In 2012, Deepcool released the Assassin double-tower cooler, which looked quite worthy against the backdrop of Phanteks PH-TC14PE, which was already the leader at that time, and deservedly received the title of supercooler. Four years later, the company introduced Assassin II, changing the shape of the radiator fins and equipping them with two fans with a diameter of 120 and 140 mm. However, in comparison with the same instance of PH-TC14PE, the second version did not increase in efficiency, since there were no qualitative changes and new engineering solutions in the cooler.
And at the beginning of 2019, at CES 2019, Deepcool shows the third version of Assassin. At the same time, it was officially presented at the end of summer, and reached the test laboratories only by the middle of autumn. The new version has one less heat pipe, but all the remaining ones are now improved — coupled with new radiators and a pair of 140 mm fans, they, according to the manufacturer, are able to remove as much as 280 watts of heat from the central processor. Is the new cooler so good and will it cope with its rivals this time?
⇡#Specifications and recommended cost
|Name of technical characteristics||Deepcool Assassin III|
|Cooler dimensions (H × W × D),
|(140 × 140 × 25 x 2)|
|Gross weight, g||1242
(920 — radiator)
|Radiator material and design||Nickel-plated double-tower construction made of aluminum plates on 7 copper heat pipes with a diameter of 6 mm passing through the copper base|
|Number of radiator plates, pcs.||88 (44×2)|
|Radiator plate thickness, mm||0.45|
|Intercostal distance, mm||2.0|
|Estimated radiator area, cm2||~10 800|
|Thermal resistance, °С/W||n/a|
|Fan type and model||Deepcool TF 140S
|Fan impeller/stator diameter, mm||132.5 / 41.0|
|Weight of one fan, g||157|
|Fan rotation speed, rpm||400-1400 (PWM)|
|Airflow, CFM||90.4 (max.)|
|Noise level, dBA||34.2 (max)|
|Static pressure, mm H2O||1.79 (max)|
|Number and type of fan bearings||1, hydrodynamic|
|Fan MTBF, hours/years||n/a|
|Rated/starting voltage of the fan, V||12/2.9|
|Fan current, A||0.21|
|Declared/measured fan power consumption, W||2.52 / 2.54|
|Fan cable length, mm||400 (+500)|
|The ability to install a cooler on processors with connectors||Intel LGA115x/1366/2011(v3)/2066
AMD Socket AM4/AM3(+)/AM2(+)/FM1/FM2(+)
|Maximum processor TDP level, W||280|
|Extras (features)||Possibility to install a third fan (mounts included), Deepcool G40 thermal paste with a thermal conductivity of 5.2 W / m K|
|Warranty period, years||five|
|Retail price, rub.||n/a|
⇡#Packaging and equipment
The large box weighing about two kilograms, which comes with Deepcool Assassin III, is now devoid of a plastic carrying handle. To all appearances, the company’s marketers decided that in the three years that have passed since the appearance of the second version of the cooler, the handle in the box has ceased to be necessary for the cooler’s user audience. The package itself is now decorated in gray and green, and on its front side the cooling system is depicted in almost full size.
Dimensions, specifications and key features of the novelty are given on the back and sides of the box.
Inside the cardboard package, the heatsink is fixed in soft polyethylene foam inserts, while the fans and accessories are sealed in separate boxes. The list of accessories includes a universal plate on the back side of the board, sets of fasteners and cables, wire brackets for fans (3 pairs), a plastic card for even distribution of the thermal interface on the processor, and an impregnated cloth for cleaning the processor from thermal paste.
By the way, the cooler comes with Deepcool G40 “nanotech” thermal paste with a declared thermal conductivity of 5.2 W/(m K). In addition to the listed accessories, the box contains a long Phillips screwdriver with a nice translucent handle.
We add that the new cooling system is produced in China and is provided with a five-year warranty. As for its cost, there is no official information on this subject, and the figure of 80 US dollars appeared in the news. In Russia, Deepcool Assassin III can already be purchased at a price of $ 600 — this is the price level of other high-end air cooling systems.
Continuing the trend of the previous two models, the new Deepcool Assassin III is a dual tower cooler with two fans. In terms of dimensions and weight, this is a rather impressive model: its height is 166 mm, its width is 140 mm, and its length is 160 mm. The novelty weighs 1242 grams, of which 920 fall on the radiator.
Of the design delights, we note two plastic inserts above each section. They have a glossy surface, so they give each «tower» a rather attractive look. These inserts do not affect the cooling efficiency in any way.
Here is how the design of Deepcool Assassin III looks like in the diagram.
As is most often the case in such models, one fan is installed on one of the outer sections, and the second — between the sections of the radiator.
The distance between the sections is 35 mm, so if necessary, a thick fan can be installed there.
The radiator is nickel-plated. Each section in it consists of 44 aluminum plates with a thickness of 0.45 mm, spaced with an intercostal distance of 2.0 mm.
The calculated area of such a radiator is approximately 10,800 cm2, which is at the level of other supercoolers. The first and second versions of the Assassin had a radiator area of about 12,000 cm2, but here it is smaller due to the three shortened plates in each section and the slightly smaller sizes of the plates themselves. This is done to ensure compatibility of the heatsink with high RAM modules. Exactly the same solution is used in its flagship Noctua.
Note that the sides of each section are almost completely closed by the ends of the ribs bent down and closed into locks. This not only gives the radiator increased rigidity, but also concentrates the air flow on the fins along their entire length. The ends of the radiator fins do not have any optimizations to reduce airflow resistance. Perhaps, in coolers of this class, the absence of such optimizations can be called a drawback, since each component, even the seemingly insignificant one, is important to achieve maximum efficiency.
If in the first and second Deepcool Assassin eight copper heat pipes with a diameter of 6 mm were used at once, then in the third version there are seven of them of the same diameter.
However, Assassin III now uses heatpipes made with a new «sintering technology», which increases the internal surface area of the pipes and increases the efficiency / speed of heat transfer.
Judging by the above photo, there is an additional porous layer on the border zone of the inner surface of such tubes, which increases the rate of heat transfer. The only pity is that the manufacturer does not provide specific figures on the advantages of new heat pipes over old ones.
Solder is used at the interface between the plates and heat pipes, and the contact is made quite neatly, and the height of the necks of the tubes is at least 1.5 mm.
In a nickel-plated copper base, the tubes lie in grooves, almost close to each other, and are also soldered. The dimensions of the contact surface are 45.5 × 43.0 mm, and it is ground to a class of 0.1 mm, which, according to the developers, is the optimal value for ensuring the most efficient heat transfer.
Another interesting fact is the factory bulge of the contact surface in its center. Moreover, it was precisely conceived by Deepcool engineers, and was not allowed during assembly and was not formed during soldering.
The base of the cooler made in such a way guarantees maximum pressure to the processor in the area where its crystal is located, which we can see from the prints obtained on the Intel LGA2066 processor.
We’ve seen processor cooler heatsinks with convex bases before, but it’s probably the first time that a manufacturer would immediately call it a deliberate and special decision.
The next innovation of the third version of the «assassin» was the new 140mm Deepcool TF 140S fans marked DFr1402412CM and supporting pulse-width modulation. Interestingly, these fans are not listed on the Deepcool website as a separate model, so they may be produced exclusively for Assassin III. The fans are released in completely black and do not have backlighting.
Their main feature is the original blades with an additional shelf on the outer side of the back face and with fins placed unevenly on each blade to eliminate the occurrence of resonant vibrations.
According to the developers, such blades are not only able to increase the air flow, but also help to reduce the noise level, since they structure the air pumped by the fan.
Fan speed is controlled automatically by PWM in the range from 400 to 1400 rpm. The claimed maximum airflow of 90.4 CFM looks unrealistic for a fan of this diameter and speed, but it is likely that the specifications indicate the sum of the flows of two fans at once. At 1400 rpm, the fans can develop a static pressure of 1.79 mm H2O, and should be no louder than 34.2 dBA.
The electrical characteristics of the «turntables» are as follows: 12 V, 0.21 A, 2.52 W. According to the results of our measurements, it turned out that each fan consumes no more than 2.54 W and starts at a voltage of 2.9 V.
The fans are fixed on the radiator with the usual wire brackets, they are moderately tight, successfully balancing between ease of installation and rigidity of fastening. Silicone inserts in the corners built into the fans are used as vibration dampers.
There are three pairs of wire mounts in the kit, so those who decide to hang three fans on the Assassin III radiator at once will not have to invent anything. We add that the cable length of each fan is 400 mm, and another 500 mm is added to it by the complete Y-splitter for connecting two fans to one connector of the motherboard or reobas.
⇡ # Compatibility and installation
Deepcool Assassin III is compatible with all modern processors, except AMD with Socket TR4. A detailed instruction (PDF format, 20 MB) will help to facilitate the installation of the cooler. For all platforms with AMD processors, a standard reinforcement plate is used, for Intel LGA115x — a plastic backplate from the kit, and for LGA1366/2011 (v3) / 2066, the support studs are screwed directly into the metal plate of the processor socket.
Further, two steel guides are fixed to these studs.
But here we ran into an unexpected problem. The fact is that these threaded studs are very short, and after installing steel guides on them, there are literally three turns of thread left. Since in a knurled clamping nut there is an oblique cut first and only then a thread, the nut clings to literally two threads of the thread.
As a result, when the cooler was pressed against the processor, one such nut was pulled out of the thread and the cooler was not pressed. The solution to the problem was right at hand — clamping nuts from the Phanteks PH-TC14PE supercooler, which we used.
To this problem, we quickly received official explanations from Deepcool that the use of short studs and narrow nuts is due to the fact that heat pipes pass in the immediate vicinity. To avoid contact with them, such a shortened version of the studs with nuts was chosen. But in our opinion, Deepcool engineers are stillaboutit is a couple of millimeters to increase the length of the studs to increase the reliability of fastening for Intel processors. We add that there is no such problem on the AMD platform.
The distance from the motherboard to the bottom plate of the outer side of each section is 54mm.
In other words, the height here is enough to install memory modules with moderately high heatsinks. But at the same time, surprisingly, there is not enough width.
Unfortunately, the extreme heat pipes coming out of the base of the radiator, when trying to install it in the direction of the air flow to the rear wall of the case, rested against the radiator of the power circuit of the processor on the motherboard. And when the heatsink was rotated by 90 degrees (with the direction of the air flow to the upper wall of the case), the same tubes stuck into the memory modules closest to the processor socket. As a result, we had to remove the modules from these slots in order to install the cooler, leaving the memory only in the outermost slots and using the dual-channel mode of operation instead of the quad-channel one.
This is how the Deepcool Assassin III heatsink looks like on our ASRock X299 OC Formula motherboard.
Note that this is the first time we have encountered such an unusual problem when testing cooling systems on this board.
Inside the case of the system unit Deepcool Assassin III looks interesting and promising.
Since we do not use a video card in the first PCI-E 3.0 slot, but install it in the fourth x16 slot, it does not interfere with the first cooler fan.
⇡#Test configuration, tools and testing methodology
The effectiveness of the new Deepcool Assassin III and its two current competitors was evaluated in a closed case of the system unit with the following configuration:
- motherboard: ASRock X299 OC Formula (Intel X299 Express, LGA2066, BIOS P1.80 from 09/19/2019);
- Processor: Intel Core i9-7900X 3.3-4.5GHz (Skylake-X, 14++nm, U0, 10×1024KB L2, 13.75MB L3, TDP 140W);
- thermal interface: ARCTIC MX-4 (8.5 W/(m K);
- RAM: DDR4 2×4 GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 2800MHz (CMK16GX4M4A2800C16) (XMP 2800MHz/16-18-18-36_2T/1.2V or 3000MHz/16-18-18-36_2T/1.35V);
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER Founders Edition 8GB/256bit, 1470-1650(1830)/14000MHz;
- for system and benchmarks: Intel SSD 730 480 GB (SATA III, BIOS vL2010400);
- for games and benchmarks: Western Digital VelociRaptor 300 GB (SATA II, 10000 rpm, 16 MB, NCQ);
- archive: Samsung Ecogreen F4 HD204UI 2 TB (SATA II, 5400 rpm, 32 MB, NCQ);
- case: Thermaltake Core X71 (six 140mm be quiet! Silent Wings 3 PWM [BL067]990 rpm, three — for blowing, three — for blowing out);
- control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC3;
- PSU: Corsair AX1500i Digital ATX (1.5kW, 80 Plus Titanium), 140mm fan.
At the first stage of evaluating the efficiency of cooling systems, a ten-core processor at BCLK equal to 100 MHz, with a fixed value 42 multiplier and the stabilization of the Load-Line Calibration function set to the first level was overclocked to the frequency 4.2 GHz with increasing voltage in the BIOS of the motherboard to 1.041 V.
The VCCIO and VCCSA voltages were set to 1.050 V. In turn, the voltage of the RAM modules was fixed at 1.33 V, and its frequency was 3.2 GHz with timings of 16-18-18-39 CR2. In addition to the above, several more changes were made to the BIOS of the motherboard related to overclocking the processor and RAM.
Testing was conducted on Microsoft Windows 10 Pro version 1903 (18362.449). Software used for the test:
- Prime95 29.4 build 8 — to create a load on the processor (Small FFTs mode, two consecutive cycles of 14-15 minutes each);
- HWiNFO64 6.13-3970 — for temperature monitoring and visual control of all system parameters.
A full snapshot of the display during one of the test cycles is as follows.
The load on the processor was created by two consecutive cycles of Prime95. It took 14-15 minutes to stabilize the processor temperature between cycles. The final result, which you will see in the diagram, is the maximum temperature of the hottest of the ten cores of the CPU at peak load and in idle mode. In addition, a separate table will show the temperatures of all processor cores, their average values and the temperature delta between the cores. The temperature in the room was controlled by an electronic thermometer installed next to the system unit with a measurement accuracy of 0.1 °C and with the possibility of hourly monitoring of changes in the temperature in the room over the past 6 hours. During this test, the temperature fluctuated in the range 23.7–24.1 °C
The noise level of the cooling systems was measured with an OCTAVA-110A electronic sound level meter in the period from zero to three in the morning in a completely enclosed room with an area of about 20 m2 with glass panes. The noise level was measured outside the case of the system unit, when the source of noise in the room was only the cooler itself and its fans. The sound level meter, fixed on a tripod, was always located strictly at one point at a distance of exactly 150 mm from the fan rotor. The cooling systems were placed at the very corner of the table on a foamed polyethylene substrate. The lower measurement limit of the sound level meter is 22.0 dBA, and the subjectively comfortable (please do not confuse it with low!) noise level of cooling systems when measured from such a distance is about 36 dBA. For a conditionally low noise level, we take a value of 33 dBA.
We compare the efficiency and noise level of the Assassin III with the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 installed in the same orientation as Deepcool.
The second competitor will be Phanteks PH-TC14PE, which you (and us, to be honest, but what can you do) is already rather boring, similarly oriented on the processor and equipped with two Corsair AF140 fans.
Additionally, both Deepcool Assassin III and be quiet! The Dark Rock Pro 4 has been tested with the same 140mm Corsair fans.
We add that the speed of rotation of all fans of the cooling systems was adjusted using a special controller with an accuracy of ± 10 rpm in the range from 800 rpm to their maximum in increments of 100 or 200 rpm.
⇡#Test results and their analysis
⇡ # Cooling efficiency
First, let’s look at the test results of three air cooling systems when overclocking the processor simultaneously on all cores to 4.2 GHz.
In modes with standard fans, the struggle between Deepcool Assassin III and be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 is very dense, the difference in each fan speed is no more than one degree Celsius. At maximum speeds, the be quiet! cooling system is ahead, and at medium and minimum speeds, the Deepcool cooler turns out to be a little more efficient. But in general, their results are very close. So, as a rule, it happens not only with the same efficiency of cooling systems, but also when the level of heat dissipation of the processor is insufficient to unlock their potential, so we will increase it further.
But first, let’s look at the rather unexpected test results of three coolers with the same Corsair fans. They are unexpected in that be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 not only confidently (by 3-4 degrees Celsius) outperformed Deepcool Assassin III, but also outperformed our leader Phanteks PH-TC14PE by 3 degrees Celsius in each of the fan speeds! Interestingly, the Phanteks supercooler of the first version has recently confirmed its level against the background of the updated modification of 2019 and the Noctua NH-D15. That is, we have no doubts about its effectiveness. Moreover, in 2018 I had a chance to test another instance of Dark Rock Pro 4 in comparison with the same PH-TC14PE sample, and the latter won a landslide victory, but here we see a different picture. Let’s see what happens next, with an increase in processor heat dissipation.
