Known primarily as a motherboard manufacturer, Gigabyte first entered into the heatsink markets with a large cylindrical copper cooler called the 3D Cooler-Ultra (PCU31-VH); an excellent thermal solution that tipped the scales at over 700+ grams! This was followed by the 3D Rocket Cooler (PCU22-SE), 3D Cooler-Pro (PCU21-VG), and the budget minded G-Power Pro and Neon Cooler 8-BL heatsinks. Thus far, most of Gigabyte's heatsinks have been variations on the 3D Cooler design, with a couple of enhancements here and there for mainstream users who just need quiet multiplatform cooling.
The Gigabyte 3D Rocket Cooler-Pro PCU22-VG heatsink FrostyTech is testing in this review cools quietly, and it can also ramp up fan speed to take on major heat loads too. The heatsink comes with a fan speed controller that allows you to dial in the speed (and noise) of the cooling fan to suit the situation. At the top of the cooler, a series of very bright blue LEDs glow under the translucent cap, making the 3D Rocket Cooler-Pro a great candidate for windowed cases. The heatsink mounts to socket 462/A AthlonXP, socket 478 & 775 Pentium 4, and socket 754/940/939 Athlon64 processors via a high density forged copper base.
This copper base is machined nice and flat, and connected to the rest of the heatsink with four 6mm diameter copper heatpipes. The heatpipes thread through upwards through 54 knife-edged aluminum fins. So far so good, but support for the socket AM2 is still a bit of a gray area...
The Low Down on Heatpipes
Heatpipes are really neat devices, and four of them are at the heart of the Gigabyte 3D Rocket Cooler-Pro heatsink. It's easy to get confused about the role of heatpipes in a heatsink, since they actually don't "cool" anything. Rather, heatpipes basically just transfer heat from one location to another.
The process works like this: as heat energy enters into the heatpipe, water inside the tube is converted into vapour. You'll recall that water boils at a lower temperature when there is less atmospheric pressure, and the inside of a heatpipe is a vacuum. This water vapour is what transfers the heat it has absorbed to the other end of the heatpipe.
As the heated vapour reaches the cooler side of the tube it condenses, and returns back to liquid form. As it does this, 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 hotter end of the heatpipe, where the entire process repeats.
Innovative Air Handling
The Gigabyte 3D Rocket Cooler-Pro gets its name from the way air is exhausted out of the cooler, and it's not too far off its namesake. What makes this heatsink really different is that its top has been sealed off with a clear sheet of plastic, forcing the air drawn in by the blue squirrel cage fan to pass through the top 43mm-tall section of aluminum fins. The inside edge of each aluminum fin has a knife edge to reduce air flow resistance, and since the outside edge does not, we can tell the 3D Rocket heatsink is an iteration to the original prototype.
Moving along, the airflow now slightly warmer is then exhausted out the bottom of the 3D Rocket Cooler-Pro heatsink through a combination of aluminum cooling fins and a 15mm gap under the 'rocket skirt'. The heatsink works on the premise that both intake and exhaust air streams are used to cool the 3D Rocket Cooler-Pro heatsink.
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