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Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU Cooler E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling
Written by David Ramsey   
Thursday, 24 February 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU Cooler
Closer Look: Silver Arrow Cooler
Thermalright Silver Arrow Detailed Features
Heat Sink Test Methodology
Testing and Results
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Heat Sink Test Methodology

Benchmark Reviews is obsessed with testing CPU coolers, as our Cooling Section has demonstrated over the past few years. We've solicited suggestions from the enthusiast community, and received guidance from some of the most technical overclockers on the planet. As a result, our testing methodology has changed with every new edition of our Best CPU Cooler Performance series. Because of this, each article is really its own stand-alone product, and cannot be fairly compared to the others. Benchmark Reviews continues to test CPU coolers using the stock included fan (whenever applicable), and then replace it with a high-output fan for re-testing.

Manufacturers are not expected to enjoy this sort of comparison, since we level the playing field for all heat sinks by replacing their included fan with a common unit which is then used for every CPU cooler tested. Many manufacturers include fans with their heat sink products, but many 'stock' fans are high-RPM units that offer great airflow at the expense of obnoxiously loud noise levels, or, conversely, quiet fans that sacrifice performance for low noise. By using the same model of cooling fan throughout our heat sink tests, we can assure our results are comparable across the board. This is one of the more significant changes we have made to our test methodology, since many of the benchmark tests we have conducted in the past have compared the total package. Ultimately we're more interested in the discovering the best possible heat sink, and we believe that you'll feel the same way.

For each test, ambient room temperature levels were maintained within one degree of fluctuation, and measured at static points beside the test equipment with a digital thermometer. The Corsair H70 and the comparison coolers used a common Thermal Interface Material of our choosing (listed in the support equipment section below) for consistency. The processor received the same amount of thermal paste in every test, which covered the heat spreader with a thin nearly-transparent layer. The heat sink being tested was then laid down flat onto the CPU, and compressed to the motherboard using the supplied retaining mechanism. If the mounting mechanism used only two points of force, they were tightened in alternation; standard clip-style mounting with four securing points were compressed using the cross-over method. Once installed, the system was tested for a baseline reading prior to testing.

At the start of each test, the ambient room temperature was measured to track any fluctuation throughout the testing period. AIDA64 Extreme Edition is utilized to create 100% CPU-core loads and measure each individual processor core temperature. It's important to note that software-based temperature reading reflects the thermal output as reported from the CPU to the BIOS. For this reason, it is critically important (for us) to use the exact same software and BIOS versions throughout the entire test cycle, or the results will be incomparable. All of the units compared in our results were tested on the same motherboard using the same BIOS and software, with only the CPU-cooler product changing in each test. These readings are neither absolute nor calibrated, since every BIOS is programmed differently. Nevertheless, all results are still comparable and relative to each products in our test bed (see The Accuracy Myth section below).

Since our test processor reports core temperatures as a whole number and not in fractions, all test results utilize ADIA64 to report averages (within the statistics panel), which gives us more precise readings. The ambient room temperature levels were all recorded and accurate to one-tenth of a degree Celsius at the time of data collection.

When each cooler is tested, Benchmark Reviews makes certain to keep the hardware settings identical across the test platform. This enables us to clearly compare the performance of each product under identical conditions. Benchmark Reviews reports the thermal difference; for the purposes of this article, thermal difference (not the same as thermal delta) is calculated by subtracting the ambient room temperature from the recorded CPU temperature.

Please keep in mind that that these test results are only valid within the context of this particular test: as the saying goes, your mileage may vary.

Intel Test System

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz LGA1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601950, core voltage set to 1.35V
  • Motherboard: ASUS Sabertooth X58 Intel X58-Express chipset) with BIOS 0603, BCLK set to 175MHz for a processor speed of 4025MHz

Support Equipment

  • AIDA64 Extreme Edition version 1.50.1200
  • MG Chemicals Heat Transfer Compound 8610-60G
  • Stock fan (for heat sinks without fans): Thermalright TR-FDB-12-1600 (63.7CFM advertised)
  • High-speed fan: Delta AFC1212D (113CFM advertised)

All of the tests in this article have been conducted using vertical motherboard orientation, positioned upright in a traditional tower computer case. Air-cooled heat sinks are positioned so that heat pipe rods span horizontally, with the fan blowing air out the top of the chassis. The radiators of water coolers are mounted as per manufacturer instructions. In both cases, fans are connected directly to the power supply (rather than motherboard headers) and run at full speed during the test. At the start of our test period, the test system is powered on and AIDA64 system stability tests are started with Stress CPU and Stress FPU options selected. AIDA64 loads each CPU core to 100% usage, which drives the temperature to its highest point. Finally, once temperatures have sustained a plateau (no observed change in average temperatures for 5 minutes), the ending ambient room temperature and individual CPU core levels are recorded thus completing the first benchmark segment. The time to reach stable temperatures varied between 10 and 20 minutes for the heat sinks in this test; larger heat sinks typically take longer to stabilize.

