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Coolermaster TPC-812 Vapor Chamber/Heatpipe Heatsink Review
Coolermaster TPC-812 Vapor Chamber/Heatpipe Heatsink Review
Abstract: The Coolermaster TPC-812 heatsink performs exceptionally well on the synthetic Intel platform at stock fan speed, within the Top 5 Intel heatsinks tested to date in fact!

 Manufacturer  Category  Published  Author 
CoolerMaster   Cooling / Heatsinks   May 08, 2012   Max Page  

As you would expect from Frostytech, we're not going to make you wait - the Coolermaster TPC-812 heatsink performs exceptionally well on the synthetic Intel platform at stock fan speed, within the Top 5 Intel heatsinks tested to date in fact! The synthetic AMD test platform witnessed similar results, but let's not get ahead of ourselves...

In 2001, the first heatsink we tested to employ heatpipes was the Coolermaster CH5-5K12; it had a tiny, tiny 50mm fan and two stubby heatpipes. More than a decade latter, the Coolermaster TPC-812 is the first CPU heatsink to pass our test bench employing both vapour chambers and heatpipes in one package. Combined, the TCP-812 heatsink has six 6mm diameter heatpipes as the primary heat conductors and two 19x3mm vapour chambers as the secondary heat conductors. These eight thermal conductors join a chunky nickel plated copper base plate with a 112mm aluminum tall fin stack.

What are vapour chambers (or 'vapor chambers') and how do they work? Frostytech will explain the technology behind vapour chambers and heatpipes in a moment, first the TPC-812's specs...

Coolermaster's TPC-812 heatsink supports Intel socket LGA2011/1366/1155/1156/775 and AMD FM1/AM2/AM3 processors and stands 164mm tall. This innocuous tower heatsink weighs a monstrous 1044grams and packs in six 6mm diameter copper heatpipes, on top of which are soldered two 3x19mm 'L-shaped' vapour chamber strips. A single 120mm PWM fan ships with the heatsink, running at 2400RPM - 600RPM and pushing up to 86CFM. For quieter operation, an extra set of fan brackets is provided for mounting a rear exhaust fan (not included) and dialing back the speed on both.

The Coolermaster fan is notable for its swept-forward impeller blades and vibration absorbing pads positioned between it and the metal fins. The Coolermaster TPC-812 heatsink retails for $69USD/CDN.

Coolermaster TPC-812 Heatsink

heatsink specsheet
manufacturer: coolermaster
model no.: tpc-812
materials: nickel plated aluminum fins & base cap, copper heatpipes and copper base plate
fan mfg: coolermaster a12025-24rb-cp-f!
fan spec: 2400-600rpm, 12v, 0.37a
fan airflow: 19-86 cfm, 0.3-4.1mmh20
fan dim: 25x120x120mm
heatsink & fan dim: 164x139x102mm
weight: 1044 grams
includes: mounting brackets, thermal compound, fan speed reducer cable, instructions

Compatible with Sockets:
Intel - 775/1155/1156/1366/2011
Est. Pricing: $69USD ($69CDN)

So, what are Vapour Chambers?

In basic terms, vapour chambers are heat transfer devices that operate with greater thermal conductivity than an identically sized piece of solid copper. Physically, a vapour chamber is a sealed, hollow copper vessel containing a bit of liquid, a metallic wick and a slight vacuum.

Vapour Chambers Explained

Vapour chambers and heatpipes work on the same principle, the difference is that vapour chambers are planar thermal devices that conduct heat in two dimensions.

Vapour chambers are typically no less than ~2.5mm thick, flat and formed into rectangular or square shapes. Their two dimensional heat transfer properties and very low spreading resistance make them ideal heatspreaders. Typically, vapour chambers are deployed to the bottom of a heatsink to diffuse localized hot spots across a larger area. For example, with videocard GPUs one section of the relatively large silicon die may get very hot; vapour chambers can help alleviate these hot spots from heating up only the closest cooling fins.

Vapor Chamber functional diagram

By contrast, heat pipes are narrow tubular structures that conduct heat energy in one dimension, axially along their length. Both devices work as follows:

When outside heat is applied to the 'hot' side of the heatsink, the working fluid inside the heatpipe/vapor chamber absorbs that heat energy from the copper. This causes the working fluid to undergo a phase change from liquid to water vapour, carrying the latent heat with it. The vapour is drawn to the cooler end/region of the heatpipe/vapour chamber where it condenses back to liquid. As the vapour cools back to its liquid phase, the heat energy it stored is transferred to the metal at the 'cold' end of the heatpipe/vapour chamber.

The condensed vapour, now working fluid once again, is then drawn back towards the hot evaporator side of the heatpipe (or hot region of the vapour chamber) by capillary action, along the internal wick structure. A wick can be made from sintered metal power, fine metal mesh, very small grooves or any combination thereof. As the working fluid reaches the hot end the entire process repeats itself.

Note the flat vapour chambers at the center of the TPC-812 heatsink.

Now there's no such thing as a 'vertical vapour chamber' per say, the term 'vertical' merely indicates Coolermaster is using the vapour champer strip in a non-traditional manner. The two 'L-shaped' vapour chambers have a higher aspect ratio than heatpipes, so placed on edge to the airflow they offer less air resistance (3mm profile vs. 6mm profile).

Vapour chambers come in different shapes and sizes, everything from narrow strips to cool sticks of RAM to large squares on the bottom of 2U server heatsinks. In fact, Frostytech showed you this vapour chamber from Glacialtech a couple years ago, it's end use is as the base of a forced air server heatsink.

If you cut a heatpipe open you'll find a hollow copper tube with a metal wick structure of some sort; metal mesh, sintered copper power, groove, or combinations thereof. Again, Frostytech did this a while back, here & here, and via Intel, here.

The two 19x3mm vapour chambers on the Coolermaster TPC-812 heatsink are double-stacked (one vapour chamber on top of three heatpipes), much like the Xigmatek Aegir. Since vapour chambers are planar devices this represents a more efficient application that piling tubular heatpipes on top of tubular heatpipes.

Coolermaster's 19mm wide vapour chamber strip, up close

Heatsink Installation

Coolermaster's TPC-812 heatsink is compatible with Intel socket LGA2011/1366/1155/1156/775 and AMD socket AM2/AM3/FM1 processors. The heatsink is supplied with a crab-like rear-motherboard metal support bracket that accommodates every variation of CPU socket and a metal 'switch-blade' clip that applies force at the center-point of the heatsink base plate. Associated screws and nuts to put it all together, along a small amount of thermal compound round out the accessory list.

Users need to access the rear of the motherboard to install the Coolermaster TPC-812, but once the rear support plate is in position the heatsink can be removed easily thereafter. A single 'switch blade' upper clip accommodates all CPU sockets, using four spring-tensioned screws.

Note: The screws on the mounting clip are set to 'tab 2' position, which is the spacing appropriate for LGA1155/1156/AM2 processors. You'll need to push the screw in from the bottom and slide it over to tab 1 (the inner-most) position for LGA775. Move each mounting screw to tab 3 position (the outside) for LGA2011/1366. Failure to do so will quickly lead to a lot of grief as each socket spacing is just a hair off.

FrostyTech's Test Methodologies are 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 this heatsink, its acoustic characteristics, and of course its performance in the thermal tests!

° Next Page 

Table of Contents:

 1: — Coolermaster TPC-812 Vapor Chamber/Heatpipe Heatsink Review
 2:  360° View - Coolermaster TPC-812 Heatsink
 3:  Acoustic Comparisons and Base Surface Quality
 4:  AMD Heatsink Temperature Comparisons
 5:  Intel Final Heatsink Temperature Comparisons

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