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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[nextpage title=”Introduction (Cont’d)”]
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.
Removing the fan we can see the solid heatsink with aluminum fins and a classic aspect.
A unique fan is the trademark of ISGC series, with recesses on blade tips and a clean white look.
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.
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.
Figure 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.
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.
Figure 13: Socket LGA775 clips installed.
Once installed on the motherboard, we have an idea of the size of the ISGC-300.
Figure 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.
[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.
- Processor: Core 2 Extreme QX6850
- Motherboard: Gigabyte EP45-UD3L
- Memory: 2 GB Corsair XMS2 DHX TWIN2X2048-6400C4DHX G (DDR2-800/PC2-6400 with timings 4-4-4-12), running at 800 MHz
- Hard drive: 500 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST3500320AS, SATA-300, 7200 rpm, 32 MB buffer)
- Video card: PNY Verto Geforce 9600 GT
- Video resolution: 1680×1050
- Video monitor: Samsung Syncmaster 2232BW Plus
- Power supply required: Seventeam ST-550P-AM
- Case: 3RSystem K100
- Windows XP Professional installed on FAT32 partition
- Service Pack 3
- Intel Inf driver version: 184.108.40.2069
- NVIDIA video driver version: 182.08
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.
|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
|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
|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.
The next graph will give you an idea on how many degrees Celsius the CPU core was hotter than room temperature during the tests.
[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.
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.
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