The Thermal Transtech International Corp. NPH K8-1 Socket 939 heatsink looks deceptively simple at first glance; but at the heart of this socket 754/939/940 Athlon64 heatsink is a huge copper cylinder. The large copper column supporting its many copper fins is not technically a heatpipe as we know it, it's what TTIC call a "heat column." This column, 25mm in diameter and made from a hollow copper cylinder which is vacuum sealed, has a chemical coating on the inside that works to the same effect as a wick in a traditional heatpipe... at least as far as we can glean from TTICs patent on the technology.
The heat column transfers heat from the processor core and moves it vertically up to approximately 30 copper fins measuring roughly 60x75mm in size. The 25mm diameter copper column passes up through the center of each of the 0.2mm thick copper fins, conducting heat to each fin in the process. A single 70mm fan blows air through the copper fins, although another fan can also be added if desired.
nPowerTek's NPH K8-1 heatsink weighs in at 623 grams, making a pretty heavy candidate for processor cooling. Our initial thoughts are that the 80mm fan may prove too small for an open framed heatsink such as this. On the other hand, small fans help promote quiet cooling... so perhaps it's best to wait for the results of the thermal tests before passing judgement.
The flimsy fan support frame arrived bent right out of the box, so a little metal muscle may be in order first. The fan support connects to the extruded aluminum base, and simply rests on the top of the heatsink by the cap. The base is designed to accommodate both socket 478 and socket 754/939/940 screw posts. Obviously, this means the nPowerTek NPH K8-1 heatsink is completely unusable with socket AM2 processors.
You Know Heatpipes, What About Heat Columns?
According to this documentation by QuTech , the heat column used here is essentially an empty cylinder of copper which has been internally coated with a thin "superconducting heat transfer medium." The copper cylinder is sealed off at both ends, and inside is under a vacuum of approximately 1 Torr.
Patent no. 6,132,823 explains QuTech's very interesting and potentially revolutionary process to the topic of heatpipes, entitled Superconducting Heat Transfer Medium. Here is a short excerpt from the patent which explains the technology in plain english... but feel free to skip ahead to the actual heatsink review.
Heat Column technology has surfaced on a few heatsinks we've tested already, and it seems to be gaining a foothold in the industry. However, since most people would be hard pressed to explain what a heatpipe is, or does, the "superconducting" heatpipe, or heat column is probably going to continue to generate a lot of confusion for years to come.
FrostyTech's new Test Methodology is outlined in detail here if you care to know what equipment is used, and the parameters under which the tests are conducted. Now let's move forward and take a closer look at the nPowerTek NPH K8-1 heatsink, its acoustic characteristics, and of course it performance in the thermal tests!
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