This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.This has been an interesting review, with several surprises. The Cooler Master XDream SE and Aero 7 come bundled with everything you will need to install them. Not only is a variable speed fan included, but the mounting brackets for both PCI slot and drive bay installation, are provided. The relatively compact size of the heatsink should allow either cooler to work with most any motherboard. I could wish Cooler Master would pay a little extra attention to a flatter-smoother surface finish on the copper base though.
First, the good news…
From the test results we can see that the XDream SE and Aero 7 offer a lot of performance for the money. The new Cooler Master copper heatsink produced excellent results and matched the performance of the larger and heavier SK-7 when fitted with either the XDream axial fan or Aero 7 blower. This is quite an accomplishment and I believe shows the advantage of using a skived fin manufacturing process to produce a solid copper heatsink.
Neither the XDream SE nor Aero 7 are designed or priced to compete directly with the all-out performance leaders like the Thermalright SLK-800/900, Swiftech MCX462+, or Alpha PAL8045. If you need or want the ultimate in cooling performance, then you will have to pay more for the 2 or 3 extra degrees the big-boys can provide. And did I mention that these new Cooler Master HSFs are good looking! In fact, I just couldn’t resist adding a couple blue LEDs to the Aero 7… 🙂
The blower used on the Aero 7 produced excellent results, even better than the traditional axial fan used on the XDream SE. Based on the manufacturers specifications for rated air flow (11 to 27 CFM) I was not expecting the Aero 7 to beat out the XDream SE in both performance and noise. At low speed it was very quiet. At high speeds the blower became quite noisy but did not seem as loud as the XDream fan on high or the Delta SHE. I noticed that some of the warm air coming out the bottom sides of the heatsink was being pulled right back into the two side openings of the Aero 7 blower. I thought about making a baffle or rotating the blower 90º on the heatsink but that would just position one of the blower inlets near the hot backside of the video card and force the other inlet to compete with the power supply inlet fan for air. The Aero 7 blower is also supposed to eliminate the central dead-spot and distribute air more evenly over the entire heatsink surface. This sounds good in theory but since the center area of the heatsink (right over the core) has no fins and is blocked by the retention clip, I question just how effective it can be. Apparently the increased static head that the blower produces can force more air thru the heatsink fins than a comparably sized axial fan with less pressure. Overall, the Aero 7 rocks! And guess what? The Aero 7+ (note +) will soon be released, which will have an 80 mm blower instead of the current 70 mm unit. Even more cooling goodness from Cooler Master!
As with any HSF, proper mounting and a plentiful supply of cool air are critical to optimal performance. Lapping the base may yield another degree or two of cooling. (I will post the results of lapping in the Amdmb.com forums later.) The Cooler Master tool-less 3-lug mounting clip was easy to use during all the mounting and removing required during these tests. Depending on how the CPU socket is oriented on the motherboard and how close other components (like PSU, memory modules, etc.) are located to the socket area, some users may experience problems with the long, protruding handle of the clip.
Now, for the bad news…
I encountered one very serious problem while testing the the XDream SE. After approximately 24 hours of operation, all the smoke came out of the fan and it completely quit working. Luckily it was in the midst of an idle load test and when I checked in on the system, MBM5 was reporting a CPU temperature of 64º C (auto shutdown was set for 65º C) and the CPU core thermocouple was reading 112º C! Two days later I received a new fan assembly (thanks Rich 🙂 which worked fine for another five days – long enough for me to complete the initial testing. Later, when I was taking sound pressure level readings on the XDream SE, the second fan suddenly slowed down and the burning smell returned – not good.
I have been informed that Cooler Master is aware of the fan problem. Apparently they received a defective batch of variable speed fans from their supplier. I have also been told that the XDream Special Edition debut will be delayed until they sort out the fan problems.
Bottom line – right now the Aero 7 offers a lot of nice features and good performance for a very reasonable price. Performance, value and distinctive looks – all in one great package! And the Aero 7+ (I don’t know why they didn’t call it the Aero 8) should be available soon. Because of the fan problem, I can not recommend the XDream Special Edition at this time. I hope Cooler Master can quickly resolve this issue and bring the XDream SE back to the market soon.
I would like to thank our friends at Cooler Master for sending us these two units for review. If you would like more information about PC cooling solutions or would like to discuss questions, come on over to the Amdmb.com Cases and Cooling Forum.