Installation, Performance, and Conclusion
The process begins with the fitting of a standard plastic bracket beneath the CPU socket, with four bolts which pass through the mounting holes to secure the metal brackets above. This is a similar system to the one that comes with Noctua coolers, though I was impressed by the attention to detail that FSP's design offers.
In a first (for me, anyway), the plastic spacers beneath the metal bracket are threaded, which made securing everything in place from the beginning of the process extremely easy.
The heatsink attaches to the retention system with another steel bracket, and this is secured with a single machine screw on either side.
Securing the heatsink requires the fan to be installed afterwards, and here I encountered my only difficulty with the install process as the soft fan mounts were a little tricky to align and fit at the bottom of the heatsink fins with the limited clearance available after installation on the CPU.
The upper mounts are easy, of course, but I regretting my choice to attach the mounts to the fan first when I had to slide the lower mounts under the heatsink after installation. I imagine this could be done in the reverse order, but after I did this a couple of times it was easier to do by feel.
As you can see, both the Windale 4 and 6 provided excellent clearance, with no interference with standard memory modules (very tall RAM would be another story in the nearest slot to the fan) or adjacent VRM heatsinks, etc. Overall the install process was excellent, and the result felt very secure.
Now the part we've all been waiting for: how effective are these coolers? To test this I benchmarked both of the Windale models on a platform which includes an Intel Core i7-7700K processor.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-7700K|
|Memory||Crucial Ballistix Sport 8 GB 2400 MHz DDR4|
|Graphics Card||(CPU Graphics)|
|Storage||Samsung SM961 NVMe SSD|
|Power Supply||Corsair TX650 PSU|
|OS||Windows 10 64-bit|
To measure load temps I used the x264 benchmark, and stress results were obtained using the Prime95 small FFT torture test. I re-tested the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO with the same platform to provide an accurate comparison with this popular budget cooler.
The first thing I noticed was the Windale 4 trailing the Hyper 212 EVO in load temps slightly, though they both hit a wall in the prime95 test. The Windale 6 proved to be more effective across the board, and while the load temps were less than 2 C better, it is important to note that under stress the Windale 6's advantage is much more significant. Clearly the additional heatpipes will help with more challenging loads compared to the smaller coolers.
What about noise output? I used my Nady DSM-1X meter to measure idle and load noise levels using the same standard fan profile from my test system's motherboard. Both FSP coolers were spinning at around their max 1600 RPM under load, with the Cooler Master fan at approximately 2000 RPM under the same load.
A huge difference between the EVO and these Windale coolers with noise output, and this is largely due to the slower speed of FSP's fan. To cool as effectively as both Windale coolers were able to do at these low noise levels is very impressive, and places the FSP coolers in a class ahead of the budget Cooler Master. To achieve premium cooling at very low noise is a staple of brands like Noctua, and here FSP is offering a similar premium experience for a lower price. Impressive!
The Windale 6 is available with both blue and white LED fan illumination
I found both of FSP's first CPU coolers to be outstanding products, with capable cooling performance enhanced greatly by very low noise output. Indeed, my only complaint with them was the slightly inconvenient nature of the rubber-like fan mounts after heatsink installation on the CPU - though these did seem to cut down on vibration noise based on my results with both coolers. FSP's mounting hardware is outstanding, resulting in a secure fit, and I'll add that AM4 support out of the box is a plus as well.
The Windale 6 outperformed the smaller Windale 4 as expected, but with less than a 2 C difference in testing with the i7-7700K the larger cooler will likely be more important to consider with the more demanding CPU above the 91W TDP of this chip. At $29.99 the Windale 4 becomes a very attractive alternative to the Hyper 212 EVO, and though it did not eclipse the popular Cooler Master's cooling performance it provided dramatically lower noise levels. The same goes for the larger Windale 6, which uses essentially the same fan (with white and blue LED lighting the only difference).
Both the FSP Windale 4 and 6 take home our Gold award for great performance and value
FSP has a very solid first effort in the CPU air cooler space with both of these Windale models, and these are not only very effective but very quiet as well, making them an even better value.