The second test segment involves removing the stock cooling fan and replacing it with a high-output 120 mm Delta AFC1212D cooling fan, then running the same tests again.

Note: Both the Antec Kühler H2O 620 and the Coolit Vantage A.L.C. are designed to drive their own RPM-controlled fans directly; in the case of the Vantage, an alarm will sound continuously if there is no fan connected. For these coolers, the fans were left connected as designed during stock fan testing. For high-speed fan testing, the Delta fan was connected directly to the power supply (and the alarm on the Vantage ignored).

The Accuracy Myth

All modern processors incorporate an internal thermal diode that can be read by the motherboards' BIOS. While this diode and the motherboard are not calibrated and therefore may not display the actual true temperature, the degree of accuracy is constant. This means that if the diode reports 40°C when it's actually 43°C, then it will also report 60°C when it's truly 63°C. Since the design goal of any thermal solution is to keep the CPU core within allowable temperatures, a processor's internal diode is the most valid means of comparison between different heat sinks, or thermal compounds. The diode and motherboard may be incorrect by a small margin in relation to an actual calibrated temperature sensor, but they will be consistent in their margin of error every time.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerRobert17 2011-02-24 20:37
Good review, again.

Not trying to be too nitty here, but the copper alloy referenced for the base material must be C11000, or alloy 110, which is 99.9% pure copper. Probably a typo? But to the nickel plating, I'm wondering, what corrosion? Cathodic? I thought the CPU surface was a non-conductive surface. Other than that, the thermal paste should insulate against what little moisture may be lurking around.

I'll go ahead and guess that the clamping of 40 to 70 pounds you reference is inch-pounds not foot-pounds. This is a pretty large range, even for a high carbon alloy steel, 43%. Normally there is only about a 20% range unless you're discussing non-ferrous alloys, but then the range is even smaller. Nevertheless, in inch-pounds it would be about right for a low-carbon screw, in this case a 3-4mm or #8- #10 diameter.

Wow. That's one huge rad !
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# re: what corrosion?dudeguy 2012-12-02 03:51
copper corrodes with exposure to oxygen. The reaction is accelerated with air contaminants and any condensation. It develops a thick oxide layer in time. First black, then green. It sux. Takes longer on heatsinks than roofs, but why not make its effectiveness pretty much indefinite? Oh yeah. Thermalright, baby.
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# RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerDavid Ramsey 2011-02-24 20:49
The "C110 pure copper" is what Thermalright says; I'm afraid I don't know enough about metallurgy to comment on it. However, the clamping pressure referred to isn't torque, but actual heat-sink-base-to-CPU pressure. The screw itself turns freely when the retainer bar isn't mounted.
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# RE: RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerRobert17 2011-02-24 22:25
The load pressure you are referring to, heat sink base to CPU, is obtained by the engagement of the internal and external threads of the mounting base, i.e., the thread engagement. Just laying the heat sink onto the CPU only applies pressure if gravity is in play, engagement being vertical. Different math. The clamp load of the screw (external threads, normally a 2A fit) turning into the nut (internal threads, normally a 2B fit) results in clamp load, sometimes referred to as proof load. Again, based upon common tables, this must be in inch-pounds, not foot-pounds.
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# RE: RE: RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerDavid Ramsey 2011-02-25 07:42
It's pressure, Robert, not torque. As if a 70-pound weight were sitting on top of the heat sink.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerRobert17 2011-02-26 07:23
All things considered David, I was mentally at work when I read your review rather than being in a relaxed, "enjoy your hobby" state of mind. Why Thermalright included any mention of the load values of joining/mating the heat sink to the CPU is anyone's guess. So I shouldn't have taken up the matter of foot pounds vs. inch pounds. I'll bet you lunch that virtually no one uses a torque wrench to set the screws when mounting this radiator to their MB.

But trust me, please, as I work with metals and fasteners every day (except holidays and weekends, and dumb brain fart moments when I should be enjoying the very good work you do in reviewing computer hardware). If you ever need some relevant information on joint design, technology, metallurgy, or pre- or post tensioning advice, please contact me. If I don't have the answer off the top of my head, I have personnel with doctorates in metallurgy and mechanical engineering at my disposal. You will get the answers you may need.

