Enzotech Ultra-X Active CPU Cooler Review
A Closer Look
The Enzotech Ultra-X features a solid copper base, four heat pipes and a large aluminum fin array cooled by a powerful 120mm fan. The Ultra-X exhibits excellent build quality and finish. Enzotech certainly knows how to make a good first impression.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Many current motherboard designs rely on air from the CPU heatsink fan to cool components in the main processor area. These may include the NB controller, voltage regulator modules (VRMs), and passive coolers dissipating heat from other components on the motherboard connected via heat pipes. The Asus P5N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard I use for testing is a perfect example.
Without proper cooling these motherboard components will overheat, which can lead to system instability or failure. Several of the popular high-performance CPU coolers on the market today use a tower-style design with one or more fans mounted on the side blowing air thru the heatsink, instead of down over the CPU area. This configuration can work very well for cooling the CPU, especially if the warm air exiting the CPU cooler is exhausted out the back of the enclosure via a rear case fan or power supply with a bottom intake fan. But the tower-style coolers do little to cool all the components down at the board level. And even if special cooling fans are provided by the motherboard manufacturer (to provide the needed airflow when using a CPU waterblock), the tower-style coolers are typically so big they prevent the auxiliary fans from being mounted.
The Ultra-X comes with a pre-installed 120mm Delta fan (AFB1212H-F00), which is rated for up to 82.7 CFM and 38.5 dBA at 2,500 rpm when operating at 12V. This is a seven bladed, high speed fan that uses dual ball bearings. It also incorporates an rpm sensor so you can monitor the CPU fan speed in software. (Note: the rpm signal gets weak at low voltage, so it may be erratic or not work at all, at low speed.)
Enzotech includes a nice chrome wire fan guard that will keep stray wires and fingers from getting caught in the fan blades without restricting airflow.
And to help each end user find the right balance between cooling performance and noise, Enzotech includes a simple fan speed controller (100 ohm potentiometer) mounted in a PCI slot bracket. With the 3-pin fan lead plugged directly into a motherboard fan header the fan gets a full 12 VDC and runs slightly in excess of the rated 2,500 rpm (my review sample reported 2,596 rpm). With the fan speed controller connected, the big Delta fan can be slowed down to a whisper-quiet ~1,000 rpm.