Not long ago, processor power consumption, and the heat these units generated, seemed to be spiraling ever upwards in a trend that many thought would soon lead to unmanageable heat issues. For example, some members of the Pentium D 8XX family consisted of two Prescott cores on a single die consuming as much as 130 watts of power. Anyone who's fooled around with these chips can attest to the enormous amount of heat they produce, especially when voltage was increased during overclocking. The cooling aftermarket was quick to jump on this opportunity and released larger, more efficient CPU coolers at a furious pace. Many of these did their cooling chores well, but were quite noisy.
Not surprisingly, the trend reversed itself and PC enthusiasts can now find processors that consume much less power than their predecessors. Desktop CPU's can be had that are rated at 85W (some as low as 65W.) Consequently, they run much cooler and the huge copper heatsinks of the recent past are really overkill on these newer chips. However, when you consider that a large, efficient heatsink can now do its job with less airflow, quiet (even silent) cooling is much easier to achieve.
This time out, we'll be looking at another ZEROtherm cooler, the Nirvana NV120. It's a vertical style heatpipe cooler with a large fan, a very nice finish and an included fan speed controller. I've been impressed with the other ZEROtherm products that have come through the lab, and I expect similar results from the Nirvana. Let's see how it stands up.
ZEROTHERM CORPORATE PROFILE
Micro chipset technology has been improving rapidly in accordance with Moore's Law that states the complexity of integrated circuits, with respect to minimum component cost, doubles every 24 months. Yet this has resulted in the overheating of high performance computer & electronic products. First generation solutions simply looked to upgrade existing solutions which were noisy and inefficient.
ZEROtherm is engineered for the objective of decreasing noise into the “ZERO” range while effectively addressing thermal issues. ZEROtherm products are optimized cooling solutions to reduce both noise and heat. Our core thermal packaging technology (including heat pipe technology and micro electro mechanical technology) is the basis for all ZEROtherm products.
We seek to exceed consumer expectations by developing, designing, and producing “best-of-breed” solutions from our extensive technological and engineering capabilities.
SMALL HEATPIPE TECHNOLOGY TUTORIAL
I am going to keep this as simple as possible to get the basic premise across to all of the Tweaknews readers. Please don't be insulted if this is too simple for your education level. I have to cater my writing to the least technical reader looking for information.
The basic idea behind heatpipe technology is really simple.
1.) With a tube containing a compressed fluid/gas, the fluid comes in contact with the heat source (the cpu core, in this case) which heats up the volatile fluid and turns it to a gas. The energy is absorbed in the gas production process and is ready for transportation.
2.) The heated gas now travels along the inner portion of the tube where it comes to the cooling portion of the heatsink in this example.
3.) The radiator, with or without a fan, will cool the liquid and transfer the energy (AKA heat) to the radiator to be dispersed to the surrounding air. With the heat removed, the vapor quickly condenses back to a fluid and runs along the inside surface of the pipe back down to the bottom where the process can be started all over again.
For another example, you can consider a boiling pot of water with a glass lid as a very very basic heatpipe. When the water boils, the water vapor comes in contact with the cooler glass pot lid which forces the vapor to condense back to water where is dribbles back down the inside of the lid back into the pot.