Today we have the Thermaltake Tiger1 i845 Chipset Cooler in the OCA labs for review. Thermaltake has been around for quite awhile now and became well known after introducing the Golden Orb CPU cooler. They have come quite a ways since then and have many products available for the demanding overclocker. Some of their items are a little "out of the box" such as the Tt Active Memory Cooling Kits or the product we have here today, the Tt Tiger1. These are products that you can certainly do without, but if you want to squeeze every last drop of performance out of your system, you'll certainly want to consider these.
Introduction: Today we have the Thermaltake Tiger1 i845 Chipset Cooler in the OCA labs for review. Thermaltake has been around for quite awhile now and became well known after introducing the Golden Orb CPU cooler. They have come quite a ways since then and have many products available for the demanding overclocker. Some of their items are a little "out of the box" such as the Tt Active Memory Cooling Kits or the product we have here today, the Tt Tiger1. These are products that you can certainly do without, but if you want to squeeze every last drop of performance out of your system, you'll certainly want to consider these.
The Tiger1 is actually a somewhat surprising product. I'm not really sure there is a large enough market for this item to even warrant it's existence? But recently building an Intel system, I considered this a must-have cooler for my motherboard if I planned on getting serious with overclocking. Lets take a look at some of the official specs and then some pictures..
Max. Air Flow
Tough lookin' little HSF eh?? Yeah, I thought so too. What's cool is the Tiger1 doesn't take up anymore room than it's stock counterpart except for the fact that it's taller because of the 40mm fan.
The box is standard fare for this type of product but has a nice little window so you can peak in on what your getting. It also has technical specs product applications on the sides, which is kind of nice when your standing around in the local computer shop and are checking stuff out. Heck, I rarely goto a computer shop when I need something. It's usually more out of boredom or to ask the attendants questions I KNOW they don't know, heh, I get a kick out of that..
Installation: Intel has thought-out their motherboard cooling design quite nicely. They make it easy for manufacturers to mount both CPU and Chipset HSF's. The Tiger1 has 4 hooks to connect to the motherboard loops and they work really smooth. The Tiger came with a TIM. For those of you that aren't familiar with TIM's they are a pre-installed Thermal Interface Material that will save you from having to breakout the Thermal Grease. Tt states this particular TIM as the Chomerics T-725 thermal pad interface material. Sounds pretty high-tech but Tt does not go into specifics on it's performance or design. Lets take a look.
You'll see the actual "TIM" after you pull up the protective strip. It covers much more of the sink than is necessary but does not hinder application in any way. I pealed the strip off and placed the Tiger1 on the Chipset carefully and applied pressure for a few seconds to get a good seat. Now lets checkout how smooth the sink is on the bottom.
If you checkout the thumbnail, you'll see a highly detailed pick of the underside of the Tiger1. As far as heatsinks go, it is not very smooth at all. Infact, if I were getting ready to install a HSF on my CPU and it looked like this, I would put it back in the box until I could get some sand paper to put a good lapping on it. I will most likely do that after this review but wanted to show the "out of the box" performance for today's review.
Here is a shot of the Tiger1 sitting on the i845 chipset.
The Tiger looks right at home sitting atop the i845 chipset. The chipset itself is very reminiscent of the old coppermine Pentium!!! CPU's. I will be checking temps with the Enermax Temperature Monitor. I have one sensor to record case temperatures and 1 sensor placed right at the edge of the i845 chipset as seen below.
The tip of the sensor is touching the edge of the chip and gives a very accurate reading for temperature. At least relative readings comparatively. Ok, now that you've seen the product. Checked out our test setup. Lets checkout performance and see how the Tiger1 stacks up next to the stock BD7-RAID heatsink.
Performance: Here's where we get to the meat of the review and show you EXACTLY what kind of performance we are seeing with the Tiger1.
Tiger1 with TIM
Tiger1 w/o TIM
Those results are right on the money. I was really surprised to see how poorly the Tiger1 performed with the TIM. As a general rule of thumb, most overclockers won't consider using a TIM because it is a well known fact that they simply do not perform as well as using a good thin coat of Thermal Grease. This example goes even further to reinforce that theory. For this review I used Arctic Silver Alumina which I like quite a bit because it's cheap, works great and it's easy to apply.
Continuing on, the Tiger1 Performs fairly decent with a coat of ASA. Much better than it did with the TIM and also better than the stock chipset heatsink which had some type of "rubbery" material that mated it to the chipset. Although the results were not quite what I had hoped for, there are definitive gains for the Tiger1 with ASA at both IDLE and LOAD temperatures showing improvement.
Now some might say "Maybe you didn't let the TIM burn in", or maybe it was not properly applied. This is quite possible, however, I searched high and low and found no documentation from Tt stating the TIM needed a "burn in" period. Nor did it have special instructions for installation. Therefore I assumed a "peel and stick" procedure would be adequate.
Conclusion: In closing of this review, I would have to ask myself. Self, was the Tiger1 worth the 10$ I paid in order to cool my motherboard chipset? My answer would be yes. Obviously I suggest yanking off the TIM as soon as possible since it's performance was simply terrible. But the Tiger1 setup "correctly" had an improvement in overall temperatures. No, it's not the stuff that will move mountains, but in our business of overclocking, every last little bit helps. And maybe that 3 or 4 degrees is holding you back from getting every last drop of performance from your system. Additionally, this item is not simply a peel, stick and forget. You'll have to take the time to properly clean your chipset, properly clean off the Tiger, and apply a good even coat of thermal paste in order to achieve the best performance out of this unit. That said, if you do this, you will be treated to a cooler chipset, which in conjunction with good CPU and Memory cooling, should improve your overall system performance. Lets break it down by the Highs and Lows.
Looks great installed
Cools chipset if used w/out TIM
Fairly quiet at a mere 23dBa
TIM performance is terrible
Bottom of sink is not very smooth
Well, that's it. When considering this product, you really just have to ask yourself. Do I need or want this for my particular application? I would not recommend the Tiger1 for the casual or non-overclocker. But at the same time, I don't think Tt intended it for that audience at all. It is geared more towards the "Hardcore Overclocker" who needs to have a fan on anything that gets hot. And somehow I think if your sitting here reading this article, you are probably in this crowd. I sure know I am.
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