High end brand names (in terms of computer processor cooling) provide the best performance. This performance though comes at a price, which for air coolers can touch nearly 100 dollars.
But there are bargains to be had; Products that have a very high price/ performance ratio. Will Xigmatek’s Achilles heel be one such product? Or will it be billed as an also ran? Read on to find out.
Xigmatek is Taiwan based manufacturer of computer products, with an R & D center based in Germany. Apart from air coolers the company also manufactures power supplies, computer cases and computer case fans. Xigmatek is famous for its “HDT” (Heat-pipe Direct Touch) line of coolers where the heat pipes run exposed at the base of the cooler. The theory behind this madness is that the heat transfer between processor heat spreader and the cooler is more efficient as the heat directly moves to the heat-pipes rather than the heatsink base. A welcome side effect is that it lowers manufacturing cost as well.
Xigmatek manufactures an entire line of coolers to suit all categories of consumer spending. Achilles falls somewhere between the top of the line and the more budget conscious coolers.
MANY FACES OF ACHILLES
Xigmatek assigns a name and a number code to their products. The number is followed by a letter code that reflects the revision of the cooler within the series. Achilles is S1284. The reviewed product has a letter code “W” (S1284W). The cooler has gone through at least one major and several minor revisions. The major revision replaced the copper heat pipes with Nickel plated ones. The rest of the revisions reflect the change in mounting mechanism and supported processors.
Oh, just in case you are wondering the name comes from the Greek war hero Achilles (of the Achilles heel fame).
Achilles comes in a very standard all (transparent) plastic package, enshrined in a cardboard cover. The Front of the package is dominated by the LED orange fan behind which lies the heat sink.
The bottom of the package has a recess which houses the mounting accessories and the installation leaflet
At the back, the cardboard cover lists the salient feature of the cooler.
The packaging is very minimalist – just enough to ship the cooler. There isn’t any foam protection in the packaging. In fact the most fragile part of the cooler (the fan) is directly exposed to external shocks.
I can understand the midrange (price wise) placement of the cooler, but the packaging could certainly have been better. Coolers that compete for shelf space with this come in a much more secure packing (e.g. Cooler Master Hyper212 Plus).
INTRODUCING THE ACHILLES
Achilles is a standard affair single tower cooler with an asymmetrical face design (the front and the back of the cooler are shaped differently). The sides have a serrated edge design.
The base of the cooler houses the heat-pipes which are directly exposed to the processor heat-spreader. This thus forms the “base” of the heat sink.
The cooler sports four 8mm heat pipes which are Nickel plated.
The cooler is about 160mm tall and will fit most mid-tower cases. (This includes the Cooler Master Elite series). At its widest the cooler is about 60mm deep without a fan. It will probably not interfere with memory slots on most motherboard. It weighs about 660 grams with the inclusion of the bundled fan.
THE COOLING TOWER
The cooling tower comprises of 54 Aluminum plates. The front of the plate (the side facing the fan) is relatively flat with only a 5mm central depressed area that runs for about 56mm in the center of the heat sink. The total length of the front face is about a 120mm.
The rear of the heat plate is about a 100mm long, with a central depression of about 8mm. This runs for about 40mm at the center of the back of the plate.
The side of the heat sink plate is serrated and has a “wing tip” design. The front edge has a cavity that runs throughout the length of the heat sink. This is for the anti vibration pegs used to affix the fan to the heat sink.
All the plates have the same orientation i.e. all of them run perfectly horizontally. The lowest heat plates are thus not bent downwards to allow airflow over the power regulation circuitry. Though this is not the main function of the cooler, it would have been nice to see added functionality that comes at no cost to the manufacturer.
Each plate has an area of roughly 62mm2. The entire heat dissipation area is thus roughly about 6572mm2.
Each cooler has its own specific heat plate design that is used to minimize airflow resistance and offer maximal heat dissipation. Achilles tower is of a simple construction reminiscent of early days of tower cooling. This design is still followed to this day by many manufacturers especially in their mid and budget range coolers.
Xigmatek fashioned the cooling tower ala classical style. No fancy surface modification or bent heat plates. The tower offers a respectable heat dissipation area.