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Thermaltake Volcano 7+
Reviewed by Akimoto, 04.23.02
Provided by: Thermaltake


 

Introduction

Thermaltake is one of the leaders in today's air cooling solutions. Having gained an unsavory reputation in cooling for its Orb line of coolers, which worked particularly well on the Pentium III line of processors, their lackluster (and core-crushing, in some cases) performance for the Socket A line of processors from AMD were disappointing enthusiasts everywhere. This was one of the stimuli for putting more emphasis on the Volcano line when advertising to the hobbyist/enthusiast market, and Thermaltake did very well with the Volcano 6 Cu+, and later with the Volcano 7. The Volcano 7+ is what will be evaluated today, Thermaltake's newest (and probably most successful) cooler to date.

Specifications

Rated Voltage
12VDC
Started Voltage
7.0VDC
Rated Current
0.55 AMP Max.
Power Input
6.6 W Max.
FAN Speed
H: 6000 rpm
  M:4800 rpm
  L:3000 rpm
Max. Air Flow
49.0CFM
Noise
H 6000rpm@47 dB(A)
  M 4800rpm@35 dB(A)
  L 3000rpm@24 dB(A)
Bearing System
2 Ball bearing
Life Time
50,000 hours
Connector
3 PIN
Thermal Resistance
INTEL P4
AMD XP
0.29C/W
0.32C/W

 

The Heatsink

This heatsink forges a new path for the Volcano line, being the first to strut its stuff with an entirely copper sink, rather than an insert like the original Volcano 7, and both Volcano 6 Cu models. The sink has 36 fins for maximum surface area exposed to the fan in a rather apocryphal naming scheme called "tiny fin" technology. How technological thinner fins are is rather questionable, but they are nevertheless a benefit. The Volcano 7+ is housed in an aluminum shroud with a non-standard 70mm fan. A very unique feature about the Volcano 7+ is its versatility: It comes ready to be assembled/converted to fit either a socket A or a socket 472, which makes things a little easier for both Thermaltake and the consumer. Finally, the fan comes with a very nifty feature: a speed control, with high, medium, and low settings. Do you have an overclocking day? Probably. Do you have a "I-hate-that-jet-engine-under-my-desk!" day? If you don't, you're deaf or you've been to too many heavy metal concerts. The versatility of having a variable speed fan doesn't force a long term compromise on anyone. Now one can finally get a little bit of sleep while that download finishes. Honestly, this is the most versatile cooler that Hardware Pub has ever seen. It differs from the original Volcano 7, which had a temperature monitor that would adjust fan speed based on case temperature. While this did use the minimal amount of RPMs to maintain a set temperature, it gave the user essentially no control of the threshold. Allowing the user to exert fan control is certainly a nice feature to see.

The unit comes unassembled, so as not to presume which processor the buyer would be using, keeping both AMD and Intel happy. The heatsink is quite heavy, a very tangible feeling of cooling potential. The package also includes a great deal of screws for the heatsinks various "modes", obviating a hunt for the right size in that plastic cup in the computer room. Note in the picture to the left that the base of the Volcano 7+ almost has a mirror finish. There are a few visible imperfections, but the base is essentially error free: only the most  nit-picky enthusiasts would break out the sandpaper. Kudos to Thermaltake on the base.
    Now, in the photo to the right, one will notice that the fan floats several mm above the tips of the heatsink's fins. This is good to see, because it accounts for the "dead zone", the area in which no air really circulates, that is directly under the fan. By having the fan raised above the heatsink's fins, air is pushed more equitably among the fins, making use of every millimeter that "tiny-fin technology" provides. However, there is also a down-side to the raised shroud. Air has to move farther in order to reach the fins. Actual real world differences should be minimal, but it is a double-edged sword nonetheless. One gripe that is to be had, however, is that the fan grill on top doesn't do a very good job of protecting slipping fingers. Its guards are spaced rather widely, and a slip of the finger could result in some cuts/pain.


The fan used by Thermaltake is an Everflow. There is quite a mess of wires that comes right out of the box. The red/black wires are the power and the ground for the direct current. They can be attached to a Molex connecter (which is advisable, because at maximum speed the fan draws upwards of 6.5 watts of power. No use in frying that 3-pin connector on-board). If you should choose to attach the fan directly to your mainboard, using the speed-control switch is out of the question. This isn't much of a disappointment, noting that a Molex connector should be used anyway. Unfortunately Thermaltake doesn't include a Molex Y-connector, which allows you to attach the fan so that it leeches of the power from another device, because it really doesn't need its own power circuit. If all of the connectors from your power supply are used, however, a y-connector will only run about $2.50 USD at your local computer store.
    Molex connectors do not, however, allow you to have a tachometer reading, which is what the yellow wire provides. Simply attach the yellow wire to the 3-pin cpu fan header in order to be able to have rpm readings.

 

    The clip used for the socket A attachment is a little wearying. Because of the way that the heatsink is assembled the single spring clip is not attached very well. This means that it bounces around while attempting installation, and can give a headache. Further still, it necessitates using a screwdriver, which, with one fell swoop, can lead to a damaged motherboard. Finally, it only uses one of the feet on the Ziff socket, which can be maddening for those who transport their computers quite often. A broken central foot narrows the line of available heatsink models. More companies should be using the three-foot attachment method, or the 4-screw method championed by Swiftech.

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