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Written by David Ramsey   
Monday, 14 February 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Xigmatek Achilles Plus SD1484 Heatsink
Closer Look: Achilles Plus Prototype
Heatsink Test Methodology
Testing and Results
CPU Cooler Final Thoughts and Conclusion

CPU Cooler Final Thoughts and Conclusion

There's really only so much you can do to improve the performance of an air cooler. After testing a couple of dozen coolers for Benchmark Reviews, I think the important points are:

  • Physical size of the cooler (more mass absorbs more heat)
  • Airflow through the cooler (a combination of fans and fin design)
  • Clamping force (how tightly is the cooler pressed against the processor)

There are probably other significant factors like the internal design of the heat pipes, but these three are some of the most important. It's interesting to watch the design variations manufacturers come up with to trade off various factors. For example, the Cooler Master V6 GT is, like this Xigmatek prototype, a relatively "thin" cooler compared to the Thermalright Venomous X or ProlimaTech Super Mega, but Cooler Master compensates for this by pushing more air through the cooler using dual high-speed fans.

xigmatek_achilles_plus_sd1484_proto_installed3.jpg

The Achilles Plus SD1484 Prototype Sample seems to be physically very similar to Xigmatek's existing Achilles II SD 1284 cooler; it has 46 fins instead of 52, but the oversize appears roughly the same and both units use the large 8mm diameter heat pipes. The SD1484 prototype's heat pipes seem to expose more surface area to the CPU than do the heat pipes of the 1284, judging from photos on Xigmatek's web site, but without actually measuring them it's hard to be sure.

As I noted earlier, the "fit and finish" of the prototype was rather rough, but its performance was quite good. The existing Achilles II SD1284 cooler can be found for under $50 with an 85CFM fan, if the Achilles Plus SD1484 comes in near this price, it'll offer an excellent price/performance ratio and should definitely be something to consider if you're in the market for a high-performance air cooler.

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Comments 

 
# Faulty assumption.Olle P 2011-02-15 07:49
Two fans mounted in series will *not* move twice as much air as a single fan. (In free air they will move just a little more than a single fan.)
They will, however, be the equivalent of a *stronger* fan, able to build a higher pressure. That is good if the air flow is very constricted by dense fins or so, like in the case of the H70 cooler. It's a very noisy solution though.
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# RE: Xigmatek Achilles Plus SD1484 HeatsinkDavid Ramsey 2011-02-15 08:50
Let's try a though experiment: take two 90CFM fans as used on the V6 GT. Put them in series-- the output of one blowing towards the input of another-- but space the fans 6 feet apart. In this configuration the aggregate air flow of the fans is obviously 180CFM, although it's really two independent air streams.

The question is "How close do the fans have to be before the aggregate air flow drops?" A secondary question would be "How does the introduction of an obstruction affect this?"

Obviously a 90CFM fan isn't going to blow 90CFM through the tightly-packed fins of a typical cooler, but I don't know of a good way to measure this. Custom PC magazine did a fan test roundup some years back where they measured how long a given fan took to inflate a garbage bag of known volume, and that might be worth trying.
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# RE: RE: Xigmatek Achilles Plus SD1484 HeatsinkServando Silva 2011-02-15 09:20
Time to get a digital anemometer and test it. It sounds like a very interesting experiment.
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# RE: RE: RE: Xigmatek Achilles Plus SD1484 HeatsinkDavid Ramsey 2011-02-15 12:43
Yeah, well, the trouble with that is that commercial anemometers are designed to test air flow in HVAC systems, and generally have low-end CFM ranges of about 80CFM, which means they wouldn't be able to give readings on the majority of fans...
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Xigmatek Achilles Plus SD1484 HeatsinkServando Silva 2011-02-15 13:03
Majority of the fans? I'd say most of the enthusiasts use fans below the 80CFM Spec. Fans included with heat-sinks or radiators normally stay between 30-80CFM range. Only when you're looking for an specific test or if you're overclocking a lot your components you'll go for a delta or any other 80+ CFM fan, because they sound like vacuums.

Also, for measuring performance, readings should be measured after passing the radiator/heatsink. So even if a 80CFM fan is mounted, I doubt you'll see 80 CFM after passing trough the heatsink, and will also depend a lot on static pressure for sure.

Anyway, I think there are a lot of fans to test in those conditions. The only problem I can think off, is that we should tap or make a tunnel after the heatsink/rad to make proper measurements, I suppose. Here's a simple, yet useful example at Xtreme Systems: ##youtube.com/watch?v=8AmF1Z0M8JY
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Xigmatek Achilles Plus SD1484 HeatsinkDavid Ramsey 2011-02-15 13:16
Um, yeah. Isn't "majority" similar in meaning to "most of"?

If we're measuring a fan's output to see how well it corresponds to its advertised rating, we'd need to measure the fan in isolation. The performance with specific heat sinks might be interesting, but in that case we'd be testing the heat sink more than the fan...

The video was interesting, but with no explanation of what was being measured or how it was being measured, I didn't get any useful information from it. I assume the orange meter at the right was showing volts, and perhaps one of the three devices to the left was reading out CFM, but I don't really know.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Xigmatek Achilles Plus SD1484 HeatsinkServando Silva 2011-02-15 13:29
Yes, but really, most of the PC fans work above 80CFM?
Oh, It's my fault not to include a link to the specific thread. From left to right: anemometer, sound meter 1, sound meter 2 (on a cellphone, which I don't trust), Fan Voltage. I thought the video was clear enough to see the units, but maybe because I saw it at 1080p res.
I think we'd be testing both heatsink/radiator performance and fan performance.
Here's the link for complete info at XS: ##xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=259802

Regards.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Xigmatek Achilles Plus SD1484 HeatsinkDavid Ramsey 2011-02-15 13:40
It would be nice to know which anemometer he was using, since it can obviously handle low air flows...
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Xigmatek Achilles Plus SD1484 HeatsinkServando Silva 2011-02-15 13:51
OK, now that I've re-read your phrase I need to apologize because I misread it. You actually meant low-end CFM ranges about 80 CFM, and I understood it the other way. Now all makes sense.

About the model, I could easily read it while watching the video. It's an AM-4836V. Google lead me here: #starmeter.en.made-in-china.com/product/gobQWtUjYLcu/China-Multi-Functions-Thermo-Anemometer-AM-4836V-.html
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Xigmatek Achilles Plus SD1484 HeatsinkDavid Ramsey 2011-02-15 13:58
There doesn't seem to be any way to get one except to order it directly from China, and the price is unknown (all the dozens of web pages just say "Contact" or "Quote", apparently because they want to sell you bulk quantities), but now that I know these low-air-flow anemometers exist, I'll see if I can find one.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Xigmatek Achilles Plus SD1484 HeatsinkServando Silva 2011-02-15 14:10
There are other models supporting 0-9999 CFM like this: ##digital-meters.com/products/HVAC-Thermo-Anemometer-%252d-CEM-DT%252d619.html

Ebay could also be an option.
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# Not that hard...Olle P 2011-02-17 03:48
"How close do the fans have to be before the aggregate air flow drops?"
Assuming the fans are placed freely the answer is very simple to detect experimentally: Move them slowly closer until they start to increase their rotational speed. That's when the interaction between them is big enough to notice. (I've done this myself, and the distance do differ with the force and geometry of the fans.)
When mounted at the opposite sides of a heatsink one can easily assume a negligible amount of air to not pass through both fans. Especially if the heatsink, like in the V6, is a closed tunnel.

"How does the introduction of an obstruction affect this?"
It does reduce the airflow, in the case of high speed fans the reduction is substantial, as can be read from the pressure/flow curves supplied by the fan manufacturers.
The typical optimal work-span for most fans is at around half of the free flow, and then it's up to the user to pick a fan that have a span covering the desired flow and pressure applicable.
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# Xigmatek Achilles Plus SD1484 prototypeDavid Ramsey 2011-02-15 14:17
Servando, the anemometer at the link you supplied (the CEM DT-619) specifically says that the lower bound it supports is 80CFM...
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# RE: Xigmatek Achilles Plus SD1484 prototypeServando Silva 2011-02-15 17:11
I'm sorry David but I fail to see that in the specifications table. It says it supports a minimum of 0 CFM and a maximum of 9999CFM. However I do see that it supports a minimum of 80 ft/min, which stands for speed, not volume (air-flow).
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# RE: RE: Xigmatek Achilles Plus SD1484 prototypeDavid Ramsey 2011-02-15 17:16
You're right, my bad. I suppose to use this for fan testing, I'd have to construct some sort of tunnel so that all the air flow from the fan was focussed through the blades of the anemometer...
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