We mark our heatsinks in two areas: Thermal performance and noisel levels. No one likes a loud heatsink and no likes a heatsink that doesn't dissipate heat.
Since the CoolerMaster V8 has a fan controller, we took readings of noise and temperature at full blast and at minimum RPM. Readings were compared against the fairly high quality stock copper heatpipe cooler that is shipping with most AMD Phenom processors these days.
Idle conditions were established by waiting 30 minutes after logging in to the Vista 64 desktop while load conditions were established using 30 minutes of CPU torture under Prime 95. We used AMD Overdrive Software to take core temperature readings and a noise level meter to measure...well...noise levels. Ambient temperature was 24C during all tests and the room was dead quiet with the exception of the running test system.
Under idle conditions, the stock AMD Phenom CPU Cooler gave us an idle temperature of 44C across the board and noise level readings of 52dB. The CoolerMaster V8 threw down an impressive 29C at the highest fan setting and equalled the noise level of the stock cooler at 52dB. That's a drop of 15C! At the lower fan setting, noise levels dropped to 48dB, but temperature rose to 31C at idle.
When put under load using Prime 95, the stock cooler got toasty at over 63C celsius. There was no change in noise levels. The CoolerMaster V8 put down an impressive 37C under load, giving it a 26C drop in temperature across all cores. Even at the lowest fan setting, the CoolerMaster V8 still managed to provide a constant 42C under load. If you're running at stock clock speeds, I'd run the cooler at the lowest fan setting, but you do have the option to bump up the cooling power if you're going to do some overclocking, or if it's a particularly hot day.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
At the beginning of the review, I was a little concerned that the CoolerMaster V8 wouldn't be able to bring the muscle that would be a credit to its namesake. That concern was unfounded. The CoolerMaster V8 absolutely blows away the quality stock cooling solution provided by AMD. It also outperforms its other burly sibling, the CoolerMaster 212 CPU Cooler by a pretty impressive margin.
Besides the performance, things I really liked about the CoolerMaster V8 was the ability to adjust the cooling fan to match the conditions. People who value stability and quiet cooling will also be happy with the fan speed cranked down. I was also impressed with the fact that CoolerMaster ensured wide compatibility by engineering the cooler to provide ample access to RAM slots and not get in the way of surface components. Instructions were also very well laid out and I found no faults with installation for the most part.
The only thing that may be an issue with the CoolerMaster V8 could be the height. It's quite tall and with some shallower cases, clearance issues may present themselves. Overall though, there really isn't anything that would keep me from recommending this CPU cooler. It looks great, performs well, and with a burly disposition and a cool red LED glow between the fins, it'll even dress up a drab chassis interior.
- Comes with the "UN" of instruction manuals: clear and easy to understand
- Excellent compatibility with most motherboards due to small footprint
- Exceptional cooling performance
- Fan speed controller actually affects cooling performance and can be set to low speed at expense of a few degrees of cooling for low noise or to high for maximum cooling with a noise penalty.
- Small picture mistake in manual can lead users to orient the cooler in the wrong direction
- Disassembly of system required to install
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