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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reviews - EVERCOOL HPK-1002EA

Reviews - EVERCOOL HPK-1002EA

Introduction




Features:

  • Four 6 mm thick heatpipes, and heatpipe-direct touch (HDT) for high cooling efficiency
  • Supports Intel Core i7 LGA1366 and LGA775 Processors
  • 100 mm high air-flow, ultra-quiet fan
Compatibility:
  • Intel LGA1366, LGA775
Specifications:

Dimensions: 118 (W) x 110 (D) x 67 (H) mm
Heatsink Material: Aluminium Alloy Fins and Copper Heat pipes
Heatpipe: 4x 6 mm, Copper with no plating
Fan Dimension: 100 mm
Fan Speed: 1800±15% RPM
Maximum Air Flow: NA
Connector: 3-pin, voltage-based
Fan controller: Motherboard PWM based
Weight: 320 g

Package and Contents




Evercool HPK-10025EA comes in a plastic tray that can be stacked and hung in racks, thanks to the compact and light-weight nature of the cooler it's carrying. Thankfully, the two halves aren't sealed by melting the plastic, rather, they're locked in place using four circle-square locks, that makes the package resusable. Had it been a molten-seal, you'll find yourself angrily hacking away with scissors or blades. This packaging also gives a good view of the top-portion of the cooler, which is dominated with the custom-designed 100 mm fan, a small portion revealing the four heat pipes, and the jagged edges of the aluminum fins.

The front half doesn't display much product information other than company and product logos, supported CPU types, and certifications. The top line abstractly reads "Core i7 and P4 LGA775", but we would like to remind you that this particular cooler supports LGA1366 Core i7 processors and LGA775 processors. It should support most LGA775 chips apart from Pentium 4, including Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad, as TDP of those chips generally aren't rated above 95W. The rear half is where the action is, where the lid protrudes out in a cuboidal shape, acting as a tray for the lower-portion of the cooler. Listed here are supported CPU types in greater detail, key features of the cooler, four images showing them, and an adequately detailed specifications table.





As soon as you open the clam-shell tray, you can pull out the cooler without any hassle. It will then reveal a lower deck in the tray that holds the accessories. The upper deck can be easily pulled out. In the accessories compartment, you'll find each kind of accessory (nuts, bolts, washers) packed into a ziplock sachet of its own, the thermal paste syringe is packed into a plastic shell. The inner side of the paperboard that displays specifications on the back of the package, doubles up to serve as an installation guide, complete with color pictures. A very nice touch. Overall, full-marks for Evercool's packaging.

A closer look






The Evercool HPK-10025EA is a low-profile heatsink, but it's also technically a small-sized aluminum fin tower. It's just that the tower propagates parallel to the plane of the motherboard, rather than perpendicular to it (like on conventional tower-type heatsinks). This is what separates it from the low-profile (specifications-compliant) heatsinks that Intel and AMD pack with their retail desktop processors.

The cooler is structured into three "layers", if you will. The lowest is the CPU block, which doubles up as a tiny heatsink on its own (more in the "base" section below); from here four heat pipes that make direct contact with the CPU, proceed in a single file, curve, and pass through the dense aluminum fin array, which is our second layer. On top of everything is the 100 mm custom designed fan, which blows air through the fin array, and onto the base heatsink and the area of the motherboard surrounding the CPU socket. Residual air ends up cooling some of the CPU VRM.




The best part about the HPK-1002EA is that most of the cooler comes pre-assembled. The fan is already latched onto the heatsink using metal clips. The fan is almost frame-less and instead uses four pillars that converge at the center, where the fan's motor is suspended. The pillars along with a plastic ring act as a sort of a grill.

The 7-blade impeller with its rather steep blades are designed to sweep in air with minimum noise. Like most sensible fan designers, Evercool is aiming for a high RPM to air-flow ratio. It's going to be a challenge, since at 100 mm, it is smaller than the average 120 mm fan size, and has to be fast in order to make up for its shorter blades. The fan makes use of tough ABS plastic. One big setback here is that the fan uses a 3-pin power input, instead of 4-pin. This means that you have to make do with voltage/resistance-based fan-control methods, not PWM.


The HPK-10025EA uses four 6 mm thick heat pipes, which are made of exposed copper. Since it lacks protective nickel plating, it might face corrosion over time, but that's a very slow process, and depends on the kind of TIM you're using apart from other factors such as humidity in your area. I wouldn't worry too much about that.





The business end of the cooler, the base is where the cooler makes the all-important contact with the processor. Evercool used a HDT (heat pipe direct touch) base, where the heat pipes make direct contact with the CPU. This type of base design became popular as manufacturers saw the base-plate to be rudimentary. The only downside of this, however, is that if not done well, there will be gaps and crevices where TIM will seep in, forming thicker portions that act as insulators, degrading cooling performance.

I'm not entirely convinced with Evercool's handiwork here. There's nothing particularly wrong with the polishing. At places, though, heat pipes are embedded deeper than the rest of the block creating tiny gaps, at other places, there are slightly deep crevices between the edges of the heat pipes and the heatsink. I placed a new 1 Rupee coin (which has a smooth and even edge) onto the base, and it might show you what I mean.

Installation




A nice touch with the HPK-10025EA is that two important parts come pre-installed with the heatsink: the fan, and the retention bracket. Further, since this is a light-weight cooler, it doesn't need a backplate for additional support. Our installation begins with selecting the right set of mount-holes. Seen here is one of the four arms of the retention clip. The holes farthest away from the center are selected for LGA1366, those closest to the center for LGA775. There are eight washers provided, place four of them along these holes, over which fasten the hexagonal bolts.



Apply the thermal grease provided. Evercool's grease is viscous, and appears to be a silver-based compound. Apply a small dab in the center, let the heatsink's pressure spread it out. Now, aiming the four arms of the cooler to match the mounting holes of the motherboard, place the heatsink onto the processor, ideally with the heat pipe curves facing the northbridge. This ensures that the part of the heatsink that's protruding away from the center gets over the VRM.



Holding the heatsink in place, carefully flip the motherboard, place the remaining four washers around each of the four motherboard mount holes, and fasten the heatsink on to the motherboard with the four screws provided. Since there's no backplate, and since this is a rather light-weight cooler, you needn't fasten the screws too tightly. It might bend the motherboard. Tighten them just to the extent where the heatsink becomes immovable. Connect the fan to the 3-pin CPU fan header.

On a scale of 10, I'd rate the ease of installation at 9. Installing the Evercool HPK-10025EA requires that you have access to the back of the motherboard. If the motherboard tray of your case doesn't have a hole under the CPU socket area, you will have to dissemble your system and pull out the motherboard. A cumbersome task. That aside, installation is a breeze.


Installed



EVERCOOL HPK-10025EA falls into the category of compact, low-profile coolers, the ones designed to give you quieter and cooler, but mostly quieter operation compared to the stock cooler. When installed, the HPK-10025EA doesn't look much bigger than the Intel stock HSF. It's slightly taller, but still makes for a low-profile cooler that can fit into slim form-factor cases.


The HPK-10025EA leaves just about enough clearance with the VRM heatsink north of the CPU socket, while leaving plenty of clearance with the heatsink west of it (near the rear panel). Further, the VRM area gets residual air from the heatsink, which is welcome. While the air is warm, it ends up being cooler than the VRM, and hence it contributes positively.


The GIGABYTE X58A-UD7 is a very crowded motherboard, its designers made lavish use of heatsinks to keep key components cool. The HPK-10025EA maintains a safe distance from the northbridge heatsink, particularly its bunch of heat pipes. The detachable Hybrid Silent Pipe northbridge heatsink assembly won't in any way obstruct normal installation.



This is the key area where clearance is king. A badly designed cooler would deprive you of a memory slot, thereby making two other slots on the LGA1366 motherboard useless (if you want to properly populate every memory slot and retain a stable triple-channel configuration). The HPK-10025EA maintains perfect clearance with the memory area, feel free to populate every slot with any of the tall memory modules out there.


