Cooler Master Aero1 ASB-V73-U1 Copper Heatsink Review
Remember the German-born Noisecontrol Silverado heatsink that came out a few years back? Well the Coolermaster Aero ASB-V73-U1 uses a similar configuration, with a few distinctive differences of course. Where the Silverado used a rather lack-luster extruded aluminum heatsink - albeit coupled with a pure silver disk - the Coolermaster Aero1 uses a full copper skived body. The Silverado also used two squirrel cage fans for air delivery because of their lower noise output. Coolermaster use a relatively loud squirrel cage fan on the Aero1, though it is a custom unit that exhausts air over an area of about 50x55mm.
Squirrel cage fans have a couple of benefits over standard vaneaxial fans when it comes to lower-noise heatsinks, though they don't tend to deliver nearly as much air. One of the prime reasons these types of fans can make a good air delivery source for a heatsink is that their exhaust is uniform - in other words there are no dead spots. A vaneaxial fan on the other hand will tend to have a dead spot right below the motor. Since most fans sit squarely up on the heatsink itself this puts the dead spot directly above the hottest section of the heatsink.
When Frostytech first started out three years ago we did some testing with squirrel cage fans and if I remember accurately the type we tested with were good, but not necessarily 'better' due to the typically lower CFM rating. At the time we discovered a better solution to vaneaxial fan dead spots in the form of Angled Fan Orientation (AFO) and went with that. AFO is beyond the scope of this review, however you can see an example of it in the FrostyTech GF4TEC project if you're interested in the technique.
The Coolermaster ASB-V73-U1 Aero1 comes with a small potentiometer that is hardwired directly into the squirrel cage fan. The potentiometer enables the user to manually adjust fan speed between 1900RPM-4500RPM with the turn of a dial. The upside to this configuration is that user can tune the computer to be as noisy or quiet as desired. The downside is that this is not a dynamic adjustment - meaning that if the computer is put under load and the processor thermals rise up, the heatsink won't automatically compensate and kick up the fan's RPM.
Because the fan draws as much as 1.2A of current, the fan get its power from a standard molex pass through connector. A separate three-pin jack plugs into the motherboard to deliver the single RPM signal.
With the Coolermaster ASB-V73-U1 Aero1 heatsink comes a 3.5" aluminum bay cover and standard steel expansion slot PCI bracket. The fan-speed potentiometer can be bolted to either of these face plates (lead wires are 19" long) with the intent of allowing the user to control fan speed without having to crack open the case and poke around inside.
If you have an aluminum case, you'll be pleased to see that the 3.5" aluminum bracket is tastefully done, and should in nicely. By mounting the dial on the PCI bracket you can put it in a less obvious location at the rear of the PC. However, since the potentiometer is not removable from the heatsink it has to go in either one of these locations. The component itself is primarily metal, so leaving it dangling around in the case could be a quick route to shorting out the videocard or motherboard.
The Aero1 fan is an interesting fan as far as computer cooling goes. There hasn't been many other AthlonXP heatsinks, if any, that make use of a fan like this. Nvidia's GeforceFX 5800 Ultra has had the pleasure of being equipped with a monster squirrel cage fan, so I'm kind of left wondering if this is an offshoot of that application.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see if Coolermaster begin selling this fan by itself in the near future. Now let's take a closer look at the Aero1 and see what really makes it tick!
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