Ther­mal­take Engine 27 1U CPU Cooler

Mark dis­cov­ers how pro­ces­sor fans can still be cool

Micro Mart - - Contetnts - Mark Pick­a­vance

It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen any­thing re­ally new in CPU air cool­ers. These days they’re in­vari­ably an elab­o­rate dust at­tract­ing metal struc­ture through which fans blow air to ex­tract the heat.

Ther­mal­takes’s Engine 27 might look ex­actly like that, ini­tially, but closer ex­am­i­na­tion re­veals an in­no­va­tive de­sign that harks back to the work of re­searcher Jeff Ko­plow, at San­dia Na­tional Labs.

What Ther­mal­take has re­alised in co­op­er­a­tion with CoolChip Tech­nolo­gies is tech­ni­cally an ‘Air Bear­ing Heat Ex­changer’, where the fan it­self is part of the cool­ing mech­a­nism and not just lightweight air pro­pel­ling blades.

That makes Engine 27 the first of a new se­ries of Engine X cool­ers that use ‘Ki­netic Cool­ing’ de­signed by CoolChip Tech­nolo­gies to trans­fers heat across an air gap re­gion into a ro­tat­ing heat-sink im­peller.

The the­o­ret­i­cal ad­van­tages of do­ing this are nu­mer­ous. Con­ven­tional de­signs cre­ate an in­su­la­tion bound­ary layer of air around the cool­ing fins that’s dif­fi­cult to dis­turb even with the strongest fans. With those parts mov­ing, a cen­tripetal force acts on that air layer, spin­ning it away and drag­ging in cooler air.

How this is im­ple­mented on the Engine 27 is for the cen­tral part of the cooler to ro­tate suck­ing air in a vor­tex ac­tion and then forc­ing it out side­ways through a ring of static fins ar­ranged in a ring around the edge.

The base cre­ates a ther­mal bond be­tween the CPU and the de­vice, and heat can move through it to both the static and mo­bile parts of the de­vice. The cen­tral spin­ning sec­tion sits in a se­ries of con­cen­tric grooves that al­low heat to mi­grate eas­ily to it, and a bear­ing avoids metal sur­faces com­ing into phys­i­cal con­tact with each an­other.

Clever tech en­ables this to also be a re­mark­ably small so­lu­tion com­pared with many equiv­a­lent de­signs, its name be­ing de­rived from be­ing just 27mm high.

That makes it per­fect for 1U rack mounted so­lu­tions or mi­croITX sys­tems where ver­ti­cal space is of­ten ex­tremely lim­ited.

At this time, Ther­mal­take has only made this avail­able for LGA 115X plat­forms, and it comes with a rear mount­ing plate to at­tach to any sys­tem with the hole ar­range­ment shared by LGA 1156, 1155, 1151 and 1150.

In terms of the cool­ing from a de­vice that’s just 27mm high and weighs 310g, it’s sur­pris­ingly good, though suc­cess­ful is de­pen­dent on what spec of CPU is un­der it.

Ther­mal­take quotes that Engine 27 is de­signed to ship 70 watts of heat. That makes the fastest Sky­lake CPU you could use with it is the i5-6600 (not K vari­ant), and for Haswell own­ers it would need to be a Lower Power or Ul­tra Low power type end­ing with a ‘T’ or ‘S’, and not a K or any model with­out a let­ter des­ig­na­tion.

The fan as­sem­bly can ro­tate be­tween 1500 and 2500rpm, and even at top speed it only gen­er­ated 25dBA. At lower speeds it’s an al­most si­lent 13dBA, and Ther­mal­take is quot­ing an oper­at­ing life of 50,000 hours – that's 25 years of eight-hour work­ing days.

The Engine 27 makes me cu­ri­ous if Ther­mal­take can make some­thing a lit­tle big­ger that could han­dle i7 class pro­ces­sors, while re­tain­ing many of the ad­van­tages of this one.

Per­fect for 1U and small me­dia sys­tems

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