Thermaltake ISGC-300 CPU Cooler Review
Reviewed by: ajmatson
Reviewed on: May 17, 2009
With so many different processors, all having their own thermal limits, finding a heatsink that will keep your precious part cool and still have the ability to push it beyond the limits can be tedious and overwhelming. You need a cooler that does its job well, and can be versatile should you change your setup down the road. One company that has been in the cooling industry for some time and has pushed out excellent products is Thermaltake. Thermaltake has produced many coolers for quite a few years. Now, with new engineering concepts, they bring you the Thermaltake ISGC series coolers. ISGC stands for Inspiration of Silent Gaming Cooling, which basically means better cooling products with less noise output. Today we are going to be taking a look at the ISGC-300 cooler, so sit back and enjoy.
The Thermaltake ISGC-300 comes in a sleek black box with a picture of the cooler, as well as "Zoe," one of Thermaltake's mascots. The front of the box also tells what ISGC stands for and has some of its features listed. The back of the packaging has some more product photos, and also points out some of the more specific features. On the side of the box there is a list of its specifications and features, and also gives you a list of the Sockets the Thermaltake ISGC-300 is compatible with - including Socket 775, AM2+, and the newer AM3 and i7 Socket 1336 setups.
When you slide out the inner packaging, you get a first look at the new ISGC fan design. This design allows for improved airflow and reduced noise for better cooling. Included with the cooler are the instructions, a Thermaltake case badge, and the hardware to mount the cooler to all current Sockets, including AM2, AM2+, AM3, LGA 775, and LGA 1336. There is also a back plate included for the AMD sockets to help offload the stress of the board around the socket.
Now that the cooler is out, let's take a better look at the design.
Like I mentioned, the cooler uses the new ISGC fan, which claims to have a 15% increase in airflow while reducing total noise by 3%. The unique design of the blades reduces turbulence and air friction, which cuts down on noise emitted. The fan also uses Hydro Dynamic Bearings which help reduce noise, and extends the life of the fan to 50,000 hours. The cooler itself is made up of 33 aluminum fins in a sawtooth design to keep the airflow smooth, and four copper heatpipes attached to a copper base designed to create the best way to transfer heat from the CPU.
The fan is Thermaltake's ISGC 12 fan, which has a model number of TTB122512LS. It is rated to push a maximum 58.3 CFM of air, all at a noise level of 16 dBA. The fan measures 120x25mm, and is rated at 12v for operation. Attached to the power lead is a fan speed adjuster which allows you to increase or decrease the fan speed to keep it quieter, or increase air flow. If you look at the blades of the fan, they tend to look like flower petals, which is where Thermaltake got their design idea for the fan.
One issue I did have with the cooler, while mounting it on an AM3 Socket, is a conflict with tall memory. The way the cooler mounts the fan can only be set in an up or down position. Because of this, the edge of the cooler interferes with tall RAM, such as Corsair XMS3 DHX when mounted in the first two slots. Since most AMD motherboards recommend RAM be populated in these slots, this presents an issue to those with memory and large heatsinks such as the Corsair Dominator, OCZ Reaper, and other sets using extended heatspreaders. When a set with lower heatspreaders was placed on the board, there were no more issues. Finally, we have a shot of the cooler installed on the board.
Now that it is installed, we can plug everything in and get to the testing.
Intel Socket LGA 1366
Intel Socket LGA 775
Core 2 Extreme
Core 2 Quad
Core 2 Duo
AMD Socket AM3 /AM2 / AM2+
Phenom II x4
Phenom II x3
Athlon 64 FX
Athlon 64 X2
126(L) x 71(W) x 161(H) mm
Aluminum Fins Al Cover + Cu Base
Ø 6 mm x 4PCS
Ø 120 x 25 mm
|Fan Speed||800 ~ 1300 RPM|
|Max Air Flow||
|Max Air Preassure||
- ISGC Fan Technology
The pure white 120mm VRFanTM which is designed by the Thermaltake to pursuit noiseless environment. Therefore Thermaltake design to reduce the turbulence and the friction between air and fan
- Hydro Dynamic Bearing (HDB) Technology
Improved fan operation stability and noise production for extended overall product durability
- The Ultimate Copper+ Base Architecture x Four Heatpipes
Mirror Copper Base deliver 100% touch between CPU and Cooler. Meanwhile, Four Cooper Heatpipes create the best heat transferring.
