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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  • Xajel - Thursday, June 7, 2007 - link

    AnandTech never reviewed the BT VX before, and when it did, it had concluded that this cooler is bad, why just coz another type of coolers are better !!

    the problem with this review is that the Cooler is very good, but the conclution did not give it what it deserve. it just said that a 90 degree mounted fans coolers are better.. ok I agree and thanks for AT for this, infact I just knows that thanks to Anand, but the problem is where the conclution for the VX as a cooler not as heatpipes tower vs. downfacing fans coolers comparision..
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, June 7, 2007 - link

    We did NOT say the BT was a bad cooler. We talked about the performance being the best for this type of cooler and the good things about installation and design. Don't you think It would be unfair to say the VX topped our perfromance list when it didn't?

    In our conclusion we also said "There is no doubt the Big Typhoon VX is, along with the Cooler Master GeminII, the best of the down-facing cooler designs." and "While performance does not top our charts, there are still many things to like about the Thermaltake Big Typhoon VX. It is one of the easiest to mount coolers we have ever tested. While we do have concerns about two pounds being supported by Intel-style push clips, the installation itself is easy and does not require you to remove your motherboard. It is equally easy if you are mounting the VX on an AMD processor.
    The attached fan speed control is also very useful on the Big Typhoon VX, particularly since it is attached to a very high-output fan capable of 86.5CFM at high speed."

    I don't think this is saying the cooler is bad.
  • DrMrLordX - Thursday, June 7, 2007 - link

    It isn't a bad cooler at all. However, there are some ways to make it perform well under its potential.

    First off, it needs a side air duct or side case fan blowing down onto it so it can breathe efficiently. Give it that, and it will be far less likely to cycle hot air through its fins at high operating temperatures.

    Secondly, it does need a fairly strong exhaust fan.

    The Big Typhoon (standard and VX) has put in impressive showings on open-air testbeds that showcase its potential strengths. In restricted air environments, you wind up with a cooler that can not efficiently pull cool air into the case or move hot air out of the case (the latter of which is a nice feature of a properly-positioned L-shaped cooler).

    I managed to get good operation out of mine using a Centurion 5. All I did was pull the side air duct off (the VX is too big to be mounted with that thing still screwed on to the side of the case) and use the VX's included fan as an exhaust. Then I put a Silverstone FM-121 on the VX itself. It serves as the intake fan for the case, cooling everything but the HDDs, plus the HSF fan as well. The exhaust fan more or less takes care of everything else. It's a simple and cheap solution that cools very well. In contrast, an L-shaped cooler in a similar setup would have problems due to there being no strong or direct intake . . . it would essentially be pulling air from inside the case which would, ideally, pull cool air from outside the case through various vents, but for the most part, it would also be pulling in air heated by other system components.

    All this might account for why the VX did so well at idle but so poorly at load.
  • strikeback03 - Friday, June 8, 2007 - link

    My Tuniq on an E6600 in a Centurion 5 idles at 27-28*C and goes to 33-34 at load with ambient around 75*F and just the stock case fans (80mm at front blowing in over hard drives, 120mm at back blowing out). The Tuniq is set to ~1350RPM.

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