To do this, we raised its frequency to 4.3 GHz at a voltage of 1.071 V.
And we tested all the coolers again in all modes, getting the following results.
With standard fans, the balance of power between Deepcool Assassin III and be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 has not changed — both cooling systems are «degree-by-degree» close to each other, and it is impossible to give preference to any one of them solely in terms of cooling efficiency. With alternative Corsair AF140 fans, the new Assassin III is already inferior to its competitor — it is obvious that its efficiency decreases when replacing standard fans, while Dark Rock Pro 4, on the contrary, increases. The latter still looks more efficient than Phanteks PH-TC14PE, but the difference has been reduced to 2 degrees Celsius in terms of the peak temperature of the hottest core.
Well, let’s try to dot all i by overclocking a ten-core processor to 4.4 GHz at a voltage of 1.118 V.
The coolers did not cope with such overclocking in all modes, and the results on the diagram became much thinner.
In the final test with stock fans, Deepcool Assassin III lost to be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 is four degrees Celsius at peak load, although the average temperature difference for all 10 processor cores is only 1.3 degrees Celsius (see table). With alternative fans, the novelty did not cope with such a load at all, but this was predictable from previous results. Nevertheless, Assassin III can be considered a very efficient cooler, since only a few can cope with such a load of air cooling systems.
As for the confrontation be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 and Phanteks PH-TC14PE, you can see everything for yourself: the black heatsink outperforms the silver heatsink by 3-4 degrees Celsius in each fan mode, and this is a lot when comparing supercoolers. What is it: an exceptionally successful sample of Dark Rock Pro 4 — or are the new copies of this model really that good? We are waiting for your comments in the discussion of the article, but for now let’s move on to comparing the noise level of cooling systems.
⇡ # Noise level
The new fans couldn’t make Deepcool Assassin III the quietest cooler in today’s test, however, they run comfortably up to 800 rpm, and quietly up to 750 rpm. The hum of bearings or overtones of the operation of electric motors in the Deepcool TF 140S is not audible throughout the entire speed range of operation, but the additional aerodynamic noise from the spoilers on the blades is quite noticeable. We already know how noisy the original fans of the currently produced Phanteks cooler are from the previous article, and we are familiar with the noise of the Corsair AF140, we didn’t see anything new here.
But I was pleasantly surprised by be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 with its incomparable Silent Wings 3, leaving all other test participants out of work and with a large margin ahead of them in terms of fan speed both at the border of subjective comfort (36 dBA) and at the border of conditional noiselessness (33 dBA). We recorded the speed by its 120 mm fan, because against the background of its operation, the 135 mm version of the same fan sandwiched between the sections of the radiator is not audible at all. However, let’s return to the hero of today’s article and summarize.
In general, the new Deepcool Assassin III left a good impression. In our opinion, it deserves the title of a supercooler, just like both of its predecessors. It has many advantages and interesting features: a huge two-section heatsink, seven 6 mm heat pipes using a new sintering technology, a technologically convex base with high-quality polishing, two high-performance fans with the possibility of installing a third one, almost complete versatility and an attractive design without annoying backlighting. Today the cooler coped with cooling a very hot processor and not so much lost to the test leader in terms of the peak temperature of the processor (and in general lost some crumbs in the average). All this — plus a five-year warranty, a nice screwdriver included and a very competitive price — will surely allow Assassin III to win back its market share in the segment of the best air-cooled systems.
At the same time, we can’t help noticing some shortcomings in the new cooler. For some reason, the developers didn’t introduce technologically simple yet effective optimizations at the ends of the plates to reduce airflow resistance, which would allow Assassin III to remain a formidable contender at low fan speeds. The noise level of regular Deepcool TF 140S is relatively high, at least in today’s test, the new cooler lost to two other participants in this indicator. I would like to draw the attention of engineers to the short studs for fastening Intel processors and possible compatibility problems with motherboards during installation due to widely diverging heat pipes. In addition, coolers of this class and price should have a mount for AMD processors with Socket TR4. In our opinion, after eliminating these shortcomings, Assassin III would have turned out to be one of the most attractive cooling systems. Let’s hope that it will be so.