When it comes to hardware cooling, Thermaltake is a name that most of us are familiar with. Thermaltake has products for just about everything that needs cooling. In fact, one of the good things about ThermalTake is that their products are aimed at the mainstream market. This means they offer good quality without being hideously expensive (nor are they cheap and nasty). We’ve been impressed with Thermaltake’s products in the past, so had high expectations of the two coolers featured in this review.
The two coolers reviewed are for the AMD Opteron and Athlon64 CPUs, named the Silent Boost and Venus 12 by Thermaltake. Interestingly enough, the only Opteron and Athlon64 CPUs we’ve seen so far have been OEM packaging without heatsinks. We’ve yet to come across a boxed retail part of either, with a HSF, perhaps no surprise given the limited supply of both processors. Good thing then that there are third-party HSF makes to choose from. To be honest, most of us wouldn’t use a stock fan anyway even if it was available.
Thermaltake happens to be one of the first companies to come up with a cooler for the Opteron/Athlon64 (or K8). The samples we received are targetted at two different purposes — the Silent Boost is designed for quiet operation, whereas the Venus 12 aims for maximum cooling. Let’s see how these babies perform!
This heatsink was designed with silence in mind and it is indeed whisper-quiet at only 21dbA. Thermaltake says the Silent Boost aims to deliver excellent cooling without excessive noise, a design goal many enthusiasts are looking for nowadays (who wants to listen to a whining HSF if you don’t have to?).
The Silent Boost is made of copper, with 46 fins bonded to the base (also copper). The base doesn’t have a mirror finish but is shiny, smooth and flat. To keep the HSF in place, the Silent Boost retaining mechanism employs a three-lug tool-less clip. You just hook all three lugs from each side of the socket, then pull the lever to the other side to lock it and to apply pressure. This makes for a very easy installation.
Atop the Silent Boost we have an 80mm fan, rated @ 2450rpm and delivering 27.5 CFM airflow at a very low noise level of 21 dBA. It has a unique fan frame design that significantly reduces the noise level. Its multi-directional air intake increases airflow while keeping the relative noise at minimum. There is no fan grill probably due to the fan’s low rpm.
Now Venus 12 was designed with the overclocker/enthusiast in mind. The sheer size alone is a sign that its built for some heavy duty cooling — it’s a mammoth HSF! Obviously this is one powerful K8 heatsink suitable for overclocking and pushing your systems to the limits. Fully featured, the Venus 12 has a fan controller for manually selecting the fan speed and therefore control over the noise levels of the cooler. It can also be set to automatic whereby the cooler adjusts its fan speed in conjunction with temperature changes. We liked the many fan speed adjustment features, and think you will too.
The Venus 12 is made entirely of high density copper and has 73 fins bonded directly to the base, which is smooth and flat, but not shiny. The huge size comes from the big surface area necessary to effectively remove heat from your processor. Below you will see the size difference between the Silent Boost and the Venus 12 heatsink.
The Venus 12 uses a triple blade “Smart” Fan with a two-ball bearing design for longer life. The triple blade design increases airflow and eliminates air turbulence. The powerful 80mm fan is rated at a maximum of 5500rpm delivering up to 73 CFM of airflow, or over two and a half times that of the Silent Boost. The main feature of this fan is the “auto temperature control” and adjustable fan speed control. You can let the fan automatically decide the fan speed depending on the temperature. It monitors the case temp via a thermistor and adjust its speed accordingly (see specs). Our major gripe is the lack of a fan grill here as you really need one for safety reasons. The fan opening is fully exposed for those nice little fingers of yours, and the fan is powerful and spins fast. Watch out, or ouch.
Thermaltake has once again produced two quality coolers with the Silent Boost and Venus 12 for the K8 line of processors. Both coolers performed well on our test. In the end, the choice of which heatsink to use will be up to the user’s personal preference. If you want almost noise free operation all the time, then the Silent Boost K8 is the obvious choice as it provides adequate cooling at very low noise levels. It is also cheaper than the Venus 12 HSF. But for those who want to have the high cooling performance and flexibility of a powerful K8 cooler, then the Venus 12 is the definite choice. With the Venus 12, you can have quiet operation when doing minor stuff and cooling power when you need it.