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Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme CPU Cooler Review

Manufacturer: Thermalright

Conclusion

Performance

The performance of the Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme CPU cooler is second to none in the air-based cooling arena. The cooler works so well as dissipating processor heat that its performance even rivals mid-tier water cooled kits. However, the performance does come at the price of its fans. While they are not annoying like the "old school" vacuum-cleaner fans, they remain discernible even over the stock graphics card fan.

Pricing

As of October 07, the Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme CPU cooler was available at Performance-PCs.com for $89.95, as well as FrozenCPU.com for $89.99 and Amazon.com for $99.90 with Prime shipping.

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Conclusion

Before continuing with our parting sentiments on the Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme cooler, we would like to take this opportunity to give our friends at Thermalright a hearty “Thank You” for giving us the pleasure and opportunity to review their flagship cooler. As a long time water cooling enthusiast, I had mixed feelings going into this review with memories of the "hair dryer" coolers of old spinning through my mind. I was pleasantly surprised with this unit. The craftsmanship is first-class with nickel plating covering the copper base plate and heat pipes, giving the entire unit a slick chromed appearance. Nickel plating is a trick that the water cooler manufacturer's use to reduce corrosion while not impacting the heat dissipation of the plated copper underneath, so I was very surprised to see this method so nicely applied to the Silver Arrow cooler. The construction of the cooler is flawless, with no flux, solder or weld marks, nor machining marks present anywhere on the cooler. And performance-wise, this massive hunk of nickel-plated copper outperforms even the higher-tier water cooling systems.

The cooler is not without its challenges. The CPU mounting mechanism can be challenging to install because of the pieces that need to be matched through the bottom and top of the board. Additionally, the cooler hold-down plate can be quite a challenge to fix in place because of the screws required on opposite sides of the plate. You have to hold the cooler and hold-down plate in place while screwing in the hold-down screws which are towards the outer ends in between the dual cooling towers. This is easier with the board horizontal, but still can be rather challenging. The only other mentionable point is the fan noise when you run the units at full speed. This is not required and can be remedied using PWM, but will result in cooler performance loss and higher CPU temperatures.

Strengths

  • Performance under stock and overclocking conditions
  • Sleek chromed appearance
  • Build and machining quality of the cooler
  • Well written manual

Weaknesses

  • Fan noise
  • Complex cooler mounting mechanism
  • Inability to mount cooler in multiple orientations
  • Possible space contention issues using front fan and memory modules with larger heat sinks

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October 27, 2013 | 12:30 AM - Posted by capawesome9870

this should cool of a R9 290x very well.

although it would need a very good backplate and would have a problem setting up Crossfire, unless you get a PCIe extension cable.

i started off joking, but now i am interested to see if it could work.

October 27, 2013 | 01:41 AM - Posted by Terminashunator (not verified)

Getting a 120mm Closed Loop water cooler needs to be tested, i think. People have shown GPUs massively benefiting from a water cooled GPU, and that card deserves it.

October 27, 2013 | 08:29 PM - Posted by capawesome9870

that is something Corsair need to get started on. a single 120mm with the pump built in to the rad (not on the top of the CPU) and provide a universal mount and backplate.

October 27, 2013 | 07:16 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'd rather go with the "Dark Rock"! It's top plate just looks mean!

October 7, 2014 | 07:41 PM - Posted by StewartGraham (not verified)

This cooler has significantly better thermals.

October 27, 2013 | 09:57 AM - Posted by Prodeous

Wonder how the Nocuta 14D would perform with these fans, would the performance be on par with that much extra air? Either way, nice to see that Air cooling is giving water cooling some competition.

October 27, 2013 | 10:37 AM - Posted by pdjblum

Hey Morry,

Thanks for the excellent review. Do the phenomenal temps make up for the noise, installation, and spacing issues? I guess, in that you gave it a silver award, that the low temps do. It would be nice to see the temps when the fans on each contestant are generating about the same decibels, but not sure how you would do this.

October 27, 2013 | 07:56 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

In my opinion, the performance does not make up all the way for the fan noise or for the installation issues, which is why it only received a silver award.  However, I could not discount its phenomenal performance in relation to the water cooling solutions.

However, as far as the mounting goes, most users are not going to be removing and reseating the CPU cooler as much as I do (if at all past the initial mount), so I had to take that fact in to account.  Louder fans do tend to bother me, which is one of the reasons I water cool my personal (a minor reason though), but they do tend to bother my wife quite a bit more - and that's definately something that has to be taken into account :)

November 1, 2013 | 01:10 AM - Posted by nobody special (not verified)

What happens if you drop to say 50db's? You need to test at two levels, one that is max as you show, and another for people who don't want to be driven out of their rooms by it :) at least a level where the vid card becomes the dominant noise maker (no need to really go below that). I think for a large portion of us we want the best heatsink so we can drop the noise not max it. Most people that would max it are probably best served by the HUGE drop in noise from water, right?

October 3, 2014 | 07:08 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi anybody knows if it will enter in a nzxt s340 case???

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