA||1400 rpm||60 °C|
|NZXT HAVIK 140||16 °C||48 dBA||1250 rpm||29 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||55 °C|
|Antec Kühler H2O 920||18 °C||41 dBA||650 rpm||29 °C||64 dBA||2500 rpm||49 °C|
|Zalman CNP7X LED||18 °C||45 dBA||1950 rpm||33 °C||48 dBA||2150 rpm||58 °C|
|EVGA Superclock||14 °C||43 dBA||1300 rpm||27 °C||58 dBA||2350 rpm||47 °C|
|Evercool Transformer 4||15 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||26 °C||53 dBA||1950 rpm||52 °C|
|Xigmatek Dark Knight||18 °C||47 dBA||1700 rpm||30 °C||53 dBA||2150 rpm||57 °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.
The main specifications for the Xigmatek Dark Knight CPU cooler include:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
The Xigmatek Dark Knight is an excellent CPU cooler, with a good cooling performance and a nice look.
The only issue we found on it is that, despite the box indicating it is compatible with Intel and AMD CPUs, our sample came only with the hardware for installation on Intel systems.
By its great look and good cooling performance with reasonable noise level, the Xigmatek Dark Knight CPU cooler receives our Silver Award.