Cooler Master Vortex Plus Review

ccokeman - 2010-03-17 21:06:37 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: April 19, 2010
Price: $29.99


Everyone remembers the story about Goldilocks and the three bears right? If not the story, at least we remember the underlying theme about how you have one item to big, one to small, and one that fits juuuuust right! When it comes time to choose a cooler for your CPU, you can run into the the same issues if you are not careful with the combination of parts you choose. For instance, you wouldn't want to slap a mammoth heatsink such as the NH-D14 or TRUE into a low profile HTPC case that is already challenged with space constraints now would you? Nor would you put a small undersized heat sink in a large chassis and expect it to deliver excellent cooling for your fire-breathing, overclocked processor! Each of these applications would need to have the correct heat sink to maximize the the cooling performance and "fit" so you end up with a solution that's just right.

Cooler Master has long been known as a company that caters to the market. The introduction of the Vortex Plus CPU cooler is another example of this. The Vortex Plus is a cooler that is designed for the HTPC and Compact Lan Box crowd. The Vortex Plus is able to fit just about any current platform for both the AMD and Intel sides of the fence. The low profile design features Direct Contact Heat pipe construction that is all the rage today and comes with a 92mm PWM fan to address both noise and cooling performance concerns. Lets see if the Vortex Plus can deliver performance worthy of your system.

Closer Look:

The packaging is traditional Cooler Master with the purple and white color scheme. The front panel shows a picture of the Vortex Plus that illustrates the design of the cooler and shows support for the latest AMD and Intel platforms, keeping a wide audience in mind for this application. The right side directs you to the Cooler Master website for more information on the Vortex Plus. The left side lists the full specification sheet so you know just what you are getting and what it will work on. The rear panel shows the features of the Vortex Plus that includes a technical drawing of the cooler and several views of the cooler and how it fits into mid tower chassis.








Opening up the package, you can see that the Vortex Plus is well packed with both foam and cardboard to protect it during transit. The 92mm fan is housed in a box, while the heat sink is in a foam enclosure. 



The contents of the package includes the Vortex Plus heat sink, 92mm PWM controlled fan, instructions, mounting hardware for all of the supported socket types and a tube of Cooler Masters thermal paste. The AMD sockets are covered with a two piece mounting system that latches to the socket much the same way a stock AMD heat sink does. The Intel bracketry is a bit more complex, but includes a non-captured push pin mounting system. This system is pretty unique and is easy enough to use so if you built your computer on a budget and want to upgrade your cooling, you will not have to pull the motherboard. A plus in anybody's book I think.




Time to dig a little deeper under the skin to see what the Vortex Plus is all about.


Closer Look:

The Vortex Plus is a cooler that is built using a composite design using an aluminum block and fins with four 6mm copper heatpipes used to carry the thermal load from the CPU contact patch to the fin array. This cooler from Cooler Master uses a low profile, down draft design that makes use of Heat pipe Direct Contact technology to enhance its cooling capabilities. It rises off the socket a minimal 84mm or just over 3 inches, so you really have the ability to use the Vortex Plus in any application where a low profile heatsink is required such as an HTPC or small LAN case.














Instead of the traditional heat pipe running through the contact block, the Vortex Plus makes use of Direct Contact technology where the heat pipes are constructed so that they are part of the contact surface. They then wrap up and around to the aluminum fin array so you have the shortest possible path for the thermal energy to go. The contact block is large and offers additional fins to help promote better cooling with the downdraft design of this heat sink.



The PWM fan used by Cooler Master on the Vortex Plus is 92mm in diameter, makes use of a sleeve bearing and delivers anywhere from 16 to 55 C.F.M. depending on how fast the fan is spinning. The range is from 800 to 2800 RPM. To minimize the noise from the Vortex Plus, CoolerMaster has installed rubber blocks on each corner of the fan. This should eliminate the vibration and any noise you would get when you have a fan directly on the heatsink fins. The fan is held on with a pair of brackets that latch onto grooves in the sides of the fin array to keep it in place.



Once mounted, you can see just how low profile this cooler really is. Monting this heatsink is a little different from one that uses a typical push pin mounting system, in that you mount the brackets to the motherboard and then attach a swing arm through the base of the cooler and secured it with a hook on one side and a screw on the other. All in all, it was easy to install... just different, and different isn't always a bad thing! Especially in this case since you no longer have to fight around the heatsink to get the push pins latched in place


Lets see how this cooler performs. Will it be to small or will it be just right?



CPU Socket
Intel  Socket LGA 1366/1156/775
AMD AM3/AM2/940/939/754
CPU Support
Intel  Corei7 Extreme/Corei7/Corei5/Corei3/Core 2 Extreme/Core 2 Quad/Core 2 Dua/Pentium/Celeron
AMD Phenom II X4/Phenom II X3/Phenom II X2/Phenom X4/Phenom X3/Athlon II X4/Athlon II X3/Athlon II X2/Athlon X2/Athlon/Sempron
166x100x84mm (4.6x3.9x3.3 in)
445g   /  1lb
Heatsink Dimensions
116x100x58.5mm (4.6x3.9x2.3 in)
Heatsink Material
Aluminum Fins / 4 heatpipes
Heatpipe Dimensions
Fan Dimensions
92x92x25 mm (3.6x3.6x1 inch)
Fan Speed
800-2800 RPM
Fan Airflow
15.7-54.4 CFM
Fan Air Pressure
0.35-4.27mm H2O
Fan Life Expectancy
40,000 hours
Bearing Type
Long Life Sleeve Bearing
Noise Level
17-35 dBA
4 pin
Fan Control
Current (Ampere)
Power Consumpotion
3.12 watts




The goal here is to find out just how the Cooler Master Vortex Plus performs, I will be making a comparison of the temperatures at idle and under load, both while the CPU is at stock voltages and clock speeds. As well as when the CPU is overclocked and over-volted. Doing so will show what kind of cooling performance the cooler has to offer when compared to other compatible heat sinks. These heat sinks will be tested head-to-head as they are delivered from the manufacturer. I could throw in a bunch of testing variables, but it is not what the products are capable of as delivered. To test the idle temperatures, I will allow the computer to stay idle for 30 minutes and take the idle temperature at this point. For the load testing, I will use Prime95 version 25.9 and choose the blend testing and allow the processor and memory controller to heat up to the maximum temperatures. The time frame is a four hour run to allow the temperature to peak, usually in the 14K test. I will use Real Temp 3.0 to take the high and low temperatures and average the temperatures generated over the four cores as my reported temperature.

Testing Setup:


Comparison Heat sinks:







The cooling performance of the Vortex Plus is not what I was expecting. It actually was right in the middle of the pack during the stock load testing at 53° C, a full 8° C better than the Silent 1156 and about on par with the Titan Skalli and a full 16° C better under load than the stock solution. When overclocked, the smaller size of the fin array comes into play with a 63° C load temperature. Even though that is warmer than all of the aftermarket heatsinks save the Silent 1156, it is still a whopping 20° C cooler than the stock solution.


If you are looking for the next best thing in the cooling world that will give you the lowest temperatures on your overclocked Core i7, the Vortex Plus is not the cooler for you. You will need something more robust to keep up with the thermal energy you need to dissipate. However if you are looking for a low profile heatsink that does the job much better than the stock cooling solution, the Vortex Plus will be right up your alley. When tested, the Vortex Plus delivered temperatures in the middle of the pack on the test Core i5 750 at 53° C. This of course well below what you might call warm for a Core series Intel processor and is a full 16° C better than the stock cooler. Even when I put a mild overclock on the CPU to add more thermal load, the Vortex Plus responded with a 63° C load temperature, still well in the "Safe" zone and this time a full 20° C cooler than the temperatures delivered by the stock cooler.

The mounting solution was easy to use and offers up a different way of attaching the CPU to the socket. No longer do you have to fight the heat sink to reach the push pins. The low profile design makes this cooler a perfect fit for small form factor chassis such as HTPC and Lan cases. The direct contact heat pipe system employed by Cooler Master looks like it was executed better than what I saw on the Hyper TX3 I looked at last year and includes a fourth 6mm heatpipe to help the thermal capability of the cooler. Priced at $30, the Vortex Plus is not the rock bottom of the scale, but then again, is not anywhere near the top of the price scale either. At this price point, it is attractive and is designed to fit a niche. In this niche it should do well and offers performance substantially better than the stock cooling solution, for a price that really won't break the bank. You get decent performance, low noise and an easy installation, so if you need a low profile heatsink to fit yor next project, the Vortex plus just might fit the bill.