Review Index:
Feedback

Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme CPU Cooler Review

Manufacturer: Thermalright

Cooler Comparison Testing

Cooler Testing Methodology

To best gage the quality of the system coolers under review, system CPU temperature and cooling system audio measurements were taken with the CPU idle and under load. To replicate CPU idle conditions, the system was rebooted and allowed to sit idle for 10 minutes. To replicate a stress system load on the Z77-based system, a combination of LinX and FurMark were run over a 30 minute period with LinX running for 500 loops with Memory set to All and FurMark running at 1280x1024 resolution and 2x MSAA in stress test mode. For the Z87-based system testing, Aida64 System Stability Test was used in conjunction with FurMark for 30 minutes per run. After each run, the system was shut down and allowed to rest for 10 minutes to cool down. Then the CPU cooler was removed, cleaned, and remounted to the CPU with fresh thermal paste applied. This procedure was repeated a total of nine times for each cooler - three times for the stock speed runs on the Z77 and Z87-based systems, and 3 times for the overclocked speed runs on the Z77-based system.

Temperature measurements were taken directly from the CPU thermistors using RealTemp v3.70. For the Z77-based systems, the highest recorded value for idle and load temperature were used for the run. Because of the volatile nature of the Haswell thermistor readings, the Z87-based system temperatures were measured in a different manner. For idle temperatures, the highest recorded value was used for the run. For load temperatures, a series of three values were annotated: the average (high and low) across all cores, the average (high and low) across the single highest core, and the high temperature. To measure these average values accurately, the Realtemp readings were reset 20 minutes into the run while the CPU remained at full load. This allowed the software to measure accurate load high and lows for all cores over the last 10 minutes of the run with the three measured values taken from these readings.

Note that the temperature values are reported as deltas rather than absolute temperatures with the delta value reported calculated as CPU temperature - ambient temperature. For all tests, room ambient temperature was maintained between 26-28C. Sound measurements of the system cooler where taken with the sound meter placed 3 feet away from the system with all other devices in the room silenced. The Sound Meter Pro applet on a Samsung Galaxy S3 mobile phone was used to measure decibel level.

Intel Z77-based Ivy Bridge System Testing

CPU Stock Speed Testing

The CPU stock speed testing was conducted with the BIOS defaults set for the CPU and Turbo Mode disabled, equating to a 3.4GHz CPU speed, 1600MHz memory speed, and 100MHz base clock. The Intel Speedstep functionality remained enabled for the duration of the testing to get realistic CPU idle performance conditions.

View Full Size

The Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme lives up to its names with the Ivy Bridge at stock speed, shaving a full 3C off of the other air cooler temperatures and even besting the performance of the XSPC watercooling kit.

CPU Overclocked Speed Testing

The CPU overclocked speed testing was conducted with known stable settings from a previous board review for the CPU with Turbo Mode disabled, equating to a 4.4GHz CPU speed, 1960MHz memory speed, and 105MHz base clock. The Intel Speedstep functionality remained enabled for the duration of the testing to get realistic CPU idle performance conditions.

Board voltage settings were configured as follows:

  • CPU Core Voltage - 1.2750
  • CPU I/O Voltage - 1.150
  • DRAM Voltage - 1.6255
  • System Agent Voltage(SA) - 1.0850
  • CPU PLL Voltage - 1.7500
  • PCH 1.05 - 1.0995

View Full Size

At overclocked speeds on the Ivy Bridge CPU, the gulf widens between the air coolers with the Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme leading the closest air cooler by 5C at load. The cooler still maintains its lead over the XSPC kit as well.

Intel Z87-based Haswell System Testing

CPU Stock Speed Testing

The CPU stock speed testing was conducted with the BIOS defaults set for the CPU and Turbo Mode disabled, equating to a 3.5GHz CPU speed, 3.5GHz Ring bus speed, 1600MHz memory speed, and 100MHz base clock. The Intel Speedstep functionality remained enabled for the duration of the testing to get realistic CPU idle performance conditions.

View Full Size

The Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme remains the leader with the Haswell CPU at stock speeds with a mere 4C separating its average load temp and its highest core average, and a 6C difference between its highest core average and absolute temperatures. The Silver Arrow's measured max core temperature in a lot of cases beats out the average high temperatures of the other coolers. The XSPC kit maintains a close second place to the Thermalright cooler, while the Phanteks cooler falls squarely in between the Silver Arrow and the Noctua cooler.

Sound Testing

View Full Size

The Achilles' heel of the Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme cooler is its fan noise. It comes is at the loudest out of all of the tested coolers with its fan noise audible even over the graphics card fan when with the Thermalright fans running full tilt. You do have the option of regulating the Silver Arrow's fan speed via PWM, but that comes with a performance cost. With the fans running slower, less air will flow through the radiator towers increasing the CPU temperature as a result.

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 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?

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.