This time we tested the Xigmatek Gaia CPU cooler. It has a tower heatsink, three 8 mm direct-touch heatpipes, and a 120 mm fan.
The Gaia seems to be the “bigger brother” of the Xigmatek Loki, which we recently tested. Its box is relatively small and simple, as you can see in Figure 1.
The box contents are shown in Figure 2: heatsink, fan, manuals, thermal compound, and installation hardware. The cooler came with only one fan, but it comes with the hardware necessary to install a second 120 mm fan.
Figure 3 shows the Xigmatek Gaia heatsink.
This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.
[nextpage title=”The Xigmatek Gaia”]
Figure 4 shows the heatsink from the front. It is simple, with U-shaped heatpipes disposed in one row at each side.
In Figure 5, you see the side of the cooler, where the thick (8 mm) heatpipes are visible. The sides are partially closed by folded fins.
Figure 6 presents the top of the heatsink. Notice the shape of the fins, which have reentrancies for the fan holders in both sides.
[nextpage title=”The Xigmatek Gaia (Cont’d)”]
Figure 7 reveals the base of the cooler, where the heatpipes touch the CPU directly.
Figure 8 shows the Gaia heatsink with the rubber fan holders installed on one side.
In Figure 9, you can see the PWM fan (with a four-pin connector) that comes with the Gaia.
Figure 10 shows the clips for Intel CPUs installed at the base of the cooler. The Gaia uses the same retention mechanism as the Xigmatek Loki and has the same issue. It doesn’t allow sufficient down force to be applied to the CPU. In order to improve this, we bent the tips of the clips a little upwards.
After installing the clips at the base, you must install the backplate with four screws from the solder side of the motherboard, holding it in place by four thumbnuts, as shown in Figure 11.
Then put the cooler in place and hold it using another four thumbnuts.
The last step is to install the fan, which is not an easy task since the rubber holders are too short and hard; we had to use pliers.
[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
We tested the cooler with a Core i7-860 CPU (quad-core, 2.8 GHz), which is a socket LGA1156 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 3.3 GHz (150 MHz base clock and 22x multiplier), keeping the standard core voltage (Vcore), which was the maximum stable overclock we could make with the stock cooler. Keep in mind that we could have raised the CPU clock more, but to include the stock cooler in our comparison, we needed to use this moderate overclock.
We measured noise and temperature with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all threads, we ran Prime 95 25.11 with the “In-place Large FFTs” option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)
We compared the tested cooler to the Intel stock cooler with a copper base (included with the CPU), as well as with other coolers. Note that in the past, we tested coolers with a socket LGA775 CPU, and we retested some “old” coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read in the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that accompanies it.
Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings. During the tests, the left panel of the case was open.
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 case and video board cooler fans so they wouldn’t interfere with the results. This measurement is only for comparison purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acousticall
y insulated room with no other noise sources, which isn’t the case here.
- Processor: Core i7-860
- Motherboard: Gigabyte P55A-UD6
- Memory: 2 GB Markvision (DDR3-1333/PC3-10700 with 9-9-9-22 timings), configured at 1,200 MHz
- Hard disk: Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB
- Video card: Zotac GeForce GTS 250
- Video resolution: 1680×1050
- Video monitor: Samsung Syncmaster 2232BW Plus
- Power supply: Seventeam ST-550P-AM
- Case: 3RSystem L-1100 T.REX Cool
Operating System Configuration
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit SP1
We adopted a 2 °C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.
[nextpage title=”Our Tests”]
The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at idle and at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, the fan was set at the minimum speed on the idle test and at full speed on the full load test.
Processor at Full Load
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock (socket LGA1156)||14 °C||44 dBA||1700 rpm||46 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||90 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G1||14 °C||47 dBA||2050 rpm||33 °C||56 dBA||2900 rpm||62 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||14 °C||45 dBA||1400 rpm||27 °C||53 dBA||1950 rpm||51 °C|
|Thermaltake Silent 1156||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||49 dBA||1750 rpm||69 °C|
|Noctua NH-D14||14 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||27 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||53 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Performa||14 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||28 °C||52 dBA||1950 rpm||54 °C|
|Prolimatech Megahalems||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||50 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio||14 °C||46 dBA||1450 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||50 °C|
|Prolimatech Samuel 17||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||40 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||63 °C|
|Zalman CNPS8000A||18 °C||43 dBA||1400 rpm||39 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||70 °C|
|Spire TherMax Eclipse II||14 °C||55 dBA||2200 rpm||28 °C||55 dBA||2200 rpm||53 °C|
|Scythe Ninja3||17 °C||39 dBA||700 rpm||32 °C||55 dBA||1800 rpm||57 °C|
|Corsair A50||18 °C||52 dBA||1900 rpm||33 °C||52 dBA||1900 rpm||60 °C|
|Thermaltake Jing||18 °C||44 dBA||850 rpm||34 °C||49 dBA||1300 rpm||60 °C|
|GlacialTech Alaska||18 °C||43 dBA||1150 rpm||36 °C||51 dBA||1600 rpm||60 °C|
|Deepcool Gamer Storm||18 °C||43 dBA||1100 rpm||35 °C||48 dBA||1600 rpm||62 °C|
|Corsair A70||26 °C||56 dBA||1900 rpm||40 °C||56 dBA||1900 rpm||65 °C|
|Deepcool Ice Blade Pro||23 °C||45 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||52 dBA||1500 rpm||64 °C|
|AC Freezer 7 Pro Rev. 2||23 °C||47 dBA||1750 rpm||44 °C||51 dBA||2100 rpm||77 °C|
|Corsair H70||27 °C||60 dBA||1900 rpm||37 °C||60 dBA||1900 rpm||61 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9900 Max||27 °C||55 dBA||1600 rpm||38 °C||58 dBA||1750 rpm||63 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 11 LP||25 °C||45 dBA||1700 rpm||51 °C||49 dBA||1950 rpm||91 °C|
|CoolIT Vantage||26 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||37 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||62 °C|
|Deepcool Ice Matrix 600||25 °C||46 dBA||1100 rpm||41 °C||53 dBA||1300 rpm||69 °C|
|Titan Hati||26 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||40 °C||57 dBA||2450 rpm||68 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 13||27 °C||49 dBA||1950 rpm||41 °C||53 dBA||2300 rpm||70 °C|
|Noctua NH-C14||26 °C||52 dBA||1300 rpm||37 °C||52 dBA||1300 rpm||61 °C|
|Intel XTS100H||26 °C||49 dBA||1200 rpm||42 °C||64 dBA||2600 rpm||68 °C|
|Zalman CNPS5X SZ||23 °C||52 dBA||2250 rpm||38 °C||57 dBA||2950 rpm||69 °C|
|Thermaltake SlimX3||21 °C||50 dBA||2700 rpm||46 °C||50 dBA||2750 rpm||99 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper 101||21 °C||50 dBA||2600 rpm||38 °C||57 dBA||3300 rpm||71 °C|
|Antec Kühler H2O 620||19 °C||52 dBA||1400 rpm||34 °C||55 dBA||1400 rpm||58 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro||20 °C||46 dBA||1100 rpm||36 °C||49 dBA||1300 rpm||62 °C|
|GlacialTech Siberia||22 °C||49 dBA||1400 rpm||34 °C||49 dBA||1400 rpm||61 °C|
|Evercool Transformer 3||18 °C||46 dBA||1800 rpm||33 °C||51 dBA||2250 rpm||65 °C|
|Zalman CNPS11X Extreme||20 °C||51 dBA||1850 rpm||34 °C||56 dBA||2050 rpm||61 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio OCK||15 °C||44 dBA||1000 rpm||27 °C||64 dBA||2200 rpm||51 °C|
|Prolimatech Genesis||18 °C||49 dBA||1050 rpm||30 °C||49 dBA||1050 rpm||54 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer XTREME Rev. 2||15 °C||41 dBA||1050 rpm||32 °C||44 dBA||1400 rpm||60 °C|
|NZXT HAVIK 140||16 °C||48 dBA||1250 rpm||29 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||55 °C|
|Antec Kühler H2O 920||18 °C||41 dBA||650 rpm||29 °C||64 dBA||2500 rpm||49 °C|
|Zalman CNP7X LED||18 °C||45 dBA||1950 rpm||33 °C||48 dBA||2150 rpm||58 °C|
|EVGA Superclock||14 °C||43 dBA||1300 rpm||27 °C||58 dBA||2350 rpm||47 °C|
|Evercool Transformer 4||15 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||26 °C||53 dBA||1950 rpm||52 °C|
|Xigmatek Dark Knight||18 °C||47 dBA||1700 rpm||30 °C||53 dBA||2150 rpm||57 °C|
|Xigmatek Aegir||15 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||27 °C||50 dBA||1950 rpm||52 °C|
|Cooler Master GeminII S524||16 °C||45 dBA||1300 rpm||29 °C||53 dBA||1800 rpm||58 °C|
|Enermax ETS-T40-TA||16 °C||40 dBA||1050 rpm||28 °C||48 dBA||1800 rpm||55 °C|
|Corsair H80||14 °C||42 dBA||2150 rpm||25 °C||52 dBA||2150 rpm||47 °C|
|Akasa Venom Voodoo||13 °C||40 dBA||1000 rpm||26 °C||48 dBA||1500 rpm||51 °C|
|Xigmatek Thor’s Hammer||15 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||30 °C||50 dBA||2000 rpm||55 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper 612 PWM||19 °C||45 dBA||1400 rpm||30 °C||52 dBA||1900 rpm||54 °C|
|Xigmatek Loki||17 °C||44 dBA||1850 rpm||34 °C||55 dBA||2750 rpm||60 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO||14 °C||44 dBA||1250 rpm||26 °C||50 dBA||1750 rpm||50 °C|
|Xigmatek Gaia||17 °C||44 dBA||1250 rpm||32 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||61 °C|
In the graph below, at full load you can see how many degrees Celsius hotte
r the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the Xigmatek Gaia cooler include:
- Application: Sockets 775, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, and FM1 processors
- Dimensions: 4.7 x 2.0 x 6.3 inches (120 x 50 x 159 mm) (W x L x H)
- Fins: Aluminum
- Base: Aluminum, with heatpipes in direct contact to the CPU
- Heat-pipes: Three 8-mm copper heatpipes
- Fan: One 120 mm fan (supports two fans)
- Nominal fan speed: 1,500 rpm
- Fan air flow: 56.3 cfm
- Maximum power consumption: 1.56 W
- Nominal noise level: 24 dBA
- Weight: 1.0 lbs (460 g)
- More information: https://www.xigmatek.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 30.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
The Xigmatek Gaia seems to be a bigger version of the Xigmatek Loki (sharing its problematic mounting mechanism). However, in our tests, it actually performed worse than the Xigmatek Loki. Maybe the problem is the fan, which is not strong (though it is extremely quiet).
In its present state, the Xigmatek Gaia is a very quiet CPU cooler, but if it had a stronger fan (or fans), and if there was a solution for the low pressure mounting mechanism, it would perform better.