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Big 'n Beefy
Product : ThermoSonic ThermoEngine Ultra
Price : 31.71 (inc VAT)
Available from : Overclock UK
Related articles : [Alpha PAL6035]-[Thermaltake Super Orb]-[DTS-400 copper shim]

When the ThermoEngine first broke on the cooling scene, very few people had heard of it's makers, ThermoSonic. However, it quickly made a name for itself and there was a lot of talk about the mechanism it used to cool the processor. And when we saw Overclock's Ultra cooler range we thought we'd take a look at it.

So lets start at the top. This is a regular Thermosonic ThermoEngine V60-4210, but Overclock UK have added one of their Delta 60mm focussed fans (data available here) to increase the air delivery given to the ThermoEngine. In fact, when you compare the Delta 60mm against the fan that is usually supplied in the ThermoEngine, it looks somewhat like diddlysquat.

The black anodised heatsink is well made, with what looks like good workmanship. The fins on the heatsink come out from the central core. The fins are serrated which adds to their surface area (the more surface area, the greater the heat dissipation).

The heatsink itself is much like a cube, and when you add a similar size cube ontop (which in this case is the 60mm fan) it looks quite large. The dimensions are 60x60x85mm including the fan.

As you can see, we removed the thermal pad and there was no sign of the "cap" that sealed the core. The white marks that can be seen were caused by us removing the thermal pad. The bottom of the ThermoEngine isn't the smoothest thing around, so we would recommend some lapping if you are thinking about serious overclocking and getting the most juice out of this.

Installation

The ThermoEngine fits both Pentium III (FC-PGA) and Athlon (Socket A) processors. Thermosonic rate it up to a P3 Coppermine 1.13Ghz and an Athlon 1.4GHz. (They also mention it can cope with the Palomino & Morgan up to 1.7GHz). For those of you that use Slot-to-socket coverters, you will have a hard job fitting this. With the addition of the 60mm Delta fan, you are almost certainly loosing 2 DIMM slots, if not more. However if you have a Socket 370/FC-PGA board or an Socket A motherboard you will not have any problems.

ThermoSonic use their patented clip design, and it works well. With a lot of the heatsinks we have used in the past, you end up hurting your fingers trying to push down the second clip, however ThermoSonic seemed to have got it just right with their clip.

One important fact we felt needed to be pointed out was the little plastic cover slip that was put over the thermal paste to protect it from smudging during transit. Make sure you remove it! You might think this is an obvious point, but it didn't hit us in the face when we first saw the heatsink. Most people will just rip off the thermal pad anyway, but if you aren't going to, make sure you do the above step.

Having taken off the supplied thermal pad to put some Arctic Silver II (review here) we proceeded on with the mounting of the heatsink. As a note, the thermal pad was somewhat different to any that I have seen before. It felt more like plastacine rather than goo, but it did squash down nicely under pressure.

We then checked to see if the heatsink was on properly and we found it to be quite steady. So we moved onto testing.

Results

For this test we used the same 1Ghz Athlon processor as we did for the Super ORB review. This let us compare compare the two in a likened environment.





So it doesn't perform too badly. We expected a little lower temperatures due to the huge 60mm fan, however it was a hot day (yes it doesn't always rain in England), and the ambient temperature was higher than usual. So, the next day, we tried again, and these were our results :


There was a drop in the temperature of around 2C after 24 hours. This would make sense, since the fan, however powerful it is, will be channelling air that is of the ambient temperature onto the heatsink. The Super ORB couldn't quite match the ThermoEngine for temperature however it wasn't trounced by it.

Conclusion

The ThermoEngine Ultra is not a bad piece of kit. The Delta 60mm does produce a din during operation, however the 45CFM it provides makes this a very good performer. The cooler is also compatible with Socket 370/FC-PGA so there is quite a bit of flexibility. The base of the heatsink is rougher than we would like, but this can be fixed with a little bit of sandpaper.

The retaining system is well made, it doesn't require too much stress on the user's behalf to attach it to the socket, and the overall finish of the heatsink is good. Design wise, with the serrated fins, the mysterious core and the huge Delta fan, it is a large and beefy cooler. Price wise, there are more expensive coolers on the market. If you aren't going to overclock your processor then the ThermoEngine Ultra is slightly excessive, however if you have overclocking fever then it's well worth considering.

I had space on the digicam for one more image, and since I had a pile of old Pentium CPUs nearby, I found an old P166 MMX, with it's attached heatsink/fan on and placed it beside the Ultra cooler. It gives you an idea of the ThermoEngine Ultra's size.

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