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Reviewed By: Carl Nelson [06.20.01]
Manufactured by: ThermalTake
Suggested Price: $??


The Test 

To test the temperatures, we brought the CPU to absolute full load by running the Prime95 Torture Tests for about an hour.  I'm not going to bother you with Idle Temp scores any longer, they are pretty much irrelevant if you have the stress temps.

NEW! From now on we will give you Noise Level results! For me, noise is very important in picking a CPU cooler, and now I have a standardized way to test this.  We use a regular old Radio Shack Noise Level Meter, and hold is 1 inch from the top of the cooler (so no air is blowing on the microphone).  Note that the noise level given WILL include that of the case and any other surrounding noise, but our tests will serve as a means to compare noise levels of the coolers we review from now on.

The CPU used is an AMD Duron 750 clocked at 950 Mhz (1.85 volts).  The computer case is closed, to reproduce an actual environment most people will have at home.  Case temp was around 30 degrees at all times.  You might want to read up on our testing method below, we use a new HIGHLY ACCURATE method of measuring CPU core temperatures.

HSF Unit Noise Level (Db) 60 Minutes of Prime95 (C)
Thermaltake Dragon Orb III 85 45
Thermaltake Volcano II 70.5 52
Thermaltake Mini Copper Orb 72 53
Thermaltake Mini Super Orb 77 56
Stock Heatsink 65 57

Unfortunately, the only heatsinks we have around here are Thermaltake products... Well that isn't such a bad thing in itself, except it makes it a bit hard for comparison purposes.  I'd love to have a Globalwin or something in there, just to put some variety in our benchmarks...

As you can see, the Dragon Orb III puts Thermaltake into a whole new league... The Hardcore Cooling league.  Of course, with that, you will have to forego the luxury of a quiet cooler... The Dragon Orb III clocking in at an excruciatingly noisy 85 dBA.  Our sound testing method isn't exact, but compared to the other coolers, you should be able to get an idea of how loud that is... To me, the 77 dBA Super Orb is very loud, but the Dragon Orb is intolerable.  Of course, I am not you, but it is my job to let you know such things about a cooler; it's up to you to decide if the noise is acceptable.

A Note About Our Temperature Measuring Method

We have started using a new method of temperature reading that is MUCH more accurate than the 'lazy' way of doing it (the way we used to do it, and the way most review sites do it now).  The 'lazy' way would be to simply use the pre-installed thermistor that many motherboards have installed below the CPU.  This is actually a very inaccurate method of reading core temperatures.  Rather than go into full detail of this, I'll point you to a site that has excellent documentation on this matter.  Needless to say, this is the method we'll be using from now on, if testing in-house.

And here is the 'right' way to do it.  This will get us the most accurate core CPU temperature readings, and will present a better way to compare heatsink performance.  Let's make sure other sites start doing the same! Of course, nothing will be better than taking a reading right in the middle of the core itself, but this is about as close as we can get right now :)

After months and months of new products, and hardware enthusiasts consistently asking for MORE from Thermaltake, we finally got it, in spades.  The Dragon Orb III has to be one of the most capable coolers available today (or should I say tomorrow).  We never did receive our Swiftech, but when we do, it will be interesting to see which fares better.

The only complaint I have, and it's a substantial one, is the noise of the fan.  We all know that 7200 RPM fans are very loud, but we also know that there is very little we can do to get the performance of a 38 CFM loud fan.  This is definitely a niche product for the ultimate in hardcore air cooling.

  • VERY good cooling, coolest Thermaltake product ever!
  • Extremely high quality clip design
  • Cool looking colours
  • One of the best coolers for the sometimes sought-after "WOW Factor"

  • EXTREMELY loud, we're talkin jet engine here
  • Weight may be an issue
  • Too wide for some motherboards

Final Score: 90%