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Thermaltake Golden Orb II
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Date: Sep 30, 2005
Section:Misc
Author: Jeff Bouton
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Introduction and Product Specifications

Whether you're a serious overclocker or simply want a quiet and cool running system, choosing a quality CPU cooler is crucial.  There is no shortage of choices available, making the decision factor a daunting task for some, but taking the time to research the right cooler can result in a positive long term experience.

Some coolers specialize in specific tasks, such as low noise or extreme cooling regardless of sound, while others tackle both issues in a single design.  One such cooler that fits virtually any situation is Thermaltake's Golden Orb II.  The Golden Orb II is a behemoth of a cooler that mounts an oversized blue LED fan on a hefty chunk of copper.  Designed to support both Intel and AMD CPUs in a single package, Thermaltake offers a universal cooler that brings extreme air cooling that is quiet and attractive in a single package.  Today, we'll size up this monster cooler to see just how well the Golden Orb II performs.

Specifications of ThermalTake's Golden Orb II
Universal Cooling that's Quiet
P/N
CL-P0220

Compatibility
Intel Pentium 4 (Socket LGA775)
AMD Athlon 64 (Socket 754 / 939)
AMD Athlon 64 FX (Socket 939/940)
AMD Sempron (Socket 754)
AMD Opteron (Socket 940)

Heatsink Dimension
120 x 63 mm

Heatsink Material
Copper Core & Aluminum Extrusion (66Fin)

Max. Air Flow
35.43 CFM


Fan Dimension
100 x 24 mm

Max. Air Pressure
1.50 mm H2O

Rated Voltage
12V

Noise
17dBA

Started Voltage
5V

Life Time
30,000 Hours

Power Input
1.56W

Connector
3 Pin

Fan Speed
1600

Weight
752 g

Click Image for Larger View




Click Image for Larger View

The retail package comes with all the hardware necessary to mount the Golden Orb II to either an AMD and Intel based CPU.  For Intel, the Golden Orb II supports LGA775 CPUs with two custom mounting brackets and four screws to secure them to the motherboard.  With the AMD design, support is broader, covering all socket 754, 939 and 940 CPUS from Sempron to Opteron.  For AMD processors, a back plate is provided, if necessary, otherwise, two stand-offs are all that is needed, with no additional hardware required.

    

Thermaltake pulled together a quick installation sheet which covers all possible installation scenarios in clear detail, but it's the flash animations on their main website that do the best job of painting a very clear installation picture. Lastly, Thermaltake provided a packet of thermal grease to be applied to the CPU before mounting the Golden Orb II.

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Thermaltakes Golden Orb II - The Run Down

Thermaltake's Golden Orb II Cooler -Up Close
All-In-One Solution

AMD Installation

As we alluded to earlier, installing the Thermaltake Golden Orb II is extremely simple with an AMD based motherboard.  As our pictures show, installing to a Socket 939 based motherboard doesn't get any easier and in most cases will not require motherboard removal. 

    

With our ECS test system, all we had to do was remove the mounting base and then apply two threaded stand-offs.  Once tightened in place, we applied the thermal grease and secured the Golden Orb II into position.  The screws on the cooler have stops on their shaft, applying just the right amount of tension while making over tightening a non-issue.

Once we powered on the sytem, the fan came to life with a blue LED glow that wasn't overly obnoxious, while giving an extra touch of class to an already impressive looking cooler.


Intel Installation

Installation on an Intel based motherboard was a bit more involved and will require the removal of the motherboard to complete.  After the board is removed, the mounting brackets need to be attached to the mainboard with the four screws provided.  Special attention needs to be paid to their orientation, otherwise the capacitors and mosfets may get in the way.  Once proper orientation is selected, simply attach the brackets, apply thermal grease and mount the cooler. 

    

Installation on the Intel platform is certainly not as convenient as with AMD's application.  Furthermore, we think the process could be improved so that it would not require removal of the motherboard.  Perhaps Thermaltake could borrow from the tension clips used on today's stock Pentium coolers, which lock into place by pressing on them.  We suspect, however, that the weight of the Golden Orb II is the defining reason for the screw mount application of for the Intel platform.

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Thermal Readings - Stock Clock Speeds

Testing Methodology: Setting up our test system was fairly straight forward.  After setting up our hardware and installing Windows XP SP2, we began our testing.  For this review, we compared Thermaltake's Golden Orb II cooler to a stock cooler that accompanied our Athlon 64 3700+ as well as a Asetek Vapochill Micro Ultra Low Noise cooler we recently reviewed.  We then ran a series of tests comparing the three coolers.  We ran loaded and unloaded tests at both stock speeds and while overclocked as well as with fan speeds set to their slowest and fastest settings.  The goal is to provide a broad picture of the performance of the Thermaltake's Golden Orb II.

Test System Specifications
AMD nforced !
AMD Athlon 64 3700+
(2.2GHz) San Diego

Thermaltake Golden Orb II
Asetek Vapochill Micro Ultra Low Noise
Stock AMD Cooler

EPOX KN1SLI EXTREME
(NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI)

2x512MB PQI3200-1024DBU
CL 2-2-2-5

ATI Radeon X850 Pro 256MB
On-board Ethernet
On-board Audio

Western Digital 80GB Hard Drive
7200 RPM IDE

Windows XP Pro SP2
nForce 4 Drivers v6.66
ATI Catalyst 5.8
DirectX 9.0c
Thermal Readings - Stock Clock Speeds
As Quiet As Can Be

In our first test, we ran each fan at its highest and lowest settings and recorded the temperature with no load on the CPU.

AMD's stock cooling ranged between 30 and 31C based on the fan speed being applied.  The Vapochill Micro ULN weighed in 1C lower than the Stock cooler, while the Golden Orb II's readings were significantly lower at 24 and 25C.

Next, we loaded Prime95's torture test and let it ride for a full 30 minutes before recording the temperatures.  Once again, we ran each test at the lowest and highest fan speed.

With the CPU fully loaded, the stock AMD cooler settled in at 56C with the fan set to its lowest setting, while the highest fan speed lowered that reading to 49C.  With the Golden Orb II, the temperatures were much lower, with the low speed test running 10C lower than the stock cooler at the same setting.  When we maxed out the fan speed on the Golden Orb II, the temperature lowered an additional 4C to 42C, 7C lower than stock cooling at high speed.  The Vapochill Micro ULN fell right in the middle of the two.

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Thermal Readings - Overclocked

Thermal Readings - Overclocked
Full Throttle Cooling

In our next round of testing we focused on overclocked performance.  To make sure we ran our CPU at its highest stable setting, we set the HyperTransport link to 3X, locked the memory at 400MHz DDR and raised the clock generator to 242MHz, pushing our CPU to 2.66GHz.  We then let the system sit idle for 30 minutes for each segment and recording the temperatures.

With the no load overclocked test, the stock cooler settled in at 32C regardless of fan speed.  This resulted in a 1C increase at low speed and 2C at high speed when compared to stock CPU speed.  The Golden Orb II also ran 1C higher at low speed, peaking at 26C.  Once we set the fan to full speed, the temperature settled in at 24C, the same temperature recorded in our stock speed testing.  The Vapochill ULN cooler ran 4-6C warmer than the Golden Orb II and 2C cooler than Stock.

Next, we shifted our overclocked testing to fully loading the CPU with Prime95. 

With the stock cooling, we saw an increase of 4C compared to stock speed results.  This resulted in the CPU peaking at 60C with low fan speed and 53C with the fan running full throttle.  The Golden Orb II managed to increase 3C at the low speed setting, running 11C cooler at 49C.  When we set the fan to full speed, the CPU balanced out at a comfortable 46C, just 4C higher that stock CPU speed testing.  The Vapochill Micro ULN narrowed the gap compared to the previous three tests, matching the low speed temperatures of the Golden Orb II while beating it by 1C in the high speed test.

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Performance Analysis and Final Thoughts


Performance Analysis:  The Golden Orb II proved to be an excellent CPU cooler in our testing scenarios and offered better overall performance than the Vapochill Micro ULN cooler.  With the fully loaded testing, the Golden Orb II ranged from 8 to 11C cooler when comparing the stock cooler at the same fan speed and 3-5C cooler than the Vapochill Micro ULN.  With overclocked load testing, both big coolers were in the same range, offering a much cooler ride than the stock AMD package.  More so, the Golden Orb II provided a much quieter experience overall, keeping the fan noise to virtually non detectable levels, even with the fan running at full speed.

The Golden Orb II from Thermaltake proved to be an excellent CPU cooler all the while looking sharp doing its job.  The unit offered superior performance versus other reference coolers and kept ambient noise levels very low.  We were impressed with the simplicity of installation on the AMD side of the picture, but found the Intel setup slightly more involved.  We're fairly certain the weight of the Golden Orb II is what defined how the cooler mounts in an Intel-based environment, but once in place, the cooler is mounted very securely.  Nonetheless, it would have been quite an achievement if all we had to do was snap the cooler mounts in place before securing the Golden Orb II to our Pentium test bed.

Intel mounting issues aside, we were quite impressed with the cooling ability of the Golden Orb II and its exceptionally quiet performance too.  The universal design makes the Golden Orb II even more attractive, with its one size fits all approach, while the LED fan adds to its overall glitzy appearance.  Considering all factors, the Golden Orb II fell just short of our Editor's Choice award based on the Intel installation methods.  If Thermaltake can come up with a way to avoid motherboard removal on the Intel platform, the Golden Orb II would be one of the most effective and easy to install coolers available.  Priced from $25, the Golden Orb II is a great value and its performance will not disappoint.

We give the Thermaltake Golden Orb II cooler a Hot Hardware Heat Meter of 9...


 

• Superb Cooling Performance
• Near Silent at all Speeds
• Universal Design
• Motherboard Removal not Necessary for AMD
• Fantastic Pricepoint
• Motherboard Removal Required for Intel
• Huge



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