ThermoLab BADA Review
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959
Reviewed on: September 28, 2009
Heat sinks on the market target all sorts of users with various features and in different price ranges to fit into markets - low/cheap-end, medium, and the high-end. Each market will also use specific features such as noise production, cooling capacity/performance, build quality and warranty, fancy looks and packaging, price, and size as well as many other features. ThermoLab produces the heat sink reviewed here today, it is dubbed the BADA, which in Korean translates to "the sea". The three heat pipes suggest this to be an entry-level heat sink that should do a lot better than the stock Intel i7 heat sink. The design is similar to the Arctic Cooling Freezer Pro with more spread out heat pipes and decorated fins, and a bolt-in mount rather than pushpins. The overall design should prove to be sturdy and efficient at a midrange level.
The packaging is very plain - black ink on cardboard. The cardboard box folds shut with no tape to hold the flap closed. The sides are fairly strong and shout protect the heat sink nicely during shipping; this one had no damage at all. The top says ThermoLab Effective Thermal Management Solution, CPU Cooler BADA. Flipping it over shows the translation for BADA; in Korean it means "the sea". Underneath the box boldly states that this heat sink was produced in Korea. The cardboard box is very strong and protects the contents well though lacks the graphical content that many plastic containers would have.
The first side shows the socket support - Intel 775/1366, and AMD AM2/AM2+/AM3. The dimensions are 95x115x135 (LxWxH)mm and also states that it comes with a fan. Opening the box users will find the manual sitting neatly on top of cardboard forms.
Removing the first cardboard form, the heat sink is encased by another folded form and protected from dust and dirt by a sealed plastic bag. The manual reads very cleanly with good grammar and instructions on how to set the BADA up on all the supported sockets. The photo suggests an X application of thermal paste.
Further underneath the heat sink is a zip lock bag with the thermal paste and mounting kit. There are spares for each type of screw and the nuts, four brackets and back plate, and backing material. Four small plastic washers were missing from this kit but not really needed either.
With it unpacked it's time to look at the heat sink.
With the heat sink removed from the packaging we find it well protected by a sealed plastic bag. Tearing it off shows that the BADA sits well above the motherboard, its overall foot print shouldn't interfere with nearby components on the motherboard but if the size does come within range, the height may be able to bring it over the components which pose a problem. With the MSI Platinum X58 board the BADA heat sink had no problem with spacing or clearance. The fan covers most of the fins and the dead space behind the hub of the fan isn't very big so performance shouldn't take too big of a hit. The fan is held in place by rubber mounts that are attached through slits in the top and bottom smaller fins, and they help to absorb some of the vibration from the fan. The three copper heat pipes have direct contact with the CPU IHS and should theoretically boost the cooling performance greatly. The fan is a Protechnic Electric Co. Ltd 12V 0.14A fan - the specifications aren't available as their website is down, but with such low amperage this fan wont be too loud. The fin width is staggered with the wider fins along the wider part of the fan and the smaller at the top and bottom where the fan is also smaller. The cable is not sleeved but is twisted to help keep the four wires somewhat organized and bundled together.
The side view gives a good glimpse of how the heat pipes are spread out - the angle and spread allow the heat passed through the pipes to dissipate better through the fins. The back view shows clearly that the heat pipes aren't staggered like they are in the BARAM cooler from the same company ThermoLabs. The base is pretty thick aluminum - it helps transfer heat from the IHS that the copper heat pipes do not cover as well as serve to attach the mounting arms that allow the heat sink to be mounted to a motherboard.
The top view of the heat sink shows an interesting design that at first look reminded me of a Sauropodomorpha dinosaur (think of a Brachiosaurus). The design wraps around the outer heat pipes that protrude through the last fins. ThermoLab BADA is stamped in the center; the last fin holds the rubber fan mounts in the clipped fins from sliding out. The bottom shows a similar fin as the top one and also serves to keep the fan mounts in place. The base of the heat sink is lapped and straight, a notch on the top and bottom of the base grip the mounting arms that are then bolted to the base through the threaded holes.
An angled shot shows the petite 92mm fan sitting well against the heat sink. The fan has four wires for PWM function and they are twisted together to keep them bundled together. The fan impeller has a large ThermoLab sticker attached with the same information as the cardboard box that contained the heat sink.
The fan is produced by Protechnic Electric and is made in China. The website is not currently online and so information about this fan is hard to come by. The fan is a 92mm fan with 80mm fan holes and is 25mm deep. The rubber fan mounts sit inside slits cut into the smaller fins atop and at the bottom of the heat sink.
Space was no issue at all inside the test case; there was plenty of room under and around the heat sink with extra slack from the fan wires.
With the heat sink out and installed it is time to test it!
Intel LGA 775, 1366 CPUs
AMD Socket AM2/AM2+/AM3 CPUs
95 x 115 x 135mm
597g (Heatsink with fan)
4 pin with pwm function
Pure Copper, Aluminum
92 x 92 x 25 (mm)
- 1 year warranty from date of purchase covering all manufacturer and product defects
- Direct heat pipe base for better heat transfer
- Quiet operation fan for a decent experience
- Thermal paste included for immediate installation
- Rubber grommets to absorb fan vibration
- Adjustable heat sink mounts for both Intel and AMD systems
Testing the ThermoLab BADA begins with installation. Once the mounting bracket and arms were installed, I added thermal paste to the heat pipe gaps and then some to the CPU IHS. The heat sink was then plugged in and bolted to the motherboard. Testing occurs in two phases – idle and load, and at two speeds – stock (2.66GHz) and overclocked (3.33GHz) CPU speeds. Each run is tested for thirty minutes apiece and the temperatures are then averaged out and reported in the graphs below for comparison against other heat sinks.
- Processor: Intel i7 920
- Motherboard: MSI X58 Platinum
- Memory: Mushkin HP3 12800 3x2GB DDR3
- Video Card: nVidia GTX260 216sp
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800 watt Modular power supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Western Digital Green 1TB SATA
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit SP1
Comparison Heat sinks:
- ThermoLab BADA
- AMA Orc
- ZEROTherm Core 92
- Evercool Transformer 4
- Titan Fenrir TTC-NK85TZ(RB)
- Stock Intel i7 Heatsink
- Gelid Silent Spirit
- Noctua NH-U12P SE 1366
At stock CPU speeds, the BADA performed very well at load and average at idle. The results are similar for the overclocked CPU testing with the BADA coming within 1 degree of the best performing heat sink – the Fenrir.
The ThermoLab BADA heat sink was packed sturdily and was one of the top performers in testing, beating out similar-sized and even some of the larger heat sinks. The manual was very readable with no discernable typos or major grammar problems as can be found on other heat sinks and products that are produced overseas. The fins were straight as was the base. The base had some minor scuffing that could easily be fixed with some lapping. For only having three heat pipes this heat sink performed far better than others with even twice the amount – proving that the number of heat pipes does not always make the difference, but that design quality does. The accessory kit comes complete with virtually everything needed to install this heat sink, including a large syringe of thermal paste.
The only major cons against this heat sink are the scuffed base and plain exterior packaging. The sturdy cardboard box provides great protection but limited eye-catching design possibilities. This product is all about the heat sink.
The BADA heat sink performed greatly by stealing the 92mm performance crown in the group of heat sinks tested. It even chased after the Titan Fenrir and Noctua heat sinks. Packaging is hardly important at all as it would seem the heat sink performance and protection received most of the attention, so the plain box is a minor point, as packages serve only to draw in potential buyers.
- Sturdy packaging
- Quiet fan
- Compact and strong design
- full accessory kit for installation
- Strong performance
- Base isn't smooth
- Plain box package