Silenx Effizio Extreme Review

ccokeman - 2010-06-30 18:09:36 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: August 16, 2010
Price: $39

Introduction:

How do you choose what heat sink is best for your system? Are you looking for something to simply give you slightly better temperatures? Maybe you're looking for something to let you increase the level of performance you can get by overclocking your processor? Or maybe you're just looking for a little peace of mind after seeing the temperatures your stock cooling solution delivers? What level of noise are you willing to put up with? How much are you willing to spend? These questions are all things to consider when looking to buy an after-market heat sink for your system. Sure you can go balls out with air cooling and buy the largest and loudest combination of 38mm thick heat pipes, high CFM fans, and a massive copper and aluminum behemoth if all you are worried about is the end result being the coolest temperatures possible. The people at the other end of the spectrum just want a good, solid cooling solution that delivers solid results with a modest cost. Will the SilenX Effizio Extreme meet the requirements of an overclocker or the person that just wants a good solid cooling solution at a modest price?

The Effizio is a tower design heat sink that uses a total of five direct contact heat pipes that carry the load up to the large fin array to be dispersed by the airflow from one of SilenX's low-noise fans. With a modest asking price of under $40, the question is how will the Effizio perform against the competition with price tags that are admittedly substantially higher, but have proven performance track records? The only way to find out is to put it through its paces and come up with a performance profile for it! Let's see if this cooler provides a big bang for buck.

Closer Look:

The packaging of the Effizio Extreme is jade green with a window on the front to show part of the heat sink. The phrases "quietest noise levels", "greatest efficiency", and "superior performance", along with an 18dBA noise rating are all claims made on the packaging that have to be investigated. At the bottom, SilenX goes on to say this heat sink is designed for the enthusiast and gamer. The back of the package shows the silhouette of a fan, as well as the systems this cooler is compatible with - pretty much every current AMD and Intel socket from AM2 to AM3 and Socket 775,1156 and 1366. The right side talks about the five direct contact heat pipes, the fan's optimized air to noise ratio, and the all-in-one back plate. The left side carries the specifications table and compatibility listing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Popping the box open, you'll find a box of accessories and then the plastic clam shell that holds the heat sink and fan. All of this showed absolutely no damage, so the method is viable for shipping and protecting the heat sink and components.

 

 

The accessory bundle contains all the mounting hardware you will need to install the Effizio on any of the currently supported sockets from AMD and Intel. In addition to the mounting hardware, you get a thorough instruction manual, a fan speed controller, a tube of SilenX's own thermal interface material, back plate, and the rubber fan mounts. The back plate can be used with all the supported sockets for both AMD and Intel. The fan controller will help bring the speed of the 2000 RPM FDB fan down to a cool 800 RPM for dead silent operating characteristics.

 

 

 

SilenX also threw in a SilenX IXTREMA 120mm silent fan. This fan is engineered to "push more air per revolution at lower noise levels than any other fan on the market". Operating specifications include the use of a fluid dynamic bearing, 800RPM rotational speed, a mere 9 dBA noise level, and 38 CFM worth of airflow. SilenX uses a patent pending blade design, a smaller motor hub, and forward swept blades to reach these levels of both noise and airflow.

 

 

 

Let's dig into what makes the SilenX Effizio Extreme tick.

Closer Look:

The SilenX Effizio is a tower style heat sink that uses five heat pipes to remove the thermal load from the CPU and transfer it to the large aluminum fin array. This set of heat pipes is arranged in a V shape in the fin array to allow the most surface area to contact the aluminum fins while still presenting a large part of the heatpipe surface to the airflow from the attached fan. The shape of the Effizio is most visible from the top view and resembles a "Tribal" design that sets it apart from the vast majority of tower style heat sinks. This visual cue is more attractive than just a rectangular set of fins. Under the fin array and on top of the aluminum base is an additional heat sink that makes use of the airflow that flows under the Effizio. The base of the Effizio is dominated by the five heat pipes running through the base and uses a direct contact design to provide a more direct path for the thermal load to reach the heat pipes and fin array. This heat sink from SilenX measures 105x131x153mm, so it is not among the smaller heat sinks out there. With size comes weight - the Effizio tips the scales at 863 grams, in part, due to the copper heat pipes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At first glance, the base of the Effizio looks relatively smooth in relation to many of the direct contact style heat sinks I have looked at previously. When you take a closer look, it suffers from the same malady as most of this design in that the aluminum base and copper heat pipes are of slightly differing heights, with a gap between the copper and aluminum. This causes the application of the TIM to not spread out and cover the CPU once the heat sink is tightened down securely. The differing heights of the aluminum and copper create channels that the thermal interface material feeds into and results in a less than adequate application. This means using a thicker, less efficient layer of TIM to get the correct coverage. The contact patch I ended up with is indicative of this problem and you can see how the TIM spread along the channels between the aluminum base and copper heat pipes.

 

 

 

The fan mounting system used by SilenX should be familiar to anyone who has purchased a high end silent fan recently. SilenX employs a rubber isolator / mount to attach the fan(s) to the Effizio. These rubber isolators slide into grooves on the face of the heat sink instead of using clips. This method makes the fan connection silent. In doing this, the fan falls about an eighth of an inch from the face of the heat sink, allowing airflow around the cooler instead of through it. The fan used on this heat sink pushes 102 CFM, so there may be a bit of airflow to spare.

 

 

The surface of the Effizio's fins is covered in a series of dimples that promote air turbulence and allow for more surface area to be impacted by the fan's airflow. With 102 CFM on tap, the Effizio can make good use of this design element.

 

The fan included with the Effizio makes use of a fluid dynamic bearing for years of trouble free service. The fan that comes with this cooler is rated between 800 and 2000 RPM and pushes between 34 and 102 CFM at 8 to 28 dBA - so you can get silence and performance from one fan with the included fan controller. This fan comes with a 3-pin connection so it can be plugged into either the motherboard or into the supplied fan controller to modulate the speed of the fan. The wiring is silver in color for a little flash inside the chassis.

 

 

 

The installation process for the SilenX Effizio is much like that of any other bolt-in heat sink - attach the screws to the baseplate, push the screws up through the motherboard, flip the board over, and attach the heat sink using the included spring-loaded screws. The mounting hardware on this heat sink from SilenX does provide for a positive stop so you do not over tighten one side or the other creating a less than optimal mount. When installed, the Effizio does clear the memory and all the motherboard's heat sinks without any trouble. Once in the chassis, there was plenty of room to expand the performance by adding a second fan. Of course, your case may be different - if you have a smaller chassis, then measure carefully if you plan on installing a second fan.

 

 

 

The direct contact heat pipe heat sinks have been a proven commodity. Let's see if this example from SilenX can deliver performance or if it is just another middle-of-the-road heat sink.

Specifications:

SKU
EFZ-120HA4
Rated dBA
8-28
Dimensions
105x131x153mm
Base material
Copper Heat Pipes, Aluminum Plates
Fin material
Aluminum Fins
Weight
836g
RPM
800-2000
CFM
34-102
Current draw
<0.36A
Power consumption
<4.32w
Bearings
FDB (fluid dynamic bearings)
CPU compatibility
Socket LGA775, LGA1156, LGA1366, 754, 939, 940, AM2, AM2+, AM3

 

All information courtesy of SilenX @ http://www.silenx.com/ixtremaproheatsinks.asp?sku=efz-120ha4

Testing:

Finding out how the Effizio performs is the object of this exercise, so I will be making a comparison of the CPU temperatures in both an idle and loaded state. Both will be made while the CPU is at the stock voltages and clock speeds, as well as when the CPU is overclocked and over-volted. This will help to show what kind of cooling performance this cooling solution from SilenX has to offer when compared to other socket 1366 compatible high-performance cooling solutions. These cooling systems will be tested head-to-head as they are delivered from the manufacturer. To test the idle temperatures, I will allow the computer to stay in an idle state for 30 minutes and take the idle temperature at this point. For the load testing, I will use Prime95 version 25.11 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 at or around 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 temperatures.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Heat sinks:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testing the SilenX Effizio shows that the heat sink assembly does a decent job of cooling the processor down in both stock and overclocked scenarios. The tower design seems to be the way to go for after-market heat sinks these days with the amount of heat pipes and their size increasing to meet the demands of the enthusiast. The Effizio, with its single fan configuration, delivers results similar to the CoolIT Vantage, the CoolIT ECO, and the Thermaltake FRIO at low speed, while performing better than the Gelid Solutions Tranquillo with temperatures well below what the stock Intel heat sink delivers. When the CPU is overclocked, the Effizio still keeps pace and finishes in the middle of the pack with a performance similar to that of the CoolIT Vantage ALC - all while remaining silent. The fan controller does help reduce the noise signature to a point where the fan is inaudible, but when the fan is quiet to begin with at maximum speed, the case fans or power supply will most likely make more noise. When I pushed the clock speeds higher, the temperatures did rise further, peaking at 79 degrees Celsius when running the processor at 4.0 GHz. While that seems high, it is only eight degrees warmer than the Intel solution delivers under load at 2.66 GHz, so when you look at it in that light, it's not too bad of a trade off.

Conclusion:

While not the top performing heat sink in the performance category, the SilenX Effizio does quite well and certainly offers a decrease on operating temperatures in both stock and overclocked scenarios. When overclocked, it cools a scant 4 °C warmer than the vaunted Thermalright Ultra Extreme and is 5 °C warmer than the Noctua NH-U12P. When compared to the all-in-one liquid cooling solutions, it delivered performance on par with these solutions with a slightly better noise signature. The direct contact heat pipe design helps the Effizio reach these lower temperatures. The surface of a direct contact heat pipe design is usually one of compromise, with gaps between the aluminum base assembly and the heat pipes themselves. The surface, by design, has its positives and negatives with the alternating heights of the heat pipes and aluminum base that can reduce the overall contact patch size. The reduction of material the thermal load needs to be transferred through to get to the heat pipes offsets this problem to keep the thermals in check. A quick lapping of the surface should eliminate the offset heights, but not the gaps between the two materials. These problems are evident when you look at the base of the Effizio, but at least this is far from the worst example of this I have seen. Nevertheless, this one thing could bring the Effizio up to the performance level of some of the top players in the game. To get complete coverage, you will need to use a little more thermal paste or change your application method.

The performance of the Effizio should be able to be increased with the addition of a second fan. The heat sink is designed to have this capability and comes with rubber mounting studs that hook directly into the aluminum fins. The rubber mounting assembly has a distinct advantage over most heat sink fan mounting methods since the fan is completely isolated from the cooling fins, thereby eliminating any noise from the fan vibrating against the fins. The down side to this is that the fan sits roughly an eighth of an inch from the fins of the cooler allowing airflow to go over and under the heat sink fin array. I could reduce temperatures another degree Celsius just by covering this gap - a small improvement, but nonetheless an improvement. While most of this conclusion has centered around a couple of flaws, this cooling solution from SilenX does a great job when you get down to it, offering a solid 21 °C cooling improvement over the stock Intel cooling solution while keeping up with some stout company. The addition of the fan controller allows you to take the already silent fluid dynamic bearing equipped fan and drop the speed down to the dead silent range to keep the noise signature as low as possible. When it comes to looks, the Effizio looks like most of the other tower style heat pipe coolers on the market when you look at it from a front or side view. However, when you look at the top, as you will be when you look into the side of your chassis through the window (You do have a case window, right?), the heat sink has an almost tribal design that I find appealing.

When you put it all together, SilenX has put together a cooling solution in the Effizio that can tame the Core i7 processor for a more than modest price point. You also get socket compatibility with all the latest sockets from AMD and Intel, so there are no additional parts to buy. In addition, it runs silent and delivers excellent cooling providing a solid upgrade path from the stock Intel or AMD cooling solution, all for just shy of 40 bucks - a significant cost savings over some of the currently available heat sinks, making this cooler a great value for the performance it delivers.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: