Xigmatek Dark Knight SD1283 and Loki SD963 Review

airman - 2012-08-08 05:51:05 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: September 10, 2012
Price: $49.99 and $19.99

Introduction:

This past February I had the opportunity to review my first cooler from Xigmatek — the Prime SD1484. This heatsink was your typical direct contact heatpipe tower-style cooler. It performed well in its class and shared good results for comparison. Today I will be taking a look of a pair of new coolers from Xigmatek — the Dark Knight SD1283 and the Loki SD963 heatsinks. The Dark Knight SD1283 Night Hawk Edition is as its name applies; it is ceramic, coated in black, and advertised to have a lower heat signature, explained by its coating's superior heat dissipation properties. The Loki SD963 is a more wallet-friendly cooler that offers direct-touch heatpipes, easy installation, and efficient performance. These coolers can be purchased for $50 and $20 respectively, so it's clear that these coolers are in different categories. At only $20, the Loki could crush the dollar/performance ratios of many $35-40 coolers if it can keep up. I'm excited to see how these do, so let's get started.

 

Closer Look:

These two coolers are packaged similarly. Both are in small cardboard boxes with a hanger flap on the top. The Dark Knight SD1283's box shows us a glimpse of the semi-transparent dark fan through the window. Each box has many pictures and explains features that each cooler offers. The back of each box contains a conclusive list of each cooler's specifications, including information such as the cooler's dimensions, weights, fan speed, etc. These will be shared on the Specifications & Features page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both boxes open the same way and expose the top of the cooler and some accessories. There are two pieces of Styrofoam just at the short sides of the Dark Knight SD1283 and plastic/Styrofoam-free with the Loki SD963. Included with the Dark Knight SD1283 is a set of rubber fan clips, mounting hardware, universal backplate, user's manual, and warranty information. The Loki SD963's accessory list is nearly identical, except there is not a universal backplate and comes with a separate plate for AMD and Intel CPUs.

 

 

 

The coolers themselves are far different in looks, price range, and expected performance. However, I'm still interested in how both of the coolers do!

 

 

Now that both coolers are out of their boxes and ready to go, let's take an up-close look of each cooler and their features.

Closer Look:

Each cooler is very similar in size and shape; however, they are much different in physical appearance. The Dark Knight SD1283 Night Hawk Edition is pitch black all around and the Loki SD963 is silver and copper colored. Both use three direct contact heatpipes, although the Dark Knight has three 8mm heatpipes and the Loki has only three 6mm heatpipes. The Dark Knight SD1283 is robust in appearance; the Loki SD963 has the OEM look without any coatings or color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each cooler is similar in construction and may even share lanes on the production floor. Each of the three heatpipes are bent into a U-shape that extend through the fins and end just above the final fin for a total of six caps. Three channels are part of the aluminum base in which the heatpipes are pressed and the base further shaved into a flat surface.

 

 

 

The base of each cooler uses a direct-contact heatpipe style. With this type of coolers we want to make sure the base is flat overall and has minimal gaps between the heatpipe and base materials. These style bases are generally not polished, so I don't really grade them on reflectiveness/shininess.

 

 

 

The fan of the Dark Knight SD1283 is a 120mm fan while the fan belonging to the Loki SD963 is 92mm. This is the first time I've seen a 92mm fan in a while! The Dark Knight's fan runs on 12V and operates between 1000~2200 RPM at 89.45 CFM with a maximum noise level of 30.1 dBA. The Loki SD963 uses a 12V that operates between 1200~2800 RPM, moves 52 CFM and generates only 20~28 dBA. Both fans use a 4-pin PWM connection.

 

 

The installation of these coolers is rather simple. The Dark Knight SD1283 uses a universal backplate that is fastened to the motherboard. Standoffs hold the backplate in place and support bars are fastened to these standoffs. Finally, the heatsink is moved into position and a cross brace sits on the back of the heatsink's base and is attached to the posts coming off of the support bars. The installation of the Loki SD963 is a little bit different, where screws and nuts are used to hold the backplate in place. Two "legs" are attached to the base and these legs are attached to the screws holding the backplate in place.

 

 

Now the coolers have been fully explored and are ready to get loaded up in the test bed. First, we'll check out each cooler's specifications and features.

Specifications:

Dark Knight SD1283:

Base Material
H.D.T (Heat-pipe Direct Touch)
Fin Material
Aluminum Alloy
Surface Material
Ceramic Surface Coating
Heatpipe
3 x 8mm
Fan Dimension
120(W) x 120(H) x 25(D) mm
Fan Voltage Rating
12 V
Fan Start Voltage
> 7V
Fan Speed
1000~2200 RPM
Fan Bearing Type
Long Life Bearing
Fan Air Flow
89.45 CFM (MAX.)
Fan Air Pressure
4.1 mmH2O (MAX.)
Fan Life Expectance
50,000 hrs
Fan Noise Level
30.1 dBA (MAX.)
Fan LED Color
White
Dimensions
120(W) x 50(D) x 159(H) mm
Thermal Resistance
0.14°C/W
Weight
406g (Heat Sink only)
Application
All Intel Socket 775/1155/1156/1366/2011
All AMD Socket AM2/AM2+/AM3/FM1

 

Loki SD963:

Base Material
H.D.T (Heat-pipe Direct Touch)
Fin Material
Aluminum Alloy
Heatpipe
3 x 6mm
Fan Dimension
92(W) x 92(H) x 25(D) mm
Fan Voltage Rating
12 V
Fan Start Voltage
> 7V
Fan Speed
1000~2800 RPM
Fan Bearing Type
HYDRO Bearing
Fan Air Flow
52 CFM
Fan Air Pressure
3.7 mmH2O
Fan Life Expectance
40,000 hrs
Fan Noise Level
20~28 dBA
Dimensions
92(W) x 50(D) x 134(H) mm
Thermal Resistance
0.18°C/W
Weight
430g (w/ fan)
Application
All Intel Socket 775/1156/1366
All AMD Socket K8/AM2/AM2+/AM3

 

Features:

Dark Knight SD1283:

 

Loki SD963:

 

Information provided courtesy of Xigmatek @ http://www.xigmatek.com

Testing:

Testing of these heatsinks will involve applying a load simulated by Prime95, using small FFTs in stock and overclocked scenarios, where both 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 recorded value by RealTemp with no computer usage during a period of one hour. The temperature values for each of the four cores will be averaged and displayed in the graphs below. The ambient temperature is held at a constant 23°C throughout testing of these two Xigmatek coolers as well as the comparison units. All the data shown in the graphs below is in degrees Celsius. The included thermal paste from Xigmatek will be used during testing and thermal pastes from other heatsinks provided by their respective manufacturers will be used. The fan(s) on each cooler will be run at full speed for these tests.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Heatsinks:

 

 

 

 

 

With these coolers tested, it's easy to say that these coolers performed exactly as I expected them to do. The Loki SD963 fell off a little bit in the overclocked load testing — but due to its small mass, I expected this to happen.

Conclusion:

With these two coolers tested, I can tack up another tally on the "performed as expected" in my records. At a $50 price tag, the Xigmatek Dark Knight SD1283 hangs onto the performance bracket of mid-range coolers. The Loki SD963 is a little more difficult to put it in a bracket since it only costs $20, but nevertheless it performs better than stock cooling and should work in a pinch. The SD963 would also be a great choice for someone who wanted a little better than stock and who may even want to overclock a little bit. Both coolers give me a good vibe on the price to performance ratio, so in my opinion they're both a good buy. The gaps between the heatpipes in both coolers are expected for their price range. The surface finish is also acceptable on both and I can't complain. As for the fans, I am satisfied by the noise produced by each as well as the cooling capability (CFM). I will say that I don't like the utilization of rubber fan clips because of how difficult they can be to snap in and out of the fan — I like wire fan clips much better. I do wish that the Loki SD963 used the same mounting components as the Dark Knight SD1283, as I like the 2-point mounting method far more than the 4-corner method.

Overall, I like both of these coolers and I really like that Xigmatek has introduced an ultra-budget cooler to the market. The Xigmatek Loki SD963 can be purchased for $20 or less and will perform well enough for the average power user and gamer, even if there's a little bit of overclocking. Looking up to the Xigmatek Dark Knight SD1283 I see similar performance to slightly higher-end coolers (up to $65) all while using only a single fan. I think anyone who's looking for a $20 or a $50 cooler would do well with the Loki SD963 or the Dark Knight SD1283 respectively. Take an extra fan you have laying around and wire it up on the other side of the heatsink and you've just gained yourself a couple of extra degrees of performance! To conclude, I like both of the coolers and they perform well. With an extra fan you'd have even better performance, too!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: