In our recent review of the Thermaltake MaxOrb and the Scythe Andy Samurai Master we evaluated whether the traditional down-facing fan coolers delivered the better performance and cooler computer systems their ads promise. Unfortunately, while both coolers performed better than the stock Intel cooler, neither came even close to cooling as well as the heatpipe towers with side-mounted fans that have topped our cooler performance tests in recent months.

Both also fell short in the overclocking parameter, as neither cooler could reach higher than 3.83GHz when our top air coolers were reaching 3.90 to 3.94GHz on the same CPU. We concluded that the down-facing fan designs really did not perform as promised - at least compared to the side-fan heatpipe towers cooling a Core 2 Duo processor.

Many readers requested that we test the Thermaltake Big Typhoon VX, a down-facing fan cooler with six heatpipes that has been around for a while and earned an excellent performance reputation. We really had not planned a Big Typhoon VX review since we did review the Thermaltake MaxOrb, but we are always as curious as you are whether something performs as promised. So we asked our friends at Frozen CPU for a retail Big Typhoon VX and pushed through our full suite of cooler tests.

The Big Typhoon uses a multi-speed cooling fan that is very similar to the MaxOrb just tested. This should not come as a surprise since both coolers are manufactured by Thermaltake. The specified speed range, noise, and fan output range of the VX are very similar to the embedded fan on the MaxOrb. Both have a fan speed control right on the cooler, and both also have six 6mm copper heatpipes for cooling.

The biggest difference between the MaxOrb and Big Typhoon VX is in size and weight. As you can see in the comparison photo the VX is massive beside the MaxOrb. What you cannot see is the large weight difference, with the Big Typhoon VX tipping the scale at 827g (2 pounds) compared to the almost svelte 465g of the MaxOrb. While design components are similar, the MaxOrb is about half the weight.

The question that comes to mind is whether the larger size and greater mass will contribute to improved performance of the Big Typhoon VX? With more metal and longer heatpipes is heat better dissipated by the VX? We had also seen another roundup that placed the Big Typhoon VX at the top of the performance heap - well in front of our top-performing Thermalright Ultra-120 and Ultra-120 eXtreme. Of course that roundup did not test with the Core 2 Duo, which is the logical choice of today's overclockers. Perhaps more significant, the 86.5CFM Big Typhoon VX fan was compared to a Thermalright Ultra-120 mounting a low output (30CFM or 47CFM depending on setup) Silent fan. We were left to wonder whether more than double the airflow might have been the main contributor to the Big Typhoon victory over coolers we had found to be very capable.

Our goal was to put to rest all of these questions. Using the same test bed used for our ongoing cooler tests we set out to determine whether or not the Big Typhoon VX was really the better cooler on Core 2 Duo.

Thermaltake Big Typhoon VX
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  • rjm55 - Thursday, June 7, 2007 - link

    Maybe the real point is that those who bought these down-fan coolers for better cooling are just disappointed to find out they don't work as well as the top guns.
  • stepone - Thursday, June 7, 2007 - link

    The point I was making was that the 120 VX (& down blowers inparticular) benefit more from exhaust fans than tower coolers do and a proper case setup will nearly always include at least 1 120mm extraction fan.

    Seriously who buys an after market HSF & then uses no case fans (HTPC users maybe but most HSF units will be 2 big for those cases)?

    As for your sour grapes implication, you're being very close minded...
    Is it not possible that other people's opinions & real world experience of the 120 VX could be different & that they're trying to simply get people to take a 2nd look at this HSF instead of being petty individuals in a vindictive jealous rage trying to steer others to the same mistake?

    As for Anand techs dissing of Hexus's tests this doesn't seem fair.

    Sure they used a different testing methodology than yours but that doesn't make their results worthless and although I disagree with some of their methodology as well it doesn't negate their results. Just as it doesn't negate yours.

    To me these 2 reviews make it clear that a case with good ventilation & 2-3 fans will benefit the 120 VX more than a tower cooler & perhaps skew you in that direction but cases with 1 or no fans should go with a tower cooler for better results.

    And yes I am happy to seed the crown of best HSF to the Ultra 120 as I do believe it is the best around at the moment. I just believe that the 120VX is a better cooler in real world cases then you give it credit for as your test setup does not reflect the type of system setup that most people will be using in their PC's.

    Still good job Anand Tech for providing a review at all.

    Thanks... (boy that was way too long :-)
  • rjm55 - Thursday, June 7, 2007 - link

    Am I dense? If the down facing fan coolers need case fans to approach cooling as well as the towers with side fans isn't this proof the towers cool better?

    It is also interesting that Wesley found the down fans and side fan models both benefited from adding a case fan. So what's the point?
  • DaveLessnau - Thursday, June 7, 2007 - link


    However if down-facing cools better, then why can't these down-facing designs compete with the best heatpipe towers in performance on our Core 2 Duo test bed?

    As I mentioned in your last heatsink review, it's because you don't have a case fan. All you're doing with the down-facing fan on this heatsink is circulating the same hot air around and around the case. All it does (all it CAN do) is get hotter. No one in their right mind would run a computer without at least one case fan, ESPECIALLY when over-clocking. In this artificial (and incorrect) test environment you've created, those side-blowing heatsink have a definite advantage since they can force some hot air out through that empty case fan slot.

    I realize you did this test in the same environment as the last one so you could compare apples to apples. But, there's no point in a proper comparison across tests when the tests themselves are faulty. Put the case fan back in your test bed and at least re-test one down-blowing and one side-blowing heatsink.
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, June 7, 2007 - link

    Our current case does have a PS fan that removes hot air from the top of the case and rear vents to exhaust rear air, but no case fans. All coolers were tested under these consditions.

    We did test 2 of the down-facing coolers with a rear case fan installed. Cooling performance was improved a few degrees, but overclock remained about the same. We then tried the rear case fan with two of the heatpipe towers. Cooling performace was also improved using a case fan on the heatpipe towers but overclock was almost the same. We suspect that if we were testing with much lower output fans the case fan would make more of a difference.

    In the end we would need to retest all coolers with a case fan installed, not just the down-facers. Right now we doubt it would reveal more than we already know, based on quickly checking 4 coolers with a case fan.

    Our new test bed will include a "quieter" variable speed PS with a different fan configuration. We will also include a large low-rpm case fan. We do plan to retest a cross-section of the coolers for new baseline results when the new cooler test bed is finalized and updated.

  • Martimus - Thursday, June 7, 2007 - link

    I know that I have written in both of the previous reviews that blowing the hot air back onto the component is counterproductive, and that turing the fan around would help that part at least. But, the side blowing fan is just a better design. It has better airflow, and doesn't end up with the turbulence and back pressure that a downward facing fan has. Side blowing fans aren't always practical though, because they stick out much farther, and cause much more strain on the motherboard.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, June 7, 2007 - link

    The height of the VX is 150mm, including the control knob on top, so say 135mm for the top of the fan. Most of the weight is far away from the motherboard. The Tuniq
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, June 7, 2007 - link

    typo submitted the comment unfinished.

    The Tuniq is 155mm tall and the Thermalrights 160.5, and I would not be surprised if they put less of a moment on the motherboard due to the mass not being all concentrated at the far end.
  • Bull Dog - Thursday, June 7, 2007 - link

    Very nice review. I love the dig at Hexus at the end. Their review really did piss me off in the fact that they used such a crappy fan on their Ultra-120.
  • jkostans - Thursday, June 7, 2007 - link

    I agree, this review is 10x better than the Hexus one. The Hexus review was a slap in the face to legit reviews.

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