Phononic's New Hex 2.0 TEC Is CPU Cooling Alternative For SFF Systems

Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 9, 2016 - 05:57 PM |
Tagged: thermoelectric, SFF, air cooling, TEC, mini ITX, phononic

An interesting cooling option for small form factor systems popped up in my email recently that is a new twist on an old technology. A company called Phononic has developed the Hex 2.0 which is a compact heatsink that pairs a tower air cooler with a TEC baseplate. At 810 grams and measuring 125 mm tall, the Hex 2.0 is Mini ITX friendly and is claimed to be competitive with closed loop water coolers with up to 240mm radiators (more on that below).

Phononic Hex 2 TEC Cooler.jpg

Hex 2.0 uses many of the same high quality components and design choices of traditional tower air coolers. A shrouded 92mm fan is sandwiched between two aluminum heatsinks with 40 fins each. There are eight 6mm heatpipes  that pull heat from the hot side of the thermoelectric (TEC) cooler and dissipate the heat. The TEC (which has a copper baseplate) uses an electric current and two dissimilar conductors and the principle of electron transport to pull heat from the “cold side” of the cooler to the “hot side” of the cooler. That hot side then needs to be cooled, and Phononic has chosen to use a tower air cooler for the job (people in the past have also paired TECs with water loops). The TEC is the notable bit about the Hex 2.0, and is what allows the small heatsink to offer as much cooling performance as it does in such a small package.

Hex 2.0 has connections for a 4-pin CPU_Fan connector, Mini USB for software monitoring and control, and a 6-pin PCI-E power connector. The four pin controls the 92mm fan which typically idles at 1000 RPM but can max out at 2,650 RPM, 33 dBA, and 44 CFM. The Mini USB connects to the motherboard and users can use a dashboard application to monitor the cooler, choose a cooling mode (to balance noise and performance), and control the LEDs on the cooler. The 6-pin connector powers the TEC cooler which appears to be capable of drawing up to 35W of power. The fan is able to spin down to zero RPM when the processor is not under load as the TEC and heatsink is able to pull and dissipate enough heat without the fan though the exact point where it would need to turn on will depend on your case and its own airflow.

Interestingly, this product is already available and reviews have already been posted around the net. According to TweakTown, the Hex 2.0 does indeed compete with 120mm liquid coolers such as the Silverstone Tundra TD03 (which is a decent cooler that I’ve used before) and Antec Kuhler H20 1250 (I’ve not tested that one but Morry did a full review of it). When placed in “insane mode” and the fan is allowed to spin up to maximum RPMs, the Hex 2.0 thermoelectric cooler actually beats the 240mm Corsair H100i GTX in quiet mode. While it will be louder, that is pretty impressive to see a 92mm fan HSF up there in cooling performance with a much larger water cooler!

This cooler is nicely packaged in a silver aluminum and black nickel plated aesthetic. Cooling performance seems to make it a possible alternative cooling option for SFF builds that can give you similar cooling performance in a case where a pump and radiator would be difficult or impossible for fit. That’s the upside. The downside to this cooler is the price. At $149.99, this is going to be a tough sell though it is not entirely unexpected considering the niche nature of it. The 1 year warranty leaves a lot be desired as well, I would have liked to see something a bit longer especially at that premium price.

What are your thoughts on this pint sized TEC(h)?

Source: Phononic

Silverstone's TD03-SLIM, small and quiet AIO watercooling for your SFF systems

Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 8, 2016 - 03:46 PM |
Tagged: Silverstone, TD03-SLIM, AIO, SFF

Silverstone's TD03-SLIM AIO cooler is designed to fit in anyone's case, and their budget as well.  The radiator is a mere 153x120x22mm, a measurement which includes the fan and the tube is 310mm in length to allow you flexibility when placing it in your system.  The size does mean that it cannot cool as effectively as larger AIO watercoolers and should not be used in overclocked systems, however it does operate more quietly than other coolers of similar size.  Drop by Modders-Inc for a closer look.

td03slim00.jpg

"One of the good things about AIO CPU coolers is that you do not have to worry about component clearance for the most part on your motherboard. Since memory manufacturers have all but given up making sensibly sized RAM heatspreaders the standard, AIO's have become the cooler of choice for many."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: Modders Inc

