Installation was relatively easy due to the three fan clips. However my northbridge cooler was in the way, so I had to remove the smartfan and depress the clip on to the far side, before attaching the closer side with a flat head screwdriver. I don't think most people would have this same problem however. Watch out though, before I found this method of installation, I did crack a piece of my core off (which I was not too pleased with), so this heatsink is more then capable of doing that, unlike something that is mounted to the four mounting holes (like my MCA 462). Installation had some weird problems and I had to reset my bios. I don't know exactly why, but any problems that I ran into, I feel I should mention.
Heatsink and fan Performance
I used a Swiftech MCA 462, with a 80mm 50cfm Delta, as a comparison for the Volcano 11+. Although this design is a little outdated (it does not have the helicoid pins) it's still a good heatsink and fan with extremely good cooling properties. Let's see how well the Volcano 11+ stacked up.
Both Heatsinks were tested using Arctic Silver 3 as the thermal conductor, and was applied thinly like so:
Yes that is an AMD stock heatsink and fan occupying my northbridge, and yes my cpu is unlocked and you can see the connected bridges if you look at the top corner of the cpu.
AMD 1800+ (Palomino Core)
Asus a7n8x (revision 2.0)
256mb Corsair XMS PC 2400
Geforce 4 Ti4600 nVidia reference card
Promise TX2 Raid Card
2x 20gb IMB 60gxp's
Load temps were measured while running prime 95 and folding@home. First, the Swifty...
||Swiftech MCA 462 (Idle)
||Swiftech MCA 462 (Load)
|Stock: 1538.22mhz @ 11.5x133
|Oced: 1653.75mhz @ 11.0x150
And now the Volcano 11+ Xaser...
||Volcano 11+ Xaser (Idle)
||Volcano 11+ Xaser (Load)
|Stock: 1538.22mhz @ 11.5x133
|Oced: 1653.75mhz @ 11.0x150
As you can see with the Swiftech MCA462 the temps only increased slightly, and with the Volcano 11+ Xaser edition, the increase in temperature was more dramatic. I would have overclocked my computer more so that it would be easier to show the greater difference in thermal dissipation, but my RAM was severely holding me back. However, the Xaser performed quite well.
After I got a basic idea of how well the heatsink and fan worked, I decided to test the extras. I thought that the most interesting of them by far would have to be the temp probe, so I decided to test that out first. The installation sheet says to mount the thermal diode on the bottom of the heatsink, but because I have a palomino core, I was unable to do that and you can see why:
So I decided to place the diode next to the cpu core. I cut off a piece of the thermal take and attached it to the cpu like so:
You can see the corner in which the Volcano 11+ chipped my core in that particular picture.
First I wanted to see how it would run at stock speeds before I decided to fire it up. I found that the temp sensor was very sensitive, and would scale almost immediately to temperature changes. I let it idle and then turned on prime95 and folding@home and it immediately increased in speed. Looking at my temperature monitor the fan seemed to want to keep the processor at 40 C. After some time, however, my machine reached 44 C and stayed there maxing out at that temperature. Wondering what it would take to make the fan run faster I decided to run it at its overclocked speeds.
Well in effect I never got to those overclocked speeds, because the temp sensor simply did not scale up, so my suggestion is if you want to OC your machine, the temperature sensor is definitely not the way to go.
I also tested out the rear bracket to test the range of the fan, and it scaled perfectly, for overclocking and the desire of silent browsing, I found that this was definitely the way to go. With the setting on its minimum the fan was almost silent, and rivaled the sound of my stock AMD heatsink (occupying my northbridge) to be the most quiet. With one turn of the knob, it's put at its maximum setting, and was easily able to scale all the way in between. For normal browsing the best way to use it was about at 1/4 of the speed, and of course for the gaming, cranking it all the way up.
Working with the Volcano 11+ was quite good, it performed much better then I thought it would with such a small heatsink. The Smart Fan and all its extras proved to be a delight to work with. A few things to mention, installation had that weird problem that I mentioned during installation that I would have to reset my bios, sometimes to the point of removing my battery, I do not know exactly what caused it, but it's there for all it's worth. Also I would suggest being very careful during installation, as I did crack my core because of it. The thin heatsink design dissipated the thermal load quite well, and combining it with the smartfan made it a very good budget heatsink.
The extra's that were bundled with it were also very useful, like the thermal diode and silicon paste that would be good for anyone looking just to run this combo on a stock computer (not overclocked). I found the addition of the 5 1/4 bracket useless unless you really need all of the rear brackets for all your loads of stuff, or like its aesthetical properties. The rear mounting bracket on the other hand worked very well and was extremely useable in the overclocked environment.
Pros: Extras like thermal diode and paste, good dollar value for the perfomance.
Cons: Tricky installation, not a great performer for overclockers, 5 1/4 bracket is redundant.
Bottom Line: Simply enough if you want to have the best performing heatsink and fan you should probably look elsewhere, but if you want the best bang for the buck, this is probably one of the better heatsink and fan combos you can buy.
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