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Scythe NCU-2000 Pentium4 Heatsink Review
Scythe NCU-2000 Pentium4 Heatsink Review
Abstract: It functions by making use of the air currents that exist within a computer case to keep itself, and the processor cool.

 Manufacturer  Category  Published  Author 
Scythe   Cooling / Heatsinks   Sep 13, 2004   Max Page  

Home > Reviews > Page: The Akachi Heat Lane

The Scythe NCU-2000 looks like some massive industrial cooler plucked out of a radar system, but is actually built around some pretty common cooling technologies we've seen before in PC's.

Essentially, a 5mm thick copper baseplate is bolted to the bottom of an Akachi heatpipe whose only purpose is to absorb heat from the CPU and transfer it to a multitude of aluminum fins over its "U" shaped race track of about 385mm in length. The Akachi heatpipe, or Heatlane heatpipe as it maker, TS Heatronics, calls it, increases the total cooling surface area with the aide of dozens of aluminum cooling fins.

Traditional vs Akachi Heatpipes

Traditional heatpipes are really neat devices; as heat energy enters into the pipe, water under a vacuum inside the tube is converted into vapour (water boils at a lower temperature when there is less atmospheric pressure). That water vapour is used to transfer the heat it has absorbed to the other end of the heatpipe. As the vapour reaches the colder side of the tube it condenses, and returns back to liquid form. As it does so, the energy which caused the water to turn to vapour is dumped into the surrounding metal of the heatpipe, which impart transfers it to cooling fins. A physical property know as capillary action then takes hold and draws the freshly condensed liquid back along an internal wick structure to the hot side of the heatpipe where the entire process repeats.

What goes on inside the Akachi heatpipe is similar to this process, but the technology has a few distinct differences. First of all, where a standard copper heatpipe uses water as a working fluid, this Akachi pipe uses a slightly more exotic chemical; hydroflurocarbon-134a (HFC-134A). The manufacturer has included a full page of warnings about the proper use of the NCU-2000 with regards to the HFC-130a, and we recommend you read through them at least once so you don't accidentally maim yourself.

The HFC-130a working fluid, once heated, circulates through a "meandering capillary tube" that is formed from about 30 individual 1mm x 1mm channels within the 2mm thick x 60mm wide extruded aluminum pipe structure. If you're a little unsure of what that describes, just look at the edge of a corrugated cardboard box where you see all those little folds, and visualize pretty much the same thing in aluminum.

If the side of the NCU-2000's Heatlane pipe reminds you a little bit of corrugated cardboard you're not that far off. While it seems as though it's a solid stip of aluminum, it is actually composed of 30-40 very tiny pipes joined side-to-side. You can see the outlines of these pipes in the picture above, taken of the NCU-1000.

Invented by Hisateru Akachi who called the technology "self-excited oscillation heatpipe", the Akachi pipe works something like this...

(Note: The English documentation is a bit vague, so we may be off on some of the finer points of the technology.)

The working fluid is loaded into the tiny 1mm x 1mm sized capillaries of the pipe under pressure, and with small pockets of a gas every so often. As an area of the flat Heatlane pipe is heated, the working fluid in those pipes directly behind the heatsource (in our case the entire width of the pipe, or 30-40 individual pipes) expands slightly as it transforms to heat-carrying vapour.

That expansion of the working fluid into a vapour, into the small microvoids, drives all of the fluid and vapour in the entire system to move forward/backward (oscillate) at a certain velocity.

All the little pipes in the entire Heatlane heatpipe are connected, so whatever happens at one point drives everything else - kind of like slurping soda through a curly straw with a bunch of trapped air bubbles... The oscillating motion transfers the heated vapour to a cooler area of the Heatlane pipe where the latent heat is then transferred to the surrounding cool metal structure. The cooled vapour then condenses back to a working fluid, and the process continues on ad infinitum as long as the heating and cooling conditions are maintained.

TS Heatronics have a quick video of the process in motion on this page, taken with an X-ray machine so you can actually see the little vapour bubbles and working fluid racing through the aluminum Heatlane pipes.

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Table of Contents:

 1:  Scythe NCU-2000 Pentium4 Heatsink Review
 2: — The Akachi Heat Lane
 3:  Examining the Heatsink
 4:  Heatsink Thermal/Acoustic Test Parameters
 5:  Surface Roughness Comparison
 6:  Final Heatsink Temperature Comparisons

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