Components and Design
The Thermalright SI-128 SE features a solid copper base, four heat pipes and a large aluminum fin array. The entire assembly is Nickel plated and exhibits excellent build quality and finish – just what we have come to expect from Thermalright!
Many current motherboard designs rely on air from the CPU heatsink fan to cool components in the main processor area. These may include the NB controller, voltage regulator modules (VRMs), and passive coolers dissipating heat from other components on the motherboard connected via heat pipes. The Asus P5N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard I use for testing is a perfect example.
Without proper cooling these motherboard components will overheat, which can lead to system instability or failure. Several of the popular high-performance CPU coolers on the market today use a tower-style design with one or more fans mounted on the side blowing air thru the heatsink, instead of down over the CPU area. This configuration can work very well for cooling the CPU, especially if the warm air exiting the CPU cooler is exhausted out the back of the enclosure via a rear case fan or power supply with a bottom intake fan. But the tower-style coolers do little to cool all the components down at the board level. And even if special cooling fans are provided by the motherboard manufacturer (to provide the needed airflow when using a CPU waterblock), the tower-style coolers are typically so big they prevent the auxiliary fans from being mounted.
There are 78 tightly spaced aluminum fins, which helps maximize the available surface area for heat dissipation. The SI-128 SE fins incorporate the same thru-holes Thermalright developed for their HR-series heatsinks to increase airflow, especially when used with a quiet, low-speed fan.
Thermalright uses four heat pipes to efficiently transport heat out of the SI-128 SE base and up into the fin array. The copper heat pipes are 8mm in diameter, which is slightly larger than what most heatsink manufacturers are using (typically 5~6mm). This may not sound like much, but a small increase in diameter results in a large increase in surface area. This translates to an increased contact area in the base plate and aluminum fins, which optimizes heat transfer and results in better overall cooling performance.
Another new feature in the SI-128 SE design is the addition of a wire support that helps brace the upper deck and prevents the heatsink from deforming over time.
The precision machined copper base of the SI-128 SE exhibits a smooth machined finish and appears to be very flat.
The Thermalright SI-128 SE uses a new universal mounting hardware kit that supports both Intel LGA775 and AMD processor platforms. It features a sturdy bolt-thru design instead of relying on wimpy push-pins or retention frame lugs. Much better IMHO for larger cooler designs. A common backing plate is used, which incorporates different hole patterns for different socket types.