Thanks again for your review.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerOlin Coles 2011-02-26 07:28
If all of our readers were as kind, writing these reviews would be much more enjoyable.
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# RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerAndrew77 2011-02-25 01:46
Good review.
But I was missing the NH-D14 as main competitor of the Silver Arrow as they are playing in the same league.
But anyway, great review as always
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# RE: RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerDavid Ramsey 2011-02-25 07:45
It would be a good comparison...maybe Noctua will send us one some day!
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# RE: RE: RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerStupido 2011-02-25 07:48
+1 for that.

However I already read one or 2 reviews on internet where they compare them and it looks like silver arrow is on pair or beats NH-D14 with ~1-2 degrees...
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerOlin Coles 2011-02-25 08:07
Noctua actually did send us a NH-D14 sample, but the large 14cm fan died after only a few days. Now it cannot be used for testing.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerServando Silva 2011-02-25 08:29
I've tested both the Cogage Arrow and the Noctua. The Cogage is the best for higher RPM fans and higher loads, while the Noctua is better with lower loads and quieter fans. This is just probably because its fins density.
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# RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerRealNeil 2011-02-25 10:11
"It's almost ironic that coolers like this are becoming available just as processors transition to designs that may ultimately render them unnecessary; even overclocked to 5GHz, an Intel Sandy Bridge 2600K doesn't need anywhere near this level of cooling."
____________________ _______
"That" is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. It also bodes ill for the people making aftermarket coolers. As usual this was a good look at a nice product that I'll do without as my present Asetek and Corsair H2o coolers do a fine job on my i7's.
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# RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU Coolerdlb 2011-02-25 20:56
Great review of a great cooler, however, I'm a bit confused by the "dual pull" configuration of the fans. IMO, most people buying this cooler would set the fans as "dual push", but maybe this was not possible due to the heatsinks on the memory modules.... not a big deal, just odd. I don't think I've ever seen any dual-rad coolers ever tested using a "dual pull" configuration... maybe not odd, but definitely different!
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# RE: RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerDavid Ramsey 2011-02-25 21:57
As I mentioned in the review, setting up "dual push" would be impossible-- at least with the motherboard I had, and I suspect almost any X58 motherboard-- since the fan would block both of the closest RAM slots so completely that even removing the memory heat sinks wouldn't allow it to fit. With no RAM in the first two slots, no X58 motherboard is bootable, so that's out.

And if the first fan is "pull", the second must be, too, since there's not enough room to put both fans in the middle of the cooler.

Since the performance of the cooler was amazing anyway, I didn't worry too much about it.
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# RE: RE: RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerDouglas Wagner 2011-02-28 22:03
Just wanted to see if, in the test with the X58 MB, you had blocked up any of the RAM slots and/or had to remove heat sinks from the RAM to get this installed.

This is looking like my best option at this point, but I don't want to buy it and then find that I can't mount a trio of corsair dominator sticks on the board.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerDavid Ramsey 2011-02-28 22:21
With the Sabertooth X58 motherboard, a Corsair stick would probably fit in the first slot if you removed the heat sink (it doesn't really do anything anyway). YMMV.
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# RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerRio Darmasetiawan 2011-02-27 22:12
A nice review for a really nice cooler. Since I use Noctua NH-D14, which is visually similar, I wonder if this cooler is the closest "rival" to mine. I did read the previous posts saying this Silver Arrow beats NH-D14 by 1-2 degrees, but would like to know more comparisons towards it. The included dual 14 cm fans of Silver Arrow VS 14 cm + 12 cm included fans of NH-D14 is kind of interesting for me to see. Hope BmR can make one later on so that I could see the difference between these two monsters. Thanks.
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# RE: RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerServando Silva 2011-02-27 23:25
When I tested them I used the same fans to make comparisons a little bit fair. I used a pair of NF-P12 and then a pair of NF-P14 fans. Both tests resulted into what I've said before. The Silver Arrow does better with higher loads and high-pressure fans.
The NH-D14 has the best mounting system in my opinion.
Regards.
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# RE: RE: RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerRio Darmasetiawan 2011-02-28 03:03
Oh I see. Another test conducted produced another result though I've read another comparisons between the two that stated NH-D14 was better, but, as usual, different tests produce different results. Anyway, thanks for responding. Really appreciate it.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerServando Silva 2011-02-28 09:36
That's possible. For example, in my Zalman CNPS9900MAX tests conducted with a Core i7 860 the Noctua performed better. They both are great beasts.
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# great review but to declare the best air cooler you need to test the Thermalright Archonbestjinjo 2011-03-02 22:01
Xbitlabs pitted the Silver Arrow against the NH-D14 and the SA won. However, even with 2 fans the SA lost to the Thermalright Archon when it was only equipped with 1X 140mm fan. Once paired with 2 x 140mm fans, the Archon pulled away even more. Looking forward you guys reviewing that air cooler.
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# RE: great review but to declare the best air cooler you need to test the Thermalright ArchonDavid Ramsey 2011-03-03 06:18
Hm. I've only seen the Archon on Thermalright's web page; I'd think the Silver Arrow would beat it, especially with two fans. Maybe I'll be able to test one soon and see for myself...
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# i7-970Sempifi99 2011-04-04 15:11
Would be fun to see cooler results for a hexacore proc.
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# RE: i7-970JackNaylorPE 2011-04-10 19:20
Well I now have experience with this massive beats and have a couple of comments:

1. $42 shipping was cheapest option from frozencpu.com

2. I large tower cases, installing in multi-SLI MoBos don't work. If mounted in its intended configuration .... blowing to rear, the find hit the GFX Card in PCI-E Slot No.1 .... same thing w/ the Antec Kuhler 620 btw .... that cooler cost me $18 in shipping there and back :). I was able to mount it horizontally (blowing up), while less than ideal, it works ... at $42, I wasn't gonna ship it back.

3. I installed it w/ two fans, bought a 3rd, didn't fit. The fans we got, aren't the fans shown here .... they were an ugly green w/ gray blades (since painted black)

4. Fins stay at pretty much room temperature ...

5. Bought a PYM Fan Cable Splitter (also from forzencpu.com). This one was an Akasa "Smart Cable" model. Last build I bought a different brand, both times had them sleeve it. First builds splitter shorted out my fans ... was replaced with a working one but replacement would not control fan speed. The 2nd one, the Akasa didn't work at all. machine would not boot w/ it connected.

6. As for performance, it's hard to tell as unlike BNR, I don't have lotsa things to swap it out with. Using a i7-2600 in an Asus WS Revolution w/ twin 560 GTX (900 Mhz models). Here's the results (VCore under load in ( ):

Stock 51,53, 53, 51 (1.224) LLC = Auto
4.0 Ghz 52, 54, 55, 52 (1.016-1.024) LLC = Auto
4.2 GHz 54, 56, 57, 55 (1.256 - 1.264) LLC = Auto
4.4 Ghz 56, 60, 60, 67 (1.280 - 1.288) LLC = Auto
4.6 Ghz 62, 66, 68, 65 (1.360 - 1.368) LLC = High
4.8 Ghz 71, 77, 79, 72 LLC = (1.408 - 1.416) Ultra High*

I should note that on many builds I have seen temps drop after a few bits of thermal cycling. Most noticeably, if I set upa desired OC as my target .... then purposely run it at a higher oC to get higher temps, going back to my target now has lower temps. My guess anyway is that the 1st time the TIM hits its highest temps tends to "cure it" a bit. Have seen this on just about every build I have spent a lot of time with.

I may add to this once I get another shot at this. 80C is "my self imposed limit" and unless I can figure out a way to drop voltages a bit, I won't be delving further into bigger OC's.
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# Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerKenneth Fingeret 2011-10-14 02:18
On the page "Testing and Results" I noticed a small error. In the paragraph below the temperature results the Corsair H70 is listed as the Cooler Master H70. Otherwise a very good article.
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# RE: Thermalright Silver Arrow CPU CoolerOlin Coles 2011-10-14 06:07
Glad you liked the article. We've corrected the typo. Cheers!
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# Two mounting problems prevailsystembolaget 2012-01-03 09:06
Although in German, anyone with an ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 motherboard might want to have a look here ##computerbase.de/forum/showthread.php?t=1004709 As you can see, the pressure brace does not fit as it collides with an ASUS heat-sink to the left of the mounting frame. Also, even when the central pressure screw is fully tightened, the cooler can still be rotated on the processor.
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# RE: Two mounting problems prevailDavid Ramsey 2012-01-03 09:25
Cooler this large always have the potential for clearance problems with some motherboards. That's why I specifically mentioned this in the "Cons" section of my conclusion.
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# RE: RE: Two mounting problems prevailsystembolaget 2012-01-03 11:08
Yes, good that you mention that. Too bad I did not see your review before purchasing (we're building a tiny render farm). But, what would you say about the issue that that thing still rotates quite happily even when the central pressure screw has been fully tightened? Nowhere near 70 pounds of pressure, feels like 0 pounds to me :(
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# RE: RE: RE: Two mounting problems prevailDavid Ramsey 2012-01-03 11:39
I would say "Who cares? It's still one of the very best air coolers you can buy."
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# GreaseBruce 2012-01-03 11:43
...maybe because there is a thin layer of grease between two highly polished, flat surfaces. Increasing the pressure just thins out the layer, provided the two plates reamain parallel. So, yes, 70 lbs will feel just like zero, if you're looking 90 degrees from the applied force and friction has been reduced by the lubricant.
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