CoolChip Technologies Teases New Kinetic Cooler For Skylake Processors

Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 4, 2016 - 02:11 AM |
Tagged: Skylake, passive cooling, kinetic cooling, kinetic cooler, hsf, coolchip

Early last year startup CoolChip Technologies partnered with Cooler Master to show off a prototype kinetic cooler at CES 2015. The two companies were allegedly working on a new processor heatsink that would be priced in line with current heatsink + fan designs but would be smaller, quieter, and less prone to collecting dust! Unfortunately that revolutionary HSF product never materialized (just like the Sandia Labs prototype), and while we may still see that cooler some day it appears like it is not going to be anytime soon. With that said, it is not all bad news for fans of these promising processor coolers, because if a recent social media tease by the startup is any indication CoolChip technologies has decided to move forward with its own branded kinetic cooler!

Specifically, CoolChip teased a new and upcoming product launch aimed at cooling Intel Skylake CPUs with up to 70W TDPs. Along with the statement that the kinetic cooler is “coming soon!” the company posted three images of the new cooler, and it looks awesome.

CoolChip 1U Low Profile Kinetic Cooler.jpg

Resembling something a Predator might be using to cool their PC, the CoolChip cooler has a stationary base plate with a motor that spins a small array of fins in a manner that facilitates heat transfer from the base plate to the spinning heatsink (which is in lieu of a fan -- the heatsink is the fan) via a very thin layer of air that keeps the heatsink balanced as well. That spinning heatsink portion is then further surrounded by stationary rings of fins likely connected to the base plate using heatpipes for that extra bit of cooling potential. The inner impeller (vertical) fins are angled one direction while the outer stationary ring of horizontal fins are angled the opposite direction. The impeller pulls cool air in and pushes it outwards through the stationary fins and out into the case where case fans will then exhaust that hot air out of the case. CoolChips has an animated illustration of how this impeller design cools versus a traditional heatsink and fan design which is available on their website.

Other features of the small kinetic cooler include a braided cable with fan header to get power from the CPU_Fan header on the motherboard. It is not clear if this connector is 4 pin and supports PWM or not though. One of the more promising bits of this teaser is the photo of the cooler in retail packaging which adds at least a little bit of credence that we might actually see this product launch at some point. The package appears to include the 1U Low Profile Kinetic Cooler itself, a motherboard backplate, and a small tube of thermal paste (TIM).

Possibly the coolest (heh) part of this teased product is the third photo which suggests that there will be multiple color options for the impeller which would allow users to customize the heatsink color to match their PC’s design scheme.

CoolChip 1U Low Profile Kinetic Cooler Color Options.jpg

You can check out the post for yourself here. I am really excited to finally see new information on kinetic cooling, and this CoolChip cooler in particular looks really interesting and I hope that it actually materializes and I can finally read some reviews on it! What are your thoughts on kinetic cooling for PCs?

Also read:

Das Keyboard 5Q Kickstarter Announced

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 30, 2016 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: das keyboard, mechanical keyboard, Omron, RGB LED

Das Keyboard has just launched a crowd-funding campaign for their new Das Keyboard 5Q. The company is known to make high-end keyboards with a focus on productivity, even to the point of marketing some models with blank keycaps to force users to learn QWERTY. This model is an “extra bright” RGB LED keyboard that uses these lights to deliver data to the user's peripheral vision (because you're not looking at your keyboard while you type, right?)

daskeyboard-2016-5qkickstarter.jpg

Over the last year or so, RGB LED peripherals have become more commonplace. A new RGB LED keyboard from a gaming company will come in at around the $120 - $170 USD price range. Das is known to be on the higher end of the pricing curve, though. The Das Keyboard 5Q is expected to retail for $229 (although backers perks starting at $109 contain the keyboard -- and Das Keyboard is an established company, so it seems likely that these rewards will be fulfilled).

What you're getting for this cost is a high-quality, mechanical keyboard (with Omron switches) that has an open API. Their examples range from slowly alerting you of notifications, which can be expanded with a press of the volume button, to displaying your CPU load. Their pitch is that you cannot dismiss your keyboard and it's always on your desk, so, using color, it can continually notify you how much free time you have until something needs your attention. You'll need to decide for yourself if that seems reasonable and will help you be productive, or if it will just add to your anxiety, preventing you from zoning out into a good chunk of work.

As always, Kickstarters are backing products, not purchasing them, but Das Keyboard expects backers to receive their keyboards by January 2017.

Cooler Master MasterBox 5, Canada Model because that makes it cooler

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 28, 2016 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: cooler master, MasterBox 5

The Cooler Master MasterBox 5 is not a small case, at 450x220x440mm it will fit up to eATX motherboards, radiators of up to 280mm on the front, or 360mm with an adapter.  The lower price point means that there is a lack of grommets, however the empty spaces in the backplate allow you a lot of flexibility for cable management and watercooling paths.  The size will also allow you to install any GPU or CPU cooler on the market, not to mention making installation of your system easier.  You can see Modders Inc's full review here.

mb5can18.jpg

"Cooler Master's current chassis line prioritize function and its design aim is to provide users with the flexibility to make any system they want inside. As part of Cooler Master's massive streamlining process beginning from last year, the simplified look is a distillation of what a Cooler Master case is at its core."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: Modders Inc
Author:
Manufacturer: be quiet!

Introduction and Features

2-Banner.jpg

In this review we will take a detailed look at one of be quiet!’s top of the line power supplies, the Dark Power Pro 11 750W. There are currently six power supplies in the Dark Power Pro 11 Series, which include 550W, 650W, 750W, 850W, 1000W and 1200W models. As you might expect, be quiet! continues to be focused on delivering virtually silent power supplies and they are one of the top selling brands in Europe. All of the Dark Power Pro 11 models are certified for high efficiency (80 Plus Platinum) and come with modular cables.

be quiet! designed the Dark Power Pro 11 Series to provide high efficiency with minimal noise for systems that demand whisper-quiet operation without compromising on power quality. In addition to the Dark Power Pro 11 Series, be quiet! offers a full range of power supplies in ATX, SFX, and TFX form factors.

3-Compare.jpg

(Courtesy of be quiet!)

All of the Dark Power Pro 11 Series power supplies are semi-modular (all cables are modular except for the fixed 24-pin ATX cable). Along with 80 Plus Platinum certified high efficiency and quiet operation, the Dark Power Pro 11 750W PSU features an “overclocking” key to select between multi-rail and single rail +12V outputs. The power supply uses be quiet!’s latest SilentWings3 135mm fan for virtually silent operation. The fan speed starts out very slow and remains slow and quiet through mid-power levels. And the Dark Power Pro 11 power supplies allow connecting up to four case fans, whose speed will be controlled by the PSU.

4a-Side-view.jpg

be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 750W PSU Key Features:

•    750W continuous DC output (ATX12V v2.4, EPS 2.92 compliant)
•    Virtually inaudible SilentWings3 135mm FDB cooling fan
•    80 PLUS Platinum certified efficiency (up to 94%)
•    Premium 105°C rated parts enhance stability and reliability
•    Powerful GPU support with seven PCI-E connectors
•    User-friendly cable management reduces clutter and improves airflow
•    NVIDIA SLI Ready and AMD CrossFire X certified
•    ErP 2014 ready and meets Energy Star 6.0 guidelines
•    Zero load design supports Intel’s Deep Power Down C6 & C7 modes
•    Overclocking key selects between single or multiple +12V rails
•    Active Power Factor correction (0.99) with Universal AC input
•    Intelligent speed control for up to four case fans
•    Safety Protections :OCP, OVP, UVP, SCP, OTP, and OPP
•    5-Year warranty

4b-PSU-cables.jpg

Here is what be quiet! has to say about the Dark Power Pro 11 750W PSU: "It is a fact of the modern world that high technology requires constant refinement and unending improvement – and that is even truer for those who would be leaders. Dark Power Pro power supplies are renowned as the world’s quietest and most efficient high-performance PSUs. The Dark Power Pro 11 750W model takes that a step further with a power conversion topology that delivers 80Plus Platinum performance, add to that an unparalleled array of enhancements that augment this unit’s compatibility, convenience of use, reliability, and safety, and the result is the most technologically-advanced power supply be quiet! has ever built.”

Please continue reading our review of the Dark Power Pro 11 750W PSU!

ASUS Responds to GTX 1080 "Reviewer VBIOS" Concerns

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 17, 2016 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: asus, GTX 1080, strix, vbios

Yesterday, there were several news stories posted on TechpowerUp and others claiming that ASUS and MSI were sending out review samples of GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 graphics cards with higher clock speeds than retail parts. The insinuation of course is that ASUS was cheating, overclocking the cards going to media for reviews in order to artificially represent performance.

130f.jpg

Image source: Techpowerup

MSI and ASUS have been sending us review samples for their graphics cards with higher clock speeds out of the box, than what consumers get out of the box. The cards TechPowerUp has been receiving run at a higher software-defined clock speed profile than what consumers get out of the box. Consumers have access to the higher clock speed profile, too, but only if they install a custom app by the companies, and enable that profile. This, we feel, is not 100% representative of retail cards, and is questionable tactics by the two companies. This BIOS tweaking could also open the door to more elaborate changes like a quieter fan profile or different power management.

There was, and should be, a legitimate concern about these types of moves. Vendor one-up-manship could lead to an arms race of stupidity, similar to what we saw on motherboards and base frequencies years ago, where CPUs would run at 101.5 MHz base clock rather than 100 MHz (resulting in a 40-50 MHz total clock speed change) giving that board a slight performance advantage. However, the differences we are talking about with the GTX 1080 scandal are very small.

  • Retail VBIOS base clock: 1683 MHz
  • Media VBIOS base clock: 1709 MHz
  • Delta: 1.5%

And in reality, that 1.5% clock speed difference (along with the 1% memory clock rate difference) MIGHT result in ~1% of real-world performance changes. Those higher clock speeds are easily accessible to consumers by enabling the "OC Mode" in the ASUS GPU Tweak II software shipped with the graphics card. And the review sample cards can also be adjusted down to the shipping clock speeds through the same channel.

strix-1080-box.jpg

ASUS sent along its official statement on the issue.

ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 graphics cards come with exclusive GPU Tweak II software, which provides silent, gaming, and OC modes allowing users to select a performance profile that suits their requirements. Users can apply these modes easily from within GPU Tweak II.
 
The press samples for the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 OC and ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1070 OC cards are set to “OC Mode” by default. To save media time and effort, OC mode is enabled by default as we are well aware our graphics cards will be reviewed primarily on maximum performance. And when in OC mode, we can showcase both the maximum performance and the effectiveness of our cooling solution.
 
Retail products are in “Gaming Mode” by default, which allows gamers to experience the optimal balance between performance and silent operation. We encourage end-users to try GPU Tweak II and adjust between the available modes, to find the best mode according to personal needs or preferences.
 
For both the press samples and retail cards, all these modes can be selected through the GPU Tweak II software. There are no differences between the samples we sent out to media and the retail channels in terms of hardware and performance.
 
Sincerely,
ASUSTeK COMPUTER INC.

While I don't believe that ASUS' intentions were entirely to save me time in my review, and I think that the majority of gamers paying $600+ for a graphics card would be willing to enable the OC mode through software, it's clearly a bad move on ASUS' part to have done this. Having a process in place at all to create a deviation from retail cards on press hardware is questionable, other than checking for functionality to avoid shipping DOA hardware to someone on a deadline. 

As of today I have been sent updated VBIOS for the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 that put them into exact same mode as the retail cards consumers can purchase. 

We are still waiting for a direct response from MSI on the issue as well.

Hopefully this debacle will keep other vendors from attempting to do anything like this in the future. We don't need any kind of "quake/quack" in our lives today.

Silverstone expands their Argon series with the AR08

Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 15, 2016 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: Argon Series, Silverstone, AR08

We have seen numerous examples of SilverStone's Argon series of heatsinks, dating back to the AR01 which Morry reviewed in 2014.  The AR08 is a new member of the series, 285g and 92x50x134mm with a 92mm fan and a $35 price tag.  The small size and price make a good choice for those on a budget and who chose a smaller case which precludes the use of a Morry special cooler.  As you might expect, the competition for this cooler is the stock cooler which came with your processor, which in [H]ard|OCP's testing that would be an i7-4770K.  Check out the full review to see how well it can outperform the stock cooler, in both heat and sound management.

1464635020KbGfWEqSem_2_5_l.jpg

"SilverStone's Argon Series AR08 looks to address those building a budget mid-level computer that balances performance and budget. It does however bring some enthusiast features with it like direct contact heatpipes, a 92mm PWM "diamond edged" fan, and noise dampening technologies. "

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Manufacturer: SilverStone

Introduction and Features

Introduction

2-ST60F-TI-1.jpg

SilverStone is a veteran in the PC power supply industry and they continue to offer a full line of enclosures, power supplies, fans, coolers, and PC accessories. They have raised the bar in their Strider power supply series, which now includes three 80 Plus Titanium certified units, the ST60F-TI, ST70F-TI, and ST80F-TI. These three units are billed as being “the world’s smallest 80 Plus Titanium, full-modular ATX power supplies”; with a chassis that is only 150mm (5.9”) deep.

3-80Plus-Chart.gif

The 80 Plus Titanium efficiency standards were introduced in 2012 and are the most demanding specifications to date. In addition to raising the efficiency requirements at 20%, 50% and 100% loads, the Titanium standard adds a new requirement at 10%. This insures that a Titanium certified power supply will operate with at least 90% efficiency over the full range of loads and deliver up to 94% efficiency at a 50% load.

4-ST60F-TI-cables.jpg

I’m also happy to report that SilverStone is now providing a 5-year warranty on both the Strider Titanium and Strider Platinum series power supplies; up from their standard 3-year warranty.

SilverStone ST60F-TI Power Supply Key Features:

•    80 Plus Titanium certified for super-high efficiency
•    Compact design with a depth of 150mm for easy integration
•    All-modular, flat ribbon-style cables
•    100% all Japanese made capacitors
•    Strict ±3% voltage regulation and low AC ripple and noise
•    Powerful single +12V rail
•    Four PCI-E connectors for multiple GPU support
•    Safety Protections: OCP, OTP, OPP, UVP, OVP, and SCP
•    Quiet 120mm fan with Fluid Dynamic bearing
•    140mm dust filter
•    5-Year warranty

Please continue reading our review of the SilverStone ST60F-TI PSU!!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction and Features

Introduction

Corsair continues to expand their extensive power supply lineup with the addition of two new small form factor (SFX) units, the SF450 and SF600. The SF Series power supplies are fully modular and optimized for quiet operation and high efficiency. Both power supplies feature Zero RPM Fan Mode, which means the fan doesn’t start to spin until the power supply is under a moderate to heavy load. The SF450 and SF600 are 80 Plus Gold certified for high efficiency and come with a 5-year warranty.

2-SF600-top.jpg

While the SF Series is designed for use in small form factor enclosures, Corsair’s SF Series power supplies can also be used in standard ATX cases to save room via the optional SFX to ATX adapter bracket. As you can see in the photo below, the SF Series power supply is much smaller in all three dimensions than a standard ATX power supply. We will be taking a detailed look at the new SF600W power supply in this review.

3-SFX-ATX.jpg

SF Series 600W vs. ATX Series 650W

Corsair SF Series 600W PSU Key Features:

•    Small Form Factor (SFX) design
•    Very quiet with Zero RPM Fan Mode
•    92mm cooling fan optimized for low noise
•    80 Plus Gold certified for high efficiency
•    All-modular, flat ribbon-style cables
•    100% all Japanese made 105°C capacitors
•    ATX12V v2.4 and EPS 2.92 compliant
•    6th Generation Intel Core processor Ready
•    Safety Protections: OCP, OVP, UVP, SCP, OTP, and OPP
•    7-Year warranty

Please continue reading our review of the Corsair SF Series 600W PSU!!!