Article by: Joe Anderson (Hardware Reviewer)
Edited By: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product was submitted by: Xigmatek
<--CLICK FOR DEALS ON A PROCESSOR COOLER IN THE UNITED STATES
<--CLICK FOR DEALS ON A PROCESSOR COOLER IN CANADA
PRODUCT PICTORIAL AND WALKTHROUGH (cont'd)
The real work is done at the base, where all the heat transfer happens. Xigmatek, pioneers in heatpipe direct touch design, have gone the extra step here by giving the 8mm base ‘pipes a highly polished finish, which many enthusiasts claim will increase heat transfer and cooling performance. We'll find out during testing, but this is as good a finish as I've seen on a cooler like this. Notice also that there is very little space between the heatpipes and their respective channels in the base. Many coolers we've tested in the past have had noticeably larger gaps in this area, requiring a lot of thermal paste and decreasing the useable surface area for the cooler to do its job. As you can see in the above photo, Xigmatek has managed to fill the vast majority of the available surface with heatpipe material while keeping the base surface dead flat. I'm very encouraged by this and am looking forward to testing this cooler.
Gaia ships with a thick steel, foam-padded backplate for both AMD and Intel platforms. AMD users must remove the OEM retention bracket and use the rectangular steel bracket supplied with the cooler. Intel platforms are supported by the two angled brackets and the other hardware is common to both platforms. Xigmatek also provides eight rubber fan mounts with the Gaia, allowing the user to add a second fan for increased cooling performance.
The included 120x25mm fan supports PWM control and has an RPM range of 800 to 1500, with a maximum flow of over 56 CFM. With a maximum pressure rating of 1.7mmH2O, this fan isn't as powerful as others we've seen in the past, but should be up to the task.
I'm anxious to see how the Gaia performs, so let's proceed to the installation phase of this review.
PRODUCT INSTALLATION AND TESTING
Our testbed for the Xigmatek Balder CPU cooler will consist of the following hardware:
Intel Q6600 Kentsfield Core2Quad CPU
Western Digital WD800 hard drive
Western Digital WD6400 hard drive
Samsung SH-S203N DVD writer
Buffalo Firestix DDR2 RAM (2 X 1GB)
EVGA 8800 GTS 640MB graphics card
Thermaltake Toughpower 750W PSU
We'll test it in the open case pictured above. Keep in mind that temps inside your case will be different, depending on the chassis and airflow. After gathering the necessary components for the platform at hand, we can consult the manual for installation instructions. The user's guide is very clear with ample illustrations and should get a thorough read-through before attempting installation. Also, the user should take a few minutes to ascertain the optimum orientation of the cooler to provide the best airflow and avoid component interference for their particular application. Let's proceed
With the brackets attached to the cooler base and the screws pushed through the backplate, we're ready to get down to business.