Testing and Conclusions

The Asus Star Ice CPU cooler was tested on an open frame K8 test rig consisting of the following components.  The ambient room air temperature was maintained at 23°C ±0.5°C.  The CPU was loaded by running Folding@Home 24/7.  Several dozen temperature reading were recorded and averaged over 2~3 days for each test.

 

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  • Asus K8N-E Deluxe nForce3-250 motherboard
  • AMD Athlon 64 3200+ (200 FSB x 11.0 at 1.5Vcore)
  • Seasonic SuperTornado 400 watt ATX power supply
  • (2) Corsair CMX512-3200C2 Pro DDR RAM
  • ATI Radeon 9800 Pro AGP
  • WD800JB IDE HDD
  • Sony 16X DVD, FDD
  • Windows XP Pro with SP1

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To facilitate taking accurate CPU temperature measurements I attached a very small Omega thermocouple to the side of the Athlon 64 IHS with Arctic Alumina thermal epoxy.  The measurement equipment used during testing included:

 

  • CPU/IHS — Barnant Model 115 digital thermometer (accuracy +/- 0.4º C)
  • Ambient air — Barnant Model 115 digital thermometer (accuracy +/- 0.4º C)
  • Extech Model 407736 digital sound level meter (accuracy +/- 1.5 dB)

 

The following data is presented for comparative purposes only.  Your actual results may be different depending on the variables unique to your system (CPU, overclock, ambient temperature, case air flow, temperature monitoring, etc). 

 

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*Note: As mentioned before, the Asus Star Ice CPU cooler base was not flat (badly concave) as received and had to be hand lapped before I would even mount it for testing, which will most likely produce results better than normal.

 

CPU — Temperature reported by Asus PC Probe utility (internal diode)

Tc — Temperature obtained with calibrated thermocouple attached to IHS

Delta T — Fully loaded Tc temperature rise above ambient

dBA — Sound pressure level recorded 3′ away (background ~30 dBA)

 

For comparison, here are the results from several other popular HSFs for the K8 platform that incorporate heat pipe technology and the stock OEM aluminum HSF that comes bundled with the Athlon 64 3200+.  All HSFs were tested on the same CPU under the same conditions.

 

  • Thermalright XP-120 with 120mm Panaflo L1A and 120mm Delta SHE
  • Cooler Master Hyper 6 with 80mm CM variable speed fan and 80mm Vantec Tornado
  • Cooler Master Hyper 48 with 92mm Delta and 92mm Sunon Tornado
  • Gigabyte 3D Rocket Cooler-Pro with integrated, variable speed, blower-style fan
  • Athlon 64 3200+ OEM aluminum heatsink with 70mm fan

 Asus Star Ice CPU Cooler Review - Cases and Cooling 25

 

With a lapped base the Star Ice CPU cooler did a good job of cooling the Athlon 64 CPU with its fan running at medium to high speed.  At low speed the cooler was very quiet but temperatures increased dramatically.  As you can see though, there are other coolers on the market that do a better job at cooling with less noise.

 

 

Conclusions

 

At the end of the day I have mixed feelings about the Asus Star Ice CPU cooler.  If you are looking for a large cooler that looks like a small jet engine fitted onto your motherboard then the Star Ice is what you seek.  To obtain good cooling performance it may also have to sound like a small jet engine.

 

Thanks to its unique styling and built-in UV LED’s the Star Ice will add distinctive flair to most any gaming rig and is sure to draw some attention your way.

 

Unfortunately, because of its large size, the Star Ice may not fit all motherboards.  Weight is another concern, especially if you plan to take the Star Ice on the road.

 

My biggest concern however has to do with the potentially warped base on these coolers.  This is a fairly common design (with a common supplier I suspect) shared by several HSF vendors.  Just because the Asus cooler I received had a badly concave base does not necessarily mean that all Star Ice coolers will exhibit the same problem.  It does warrant concern in my opinion and should be checked, especially if you find temperatures are higher than expected after installing the Star Ice.

 

Strengths:

  • Unique jet engine design with UV LED lighting effects
  • Very good 3-way fan speed control
  • Moderate performance at high fan speed
  • Universal mounting hardware accommodates all current platforms

Weaknesses:

  • Large and heavy
  • Base may be warped preventing good contact with CPU
  • Poor performance at low fan speeds
  • Noisy at high fan speeds

I would like to thank Asus for sending us the Star Ice CPU cooler for review.  The Star Ice is available from your favorite Asus reseller with a MSRP of $59.99 USD and a typical street price of $49.99 USD. 

 

 

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