Thermalright Archon SB-E X2 CPU Cooler Review
Thermalright has set a foundation in the cooling world with a number of computer cooling solutions in the last decade and it comes as no surprise that they have some of the top performing CPU Coolers. Today we are going to be looking at the new Thermalright Archon SB-E X2 CPU Cooler. One thing that comes to mind first is this cooler definitely stands out with its aesthetics. While the color choice by Thermalright isn’t your typical user’s first choice… we found it to be quite interesting.
However beyond its aesthetic appeal, we are interested in taking a closer look at the SB-E X2 cooler to find out if it will live up to its name in the thermal solution world. The twin fan single slim tower design may not look like much, but we are looking forward to finding out if it will hold up to expectations. Let’s find out!
Thermalright didn’t put much work into the package here. We found it boxed in your typical brown box with the Thermalright printed logo on the front. The box is sturdy and didn’t find any issues with this type of packaging.
On the side of the package we only find the model name “Archon SB-E X2.” While most users will probably do some research before their purchase, it would have been nice to see more useful info for the consumer.
Once the cooler was out of its package, we found the 2x140mm fans, the Cooler, instruction manual and the installation hardware. Everything was packaged quite carefully and well protected.
Once we got the hardware package opened, we found a pretty extensive set of hardware for both Intel and AMD platforms. The quality of the hardware is top notch and the instructions were clear and easy to understand. As we move forward we are going to take a look at one particular bit of hardware from Thermalright that we found unique.
The quality of the aluminum fins, including the fit and finish, is impressive. As you can see here, the fins were stacked in equal cuts and the brushed finish really gives this cooler a nice aesthetic appeal. You can also see the heatpipes rise right through the cooler’s fins to assist in heat dissipation.
Even though this cooler is a slim design, you will see that it houses eight heatpipes for thermal assistance! The copper heatpipes have been nickel plated to give it that great aesthetic appeal without sacrificing thermal performance. Each heatpipe has been uniquely placed in a position that will provide equal thermal performance.
At the bottom here, we have the copper base that has been nickel-plated to a mirror finish. We found this to be pleasing and will also help ensure that the heatsink is seated flat on the processor.
Before we move forward to show you how our installation went, let’s take a look at the 2x140mm fans that were included. While the color of the fans is a bit unusual, we found the quality to be top notch. We also realized it would match up great with the Sabertooth series motherboards from ASUS. This may be a plus for those running these boards and we already know finding components to match the motherboard colors can sometimes be a challenge.
Installation – Intel Hardware
When it came to installing of the cooler, its always recommended that you take a look at the manual and instructions before you start. The instruction manual provided by Thermalright was easy to understand, and the illustrations help without really having to read it word for word.
First, we installed the provided back plate and secured it in place to our ASRock Z77 Extreme 4 Socket 1155 motherboard. While this is done with ease, be sure to use the washers that are included so the metal bracket doesn’t short out your motherboard from the underside.
Next we installed the top bracket that will help in securing the CPU Cooler in place. You will also notice that there are four threaded notches that will allow the pressure plate to be mounted. For the Intel install, the plate can be placed in any direction.
Once the bracket was installed, we noticed it sat rather close to our motherboard’s heatsinks. As you can see from this picture, it was only a few millimeters apart.
We mentioned earlier that we would be looking at one piece of hardware we found to be interesting. Here we have the pressure plate that is used to secure the CPU cooler in place. On either side of the plate it is secured by 2 screws that connects to the mounting bracket. However, some concerns of bowing may happen which is widely known in this type of installation hardware. However Thermalright developed what they call the “Pressure Vault Bracket System.”
There is a center bolt that is placed on the bracket. This will allow you to tighten down and push the pressure back down in the center. This will help keep the bracket from bowing and also keep the base of the cooler centered on the processor. Keep in mind, do not over tighten this as you can damage your motherboard socket if you do.
Once the cooler was installed, we also found that the motherboard heatsinks were rather close to the heatpipes, while it was a non-issue for us, please keep this in mind.
Installation – Intel Continued
As you slide through the pictures, you can see that this cooler is quite aesthetically appealing. As we show you multiple angles here, keep in mind that despite the slim tower design, the cooler is still quite large in height.
One thing to note, when we installed the cooler on our motherboard, we didn’t have the fan hardware clips installed. After we installed it, we noticed it was quite hard to get the fan clips to slide into place so we had to remove the cooler and add the clips on first.
While you can still install the fan clips with the cooler installed depending on your motherboard, we didn’t want to take the risk of damaging anything so we removed it for installation. At this time, we also installed the anti-vibration pads.
The first fan installed without any problems, and the clips secured it in place. The provided anti-vibration pads will help to keep the fan from making any rattle noises during operation.
Once we added our Crucial RAM into the mix, we were quite pleased with the results. The color of this cooler isn’t as bad as it may seem and it matched our board and RAM quite well.
Next we wanted to see how the Thermalright Archon SB-E X2 CPU Cooler would perform under our overclock settings. We bumped the core clocks to 4.4Ghz for our testing and set the voltage manually to 1.30 volts. Remember the OC voltage settings are different with every chip and vary per batch. The chip that we tested required the 1.30 volts to run Prime95 at stable settings.
Again we reset the system and let it idle for 10 mins, and as you can see here, idle temps weren’t much higher… Idling at the lowest point of 14c and averaged temps of 15-24c between the 4 cores. We had one core take a slight jump to 37c while the system was running programs in the background. This is not something unusual so it didn’t alarm us.
Next we put Prime95 to the test in blend mode, and after 25mins of load testing we achieved 58c as our max peak, and averaged around 48-53c for the most part. At these voltages these are excellent results. As you may already know, the Ivy-bridge processors run higher temps due to the new architecture and TIM design chip.
With the large number of CPU Coolers available in today’s market, we are always looking to compare one to another. We have here a CPU Cooler comparison chart with a number of coolers that were run with the exact test bench set-up. While ambient temps will account for some slight adjustments, what we did was take the ambient temps from each test and minus this out of the equation and found our Delta T temps. For final temperature we took the avg. of the four cores to give us our total.
First, let’s take a look at the aesthetic appeal of the Thermalright Archon SB-E X2. While the colors of the fan isn’t the color of choice for all PC builders, we found the quality of the fans included out weighed the color option. Also, with the correct hardware choice this cooler can really be pleasing to the eye. As we mentioned, the colors will match up nicely with the ASUS Sabertooth series motherboards.
When it comes to the performance of the cooler, we were quite pleased with its results, especially considering its slim design. While the cooler isn’t at the top of its class, we would rank it to be in the top 5 contenders.
We saw that the Thermalright Archon SB-E X2 CPU Cooler did a great job in thermal performance. Even with our overclock settings at 4.4ghz, we maxed out at 58c which is under Intel’s thermal MAX. On a final note for its performance, we were quite pleased with the noise factor of the 2x140mm fans and they were hardly audible even at full throttle.
Overall this cooler did a excellent job with thermal performance. The price of this cooler is a little on the higher side. We found it for $84.90 on Amazon.com. However, due to its performance per value, we feel it deserves our Great Hardware Review Award.