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OCZ Tempest CPU Cooler

Date: September 14, 2006
Author(s): Rob Williams

OCZ has released many products over the past few months, one being a new CPU cooler. It may not be much to look at, but the design promises great heat dissipation. If you are looking for a low profile air cooler that glows, read on…



Introduction


Over the past year, I have become somewhat of a big fan of OCZs products. In that time, I have taken a look at around 10 of their memory kits, some which were better than others. Overall though, I am impressed with their lineup because they are truly designed by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts. Since they are already doing well in the memory and power supply market, it only makes sense to spread themselves around a bit more. We found out what new market they chose with the announcement of the Tempest CPU cooler a few months ago.

Normally, I am not interested in CPU coolers to any large degree. Most of the time, I find most of them look the same, and have similar cooling ability. Something about the Tempest caught my eye though, and it wasn’t just the bright blue LED. Looking at some of the coolers Scythe, Zalman and others offer, OCZ chose to create one that was very low profile. That is to say that it’s much shorter than some others out there. That intrigued me because if it cools as well as it says it does, then this would be a great air solution that won’t hog a lot of space inside your tower.

Here are some quick stats as provided by OCZ:

The cooler includes all of the required brackets and mounts to hook it up to virtually any recent system. I was pleased to see AM2 was supported, so I decided to test it out on that system.

Closer Look

The Tempest arrived in a semi-tall package that is rather flimsy. It holds everything into place no problem, but if you were to re-package it, it would not be that sturdy. You can see that the fan does not come attached. It’s up to you to decide whether you want it to suck air away from the cooler or blow air at it. Apologies for the poor pictures… the time that these were taken, a cheap camera was the only thing lying around.

After taking everything out, this is what you will see. The cooler, fan, manual, brackets and mounts. Also some thermal putty there, if you don’t have anything else on hand. Though it doesn’t look like much here, -everything- is included that you will need. They have also supplied a few extra screws in case you lose a few.

The fan that is included is great looking… I absolutely love it. It is only 2500RPM, 44CFM, but it’s designed to be quiet. It requires a 4-Pin power connector to plug into, which in my case, is easily accessible.

Here is the cooler without the fan. As you can see, it’s very low profile. OCZ obviously had the idea of not hogging the inside of your case, which is welcomed. It feels solid, which says a lot for it’s durability. The entire unit is encased with many aluminum fins, with four copper heatpipes piercing through them. The heat will leave the CPU, hit the heatpipes and travel along to the other side. It’s a simple concept, but it makes sense.

From the top, you can actually see quite clearly the pipes running through.

Though it’s hard to tell with the bad images, the base is copper with a titanium finish. The pipes run directly underneath it.

On the other end, we see a couple copper nipples sticking out, though it was not a cold day. We can also see OCZs logo etched in the side.

Lastly, here is the unit in all its glory. I have no complaints about the design or look of the cooler… in fact I am rather impressed with it despite it being rather simple.



Installation


Because of the slightly odd design, I was worried about the installation process. Especially since my case doesn’t allow much freedom, thanks in part to the motherboard and the power supply with all of it’s connectors. The ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard has a large heatsink that travels over the north/southbridge and even the PWM. It is rather close to the socket, so it was sketchy as to whether the tempest would fit properly.

First step was to remove the previous cooling and wipe off the thermal paste from the CPU. I had to remove the bracket that was there, since OCZ includes a special one for you to install. Once ready, I took a look at the rather easy to follow instructions.

OCZ included a backplate also, which essentially just goes on the back of your motherboard to allow some holes for screws. It also adds better support… chances are your motherboard will have one already though. Luckily enough, after removing the CPU bracket, the backplate stayed in place, so I did not have to install OCZ’s version. However, others may not be so lucky… since sometimes the bracket will fall after removing the screws. This would require you remove the motherboard and install the CPU cooler with it outside of your case.

First step was to lie down some plastic washers over each hole.

The bracket is only two small metal pieces… much smaller solution than what the motherboard supplies.

Another thick washer was lied down, and then everything was securely screwed into place.

The next step was installing two small pieces onto the cooler, for the AM2 support. You can see the result below.

All done! You will notice though, that the bottom heatpipes hit the PWM heatsink. I clued in shortly after this picture was taken that in my case, that the cooler needed to be turned 180°. Since the other side just has small copper nipples, it did not touch the heatsink. In turn, the heatpipes on the other end did not hit the memory.

The installation was by far one of the easiest I have had; I am impressed there. The only tricky part was securing the cooler into place with the final two screws, as there was not much room for a screwdriver. With a little patience, it was accomplished though. You may also notice that the fan is not secured here. The clamps on each side do a good job of holding it steady… so I assume that screws are not meant to be needed. This also makes it easy for testing which fan side does more good.

Finally, here is a look of the fan once turned on.



Testing, Final Thoughts


The previous cooling in the machine was the Corsair Nautilus 500 water kit, so it’s obvious that it will beat out the Tempest easy. However, it’s primarily there for comparison… just to give an idea. The only previous air cooler I have had for the AM2 was the stock cooler, which I promptly threw out due to it being garbage ;-)

To effectively stress the CPU, I ran an instance of Prime95s Small FFT test on each core in addition to a Super Pi 32M run. After 15 minutes of this, I went on to another setting. All of the results were recorded with Everest Ultimate Edition. Because this is a dual core CPU, Everest notes that each core has a different temperature. So I have included all of the results. Note: During all of the testing, the room temperature was 80°F. This is a little warm, so if your room is kept cooler, than you can expect lower results.

At stock speed, the cooler did quite well. Granted, it hit 57°C, but this is a dual core, so they run hotter. With the stock cooler at stock cpu speed, I hit 63°C, so this is a nice improvement. Of course, it has nothing on water though. 2.75GHz was on the iffy side though… which always hovered above 60°C. I would never personally run a PC that hot for a long period of time (Unless it’s an Intel maybe), so that’s a little high. Though I didn’t test it at 2.60GHz, I believe that would be the best possible setting with this CPU and cooler. The heat was generated from the 1.45v that 2.75GHz requires, while 2.60GHz can run stable on 1.25v.

Final Thoughts

So how does OCZs low profile cooler fare? Though the results are nothing amazing, I am going to award the Tempest an 8 out of 10. First thing to note is that this cooler is not going to be recommended for Dual Core systems, unless you are running an HTPC or something similar. Even still, you would want to run it at 2.5GHz to retain decent temperatures.

Dual Cores obviously run much hotter than single cores, so I would be quick to recommend this cooler if you had such a CPU. The reason I like the cooler the most is that it’s smaller than most others out there, but that in turn takes away from some of the cooling ability. But again, that would make this a perfect cooler for an HTPC setup, since those PCs lack more room than standard cases. The included fan also looks -very- cool… it’s by far one of the best looking LED fans I have seen. Even though I will not continue using this cooler, I am going to use the fan elsewhere :-)

That being said though… due to it’s profile, quiet fan and decent cooling ability… it just seems like this was designed for an HTPC. What about those who have a stock cooler and want to upgrade? If you don’t care about price, then the Tempest is a good choice. However, if you want better cooling ability, you would be better to look at something like Zalmans 9500LED. It costs $15 more, but should cool better especially if you have a dual core. It’s also much larger than the Tempest, though.

I am not usually a ‘fan’ of CPU coolers as I mentioned in the intro, but I have enjoyed using the Tempest. It looks great, cools decent, and won’t clog up the inside of your case. It’s definitely a noble first attempt from OCZ. In the future should OCZ release more coolers, I would love to see a more capable fan, and even the addition of a small fan controller. For such a small cooler, 2500RPM, 44CFM is not that great. 4000RPM and 60CFM would be more along the road of better cooling, and would have proven more capable of handling my hot Dual Core.

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