Components and Design
At first glance, the Monsoon II Lite active TEC cooler appears very similar to some of the other high performance, tower-style coolers on the market today. Heat pipes are used to transport heat away from the copper base plates up into a large array of aluminum fins.
An aluminum shroud encloses the rectangular fins and allows mounting a 92mm fan, which blows air over the fins to cool them. The fan has a maximum rated speed of 2,800 rpm and features a clear frame and four blue LEDs. The fan is mounted to the shroud with machine screws and silicone vibration dampening washers.
The Nickel plated copper base has a smooth finish and appears flat. A 3-wire sensor is imbedded into the base plate, which is used to monitor the base plate/CPU temperature and send a temperature signal to the control module.
The base assembly of the Monsoon II Lite is where things start to get interesting. Sandwiched between two copper plates is a 40mm Peltier device. The heavy red and black wires are the 12V power leads to the Peltier device. The lower base plate, which sits directly on top of the CPU when the cooler is mounted, is referred to as the cold-plate. It is in direct contact with the Peltier device’s cold side. The upper plate is referred to as the hot-plate and is in direct contact with the Peltier device’s hot side.
You might assume (as I initially did) that all four heat pipes would be used to transport heat away from the upper, hot side of the Peltier device. However, closer inspection shows that is not the case. Two heat pipes are connected to the upper hot-plate, while the other two are connected to the lower cold-plate!
The following diagram illustrates the location of the heat pipes and the two separate flow paths for heat. Note that the aluminum fins are divided into two sections. Cooling air from the fan blows thru the cold-plate section of fins first and then thru the hot-side fins.
As it turns out there are several good reasons for building the cooler this way.
- The Monsoon II Lite active TEC CPU cooler isn’t designed for extreme overclocking, sub-zero temperature operations. The Monsoon II Lite is a high-performance HSF that uses a medium size Peltier device to enhance its overall cooling capabilities. The control module is programmed to maintain a target CPU temperature, which should never drop below 25°C. This eliminates all the problems associated with potential condensation around the cold-plate and CPU socket area.
- Having heat pipes connected to the cold-plate side of the cooler provides an alternate path for heat to flow out of the CPU and up into the cooling fins. With a light CPU load and relatively cool ambient air temperatures, the Peltier device will not be switched on. The two heat pipes and aluminum fins provide all the cooling necessary to maintain a target CPU temperature. Without the Peltier generating more waste heat, the fan can run at low speed (quiet 🙂
- The heat pipes connected to the cold-side also provide a built-in fail safe mechanism for the CPU should something cause the Peltier to fail – no more potential core meltdown.