Model: K2 Mount Doom
RRP: £59.99 at OverclockersUK (At time of review)
Something slightly different from the ITX coolers has arrived on my test bed today and it is one from Alpenföhn. It’s dubbed as the K2 Mount Doom which is one of the biggest coolers I have ever seen, period. If you thought the Silver Arrow and D14 were big. You’d be wrong. This cooler is a goliath in comparison. Either way, it’s not always about its size, is it? I’ll be putting it to the test to find out how well it performs to find out whether its sheer size will make it a better cooler than say a SB-E Extreme from Thermalright or not.
Alpenfohn are a new-ish company to the IT industry in terms of their name but they were actually set up by another company called EKL AG who deal with industrial cooling. They were set up in 1995 and who then formed Alpenfohn in 2008. Hopefully their experience will bring fantastic coolers to the table. There’s only one real way to find out and that is by testing them.
The cooler that I have in my hands today is the K2 Mount Doom as mentioned previously. It is a beast (size wise) and it certainly looks like it will be a solid contender against the likes of the Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme and Noctua NH-D14. Before we take a look at its performance, let’s take a quick look at the specifications and then quickly move on to the product.
Specifications 120mm Wing Boost fan:
|Operating Voltage||12 VDC|
|Fan Speed(@12VDC)||1500 rpm|
Specifications 140mm Wing Boost fan:
|Operating Voltage||12 VDC|
|Fan Speed(@12VDC)||1100 rpm|
The packaging for the K2 Mount Doom is something rather large, as you’d probably expect, and eye-catching too. It has an all-black design with the cooler showing on the front and back with the K2 in the top right corner. At the bottom, it has a phrase which reads: “Face your destiny and use our strongest weapon in your fight against the heat”. Hopefully it will put up a very good fight indeed but we will get to that later.
Taking a look at the left hand side of the box reveals a range of specifications for the cooler and it also tells us which sockets the cooler is compatible with. There’s also information about both fans so you know exactly what to expect when you open the box. Flipping it over and taking a look at the other side gives us a bit more of a textual background about the name of the cooler and some of the technologies which they’ve incorporated into this cooler.
Now it’s time to rip into the box (not literally!) and see what it has to offer. I won’t take pictures of each stage as that seems a bit of a waste to me and I’m sure all of you know what the innards of a box look like. Okay, maybe one… of the cooler compartment. We are first greeted with a box that houses all of the coolers accessories and mounting gear. Underneath this lays the compartment for the cooler itself and it is very well packed to say the least. Inside the coolers compartment lays the 120mm fan as well. It is located between the cooler, where it would sit normally, which helps to keep the cooler straight as the towers themselves are quite heavy. Extra care in both the design of this box and the making of it is evident and it feels like a quality construction which is important to keep your cooler in good condition during its travels. Lastly, there is the second fan which clips on the front of the cooler. It is the 140mm fan to be exact. I do find it a little strange how a fan is placed at the bottom of a heavy box but it does seem like it is protected well enough to avoid any form of damage during transit.
The colossal size of this cooler is immediately apparent when you take it out of the box. In case it wasn’t obvious how big this cooler is whilst it is in the box, here’s a comparison of it stacked up against a Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E cooler (without fans). Obviously this is a review for the Mount Doom, but I wanted to show you a comparison just so that you can see it visually rather than textually. I’ve stood it next to the cooler as you can see and I have also laid it down to show you the difference close up of the two towers. You can be your own judge here. Do you expect it to perform well? Do you think the extra density will help? Only time will tell… Let’s continue looking at this monster first.
The coolers’ design is a unique one due to the way that the fins are designed. As you can see form the image below, they aren’t straight likes such as the ones you’d find on other coolers. The reason for this is simple and according to the Alpenfohn engineers, “it influences the airflow through the heatsink to increase the heat transfer to the air”. This technology is something which they call “Minimized noise Transfer at low Airflow-Technology”.
There are eight heatpipes on this cooler which is the same amount as the SB-E but I have a dilemma. However, it’s not about how many there are, but more so about their efficiency. The base is milled to perfection to give you the flattest surface possible and to create the best possible heat transfer (due to contact) between your CPU and cooler. As you can see, the IHS of my i7-4770K only comes into direct contact with four of the heatpipes, and the other four (more or less) are not being “used” as such. The heat will spread throughout the base but I can’t help feeling that this cooler was designed for the bigger CPUs such as LGA2011 for example.
