Coolink Silentator Heatpipe Cooler

Silverfox - 2007-07-01 15:13:31 in Cooling, CPU Cooling
Category: Cooling, CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: Silverfox   
Reviewed on: July 3, 2007
Coolink
Coolink
Price: $54.35 USD

Introduction:

There is a slight change of plan today. You may have already noticed, but I don’t normally write reviews. The boss has let me off my leash and has entrusted me with reviewing the new Coolink Silentator. As the name suggests, this heatsink is designed to cool your system, but do so quietly.

The first thing that came to mind with this cooler, was that is has been designed with HTPC (Home Theatre PC) enthusiasts and general noise freaks in mind. By that, I mean those of us who are hell-bent on reducing system noise altogether.
It also struck me that because this is clearly marketed as a quiet cooler it might not be appropriate for overclockers. However, I’ll still give it a shot regardless.

Coolink is actually a brand of the Kolink International Corporation and aims to produce products that are no-frills, high performance, excellent quality and attractively priced. As the Coolink website states, Coolink is “the direct link to affordable high-end cooling!”

Kolink International Corporation is a cooling specialist established in 1996 and is apparently well known amongst industry insiders. Over the last eleven years, Kolink has manufactured and designed many top-performing heatsinks under various brand names, with success in international markets. Based in Taiwan, Kolink joins many other component manufacturers in the Asian region, but stress their efficient manufacturing processes and strict quality control standards. Kolink also produces SWiF (Silent Whisper Fans), hard disk drive coolers, chipset coolers, VGA coolers and other accessories, including anti-vibration bolts. It was only in 2005 when Kolink branched out to Europe, which is why many readers will not be familiar with the name.

Noctua, a familiar brand to many, apparently manufactures heatsinks in Coolink's factories, which would explain the resemblance of the Silentator to the NH-U12F form Noctua, just in case anyone was confused.

 

Closer Look:

Well, let’s look at the name of this product first. The Silentator. On the cheese scale, this hits Camembert in my opinion. It sounds a little menacing, but assertive too. It does, however, seem like someone had been watching the Terminator films shortly before naming this. Yet even while we snicker at the name, it does fit in quite well with the market trend for cheesy names on a wide variety of products.

The heatsink arrived in the trademark brown box that many reviewers are so familiar with. Upon opening, I wasn’t sure what to make of this interesting material used to cushion the heatsink box. I quickly decided that the webbed cardboard padding was actually a sensible idea for recycling and really worked quite well.

 

 

After admiring the padding a bit more, I eventually removed the Silentator box from the bigger box. The first thing I noticed was that the front showed only the heatsink itself, but no sign of the 120mm fan. The back showed some arty photos of the cooler and fan, but nothing of significance.

 

The left side of the box shows the key features of the Silentator, while the right side of the box shows detailed specifications and dimensions of the cooler. At 153mm tall, this is quite a big heatsink. Weighing in at 640g as well, it’s certainly not light either!

 

 

Opening the aesthetically pleasing, but not garish box, there is a plain cardboard surround encasing the Silentator. Tucked behind it was a white cardboard box of goodies.

 

Closer Look:

As the Silentator was removed from the cardboard surround, I finally saw the rather elegant looking 120mm fan. The 3-pin fan cable was sleeved too, which was a nice touch. I noticed that the fan was mounted well, with the two anti-vibration strips correctly applied. The copper heatpipes were welded to the copper base and aluminum fins well, with no signs of poor quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The obligatory warning sticker is applied to the copper base and when removed, shows the machining finish left from manufacturing. To the finger, these ridges were quite subtle, but were felt a little more clearly by fingernail.

 

 

Being a reviewer, Coolink has provided me with 3 different mounting kits and a required mounting kit (pressure springs and fastening brackets). These were for LGA 775, AM2 and K8 (754, 939 and 940). However, as a consumer, you must choose which kit you need before purchasing, as the Silentator will be available in one of these three varieties. Coolink also provide a mounting bracket for a fan controller, as well as a long steel screwdriver with a 90 degree bend in it. This is required for mounting in some cases, as the mounting bolt must be accessed from through the cooler itself (seen later). Some extra goodies include a 3-pin fan to Molex adaptor (in the event that you don’t have a spare motherboard 3-pin header), some thermal paste and a second fan mounting kit. The Silentator allows for two 120mm fans to be attached. Very generous. Finally, a lovely booklet is included with a rubbery case sticker. The book was the part that made me laugh – “...my computer is so silent that I can hear the snowflakes falling.”

 

 

 

 

Installation:

As my machine is an Intel Core2Duo E6600, I will be using the LGA775 mounting kit for this installation. It’s important to note now that this installation requires the motherboard to be removed from the mounting tray completely, in order to install the cooler correctly. While this is going to be a pain for some people, it is actually an effective system considering the weight of the Silentator itself.

This installation assumes that you are removing a previous cooler, but it may be the case that this is applied from scratch in a fresh system. Either way, begin with making sure that any thermal paste from the previous cooler is cleaned from the processor IHS (Integrated heat spreader). This can be achieved with some rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover (acetone), but seeing as I have no rubbing alcohol and I don’t paint my nails, I used some strong tissue paper to clean the IHS.

 

It’s advised that you remove any PCI/AGP devices at this point, to save any accidental damage and the like. You’ll then need to unscrew the motherboard from the motherboard tray mounts. In my case, the Lian Li PC-60 has a removable tray, but not everyone will be so lucky. When the motherboard is free, turn it over to locate the mounting holes for the Silentator LGA775 bracket. The black cross-shaped bracket lies flush against the board with the white pad pressing into the rear of the processor socket.

 

This is where it gets fiddly and I am warning you now – you need to approach this logically before you get frustrated. While holding the black mounting plate against the motherboard, place 4 washers on the top side of the motherboard on the mounting holes. Then place the mounting brackets with the screw holes facing outwards. At this point, I would note that the orientation of this cooler can face either the back of your case, or rotated 90 degrees to face the top of the case. The image below shows you the former setting, whereby the cooler will face the back of my case. You’ll see the brackets sat on top of the red washers here. I might also add that there is a clearance issue with capacitors if you are very unlucky. Fortunately, the Gigabyte S3 has solid-state capacitors around the CPU socket and the bracket sits neatly above the caps, with no contact.

 

 

If you have not found yourself cursing yet, you might do so now. Take four of the eight supplied screws in the standard mounting pack and, one at a time, push the screw through the mounting hole and through the motherboard and into the back-plate that you are still holding carefully in place. I found that everything I had neatly set up fell over and became misaligned while trying to do this, so I adopted a new approach with one bracket at a time, sliding the washers underneath for each screw. I’d advise that you don’t tighten the screws much yet and simply make sure that the thread from the screw makes about one turn into the back-plate. Once all four screws have started to thread, make a couple of turns on each screw one at a time, so that the back plate makes perfectly flat contact with the motherboard. Be patient. This really will take a few minutes to get right! When complete, it will look much like the image below.

Installation:

Now it’s time to prepare the Silentator itself. You’ll need another four screws and the flat mounting plates this time. Place the flat mounting plate on the top of the copper base and push a screw through the hole and gently turn it into the plate. Then use a screw driver to fully secure the plate into place. Do this for the other side too and you will end up with something that looks like the photos below.

 

 

 

 

 

Using the thermal paste/pad of your choice, apply sparingly to your IHS on the processor, rather than the base of the Silentator (unless your paste advises you apply to both surfaces). Why? Because the copper base of the Silentator has a larger surface area than the processor IHS and would result in wasted thermal compound. I chose to use Arctic Silver Ceramique, due to its non-conductive properties. That translates to “I am clumsy and might spill some on my motherboard”, so Arctic Silver 5 is not suitable for me. Once you have applied the compound, place the Silentator on to the processor and align the two sets of mounting plates so that they line up as shown below. You should be able to see through both holes easily with no overlap.

 

This next part is also a shade fiddly, but I will explain a sensible method of approach. Slide one of the pressure springs over one of the two spring screws (the longer screw with a long smooth shaft and some thread on the end) and then push this between the two aligned plates. Here’s where the trick is. The spring is quite resistant (you’d expect that really), so you need to push quite hard to get the thread to bite into the bottom plate. Once it does bite, make a half turn with the screwdriver, possibly only a quarter if you can manage it. This ensures that when applying the second screw to the other side that you don’t need to force the heatsink too much. Once both screws are biting into the lower plate, tighten each screw a couple of turns in an alternating pattern. Keep doing so until the screws turn no more. This might require a bit of strength, but it really pulls the heatsink very close the processor to ensure excellent contact. Your pins will look something like the photo below.

 

Now that the Silentator is mounted to the motherboard, it’s time to assemble the fan controller. Firstly, unscrew the hexagon nut and remove the washer from the controller.

 

Push the controller through the PCI bracket, so that the small notch pushes through the small hole on the bracket.

 

Now place the washer over the dial and then screw the nut back on over the top. You only need to screw the nut on by hand – no need to use a spanner/wrench.

 

Finally, place the shiny silver knob on top of the dial. My advice is to turn the dial all the way to ‘L’ or ‘Low’ and then place the knob on so that the notch on the knob is aligned with the ‘Low’ setting. This will probably make more sense if you have done this before!

 

Now you’ll need to connect the Silentator fan to the fan controller as shown below. The other 3-pin connector plugs right into your motherboard. If you prefer, you can also plug the Silentator fan into the 3-pin to Molex adaptor.

 

At this point, I’d advise you perform some wire management, as shown below. You may regret it later if not!

 

Here’s when I got a little irate. I went to slide my motherboard back into the case, to find that the Silentator abused the clearance of the PC-60 frame by about 5-10mm, meaning that I couldn’t slide the thing in with the Silentator mounted to the motherboard. Cue a tirade of expletives. This meant that I had to remove the motherboard from the ingenious tray and slide it in bare and then mount the motherboard to the tray. I was mostly annoyed at the fact it negated the whole point of having a motherboard tray, but not at the fault of Lian Li or Coolink – I just guess heatsinks are getting bigger and that the PC-60 isn’t that ‘big’ these days. So after guiding the motherboard into the case and managing my wires (again), I ended up with the photo below. Do make sure to reconnect everything properly before turning the system on!

 

 

Specifications:

Socket compatibility 3 versions: LGA / AM2 / K8 (754, 939, 940)
Height (without fan) 153mm
Width (without fan) 126mm
Depth (without fan) 60mm
Height (with fan) 153mm
Width (with fan) 126mm
Depth (with fan) 85mm
Weight (with fan) 640g
Material Copper (base and heat-pipes), aluminium (cooling fins), soldered joints
Fan size 120x120x25mm / 120x120x38mm
Fan Coolink SWiF-1202 (2 fans can be mounted!)
Bearing Double ball bearing
Rotational Speed (+/- 10%) 900-1600RPM
Airflow 54-90m³/h
Acoustical Noise 14-24dB(A)
Scope of Delivery Heatsink, SWiF-1202 fan, mounting hardware, fan controller, thermal paste
Warranty 3 years
MSRP € 39,90

Features:

Testing:

To test the Silentator effectively, I will compare it to a similar tower heatsink, the Scythe Ninja, as well as the Intel stock heatsink. I will test all heatsinks at idle load (the PC is doing nothing) and also full load (where the processor is under heavy use, very close to 100%). I will repeat these tests with a ‘modest’ overclock of 3.0GHz, from the stock 2.4GHz. Each test will be performed at a ‘low’ fan speed and a ‘high’ fan speed, with the Intel cooler excluded.

Test System:

 

Temperatures were monitored with the Intel Thermal Analysis Tool, as my research found this software to be reasonably accurate. All temperatures are an average of the two processor cores, rounded up to the nearest whole degree. All stress tests are performed twice with OCCT for a full hour, to ensure stability, while idle temperatures are recorded after 30 minutes from successful loading of Windows.

I will also engage in the subjective test of noting the loudness of each fan at high and low speeds, commenting at the end of the regular testing.

Of course, all temperatures are degrees Celsius and lower temperatures are better in all instances.

 

 

 

It’s interesting to see that the Silentator is not only a great cooler, but that it can handle a decent overclock too. While the Scythe does well to cool the E6600 effectively, the Coolink Silentator edges it out with more effective cooling. This is quite a revelation, considering that the Scythe is physically larger than the Silentator in surface area. I might also add that my system wouldn’t boot with a vCore of less than 1.5v with the Scythe installed, which is why the tests are performed like for like. I did however, find that the Silentator was stable at 3.0GHz with a vCore of only 1.45v, but that my system was limiting my overclocking potential, due to an incredibly hot Northbridge chipset. It might also be slightly obvious that the Intel stock cooler was unable to cope with the 3.0GHz overclock, hence the lack of an entry on the graphs.

As for the sound of each cooler, I’m happy to report that on ‘low’, both coolers are inaudible with the system about 1m away from me. Even close to the case (about 30cm), I could not hear the fans at all – noise was drowned out elsewhere, or simply indistinguishable. However, at maximum fan speeds, the Scythe fan was audible amongst other system noise, but not too intrusive or irritating. The Coolink Silentator fan (SWiF 1202) was barely audible at all, but ever so slightly audible nonetheless. The SWiF 1202 is clearly a decent fan to be bundled with a cooler and with reported noise of 14-24 (low-high) dBA, 900-1,600 (low-high) RPM and 54-90 (low-high) CFM airflow, makes it a great performer too.


Conclusion:

The Coolink Silentator was an eye-opener for me. After recently purchasing the Scythe Ninja and loving it, I was skeptical about whether the Silentator would live up to its claim of being a decent cooler and remaining silent while doing so. As the tests conclude, the Silentator can punch within its weight and compete with the big boys. While some of the temperatures measured are perhaps higher than in many other reviews conducted, bear in mind that these tests were performed with almost silent systems. Had I put in a few Tornado 80mm’s here and there, I have no doubt that temperatures would be lower, but this review wasn’t about that – it was about great cooling with low noise. That and the fact that my Lian Li PC-60 is clearly cramped, shows that even in adverse conditions, decent temperatures were achieved with near-silence.

I was very impressed with the standard accessories included with the Silentator. Bundling a screwdriver, a fan controller and a 3-pin to Molex adaptor was great, but the additional fan kit mounts were the icing on the cake. Not that I could see how a second fan would help, it’s just the thought that counts and Coolink really have thought about this cooler. The bundled fan is easily my favorite aspect of the Silentator – it exceeded my expectations by a country mile. (Don’t forget that if you purchase the Silentator you will need to choose your own mounting type, as only one will be included)

My only gripes were that the required back-plate made the installation a bit awkward and frustrating at times, while the sheer size of the unit caused problems with clearance. After learning the hard way, I can say that the mounting system is really quite exceptional and very secure – worth the hard slog for such a firmly mounted unit.

The size issue does raise a few other problems, though. If you choose to mount the cooler facing the rear of your case, you run the risk of not being able to install a vertical Northbridge chipset. If you choose to mount the cooler facing the power supply, you run the risk of covering your DDR RAM slots, which is a real pain, too.

I also wonder that if this cooler is aimed at those wanting quieter machines, that those who want a standard HTPC case that is slim and much like a Hi-Fi separates unit will have no chance in using this cooler. However, those willing to sacrifice the slender case and fatten up a bit, will no doubt love the cooling capability of the Coolink Silentator.

The Silentator really does do what it says on the box. It is quiet and efficient – something that is not often achieved without some compromise. Those of you who are looking to build an HTPC or a ‘silent’ machine would be wise to consider the Coolink Silentator. In fact, if you are considering any new cooler at all, I would shortlist the Silentator without shadow of a doubt.

Pros:

 

Cons: