Thermaltake Contac 29 Reviewairman - May 26, 2010
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As I stated earlier, the Thermaltake Contac 29 uses three 8mm copper heatpipes folded in a U shape with the direct contact portion at the bottom. The cooler without the fan is relatively thin, but almost as tall as many of the larger units found on the market today. At 159.5mm from the base to the top, it is close to the maximum height possible for a mid tower case. It is 120mm wide and 75mm deep with the included fan, and 100mm deep if an additional 25mm thick fan is added. The Contac 29 possesses over 50 aluminum fins pressed onto its large heatpipes. It weighs 558 grams, which is relatively light for a lot of heatsinks now. Lighter heatsinks create less stress on the motherboard and it is comforting to see small numbers in the weight category.
The one issue I see continually with direct contact coolers is the base. Unless the base itself is literally poured and formed around the heatpipes during assembly, there are going to be small gaps between the heatpipes and the base. I haven't seen these gaps cause a massive loss of cooling ability, however, in my head I know that these small gaps resist heat transfer just as easily as the microscopic ones created in the machining process. This is one of the main reasons for using thermal paste. The gaps in the Contac 29 are acceptably small, but I have yet to see a company completely eliminate them in a direct contact cooler. As far as the base's quality goes, it's relatively smooth and doesn't have highly visible machining marks, but it is not polished to a very reflective finish like can be found in a lot of coolers these days. The left picture is to show reflectivity, and the right picture shows the small gaps on the base. With the fan removed, it can be seen how thin this cooler is, which helps it remain relatively light.
The included fan has a 4-pin PWM header that plugs directly into the motherboard. If the user wishes to add another fan, it would run off of it's own 3-pin motherboard header or 4-pin Molex plug, unless the user wishes to splice the power into the single plug from the included fan. The fan runs off of 12V and pulls a max of 0.19A. It operates at a between 800 and 2000 RPM and moves between 30 to 80CFM at no more than 33dBA. At 33dBA, the noise level is tolerable and by no means a nuisance.
As stated, the heatsink has three 8mm heatpipes folded into a U shape with the fans press fit onto them. The heatpipes themselves protrude only about 3/8th of an inch past the top fin, which has the Thermaltake logo formed into it. I noticed that one end of the heatpipe is not like the other. One end is rounded, and the other one looks like it is crimped shut. Thermaltake decided to alternate which end is on which side, which is why they seemed to be arranged this way.
The four push clips included with the heatsink are attached to the base using the provided screws on Intel setups. The holes on the push clip brackets are labeled 775 and 1336/1156. I was able to figure this out by looking at it and not having to read the instructions, but the instructions for this part are relatively clear. Although the Contac 29 uses push clips just like the stock heatsink, I found installation to be somewhat difficult with the motherboard inside of the case, especially with a fan attached. The fan itself sits directly over one side of the push clips, making them nearly impossible to get to. They also required a lot of pressure for the last two clips since the heatsink sits very tightly on the CPU causing the opposite side to "lift up" once the other was attached. I did try attaching them diagonally instead of one side at a time, but it seemed to be just as difficult. An implementation of a spring mechanism on each clip would have made installation a little more simple. In order to get enough pressure onto the clips and to turn them, I used a flathead screwdriver to push them down and lock them into place.
Since I had to remove the fan in order to get the cooler attached, I now had to replace the fan back onto the cooler. I found this a little difficult as well, since I was unable to see what was going on with the rubber fan mounts on the bottom of the heatsink. It took a few tries to get them hooked on the bottom first, then it was no problem to get them hooked on the top.
As a side-note, users with very tall memory may have issues with using this cooler. The testbed for this review uses the new Mushkin Ridgeline set, which has tall heatsinks attached and there is about an eighth of an inch of memory past the bottom of the fan. However, This can be avoided by moving the fan to the other side of the heatsink, but it would make the user unable to use a dual fan configuration. With this motherboard, the height of the ram is not an issue. However, if the memory is closer to the processor socket, there would be a clearance issue. On another topic, the thermal paste seems of decent quality and isn't so dry that you can't spread it over the processor by hand like I and many others prefer to do. I have dealt with some thermal pastes that have been so dry that it feels like it would turn to dust upon spreading it out.
With a good once-over of the Contac 29, I am happy with the way it looks and its construction. Although the installation was a little difficult, it didn't cause a headache.