We started our acquaintance with PCCooler cooling systems with the GI-AH280C CORONA RGB maintenance-free LSS, and today we are going to study and test the GI-D66A HALO RGB tower cooler, which is completely clad in a plastic casing and equipped with two backlit fans.
In addition, the novelty received a radiator with six heat pipes and a direct-contact base. Taking into account the impressive dimensions and relatively high cost of the PCCooler GI-D66A HALO RGB has all the prerequisites to attract attention not only with beautiful backlighting, but also with high cooling efficiency. How it will actually be, we will learn from today’s material.
⇡#Specifications and cost
|Name of technical characteristics||PCCooler GI-D66A HALO RGB|
|Cooler dimensions (H × W × D),
|(Ø104 × 25 x 2)|
|Gross weight, g||907
(640 — radiator)
|Radiator material and construction||Tower construction made of aluminum plates on 6 copper nickel-plated heat pipes with a diameter of 6 mm, which are the base (HDT technology)|
|Number of radiator plates, pcs.||50|
|Radiator plate thickness, mm||0.40|
|Intercostal distance, mm||1.8|
|Estimated radiator area, cm2||6 870|
|Thermal resistance, °С/W||n/a|
|Fan type and model||VortexPro RGB LED × 2|
|Fan rotation speed, rpm||1000-2000 (±10%)|
|Airflow, CFM||2×72 (max)|
|Noise level, dBA||8–29.5 (±10%)|
|Static pressure, mm H2O||n/a|
|Number and type of fan bearings||1, hydrodynamic|
|Fan MTBF, hours/years||30,000 / >3.4|
|Rated/starting voltage of the fan, V||12/2.8|
|Fan current, A||0.22–0.39|
|Declared/measured fan power consumption, W||4.68×2 / 2.86×2|
|Can be installed on processors with sockets||Intel LGA775/115x/1366/2011(v3)/2066
AMD Socket AM2(+)/AM3(+)/AM4/FM1/FM2(+)
|Maximum processor TDP level, W||230|
|Extras (features)||Dual PWM fans with backlight, backlight sync capability, 7.5W/(mK) thermal paste|
|Warranty period, years||1|
|Retail price, rub.||3 800|
⇡#Packaging and equipment
The cooling system comes in a small cardboard box. On its front side there is a photo of a working cooler, the maximum thermal package of the processor that the cooling system must cope with is indicated, and at the very bottom the product features are briefly listed.
The other sides of the box are not empty either. On them you can find brief technical specifications, a list of the cooler’s key advantages, as well as a list of supported processor sockets.
On the basis of the box, the manufacturer and the country of production, which in our case is China, are indicated.
Inside the cardboard box, the cooler lies in a plastic pallet, and next to it, the accessories included in the package are placed in a bag. These include a universal reinforcement plate on the back of the board, two pairs of rails for Intel and AMD, a set of screws, bushings and washers, thermal paste with a thermal conductivity of 7.5 W / (m K), and cables for connecting backlit fans.
We add that in Russia the PCCooler GI-D66A HALO RGB is guaranteed for a period of one year and that its cost is $20.
The cooler looks very unusual. It’s a tower type, but its heatsink is covered in plastic so that only the heatpipes at the bottom of the heatsink and a small aluminum heatsink above them are visible. Thanks to this design, the PCCooler GI-D66A HALO RGB is really attractive in appearance, although it is very far from the classic image of an air cooler for the processor.
However, it is obvious that the emphasis here is on design, and not on manufacturability, as evidenced, among other things, by the presence of controlled backlighting. The height of the cooling system is 160 mm, and the width and thickness are 135 and 107 mm, respectively. The cooler weighs 907 grams, of which 640 fall on the radiator.
Both wide sides of the radiator are equipped with 120 mm fans oriented for blowing and blowing. Their speeds are synchronized, and they drive the air flow through the radiator quite actively even at minimum speeds.
The sides of the cooler are covered with plastic halves of casings, but at the same time they have narrow slots. It can be assumed that these slots are intended for partial outflow of air from the radiator, but in fact nothing comes out through them even at maximum fan speed.
The top of the radiator is also completely covered with plastic. Here is the illumination around the perimeter of the cover and the GAMEICE logo, also illuminated.
Interestingly, the lower part of the heatsink is also partially covered by the curved edges of the casing halves, and to get to the heatsink itself, you need to remove the fans, which are fixed on the latches. Below them we see a rather dense package of aluminum plates, the ends of which have a subtle hint of some kind of optimization to reduce airflow resistance.
In total, we counted 50 aluminum plates 0.4 mm thick in the radiator, pressed onto heat pipes with an interfin distance of 1.8 mm. The approximate calculated area of the radiator here is 6870 cm2 — this is less than most tower coolers of such dimensions and weight. But let’s not forget that the dimensions of the PCCooler GI-D66A HALO RGB are extended with a plastic casing, and not at all with practically useful metal.
There are six heat pipes in the radiator. They are all 6mm in diameter and each tube is nickel plated. They penetrate the radiator plates evenly over their entire area.
At the same time, the main disadvantage in the radiator is the crimping of the plates on the tubes instead of soldering, which is more efficient in terms of heat transfer.
As for the base of the cooler, it is made according to the direct contact technology, and the heat pipes are installed close to each other. Of course, there are small gaps between them, but this is much better in terms of heat transfer uniformity than when the tubes are inserted into an aluminum blank with 1-2 mm gaps from each other.
Unfortunately, the contact surface of the base of the cooler is processed rather mediocrely, since the marks from the cutter, which you should clearly see in the photo above, are also felt tactile. At the same time, the surface is even, there are no bulges or recesses, so we managed to get uniform prints over the entire area of the heat spreader of the LGA2066 processor.
The impellers of the VortexPro RGB LED fans are firmly built into the plastic frames, so, if something happens, it will be problematic to replace them. The diameter of each nine-blade impeller is 104 mm, and the stator is 43 mm.
As with the fans of the PCCooler liquid cooling system we tested earlier, the impeller blades have notches on the inside, which should structure the airflow and increase static pressure.
If we talk about the technical characteristics of the “turntables”, then their speed, controlled by pulse-width modulation, can vary in the range from 1000 to 2000 rpm with an error of up to 10%, the maximum air flow of each fan is declared at around 72 CFM, and the noise level — from 8 to 29.5 dBA. The static pressure is not indicated in the characteristics of the fans, and from the measured electrical characteristics, we single out a low starting voltage — 2.08 V and a relatively low power consumption — 2.86 W (with the declared 4.68 W). The hydrodynamic bearings of the fans are required to work for at least 30,000 hours, which is equivalent to three and a half years of continuous operation.
⇡ # Compatibility and installation
PCCooler GI-D66A HALO RGB, as befits a flagship cooler, supports all modern platforms, except for the very specific AMD Socket TR4. We could not find an electronic instruction, but in the complete set everything is already presented in a very accessible and detailed way. To install the cooler on our test platform with LGA2066, four threaded studs are used, screwed into the holes of the processor socket support plate.
In turn, two steel guides with holes are attached to the base of the cooler with two screws.
This step is the same for any platform, it’s just that AMD and Intel use their own pairs of steel rails.
Then, not forgetting about the thermal paste, the cooler should be installed on the processor and evenly pulled from above with spring-loaded screws and a small key.
We note right away that this process is rather inconvenient, and you can use a Phillips screwdriver for clamping screws only by removing both fans from the radiator. This, in turn, will be inconvenient if you install the cooler without removing the motherboard from the system unit case.
The minimum distance from the plastic casing of the cooler to the motherboard is 35 mm, but this is only in the central part, near the heat pipes, where the cooler cannot interfere with anything.
Closer to the edges, the casing rises above the board more, and in general, the cooler is too narrow to conflict with RAM modules with high heatsinks.
Even with all these inconveniences, the whole process of installing the PCCooler GI-D66A HALO RGB on the board took us no more than 10 minutes, and as a result we got a very attractive picture inside the case.
However, to make it even more attractive, you need to connect four (!) cooler cables to two splitters. In my opinion, when four cables leave the processor cooler, this is somehow, to put it mildly, not entirely correct.
However, everything is compensated by the illumination of the fans and the cooler cover, which without exaggeration looks amazing.
We add that the backlight can be synchronized with the backlight of the motherboard and other components of the system unit, or it can be controlled using a small remote control.
⇡#Test configuration, tools and testing methodology
Evaluation of the efficiency of the PCCooler GI-D66A HALO RGB cooling system and its competitors was carried out in a closed case of the system unit of the following configuration:
- motherboard: ASUS ROG Strix X299-E Gaming (Intel X299 Express, LGA2066, BIOS 1602 from 11/30/2018);
- CPU: Intel Core i9-7900X (14++nm, Skylake-X, U0, 3.3-4.5GHz, 1.1V, 10×1MB L2, 13.75MB L3);
- thermal interface: ARCTIC MX-4 (8.5 W/(m K);
- RAM: DDR4 4×4GB 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: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 G1 Gaming (GV-N1080G1 GAMING-8GD) 8 GB/256 bit, 1696-1835(1936)/10008 MHz;
- 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);
- sound card: Auzen X-Fi HomeTheater HD;
- case: Thermaltake Core X71 (six be quiet! Silent Wings 2 [BL063] at 900 rpm, three — for blowing, three — for blowing out);
- control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC3;
- PSU: Corsair AX1500i Digital ATX (1500W, 80 Plus Titanium), 140mm fan.
To evaluate the efficiency of cooling systems, a ten-core processor on BCLK equal to 100 MHz, with a fixed value 41 multiplier and set to the fifth level of stabilization of the Load-Line Calibration function was overclocked across all cores to a frequency 4.1 GHz with increasing voltage in the BIOS of the motherboard to 1.020 V.
The VCCIO voltage was set to 0.900 V, and VCCSA to 0.850 V. In turn, the voltage of the RAM modules was fixed at around 1.33 V, and its frequency was 2.933 GHz with timings of 15-16-16-32 CR1. In addition, several more changes have been made to the BIOS related to overclocking the processor and RAM.
Testing was carried out on the Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (1803 17134.472) operating system. Software used for the test:
- Prime95 29.4 build 8 — to create a load on the processor (Small FFTs load mode, two cycles of 20 minutes each);
- HWiNFO64 6.00-3620 — for temperature monitoring and visual control of all system parameters.
A full screenshot during one of the test cycles is as follows.
The load on the processor was created by two consecutive cycles of Prime95. It took 13-15 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 24.3–24.7 °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 polyurethane foam substrate. The lower measurement limit of the sound level meter is 22.0 dBA, and the subjectively comfortable (please don’t confuse it with low!) cooler noise level when measured from such a distance is about 36 dBA. For a conditionally low noise level, we take a value of 33 dBA.
As preliminary tests showed, to evaluate the cooling efficiency of the PCCooler GI-D66A HALO RGB, it turned out to be enough to include in the comparison a modest Scythe Kotetsu cooler (~3,000 rubles) in the standard configuration with one 120mm fan.
The rotation speed of the cooling system fans was adjusted using a special controller with an accuracy of ±10 rpm in the range from 800 rpm to their maximum in increments of 200 or 400 rpm.
⇡ # Test results and their analysis
⇡ # Cooling efficiency
The results of testing the efficiency of cooling systems are presented in the diagram and in the table.
The cooling efficiency of the PCCooler GI-D66A HALO RGB is not outstanding, because even with the maximum speed of its two fans, it could only surpass the average class cooler with a single 120mm fan at 1380 rpm by two degrees Celsius. Moreover, if we compare the efficiency of these two cooling systems at the same fan speeds, then already at 1200 rpm, the advantage of Scythe Kotetsu is three degrees Celsius in peak temperature, and at 1000 rpm it is two degrees Celsius. The final chord of confrontation between these two coolers was their results at 800 rpm. Or rather, Kotetsu, albeit at the limit, still managed to cool the processor, and GI-D66A HALO RGB, alas, could not do it. According to the table with the results, it is worth noting that the temperature delta between the hottest and coldest processor cores in a cooler with a direct-contact base is noticeably higher than in a cooler with a classic base (by 4-5 degrees Celsius).
Leaving no attempts to rehabilitate the PCCooler GI-D66A HALO RGB, we overclocked the ten-core processor by another 0.1 GHz, with a final 4.2 GHz, a voltage of 1.041-1.042 V and its LLC stabilization level of 5.
The PCCooler coped with such a load at the maximum speed of its two fans, as well as at 1800 and 1600 rpm. You can see his best result, as well as the result of Scythe Kotetsu with such a processor overclock, in the screenshots below.
As you can see, at maximum fan speed PCCooler GI-D66A HALO RGB was able to outperform Scythe Kotetsu by seven degrees Celsius at peak load, but already at 1800 rpm this advantage is reduced to 4 degrees Celsius, and at 1600 rpm it completely disappears to no. At lower fan speeds, the flagship PCCooler could no longer cope with such a load.
⇡ # Noise level
For a change, we’ve included the recently tested PCCooler GI-AH280C CORONA RGB on the two-cooler noise measurements, whose fans and pump we were quite impressed with (in terms of noise). And here’s what we got today.
Unfortunately, unlike the LSS, the PCCooler GI-D66A HALO RGB fans did not please us with a low noise level, barely reaching the subjective comfort limit of 36 dBA. Such a slight decrease in the noise level in the fan speed range from 800 to 1150 rpm is due to the hum of the fan motors, which does not disappear until they stop. Well, at speeds above 1150 rpm, the hum of electric motors simply drowns in the noise of the air flow. And although the GI-D66A HALO RGB outperforms the Scythe Kotetsu in this speed range, it no longer matters, since there is no need to talk about comfort here.
The main advantages of the PCCooler GI-D66AHALO RGB include an unusual design, beautiful illumination of the fans and the top panel, which can be synchronized with the illumination of other components, good efficiency (but only at maximum fan speed), as well as a universal and reliable mount.
Obviously, PCCooler relied on the external aesthetics of the product — and, in our opinion, they succeeded. The presence of the original customizable backlight will be relevant, since almost every second case sold now has a transparent wall. Based on this fact, we can say that the GI-D66A HALO RGB has every chance to find its niche in the market. Be that as it may, the choice is always up to the end user.