Performance


Test system:



CPU: Intel Core i7-950
Clock speed: 23 x 133 MHz = 3.06 GHz, Memory at DDR3-1600
Motherboard: GIGABYTE X58A-UD7
Memory: 3 x 1 GB OCZ XTC-Gold PC3-12800
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT Reference
Harddisk: WD Caviar Green 500 GB, 5400 RPM
Power Supply: CoolerMaster eXtreme Power Plus 700W
Case: NZXT Gamma (No case fans)
Software: Windows 7, no SP, 32-bit

Note:

Room temperature is maintained at 20°C (68°F). Since you need EIST enabled to make use of the Turbo Boost feature with this generation of Intel Core processors, letting the machine fall back to the idle state is becoming a norm. Hence Idle (stock) refers to the machine running at 1.60 GHz (12 x 133 MHz), with vCore at 0.928 V. Idle (nominal) refers to the machine idling at the processor's nominal clock speed of 3.06 GHz (23 x 133 MHz), with EIST and C1E disabled.

Load (stock) refers to the CPU running four threads of Prime95's "In-place large FFTs" stress test for 15 minutes, with default BClk value of 133 MHz, with EIST, C1E, and Turbo Boost enabled. Turbo Boost bumps the clock speed of all four cores by 133 MHz, taking it up to 3.20 GHz (24 x 133 MHz).

Load (OC) refers to the CPU running four threads of Prime95's "In-place large FFTs" stress test for 15 minutes, with overclocked BClk value of 166 MHz (4.00 GHz, 1.38V). We chose 4.00 GHz as it's stable on just about any cooler, while giving us close to 1.4 V of vCore to test load on. Later in the review, we'll let the cooler run wild by testing the maximum stable OC achievable.

The fan is set to run at 100% speed (i.e. no motherboard-based fan-speed control was in place).


Temperatures have been taken via RealTemp.



With huge architectural improvements, processor manufacturers have made their chips adequately fast in idle clock states to run most applications without any noticeable performance drop. Whenever the CPU isn't keeping up, it jumps to higher clock speeds, and if even that isn't enough, technologies like Turbo Boost kick in, pushing the clock speed up further.

The HPK-10025EA doesn't present any advantage as such over the Intel stock HSF, in terms of temperatures. For those who still don't trust the processor's inbuilt speed control and run their processors at nominal speeds, this cooler gives a puny temperature drop.



With Prime95 applying the maximum CPU load it can (large FFTs), we finally get to see some action; the HPK-10025EA drops temperatures down by 6 degrees. At this point the the cooler is looking promising, until we crank up the clock speeds. The overclocked Core i7 continues to sweat it out, with marginally better temperatures than Intel's stock HSF.

Fan Noise






While not numerically much, the HPK-10025EA does sound much quieter than the Intel HSF. Perhaps it's because the slightly larger fan gives out a lower-pitched noise. When under stress, although temperatures don't impress, the cooler is noticeably quieter, getting into the league of coolers with larger, slower (and hence quieter) fans.

Value and Conclusion





  • EVERCOOL HPK-1002EA sells for US $24.00.

  • Low-profile, ideal for SFF cases
  • Low-pitched noise
  • Low Price
  • Direct-touch heatpipes
  • 100% Clearance with all neighboring parts of the motherboard
  • Good Packaging, comes pre-installed with key components

  • Marginally better cooling performance than stock
  • Marginally quieter
  • No LGA1155 or AMD support
8.0
The Evercool HPK-1002EA is a well-designed CPU cooler that's ideal for LGA1366 platform builds for professional use, preferably in slim form-factor cases. It's a life-saver if you want a good quality cooler if your stock HSF breaks down for some reason, or if you realized that you bought an OEM/tray CPU at the last moment. It's hard to find a practical application for this cooler otherwise, for the LGA1366 platform. Perhaps it performs better with lower TDP processors such as the LGA775 chips it supports.
Going through our data and subjective observations during testing, we find the HPK-1002EA to be noticeably quieter although not in numerical terms. Perhaps it's because the low-pitched noise blends into other noises such as the HDD and PSU. In terms of performance, again, it's not leaps and bounds better than Intel's boxed cooler HSF, though should be able to achieve clock speeds that are technically possible on the stock HSF, though you stayed away from out of lack of faith/stability on the Intel HSF. At the end, for around $24, you can't go wrong with this cooler, should the situation demand that you replace your HSF. 




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