Everyone knows the phrase, “Bigger is better,” and that phrase applies to almost everything except cell phones, so logically it should apply to as well…right? Well, that’s what I was aiming to find out in this review. Trust me, CPU coolers don’t get much bigger than this little behemoth…at least, I hope they don’t. If so the gravitational pull from it could cause the wires in your case to get tangled in its fans. Generally, I consider that bad, but luckily this model doesn’t suffer that complication.
A few weeks ago Xoxide.com gave us a list of products they might like reviewed. I asked for this nice big titan of a cooler, and I got a bit more than I bargained for…
The package came in about two weeks ago; it was shipped to Judie Lipsett’s house, so she was the first one to see it. If I remember right, her first few words about it were, “It seems pretty awesome, where does it go, on top of the case?” At first I laughed thinking it was a joke, until she opened the box to show me…and then the fear of it not even fitting in my case set in. I TOTALLY understand why she thought that…because this thing is HUGE, I mean, it is the single biggest component in my system, it’s probably even bigger than my power supply. Usually if you see something this big for cooling, it’s a water cooling radiator, and even then, it won’t be this big. If it wasn’t that I knew where it was supposed to go…I’d have sworn it went on the outside the case, too.
That being said, I rushed home and yanked the cords out of my computer (even though it was still on…whoops) in order to get it ready to accept this gargantuan hunk of metal (which by the way, is 798g –without the fan). I then began yanking wires out of my case, and then pulling out my stock cooler (while totally forgetting to benchmark it). The next step was taking it out of the nicely packed box. I happily did that, all the while savoring that new heat sink smell. Next I cleaned the thermal paste off the CPU and got the cooler ready to put it in…but wait…there are two reinforcement backplates…but there wasn’t a backplate for socket AM2…even though I could have sworn I saw something about support for that socket. Heck there isn’t even anything mentioned about AM2 in the instructions.
Now I was angry, annoyed, and worried about what I would do, since I’m sure Xoxide would be rather unhappy with me if I sent back their cooler saying, “Sorry I got the wrong one.” Grudgingly, I put my stock cooler back on and reconnected everything and then got online to check the product page again. Sure enough, what do you know; it is listed as having AM2 support. I then scoured the box and it saw a sticker on the front that said, “Compatible with AMD Socket AM2 CPU.”
This was very distressing…until I realized all you need for AM2 is the retention clip. The nice thing about AM2 is that it has a very strong backplate as part of the spec, so you don’t need to put one in. However, I really would have liked it if I had had instructions telling me about this. I know I could have gone online to find out…but honestly, is that helpful to someone who just took their heatsink off their CPU only to discover they don’t know how to install their new one?
Finally I got it installed, then I had to go to class, and then I spent most of the evening at the video game club. Meanwhile, I had my system running CPU Burn-in to try and see if I could get the CPU toasty. I spent 6 hours away from my system, and when I came home my CPU wasn’t in flames…but when I looked at my temperatures I realized…everything else was in flames.
One major problem I have with this cooler is the fact that it is a horizontal design. One of the purposes of a CPU cooler is actually to cool not just the CPU, but to blow air onto everything which will keep your motherboard from turning into a bonfire. There are two designs for CPU heat sinks: horizontal and vertical. Horizontal blows straight through the heat sink and out the exhaust case fan, essentially parallel to the motherboard. Vertical heat sinks blow air down on the heat sink, thus blowing air down on everything. Horizontals tend to get your CPU chilly, but pretty much fail at cooling down your motherboard. When you buy a new heat sink you are buying it mainly for overclocking purposes, and when you overclock you want to keep EVERYTHING as chilly as possible. Any seasoned overclocker will tell you that the key to goosing extra gigahertz out of your CPU is to keep everything as cold as possible, because often the motherboard’s components are more likely to hold you back than your CPU itself; if those components overheat, overclocking your CPU is useless. This is especially annoying for the voltage regulators; on a high end stock system they can run at around 170° F. For comparison, after I overclock on my system they can go well over the boiling point if I just leave them alone. I know that doesn’t seem possible, but trust me, it’s not only possible, it happens… I wish it wasn’t possible, that would be nice.
