Thermalright AXP-100 CPU Air Cooler Review

Thermalright, one of [H]’s long time favorites when it comes to CPU cooling, reaches out today with a cooler designed for smaller ITX and HTPC systems. Full nickel plating, 140mm and 120mm fan compatibility, and a mere 5.8cm height with the fan installed allows a big compatibility footprint in a very small package.

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Results: Temperatures

For our stock testing our i7 3770k will be kept at 3.50 GHz with a minimal 1.05v. For overclocked CPU testing, we will be running our CPU at 4.5GHz with 1.25v. Idle temperatures will be recorded after a fifteen minute period of inactivity. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes. Load temperatures will be recorded after a fifteen minute period of 100% load. To obtain this load we will be using Prime95 v27.7. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes.

Please note we start our charts at 25C which is the ambient temperature at the time of testing. Since we are dealing with air cooling it is physically impossible for the temps to be less than ambient. This is why we start our charts at 25C.

Stock Settings

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I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating. We are using the AXP-100 in a manner it wasn’t designed for. Now that doesn’t mean I am giving it a free pass but it does mean I will be more flexible when looking at its performance.

With that said, the AXP-100 is able to beat the stock cooler by a sizeable margin though it trails the much larger coolers by about seven degrees Celsius.

The more interesting point is the reduced performance of using the larger fan. If you look back at the pictures of the AXP-100 mounted with the 140mm fan you’ll see how much space is taken up by the motor hub at the center as well as how far past the cooler the fan blades hang. This all contributes to less air flow going where it needs to go. There may be some room for improvement here as the adapter allows you to adjust fan placement but in our case we could only mount the fan one way without running into the RAM modules.

Overclock Settings

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When we overclock our CPU we get similar results as before. There is a marked improvement over the performance of the stock cooler but the AXP-100 still trails the larger coolers by a sizeable margin. That is to be expected since we are using a smaller form factor cooler. Again, using the larger fan results in reduced performance.

Sound

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This is an area that will be particularly important to HTPC users. Keeping your system cool is generally easy since we deal with low power components. The hard part can be keeping everything cool while keeping your system quiet. No one wants to hear the buzzing of a fan during quiet moments of a good movie.

Thermalright has paired the AXP-100 with an especially quiet fan. Given its smaller size it would be easy to expect it to be noisy but it’s exactly the opposite. The fan is quiet and barely audible from four feet away. Sitting further away from the PC reduces the sound even further.