AeroCool AB7080H CPU Cooler (HSF) Review
Reviewed by: Bosco
Reviewed on: December 4, 2002
: GF City Computers
Price: $30 USD
Since I got my AMD Thunderbird 1400 about 18 months ago, I have had ongoing concerns with temperatures and/or noise. When I purchased the AMD, I also purchased an OCZ Gladiator with a 6800 RPM 60mm Delta fan (which actually runs at 7300, according to MBM5). At that time, the OCZ was one of the higher end cooling solutions on the market, and it does do a good job - at the cost of EXTREMELY loud fan noise. About 6 months ago, I replaced the Delta fan with a 5500 RPM 60mm Sunon fan, which did wonders for my hearing but is a poor choice in combination with the OCZ and the AMD1400, as you will see below.
Today, I received an AeroCool AB7080H - R heatsink/fan combination for review. This all copper unit is rated for AMD Thoroughbreds at 2600+ and up, at a moderate noise level of 39 dba. I'm looking forward to putting it through the paces and seeing if I can turn down my speaker volume so my kids can sleep ;) . "Mommy, make Daddy stop fragging!"
The AB7080H comes in an attractive gunmetal blue and black box. It is indicated on the side as "AB7080H - R", the R standing for Red. Inside, you will find the heatsink/fan unit, and a small plastic "soft pak" of Stars Heatsink Compound. In the interest of "science" I opted to not use the Stars thermal compound, instead all benchmarks have been done using Quicksilver thermal compound. There were no mounting instructions or literature of any kind inside the package. The box states that this unit is from their Bonding Fin Series, further investigation at AeroCool's website yielded no further specific information, although I believe it refers to the method of attaching the copper fins to the copper base.
As you can see above, this AeroCool's frame is finished in an anodized red. Well, a shade of red commonly called pink. It's a little less purple than what the picture shows but it's certainly not fire engine red. Anodized blue and anodized yellow/gold are also available. There's the standard 3 pin motherboard connector with 21.5 cm (8.5") of wire. The fan is labelled underneath as "EVENFLOW R127025DH 12V 0.30Amps". I was unable to find a website for EVENFLOW but AeroCool rate the ball bearing fan at 5400 RPM and 44.25 cfm air flow. Watching Motherboard Monitor 5, the fan showed an RPM range of 4963 - 5192.
The all copper heatsink has 36 fins (I almost ran out of fingers and toes, whew!). Whatever the Bonding Fin refers to, it is a very clean job, there is no visible joint between the fins and the base. The clip is a single joint design, I was a little nervous about the amount of pressure I had to apply in order to get it installed. It took a screwdriver to get the clip around the joint on the socket, combined with a few well timed *grunts* of effort pushing down on the clip but eventually the job was done with no harm to the processor. Or my thumb.
In this picture, my OCZ Gladiator, which has been lapped, is on the left and the AeroCool is on the right. It doesn't show up in the picture, but there is a quite noticable area of scratches on the AeroCool - fortunately, it's not in the area where the processor makes contact. Overall, the base of the AeroCool is quite flat and absent of machining marks, though not mirror finished. I was quite struck by the similarities in base design between the OCZ and the AeroCool and suspect that the 2 units may have come from the same factory, though certainly the OCZ is a generation or so old in terms of what's currently on the market. The size difference between the 2 is also evident in this picture, the AeroCool obviously having been built with an 70mm fan in mind, instead of the 60mm of the older OCZ. Additionally, the AeroCool's fins are 20% taller, giving substantially more surface area from which to dissipate heat.
Other than the aforementioned clip tension, installation went smoothly. There were no problems with space on my Asus A7M266, there is plenty of clearance between the AB7080H and all motherboard components. Time to put the rubber to the road and see what we get.
The first thing I am looking for is noise level. I'm not looking for dead quiet, I have 4 case fans plus 2 in an Enermax power supply so it wouldn't be realistic to expect my computer to run as quietly as gramma's Dell. The Evenflow fan is significantly quieter than the original Delta on my OCZ, but does have a high pitched undertone that I don't get with my Sunon. Depending on temperature results, this will be an acceptable trade-off.
I spent several hours swapping back and forth between various configurations of fans and heatsinks, trying to find the sweet spot. On a fresh boot, I would let the system sit idle for 15-20 minutes to establish a baseline or idle temperature. Ambient temperature was at all times 20C (68F), my case temperature was reading 26-27C. All temperatures (including processor temps below) were taken from Motherboard Monitor5, as read off my Asus A7M266. I will say that Asus boards are reputed to report temperatures as much as 10C higher than actual, unfortunately I do not have the equipment to measure against the Asus. In my situation, this could be true given the difference between ambient and reported case temperature, taking into account the amount of fresh air being pumped into the case. The important thing is that all measurements are made the same way, from the same hardware and so are relative.
After establishing baseline, I ran SuperPi to 32 million digits in the background while doing 3 loops of 3DMark SE. Recorded temperature. Wanna see low framerates, try that. I then ran Prime95 for 20 minutes, recorded temperature. Lastly, 15 minutes of looped Quake3 timedemo. Recorded temperature. All tests were run a minimum of 3 times from a cold boot.
The envelope please...
Well, given that the AeroCool is a generation newer than my existing HSF, I was a little disappointed. The OCZ with the Delta fan delivers better performance than the AeroCool, I had hoped to get at least equivalent if not slightly better results. Having said that, it is a moderate budget bracket cooler that delivers cooling at a level I can live with and maybe now my kids can get some sleep while I hunt down bosco on the MOH server. I would recommend the AeroCool AB7080H to anyone looking for decent cooling combined with moderate noise levels, but not to anyone looking for substantial overclocks.