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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

We had already reviewed two coolers from Thermaltake’s ISGC series: ISGC-100 and ISGC-200, both with 92-mm fans. This time we tested ISGC-300, which uses a tower design with four U-shaped heatpipes and a 120 mm fan. Will it perform better than the other models from this series?

ISGC-300 box has the same graphic design from its little brothers, but is remarkably bigger.

ISGC-300
Figure 1: Box.

Inside the box we found the cooler with the fan (already installed), manuals, installation hardware, a gray thermal compound tube and a sticker for your case.

ISGC-300Figure 2: Box contents.

In Figure 3 you can take a look at the front part from ISGC-300. It resembles other tower coolers, like Akasa Nero and Noctua U12P.

ISGC-300Figure 3: Front view.

Viewing the cooler from its side we can see its four copper heatpipes and the fan, which is attached to the heatsink by two wire clips.

ISGC-300Figure 4: Side view.

An amazing detail is the fact that you can install another fan (not included) on ISGC-300, improving airflow. Unfortunately, Thermaltake did not included extra clips to attach this fan.

ISGC-300Figure 5: Rear view.

[nextpage title=”Introduction (Cont’d)”]

Viewed from the top, ISGC-300 shows plastic caps on the heatpipe tips (already found in other coolers of this series). We can also notice that the fins are almost rectangular, being very different, for example, from TMG IA1 also from Thermaltake.

ISGC-300Figure 6: Top view.

In Figure 7, you can see the three-pin fan connector, with three pins, i.e., without PWM speed control pin. But this fan has a speed control potentiometer that allows you to manually control the speed. The only problem in this system is the fact you need to open your case to change the rotation, because this potentiometer wire is short. It is a pity this fan has no automatic speed control.

ISGC-300Figure 7: Speed control.

Removing the fan we can see the solid heatsink with aluminum fins and a classic aspect.

ISGC-300Figure 8: Without the fan.

A unique fan is the trademark of ISGC series, with recesses on blade tips and a clean white look.

ISGC-300Figure 9: Fan.

The heatpipes do not touch directly to the CPU, but the copper base has a mirror-like polishing, as you can see in Figure 10.

ISGC-300Figure 10: Base.

[nextpage title=”Installation”]

To install the ISGC-300 on AMD CPUs (sockets AM3, AM2+ and AM2 only) you must use the hardware shown in Figure 11, installing the backplate behind the motherboard.

ISGC-300Figure 11: AMD installing hardware.

The clips shown in Figure 12 are used to install the ISGC-300 over the Intel socket LGA775 and socket LGA1366 CPUs. In this case, there is no backplate: you must attach the holders using nuts and silicon washers under the motherboard. So, unless your case offers access to the motherboard back side, it is necessary to remove the motherboard from the chassis in order to install the cooler.

ISGC-300Figure 12: Intel CPU clips.

In Figure 13, you can see how the base cooler with the socket LGA775 clips looks installed, as well as the four rubber washers that protect the motherboard.

ISGC-300Figure 13: Socket LGA775 clips installed.

Once installed on the motherboard, we have an idea of the size of the ISGC-300.

ISGC-300Figure 14: Installed on the motherboard.

Finally, in Figure 15 we can see how the cooler looks installed in the case. As with any other 120 mm fan tower cooler, it will not fit slim cases.

ISGC-300Figure 15: Installed into the case.

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]

We are adopting the following metodology on our CPU cooler reviews.

First, we chose the CPU with the highest TDP (Thermal Design Power) we had available, a Core 2 Extreme QX6850, which has a 130 W TDP. The choice for a CPU with a high TDP is obvious. To measure the efficiency of the tested cooler, we need a processor that gets very hot. This CPU works by default at 3.0 GHz, but we overclocked it to 3.33 GHz, in order to heat it as much as possible.

We took noise and temperature measurements with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to achieve 100% CPU load on the four processing cores we ran Prime95 with the "In-place Large FFTs" option, and three instances of the StressCPU program, all at the same time.

We also compared the reviewed cooler to the Intel stock cooler (with copper base), which comes with the processor we used, and also with some other coolers we have tested using the same methodology.

Temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer, with the sensor touching the base of the cooler, and also with the core temperature reading (given by the CPU thermal sensor) from the from the SpeedFan program, using an arithmetic average of the four core temperature readings.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed 4" (10 cm) from the fan. We turned off the video board cooler so it wouldn’t interfere with the results, but this measurement is only for comparative purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

  • Windows XP Professional installed on FAT32 partition
  • Service Pack 3
  • Intel Inf driver version: 8.3.1.1009
  • NVIDIA video driver version: 182.08

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2 °C error margin, i.e., temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.

[nextpage title=”Our Tests”]

On the tables below you can see our results. We ran the same tests with the Intel stock cooler, Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro, Akasa Nero, Cooler Master V10, Thermaltake TMG IA1, Zalman CNPS10X Extreme, Thermaltake ISGC-100, Noctua NH-U12P Noctua NH-C12P, Thermaltake ISGC-200, Scythe Kabuto, Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro and Thermaltake ISGC-300. Each test ran with the CPU idle and the with the CPU fully loaded. On BigTyp 14Pro, TMG IA1, NH-U12P and ISGC-300 the tests were done with the fan at full speed and at minimum speed. The other coolers were connected directly to the motherboard and it controls the fan speed based on CPU load level and temperature on PWM models.

CPU Idle

Cooler Room Temp. Noise Fan Speed Base Temp. Core Temp.
Intel stock 14 °C 44 dBA 1000 rpm 31 °C 42 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed) 17 °C 47 dBA 880 rpm 29 °C 36 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed) 17 °C 59 dBA 1500 rpm 26 °C 34 °C
Akasa Nero 18 °C 41 dBA 500 rpm 26 °C 35 oC
Cooler Master V10 14 °C 44 dBA 1200 rpm 21 °C 26 °C
TMG IA1 (max. speed) 16 °C 47 dBA 1500 rpm 22 °C 30 °C
TMG IA1 (min. speed) 16 °C 57 dBA 2250 rpm 21 °C 30 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme 16 °C 44 dBA 1200 rpm 21 °C 29
°C
Thermaltake ISGC-100 18 °C 44 dBA 1450 rpm 35 °C 49 °C
Noctua NH-U12P (low speed) 15 °C 42 dBA 1000 rpm 20 °C 30 °C
Noctua NH-U12P 15 °C 46 dBA 1400 rpm 20 °C 28 °C
Noctua NH-C12P 17 °C 46 dBA 1400 rpm 23 °C 28 °C
Thermaltake ISGC-200 21 °C 43 dBA 1100 rpm 31 °C 35 °C
Schythe Kabuto 22 °C 42 dBA 800 rpm 29 °C 34 °C
Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro 20 °C 43 dBA 1500 rpm 32 °C 39 °C
ISGC-300 (min. speed) 18 °C 42 dBA 800 rpm 26 °C 30 °C
ISGC-300 (max. speed) 18 °C 46 dBA 1400 rpm 24 °C 26 °C

CPU Fully Loaded

Cooler Room Temp.

Noise

Fan Speed Base Temp. Core Temp.
Intel stock 14 °C 48 dBA 1740 rpm 42 °C 100 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed) 17 °C 47 dBA 880 rpm 43 °C 77 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed) 17 °C 59 dBA 1500 rpm 35 °C 70 °C
Akasa Nero 18 °C 48 dBA 1500 rpm 34 °C 68 °C
Cooler Master V10 14 °C 54 dBA 1900 rpm 24 °C 52 °C
TMG IA1 (max. speed) 16 °C 47 dBA 1500 rpm 27 °C 63 °C
TMG IA1 (min. speed) 16 °C 57 dBA 2250 rpm 25 °C 60 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme 16 °C 51 dBA 1900 rpm 24 °C 50 °C
Thermaltake ISG-100 18 °C 50 dBA 1800 rpm 58 °C 93 °C
Noctua NH-U12P (low speed) 15< font size="1"> °C 42 dBA 1000 rpm 28 °C 59 °C
Noctua NH-U12P 15 °C 46 dBA 1400 rpm 25 °C 54 °C
Noctua NH-C12P 17 °C 46 dBA 1400 rpm 37 °C 76 °C
Thermaltake ISGC-200 21 °C 48 dBA 1900 rpm 42 °C 68 °C
Scythe Kabuto 22 °C 47 dBA 1200 rpm 38 °C 63 °C
Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro 20 °C 51 dBA 2300 rpm 49 °C 85 °C
ISGC-300 (min. speed) 18 °C 42 dBA 800 rpm 36 °C 64 °C
ISGC-300 (max. speed) 18 °C 46 dBA 1400 rpm 31 °C 56 °C

On the graph below you can see the temperature difference between the cooler base and the room temperature with the CPU idle and fully loaded.  The values shown are in degrees Celsius. Remember that the lower the number the better is cooling performance.

ISGC-300

The next graph will give you an idea on how many degrees Celsius the CPU core was hotter than room temperature during the tests.

ISGC-300

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

Thermaltake ISGC-300 main features are:

  • Application: Socket LGA775, 1366, AM3, AM2+ and AM2 processors.
  • Fins: Aluminum.
  • Base: Copper.
  • Heat-pipes: Four U-shape heat-pipes.
  • Fan: 120 mm.
  • Nominal fan speed: 800 to 2.000 rpm.
  • Fan air flow: 58.3 cfm.
  • Maximum power consumption: 3.96 W.
  • Nominal noise level: 16 dBA.
  • Weight: 1.53 lbs (697 g).
  • More information: https://www.thermaltakeusa.com
  • Average price in the US*: USD 50.00

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

The first Thermaltake ISGC series cooler we reviewed, ISGC-100, showed a poor performance. The ISGC-200, by its turn, brought a fairly good efficiency. Now, the ISGC-300 we review proved to be one of the best coolers we have tested so far. With the fan at full speed its performance is excellent, fighting with the best performance coolers we have reviewed, while keeping a good noise level. With low speed on the fan, it is almost inaudible, one of the quietest we have tested, keeping a very good cooling performance. It may not have the fanciest look, but does not look bad with its white fan.

The only flaw we found in this cooler is the fact that the cooler has no automatic fan speed control, nor a case-external fan control. But if you connect it to a fan controller, this problem is solved.

It is not a cheap cooler, but it is cheaper than similar performance coolers. So, Thermaltake ISGC-300 deserved the Hardware Secrets Golden Award seal.