Thermalright Archon SB-E x2 unboxing and mini review
This is my first time doing anything of this sort, so criticism is most welcome
Also, please bear in mind this is by no means an in depth review (heck, its not even really a review).This is more of an unboxing and my thoughts on it. And finally, since this is an engineering sample, the final retail unit could be different.Package:
In typical Thermalright fashion, we get the plain brown box with the company logo up top. Nothing fancy here, but its worth noting that its padded with thick foam, as well as foam inserts in between parts to prevent scratching.Fans:
We get two fans included (the titular X2) - two TY-141s, as compared to the original Archons TY-140. These fans are pretty much identical from what I can tell from the spec sheet - both are PWM controlled from 900-1300RPM and rated at 28-74CFM at a sound range of 17-21 dBA. They spin at the same speed, push the same amount of air, and are equally as quiet. But where it does differ is the color - that incredibly terrible color that the original TY-140 is no more. Its been replaced with a better coordinated dark-yellow frame and army-green blades. These look nowhere
near as ugly as the original "vomit-coloured" TY-140.Included Accessories:
Everything you could possibly need (with the exception of a screw driver) is supplied in a plain white box inside the main package.
A - Fan mounting clips x4 (two per side/fan)
B - AMD Backplate (AM2/AM2+/AM3/AM3+/FM1/FM2
C - Thermalright CFIII thermal paste (2g)
D - Backplate cap (775 only)
E - Various mounting screws (all sockets)
F - Plastic washer x4
G - Anchoring bracket (all sockets)
H - PWM fan header splitter
I - Anti-vibration pads x8 (4 per fan)
J - Intel Backplate (775/1155/1156/1366) [See note]
K - Pressure Adjustable Mounting plate[Note]
There is no LGA 2011 backplate since it apparently doesn't need one. However, don't fret as there are LGA 2011 screw pillars included in the bag E pictured above - this is after all the SB-E version so it wouldn't make sense to not have the LGA 2011 mounting hardware.Installation:
I installed the unit on my LGA 1366 Asus P6X58D-E replacing the original Archon that I've been using for almost 2 years. First thing I noticed was that the mounting hardware was identical between the two models. The backplate, the retention bracket, screws, pressure mount, everything. There wasn't a single mounting accessory I had to replace. It was quite literally a drop in replacement. There really isn't much to say about the installation procedure - the included manual was perfectly fine at explaining all the steps - easy enough even for a first-timer. The pressure mount system is far better than the original version too - maybe because the instructions included are that much better. Every half rotation of the knob adds an extra 10lbs of force, up to a maximum fo 70lbs. Unlike the last version, this time around its actually possible to turn the knob and know exactly how much force you're adding.Heatsink:
Here is where things start to change from the first version. There are a couple notable differences between this and the original Archon, each of which I'll explain after its respective image.
The first difference, and arguably the most important, is the size of the base. Compared to the original Archon, this is longer and a little bit wider to ensure a larger coverage area on the IHS. Whether this is because the SB-E chips have a larger IHS or simply because a larger contact area would mean more efficient heat transfer, I'm not entirely sure. My guess is that its partly due to reason above and partly due to the amount of heatpipes they've stuck on this thing (more on that below). Whatever the reason, I like it. Personally, it means that I can just apply the thermal paste on the base of the heatsink and then plop the entire thing onto the CPU without worrying whether it made proper contact.Onto the heat pipes and fins...
This model has 2 extra heat pipes stemming from the base and into the fins. But here's something interesting - there are less fins on this model than the original Archon - 45 fins vs 50 on the original. We're looking at about 10% reduction in total surface area, but at the same time there are more heat pipes carrying into the fins.
The height of the cooler isn't any smaller, so the fin density is lower. This does carry the advantage of allowing air to flow through more efficiently (and more importantly, silently), but the implications for heat dissipation is a bit worrying.
This still has the same 6mm diameter sintered (made by heating and compressing a powder) copper heat pipes, but there are 8 instead of 6 like in the first Archon.
The only logical explanation for this (from a performance standpoint, never-mind the potential cost savings) is that the material that the fins are made of is better at conducting heat than the old Archon. It certainly feels that way because to the touch, but the fins feel far more flimsy. The original Archon's fins feel strong and sturdy with very little flex to them. This however, not only looks and feels thin, it has significantly more flex to them. In fact, my unit came with a bent fin - if you look closely at the bottom fin, the left side is almost touching the fin above it.
The original Archon's fins were made of aluminum (aluminium?) plated with nickel, and I'm tempted to say that new version is made of the same, but I'm still waiting for official input on this.
The base is pure copper plated with nickel and is still very slightly convex, as with all Thermalright coolers - this ensures proper contact with the CPU IHS and reduces the chance of air pockets.
In terms of physical dimensions, the heatsink itself has exactly the same dimensions as the first one - 155 mm x 53 mm x 170 mm (LxWxH), but is a fair amount lighter at 775g vs 806g of the original. I'm sure most of the weight reduction came from the significantly thinner fins on this model.Fan mounting:
The anti-vibration pads supplied now are just the triangular variety, as the long thin strip is not included. That is completely fine by me since the strips were a nightmare to work with because their adhesive wasn't good enough. The triangular pads have a much better adhesive and stick firmly to the heatsink.
Here is another small difference from the original version - the fan mounting method. Originally, the clips stuck out in front of the fans when attached, which worked fine, but wasn't the sleekest of looks. It was however, quite easy to mount, especially when the entire heatsink and motherboard are mounted inside the case. The new version however, opts for the fan mount points in the lower part of the frame, which is very sleek looking, but a little bit harder to mount when inside. The clips still look and feel flimsy, but are quite strong as they didn't break or deform when I bent them many times.
You can still fit two 120mm or 140mm fans with no problem.A quick comparison against the original Archon:
The Archon SB-E x2 is on the left, with the original (and very dusty) Archon on the right. There's not much to say here as the two coolers are almost identical physically. The original model looks bigger only because the fan clips extend past the fan, making it look longer than it really it. If you compare the line of tops of the fans, they're exactly the same width.Performance and final thoughts:
I didn't really go into much detail here because of time constraints - but I did a quick idle/load test on my first generation i7 950 @ 3.8Ghz on 1.24v (168W load). Right off the bat I saw lower temperatures, with a larger difference at idle than at load. All tests were conducted with an ambient temperature of 22.5C with all fans running at full speed on both the chassis (Corsair 600t) and the heatsink.
The original Archon pulled off a respectable idle temperature of 39-36-39-36 (C)
across the 4 cores, while the new model achieved 35-31-36-33 (C)
. That is on average a 4C drop.
Running Prime95 on small FFT's for 20 minutes yielded 71-70-69-70 (C)
across the 4 cores with the original Archon, and 69-67-67-68 (C)
with the SB-E x2; on average a 2.5C drop.
Its not a perfect result and I'm sure that the gap between the two would've been higher had I done the test on a test bench instead of inside the chassis, but I didn't have that luxury as this was a production machine.
As an overclocker, this is a welcome and respectable temperature drop, especially at idle. It simply means I can run my fans slower than normal for a near silent computing experience most of the time. Even on full blast, these fans are next to silent. In all honesty, I was skeptical at first about any performance gains when I saw how thin the fins were as well as the 10% reduction in overall surface area. I wasn't expecting it to beat the original Archon on any measure, but the folks at Thermalright obviously knows what they're doing. I would've liked to see a bigger performance gap compared to the original model, but any performance gain is a plus, no matter how small.
This is still an engineering sample, so the final product could be different.
I'm very curious how it performs on its intended platform - a socket 2011 chip... now if only I could get my hands on one