- Individual 33 Sawtooth Tower Fins
Thermaltake designs Tower Sawtooth onto the fins. With these sawtooth indentations, the cold air intake becomes smoother. The maximum cooling performance and noise is controlled thus can be optimized through 33 Sawtooth Tower Fins
All information courtesy of Thermaltake @ http://www.thermaltake.com/product_info.aspx?PARENT_CID=C_00001389&id=C_00001390&cid=C_00000010&name=ISGC-300&ov=n&ovid=
The tests for the Thermaltake ISGC-300 are twofold. First, I will test the temperatures while at stock, and the second set will be overclocked to 3.8GHz (205x18.5) at 1.5 volts. During testing, the computer will be left to sit idle for 30 minutes and the temperature will be recorded. Then I will run Prime95 for 30 minutes and again take the temperature. To monitor the temperature, I will be using AMD Overdrive's system monitor, as well as CoreTemp .99 to make sure the readings are accurate. All testing will be done in a Thermaltake V9 gaming case to show a real-world environment for users, not an open system. The ambient room temperature will be kept at 24 degrees C, to ensure correct readings throughout the testing.
- Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 955
- Motherboard: ASUS M4A79T Deluxe
- Memory: Mushkin HP3-12800 2x2GB 9-9-9-24
- Video Card : NVIDIA GTX 260 (216)
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800w Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 7200.11 750GB SATA w/32MB Cache
- Optical Drive: LG 8x DVD+/-RW
- Case: Thermaltake V9 Gaming Case
- Thermal Paste: Arctic Silver 5
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
- Ambient Temp: 24 Degrees C (75F)
- Stock AMD Heatsink
- Titan Cool Idol
- CoolIT Domino A.L.C. (on medium speed)
While on the lower fan setting, the Thermaltake ISGC-300 was a little hotter than the Titan Cool Idol. However, when the fan speed was at maximum, the ISGC-300 did pull ahead ever so slightly. In the game of temperatures, every fraction of a degree counts, so the littlest edge can make all of the difference. Compared to the stock AMD cooler, there was no challenge. As a note, because of thermal limits, the stock cooler was not able to complete the overclocked temperatures, which caused system failure within minutes as the temperature rose too high.
Overall this is a very nice CPU cooler. When the fan was set to the lowest speed, it was nearly silent; in fact, I had to keep checking to make sure it was running. When pushed up to the highest speed, the cooler was still very quiet. My case fans were louder than the ISGC fan. Temperature-wise, the ISGC-300 did very well. With the fan speed maxed out, the cooler matched or beat the Titan Cool Idol in all but one temperature check - and even that was very close. When compared to the stock cooler, you can see big differences - especially when overclocked to 3.8GHz, where the stock cooler kept blue screening and restarting the system. When installed on an AMD board, installation is actually quite simple. It only took me four screws and less than 60 seconds to install the cooler; where on some, like the Cool Idol, it takes me about 10 minutes to get that thing installed.
My only qualm with the ISGX-300 is that when installed, it interferes with tall memory sets, such as Corsair with the DHX heatspreaders. So, if you have that memory, you are out of luck because the cooler cannot be mounted in a front to rear facing way - only in a top to bottom facing way. If the cooler could have been mounted with the longest sides up and down, and the fan to the rear, then tall memory could fit and there would be no problem. It would have been nice to have a second set of fan retention wires included, in case the user wanted to purchase a second ISGC 12 fan and mount it on the other side of the cooler for maximum cooling. If you are looking for a great performing cooler that is nearly silent, then the ISGC-300 will make your day.
- Great cooling and airflow
- Very quiet even on high setting
- easy to install on AMD boards
- Uses new ISGC fan
- Interferes with tall memory
- Cannot mount front to back