Installing the Mount Doom is just like installing pretty much any other massive tower on the market. The procedure is very similar. One thing which is different on this cooler, and something which I haven’t seen before, is the inclusion of rubber brackets that hold the screws in place whilst acting like a stand between the motherboard and the back plate at the same time. It is nothing special but it is definitely something that other manufacturers do not include. It does make the installation easier to some degree but I do not feel as if they are absolutely necessary. Nice touch, though.
So, you start off by locating the correct holes for your socket, be that LGA775, 115*, 1366 etc. and then you push the four screws through. Once you’ve done that, it’s a case of lining up the bracket with the motherboard and pushing the screws through so that you can work on the other side. The next step is to install the spacers which will be used to keep the brackets at the right height for the cooler. You can screw them down with a screw driver although I must caution you with this. I prefer to do it by hand as there is no way of putting screwing them down too tightly and causing damage.
Once this is done, it’s time to apply the thermal paste in whichever fashion you prefer, be that a small pea-sized blob or manually spreading it yourself. The choice is yours. I prefer to spread mine manually and create a very thin layer over the CPU rather than letting the pressure do it. Each to their own, though. After that’s done, it’s time to bolt the cooler on top. I highly recommend you do this outside of the case due to its size because it’ll make it so much easier. There are pre-cut grooves cut out to ensure that once the mounting bracket is installed, the cooler will not swivel very much, if any at all. More and more manufacturers are starting to use this method and I am glad they’re doing so.
Now that’s all done, you have the finished product – a mounted K2 Mount Doom. Time to find out how it performs…
Now that we’ve seen the K2 Mount Doom in its full glory, and we have seen how it performs in both the thermal and noise output departments, it’s time to round up our thoughts. How does it actually perform? Is it worthy of your £60 or should you look elsewhere? I will begin by talking about something which I was astonished by – the sound levels.
I was right when I assumed that these fans would be amazingly quiet simply by feeling them and getting a sense for their construction quality. These fans are unbelievably quiet, so if silence is something which you admire in your system but you want a good cooler to push those overclocks too, this is certainly a cooler I’d be putting in front of you to look at. However, the quiet fans do hinder the potential performance of this cooler which is unfortunate. I stuck a Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme stock fan in the middle as it spins at 2500RPM at full speed, and the temperatures did drop considerably. However, the noise levels reflected this as they went through the roof, so it is really a trade-off and I’m not sure if it is one I’d make personally.
The temperatures are a concern to a degree, but at the same time I wasn’t alarmed by them either. Allow me to explain. Whilst this cooler did manage to keep the i7-4770K at bay and keep it from throttling at 4.5GHz, it did so but it was competing against coolers which were a fraction of its size. It was competing against the Noctua NH-L12 and Thermalright AXP-200 which leads me to think that there is a lot of optimization that could be done here. As mentioned above, the fans are superbly quiet and do shift a fair amount of air, but with a thick heatsink like this, it doesn’t only need the static pressure, it also needs a sheer throughput of air. Considering its size, I’d expect it to compete with the best such as the D14 (yet to test) and the SB-E Extreme but it falls flat on its face unfortunately.
The quality of the product is immediately obvious from the moment that you pick up the box. The cooler, the fans, the accessories (mounting gear) all feel like they aren’t overcharging you for a product. I must say that it is a very well-constructed cooler and I do feel that this is one of the coolers you should be looking at if you want silent computing but still want to overclock too. The price, £60, isn’t too much when you consider how much you are actually getting with this cooler. While it won’t go setting temperature records, it will still keep your chip cool enough and at very, very quiet noise levels too.
I have decided to give this cooler an award. Can you guess which yet? It’s most definitely got to be the design award for its innovatively designed heatsink. Had it performed better, it would’ve easily claimed the performance and value awards but it wasn’t meant to be that way unfortunately. I absolutely love this cooler, as silence is key to a great computer in my mind. Great work, Alpenfohn! You’ve created a truly silent (in my opinion, of course) yet great cooler.
Many thanks to OverclockersUK for providing us with today’s sample.
All in all, I would say that if you are looking for a cooler that is capable of keeping some of the hottest chips on the market cool, but you have silence in mind, I would highly recommend this K2 Mount Doom cooler. It’s a great design, it’s near enough silent, and it looks like a beast too. This is a great cooler Alpenföhn and I look forward to seeing more from them in the future.