Thermaltake Contac 29 Review

airman - 2010-05-11 04:21:42 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: May 26, 2010
Price: $29.99

Introduction

A staple in the overclocking world, as we all know, is the way a processor is kept cool. There are so many choices as to what brand, type, size, and method available to users to accomplish this task. Of course, the most common is air cooling. Many denominations of air cooling are also available such as construction material, size, with or without heatpipes, and, of course, price. As more manufacturers develop different features and additions to their product lines, consumers may find it difficult to make a decision on what will work best for them. Hopefully, with the reviews available on OverclockersClub, we can make it easier.

A very popular brand in the computer accessory industry is Thermaltake. Thermaltake offers products such as power supplies, cases, fans, and heatsinks. Their newest Contac 29 will be tested in this review. The Contac 29 is compatible with Intel 775, 1156, and 1366 as well as AMD AM2, AM2+, and AM3 platforms. This cooler utilizes three 8mm heatpipes with direct contact. Direct contact coolers are those that have a part of the surface of the heatpipes in direct contact with the CPU. These can usually perform better as the heat does not have to transfer through any other medium to take advantage of the heatpipes. This review will consist of overall observations of the cooler, as well as test results when paired with some of the latest hardware.

 

Closer Look

The Thermaltake Contac 29 is packaged in a white box.  The box is finished with high quality graphics and a large list of specifications and features. The heatsink is packaged with one 120mm fan set up in a push configuration with the ability to add a second fan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening the package will expose a plain white cardboard box with two holes in the top used to pull out the inner box. The heatsink itself is protected inside of this inner box that is kind of "folded" around it with a sheet of quarter inch protective foam covering the exposed side. After removing the foam sheet, the walls of the inner box can be folded back to release the heatsink. Inside of the inner box is the mounting hardware. The hardware includes four pushclips just like the ones on the stock heatsinks, four screws to hold the clips to the heatsink, a small tube of Thermaltake thermal paste, and four extra rubber holders if the user chooses to add an additional fan.

 

 

So far, this heatsink looks pretty reasonable for a $30 bite out of the wallet. On the next page, I will take a closer look at the heatsink itself and share my evaluations.

Closer Look:

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.

Specifications

Model
CLP0568
Compatibility
Intel Socket
LGA 1366
Core i7
LGA 1156
Core i7
Core i5
Core i3
LGA 775
Core 2 Extreme
Core 2 Quad
Core 2 Duo
Pentium D
Pentium 4
Pentium
Celeron D
Celeron
 
AMD Socket
AM3
Phenom II X4
Phenom II X3
Phenom II X2
AM2+ / AM2
Phenom X4
Phenom X3
Athlon 64 FX
Athlon 64 X2
Athlon 64
Sempron
Dimension
120(L) x 50(W) x 159.5(H) mm
Heatsink Material
Aluminum Fins, Aluminum Base
Heatpipe
8mm x 3 PCS Copper Heatpipes
Fan Dimension
120(L) x 120(H) x 25(W) mm
Rated Voltage
12 V
Rated Current
0.04 A (0.19 A max)
Started Voltage
6 V
Power Input
4 W
Fan Speed
800 ~ 2000 RPM
Max. Air Flow
72 CFM
Max. Air Pressure
4.2 mmH2O
Noise
15 ~ 33 dBA
Life Expectation
30,000 hrs
Connector
4 Pin
Weight
558 g

 

Features

Information courtesy of ThermaltakeUSA @ http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?C=1405&ID=1906

Testing of the heatsink will involve a load simulated by Prime95 using small FFTs in stock and overclocked scenarios. 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 value recorded by RealTemp with no computer usage after one hour. The temperature values for each of the four cores will be averaged. The ambient temperature is held at a constant 25° C throughout testing of the Contac 29, as well as the comparison heatsinks. All the data shown in the graphs is in Celsius. The included thermal paste from Thermaltake will be used during testing, and thermal pastes as packaged from the other coolers were used with each heatsink respectively.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Heatsinks:

 

 

 

 

 

For such a light and thin cooler, the Contac 29 performed quite well! It held up better than I expected, especially for a price of only $30 at most any computer retailer. However, being of small size, it begins to fall off with the extra heat of the loaded overclocked processor. Either way, for the price, I am pleased with the Contac 29's performance for sure. I'll wrap up the review on the next page with my conclusions.

Conclusion

As I said on the previous page, I am definitely satisfied with the Thermaltake Contac 29. It is lightweight, affordable, and quiet; yet it extends very similar performance to coolers that cost nearly twice. However, since the cooler is small, its performance can fall apart in extreme situations, such as a fully loaded, overclocked i7. While temperatures remained acceptable through every test, the jump between idle and load in the overclocked situation was noticeably larger than the difference in the stock testing.

As far as installation went, I did find problems getting the push clips attached under the fan because of clearance issues. It would be slightly easier with the motherboard out of the case, but the fan is what caused issues. Removing the fan before installation made this part easier, but reattaching the fan after the heatsink was installed in the case was only slightly less difficult. Also, due to the low height, users with large heatsinks on their memory may run into some clearance issues if the memory is close enough to the CPU socket. Using Mushkin Ridgeline memory, which has large heatsinks, I found that the memory extends past the bottom of the fan by about 1/8th of an inch. If a user ran into a clearance problem with their memory, switching the fan to the other side is a solution. While this would work, it still wouldn't allow the user to use a dual fan configuration. Anyways, although this paragraph is a little long winded, it shouldn't apply to most folks. Installing the heatsink during a build before installing the motherboard into the case would be the easiest and probably most common situation, where the difficulty I ran into probably wouldn't have to be dealt with. However, since I ran into this issue, I needed to share it in my review.

Overall, for the price and quietness of this cooler, I am very pleased. I don't know of many if any coolers that are under the $30 mark that come anywhere close to competing with the Contac 29. This cooler is definitely worthy of being noticed.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: