Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme Review

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Back in 2001, Thermalright were born.  They have been dedicated to engineering high quality computer cooling solutions for over the last decade and have a range with plenty of awards to reflect this.  Ranging from their SP-94 97 CPU Cooler from 2003, all the way to their HR 01 cooler in 2004, their range is ever growing, but enough about Thermalright in the past, today is all about the present.

Intel’s latest CPU range codenamed Haswell, has taken a bit of flack regarding thermal performance since its launch in June 2013, but with manufacturers evolving their products, is it only a matter of time before something truly world class can handle the beast that is Haswell?

Well today I will be taking a look at the Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme edition, which is a multi-platform cooler consisting of mounts for Intel and AMD CPUs.  Can it take the heat or should it get out of the proverbial kitchen?  Only one way to find out, starting with the specifications…

Heatsink Specifications:
Dimension: L154 mm x W103 mm x H165 mm
Weight: 750g
Heat pipes: 6mm heatpipe x 8 units
Fin: T = 0.3 mm ; Gap = 2.1 mm
Fin Pcs: 10 + 12 + 80 = 102 pcs
Copper Base: C1100 Pure copper nickel plated
Motherboard to Fin:30 + 8 = 38 mm, 38 + 8 = 46 mm, 45 + 8 = 53 mm

TY-143 FAN Spec (2 are included with the cooler)
Dimension: L152 mm x H140 mm x W26.5 mm
Weight: 170g
Rated Speed: 600 – 2500RPM
Noise Level: 21~45dBA
Air Flow: 31.4 – 130.0 CFM
Connector: 4 Pin (PWM Fan connector)

The Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme comes in a relatively plain light brown cardboard box, with little information regarding the cooler itself.  It has the model number and brand on the side with the website also listed towards the bottom of the box.  The packaging could certainly be a lot better in terms of brightness, as in a retail environment I can see this being overlooked.

Inside the box, aside from the actual cooler that is, there is the full mounting kit required to mount the SB-E Extreme to your desired platform.  From Intel’s LGA 775 all the way to 1150, the bases are covered for today’s enthusiast.  Not forgetting the AMD mounts though, they range from AM2 all the way through their range to support up to FM2 and AM3+.

Included is an instruction manual, fan clips, the mounting kit itself and a Thermalright sticker, which you can place on your case, but I prefer not to use my case as a shopping list.

 

 

As you can see, I have attached both fans so you can see the monstrous size of the Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme cooler.  It is a dual tower cooler, which has a gap in the middle in which a 3rd can be mounted for what I would consider to be for impeccable performance.  The cooler itself is nickel plated and this includes the heat pipes, which with this cooler includes 8 in total.

From a different angle, you can see Thermalrights choice of fan design, which is a burgundy type colour, with orange fan blades.  The 2 fans included specs wise are 14cm with a rated RPM range of 600-2500rpm.  Basically this means at full speed, these fans are going to be loud, but quite clearly this cooler is geared for performance.

Here we have the base of the cooler, which is made from copper, which is nickel plated.  Here you can see Thermalrights heat pipe design and also the braiding which comes with the fans; always a nice touch that companies take care with the finer details of their products.

In regards to installation, the entire process was pretty much pain free, a little fiddly at times, but with a cooler this size it is to be expected as I will explain.

The first step involves installing the back plate, in this case the Intel one.  Place the back plate over the rear of the socket (there is a guide with 3 bolts) and thread the 4 screws through the mounting holes.  I recommend you do this one screw at a time, as once you tip the motherboard over to secure the screws with the given bolts the screws have a tendency to follow the basic laws of gravity and fall out.

Here we have the screw on bolt, which attaches to the screw that was just placed through the mounting holes.  This keeps the back plate in securely and to do this, I recommend using a Phillips screwdriver while holding onto the bolt.

The next step, involves attaching the cooler mounting plate to the top of the 4 bolts, previously installed to secure the back plate to the motherboard.  The mounting plate is held in place by 4 Phillips screws.

Next, it’s time to apply thermal paste and once again, I opted to use Noctua’s NT-H1 thermal paste, which keeps my testing consistent.  Once you have applied thermal paste, it’s time to rest the Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme on the mounting plate; please note, now is not the time to start applying pressure.

After the cooler is in place, now it’s time to install the bracket, which secures the cooler to the mounting plate.  This took a little force and it became apparent why, the cooler is pretty heavy and really needs good mounting system to keep it in place.  The Thermalright plate is pretty thick and does the job superbly.  To install the plate, screw in either side of the plate with 2 x Phillips screws to mount the cooler properly.

Now I installed a stick of RAM, to show you how much clearance there is.  Now obviously as you can see, the fan is way too big for anything but low profile ram, something like Samsung Green LP etc.  For the testing I had to remove this fan as it obstructed the memory operating in dual channel mode.

Voila, that is it, the cooler is now mounted and we’re ready to begin with some testing.  I would like to mention as you can see in picture 4 of this page, the left fan is raised slightly.  This is due the ASRocks Extreme3’s heat sink being positioned the way it is.  It shouldn’t effect cooling but I have to point it out – if you have big heat sinks around your CPU socket, then you might want to consider another cooler.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the test setup and start testing…

CPU – Intel i7 4770k

Motherboard – ASRock Z87 Extreme3

Memory – G.Skill RipjawZ 8GB (2400MHz CAS10) 2x4GB

Graphics – XFX 1GB 6870 Black Edition

Cooler – Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme

Storage – Intel 520 240GB Solid State Drive

PSU – Enermax 1200w Platimax

Please note for testing due to the large nature of the cooler, the testing was done with 1 of the fans rather than 2.

To test the capability of the coolers, our testing methodology is simple.  We measure the temperatures after 10 minutes on idle, both at 3.9GHz which our samples stock turbo boost speed and with an overclock of 4.5GHz.  To test the loaded temperatures I use prime95 and its torture test for 10 minutes and record the max temperature given.

Any time a cooler hits 100c on any test, it is automatically classed as a fail, simply due to the extreme temperatures which isn’t good for 24/7 systems.

Noise levels are tested with a decibel meter and the readings of the noise levels are taken when the coolers are in idle and loaded states.  The background noise during testing is very minimal and not enough to disrupt the readings given.

So now the testing has been done, is it conclusive with Thermalrights aims?  Has it performed well and how does it stack up against the competition?

Starting with the performance, at idle and load temps, the performance is phenomenal.  It clearly out performs all of the coolers I have tested today in terms of idle temps and is marginally better at load.  For testing only one fan could be used due to the height of the RAM, so with both fans on, you’re looking at shaving a couple of degrees off at most, taking into consideration that the cooler will be slightly louder of course.

Regarding the aesthetics and design, the cooler is big.  To define how big, you would seriously need to consider things like heat sinks around the CPU socket on your motherboard, as I had problems fitting 1 fan, let alone 2 onto the test rig.  High profile RAM with both fans is a serious no-no, that is if you’re planning on using both fans of course.  The major downside for me is the colour of the fans.  I can’t really think of any motherboard or case that this colour would match, other than a custom painted one of course.  Colour is always a personal preference and for me, it just makes this cooler look a bit unsightly.

Touching on noise levels, I have to say even with 1 fan installed, I wouldn’t say it’s overly loud but it is definitely audible when overclocked, especially in my tests.  Although not the loudest cooler so far I have tested, it isn’t far off and with the Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme, it’s more a case of horses for courses, cooler instead of quiet.  A good balance of both would be desirable in my opinion but each to their own.  If used through the PWM function, the noise is very manageable but if you decide to hook directly to the molex, expect a gale force wind blowing through your case; these fans are powerful!

To sum it up, performance wise, this cooler is the best I have tested to date and given that I was only able to use one of the fans, both fans on would certainly be a couple of degrees over the Noctua coolers.  That being said, there are pros and cons to the Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme but aside from any negatives I have touched on, this cooler is a beast and clearly deserves the performance award.

In terms of price, the cooler is roughly the same price as the Noctua coolers which are included in the test results.  It’s hard to say which to go for, the Thermalright delivers the better temperatures but some could argue the Noctua coolers have a better balance of noise and thermal performance.

If Thermalright can get the right balance between a cooler that actually fits and the performance shown today, they will be onto a jackpot winning combination.

Thanks to Thermalright for the sample and I look forward to more coolers in the not too distant future.

 

  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value

Summary

The Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme is a hefty cooler to say the least, but if your looking for a cooler with the sole purpose of owning a monster in terms of performance, then look no further than Thermalrights diamond in the rough.

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