Ah, the different side panel fans make, it’s quite wonderful.
Anyway – moving on, I’ve now been using the Tower 120 for two weeks without too much trouble. I haven’t trusted my system enough to really overclock it much, so I have only got it up to 2.46 GHz from the stock 2.2 GHz. I wouldn’t have been so conservative in my overclocking (if you ask just about anyone that knows me well they will tell you I’m insane), but really, my overheating components kept me scared enough to not even want to try and up my CPU voltage in order to achieve a super overclock (like I usually have). Take note, I have gotten this system to go up to 3.4 GHz (using a special method… which I’m not revealing to anyone, I hate being liable for people burning out their computers), and kept it… almost stable at that speed. So for me to not trust it beyond 2.46, that should tell you something. By the way, I hope no one from AMD sees this review, even though my warranty burst in to flames long ago, it would be bad if they voided the warranty on any CPU I order as soon as it goes into my cart, as a precaution.
In the past two weeks I’ve had a fairly…”okay” relationship with it. I can’t say it’s been the greatest thing ever, but I can definitely say it hasn’t fried anything. It’s fairly quiet…but that might be because I had to take out my two side panel fans to put the damn thing in. However, I’m a strange one, I’m not happy unless my computer is noisy. I pride myself in my “Rock You Like a Hurricane” computer. That being said, when my computer’s volume dropped a good 30 decibels I was quite uncomfortable all of a sudden. But I got over that.
Really the thing I missed more than anything else was all my computer’s lights. The cooler’s fan has blue LEDs, but that doesn’t make up for two LED fans and a cold cathode light. I mean seriously, I practically had a light show inside of my case and I liked it that way. I mean this cooler is just TOO huge, I never thought I’d say that about a CPU cooler, but I am. I mean, it has less than an inch of clearance with my side panel, and my reinforcement bar has to come out, otherwise it hits it. That bar is where I hid my cold cathode, and where one of the three side panel fans is located.
Overall, the biggest problem with this heatsink is the fact that it is big. Though, I realize that the size is what makes it effective. It would be a lot better if I had some way of cooling down my motherboard as well as the CPU, but for a horizontal orientation type cooler, I would say this thing is just about the best you can get.
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 2.2 GHz -although I had it running at 2.46 GHz. in case anyone was wondering: Yes, this cooler is the reason I didn’t run at 2.8GHz during my Battlefield 2142 review
RAM: 1 GB DDR2
Video Card: ATi Radeon x1950 PRO
Will’s Rating: 7.9 (Decent cooling and decently quiet… but I don’t want to boil water on my voltage regulators)
The Tuniq Tower 120 Ultra Silent CPU Cooler is available on Xoxide.com and wherever huge CPU coolers are sold.
MSRP: $64.99, but it’s on sale right now for $49.99, get it while it’s cheap!!!
What I Like: Keeps the CPU nice and chilly considering the fact that the CPU won’t be getting any extra airflow.
What Needs Improvement: It is freak’n huge. I know it is actually meant to be huge… but really its size is also its downfall. Another thing that’s bad about it is the fact that everything but the CPU overheats, thus keeping you from overclocking. Oh, and don’t forget the lousy AM2 instructions!
How I rate
I like to stick to a 10 base rating system. It gives the reader more information on my actual thoughts about the product, and it helps those who are too lazy to read the article. I would give a 0 rating to something that doesn’t do what it says it’s supposed to (in this case, fry my CPU), and instead does something else, which it also can’t do; in other words, anything that gives technology a bad name. I call a 10 rating the most amazing thing I ever seen in that category, for example, I’d give cheese a 10 because it’s the greatest thing since the beginning of time. This cooler got a 7.9, which is quite good considering how much my motherboard was overheating, and also considering I give phase change coolers a 10. It just needs a revision to the instruction manual, and to be sent to someone who likes keeping their overclocking safe and reliable. Also, for my benchmarking, I used CPU Burn-in, CPU-z, and nTune.