SilenX Effizio EFZ-120HA5 Review

airman - 2012-02-20 22:02:37 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: May 27, 2012
Price: $32.99

Introduction:

The name SilenX may be a reminder to some of us of how long we have been in the world of computers. At Overclockers Club, it seems that we have had the opportunity to kick off maybe one SilenX review a year, so eat up — it might be a while before we get to see another one! SilenX has been in the business for about 15 years, and while rather small, it was founded here in the United States in 1995 with a focus on being a high-end systems integrator for silent computers. However in 2002, SilenX shifted its focus to manufacturing and soon thereafter established factories in the US, China, and Taiwan. Currently a manufacturer of fans, CPU coolers, and other accessories, the name SilenX is somehow related to PCCooler, though neither website mentions the other. However, the EFZ-120HA5 from SilenX is clearly identical to that of the PCCooler S120D. Even the packaging that I received has PCCooler written on it despite "Effizio" being a SilenX line. SilenX can be found in a tiny corner on the back. From what I can tell, no one actually knows what brand name this cooler actually is — we just know that the OEM sells to these two companies at a minimum.

The 120mm cooler features three 6mm direct-touch copper heatpipes (six effective) through a tower of aluminum fins. Its mounting hardware makes it compatible with all recent Intel and AMD sockets, including those as early as LGA775 for Intel and Socket 754 for AMD. Coming in at just over $30 at most online retailers, the SilenX EFZ-120HA5 appears to reach out to the mid-range builders, perhaps someone building a computer for a light power user or possibly one for themselves in an HTPC box or their own desktop with silence in mind. With the confusion of its branding aside, the EFZ-120HA5 from SilenX/PCCooler looks promising. It is light weight, uses direct-touch heatpipes, has a dimpled fin pattern for more surface area and turbulence, and has a fan that is specified to move 86CFM at only 24dBA! To me, it looks like something a little too good to be true. However, we will only be able to find out for sure when we get the cooler taken out, checked out, and mounted in the OCC test bed. This article will provide a thorough evaluation of the SilenX EFZ-120HA5 heatsink from its unboxing all the way to a performance test where its cooling capabilities will be compared to other coolers on the market.

 

Closer Look:

At first glance, the cooler is not immediately identified to be of SilenX's creation as the box itself highlights the name PCCooler much more clearly. The SilenX name can be found on the top of the box underneath the handle and on the rear in a black stripe. When I first got the box, I was perplexed with the name PCCooler as I had not heard of it — but I located "SilenX" after examining it a little more closely. The box itself is very narrow and is about the same thickness of the heatsink itself. On the front is a plastic window that displays the heatsink and its characteristics as well as a right-angled photograph of the cooler. Underneath the window are icons denoting each individual CPU with which this cooler should be compatible, including Intel Core 2 processors and AMD processors dating back to the 754 Sempron. The rear of the box provides more compatibility information as well as performance characteristics, specifications, and a list of several features. Three features mentioned are its 6mm direct touch heatpipes, optimized fan blades for the greatest air-to-noise ratio, and a sub ten minute installation time.

 

 

 

 

 

Inside of the box we find the cooler, fan, and accessories all neatly placed in separate compartments. Underneath the fan is more mounting hardware along with installation instructions. Compared to other coolers, it seems like the mounting system looks rather complicated. There are a lot of screws, washers, brackets, nuts, pads, and more screws. I can usually infer what all is required for which socket, but I do believe that I will have to refer to the installation manual for this guy! Luckily, a lot of the hardware is individually bagged and labeled for AMD and Intel, but it still is a lot of hardware for a rather lightweight cooler.

 

 

 

With everything out of the box, it's time to start getting into the closer look of the heatsink itself and what all it has to offer.

Closer Look:

The SilenX Effizio EFZ-120HA5 is not unlike many coolers I have already seen. At this point in standard designs, this cooler follows the basic "rules" of mid-range heatsinks. It has copper heatpipes, an aluminum base through which the heatpipes directly contact the CPU die, fins on the top of the base, and a single tower of aluminum fins. The wavy, alternating pattern of the fins gives it an interesting look and kind of messes with your eyes if you stare at it for too long — it almost starts to look like the fins are transparent. There are dimples that cover all of the fin surfaces, which are said to increase turbulence of the air flowing through it and provide more surface area between the fin-air (fluid) interface. The dimples themselves are VERY small (<0.005") and I do not see them doing much to increase the effectiveness of the cooler. On a very large scale — perhaps — but not so much on something the size of a computer heatsink. The top fin is colored black and has raised lettering of the PCCooler logo. The edges of the fins are folded over and locked together and creates a sealed cavity for the air to pass through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The three 6mm heatpipes are pressed tightly into the aluminum base. Between the top of the heatpipes and the aluminum base are almost no visible gaps, indicative of a well-planned process in that respect. The fins themselves are layered onto the heatpipes and pressed into place. I don't see any evidence of the fins being soldered to the heatpipes, but I wouldn't immediately expect that out of a $30 heatsink. On the base was a plastic film to protect the surface from scratches and to be removed just prior to installation; it has been removed already. The base itself has evident machining marks, though it is still rather reflective. It is important to understand that a reflective base does not always signify a good conducting surface. Depending on the machining process, the surface can be left very shiny even though the surface roughness (Ra) is large. To the contrary, a very smooth surface with a small Ra value may appear as a matte finish even though it is superior. The gaps on the CPU-side of the base between the aluminum and the copper are acceptable — though the exterior gaps are noticeably larger than the four gaps in the middle. The drawback to direct-touch heatpipes coolers is that gaps are difficult to avoid.

 

 

 

The fan itself is a 120mm fan that has a black casing and red blades. The fan blades themselves seem to be thicker than what I am normally used to; this may be part of the design improvements to make the fan be as silent as possible. It can operate between 5-12V and pull a maximum of 0.16A which makes it a 1.92W fan. Its speed (depending on voltage applied) ranges from 800-1600RPM which is specified to produce an airflow of between 23-86 CFM at a miniscule 8-24dBA, respectively. It uses a 3-pin connection (non-PWM), and a fan controller is not provided meaning it will run at 12V all of the time unless a voltage reducer is in place. However, at only 24dBA at its maximum speed, it will be hardly audible, especially inside a case. The heatsink itself has notches along each of the four sides for a rubber fan mount to attach. I have never really liked rubber fan mounts (I prefer metal clips as they make installation and removal much quicker). When putting the fan on I noticed that the fan mounting height is slightly taller than the available height of the fins, meaning that the mounts may hang outside of the fins a little bit. As long as the fan stays put, there won't be a problem!

 

 

 

Now, it's time to try to figure out the installation process of this cooler. Luckily, the installation manual is clear and does not seem to propose anything in "Engrish". First, a mounting bracket must be attached to the heatsink's base using two provided screws. Intel sockets require the one-piece bracket, and AMD sockets will require two individual pieces. Next, the universal backplate must be configured (Intel vs AMD) and placed into the motherboard. With the backplate assembled and in place, thermal paste is applied and the heatsink is secured using the four supplied spring thumb nuts. A flathead screwdriver will be required to tighten these all the way down unless you have very strong yet very small hands! With the heatsink mounted, we slip the fan on, and we're ready to go.

 

 

 

With the SilenX EFZ-120HA5 successfully installed, it's time to fire up the test bed and get this cooler cooking. First, however, I will provide the manufacturer's list of specifications and features that describe the heatsink in technical detail.

Specifications:

SKU
EFZ-120HA5
Rated dBA
8~24
Dimensions
125 x 85 x 153 mm
Materials
Copper heatpipes, Anodized aluminum fins
Weight
648g
RPM
500~1600 RPM
CFM
32~86 CFM
Operating Voltage
5~12V
Current Draw
<0.16A
Power Consumption
<1.92W
Bearings
3rd Generation Fluid Dynamic Bearings
Intel CPU Compatibility
LGA 775, 1155/1156, 1366, 2011
AMD CPU Compatibility
Socket 754, 939, 940, AM2, AM2+, AM3, FM1

 

Features:

 

All information provided by SilenX and PCCooler at http://www.silenx.com and http://www.pccooler.cn/en

Testing:

Testing of this heat sink will involve applying a load simulated by Prime95, using small FFTs in stock and overclocked scenarios, where both idle and load temperatures will be recorded. Load temperatures will be the maximum value displayed in RealTemp after running eight threads in Prime95 for one hour, and idle temperatures will be the minimum recorded value by RealTemp with no computer usage during a period of one hour. The temperature values for each of the four cores will be averaged and displayed in the graphs below. The ambient temperature is held at a constant 23°C throughout testing of the SilenX Effizio EFZ-120HA5, as well as with the comparison units. All the data shown in the graphs below is in degrees Celsius. The included thermal paste from SilenX will be used during testing, and thermal pastes on other heat sinks from their respective manufacturers will be used. The fans on each cooler will be run at full-speed for these tests.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Heatsinks:

 

 

 

 

We see here that under low heat loads, the SilenX Effizio EFZ-120HA5 performs on par with the DEEPCOOL Ice Wind Pro, but seems to get heat-soaked at higher loads where its performance falls off a bit. These results are most likely due to it having less mass than some of the larger coolers as well as a lower flow rate from its single fan.

Conclusion:

Having never had the chance to play with, or even see in person, a cooler by SilenX/PCCooler, I wasn't sure what to expect out of this budget-friendly heatsink. I always try to keep judgments to a minimum because I might come out impressed with how a cooler performs. Although the mounting system is a little intimidating with its large amount of parts, it's not unlike some other mountings I have dealt with in the past. After getting it together, I was pleased to find that it wasn't as tedious as I anticipated. In terms of performance, at only around $33 it seems worth the pennies and would probably cool even better with an additional fan or at least one that moves a little more air.

Comparing it to the similarly-priced Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo, it's close in performance everywhere except under overclocked load where the Hyper 212 Evo pulls ahead by a couple of degrees. Across the whole spectrum, it seems like it lays towards the bottom end of grading but it's important to remember that for a sub-$40 cooler, it significantly outperforms the stock Intel cooler in every test. Additionally, under an overclocked load it still hangs tightly within the comfortable range of the Intel i7 2600k at 70°C — overclocking on with this cooler is still completely feasible. Aside from the more "elaborate" mounting setup, my only gripe with the rest of the heatsink is the rubber mounting tabs for the fan. I have never been a fan of these tabs because they can be tough to "clip in" on the underside of the heatsink if clearance is an issue; it took a couple of blind tries to get one of them hooked in the back.

For a manufacturer whose products I've never owned and one that's lower on my "thought list", I am pleased with how it performed here. The cooler is quiet and is of good quality, the installation manual is clear, and it provides decent temperatures for just above the $30 mark. The SilenX cooler might be hard to recommend over something like the Hyper 212 Evo, the reigning budget champion, but it performs well considering it is a bit different from the competition.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: