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SilverStone Heligon HE02: Monster Fanless CPU Cooler

The SilverStone Heligon HE02 has all the design elements of a superb fanless CPU cooler. It’s huge, has wide fin spacing, and its odd asymmetrical design takes advantage of all the space around a typical CPU socket.

SilverStone Heligon HE02: Monster Fanless CPU Cooler

September 21, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Product
SilverStone Heligon HE02
CPU Cooler
Manufacturer
SilverStone
Street Price
US$70?

Known mostly for their cases, SilverStone has ventured into the cooling market in the past with the NT series, a couple of small, passive models optimized to take advantage of airflow in their horizontal desktop and bread box sized cases. The Heligon series is a broader approach, a line of high performance heatsinks to attack the much coveted enthusiast market. The HE01 uses a dual tower heatsink with a fan in the center but we’re looking at the HE02 today, a monstrous cooler designed specifically for fanless operation.


The box.


Package contents.

The HE02 hits both the main criteria for a passive CPU heatsink to be successful. It has large gaps between the fins to minimize impedance in low airflow environments and it has plenty of surface area to dissipate heat into the surrounding air. Its physical dimensions are tremendous, 170 mm across, 130 mm wide, and 160 mm tall with a weight of just under 1 kg. It’s also unusually asymmetric so it can better utilize the space between the CPU socket and expansion slots compared to a conventional heatsink. The shape is also weird with 12 corners pointing outward giving it a very distinct look. The HE02 isn’t available yet for sale but its rumored to be about US$70.


Accessories.

Those experienced with third party CPU coolers will recognize that the installation gear forms a Prolimatech style mounting system which has been proven to be very effective over the years. Also included are some insulation tape for the backplate, a small tube of thermal interface material, and two sets of wire fan clips in case you’d prefer to use it as a traditional heatsink and fan(s).

SilverStone Heligon HE02: Key Features
(from the product
web page
)
Feature & Brief
Our Comment
Superior silence and performanceSilence is defined as a complete lack of noise, it cannot be "superior" to any other silence.
Asymmetric design for optimal positioning on any platformAs the CPU socket is located near one edge of the board on most motherboards, an asymmetric design allows it take greater advantage of the available space.
Designed for standard chassis at 160mm tall160 mm is under the clearance limit of most ATX towers.
For use with CPUs up to 150W+ (fanless-95W)Though it doesn’t sound like much, 95W is quite a lot for a completely fanless model.
SilverStone Heligon HE02: Specifications
(from the product
web page
)
Model No. SST-HE02
MaterialCopper base, heat pipes with aluminum fins
ColorSilver
ApplicationIntel Socket LGA775/1155/1156/1366/2011
AMD Socket AM2/AM3/FM1/FM2
Heat Pipe Type6mm thick powder heat pipe x 6
Cooling System1 x 120mm fan (Optional)
CPU TDPFanless-95W (varies depending on chassis airflow)
Fanless with 120mm fan in case > 900rpm – 150W
1 x 120mm fan – over 150W
Net Weight990g
Dimensions 170mm(W) x 130mm(D) x 160mm (H)

PHYSICAL DETAILS

The SilverStone Heligon HE02 is composed of a copper base, 6 x 6 mm thick copper heatpipes soldered to 30 aluminum fins, all nickel-plated by the looks of it. By our measurements, the heatsink is 160 mm tall (6.3 inches) but the effective height depends on how high the fans are mounted. According to our digital scale, it weighs approximately 990 grams (2.2 lb).


The HE02 is has an interesting look, octagonal with right angle corners instead of straight diagonal sides. There are also gaps at the center on two sides making it resemble an "H" with a expanded waistline. It doesn’t look like a particularly effective air cooler as there is quite a bit of distance from the center to where fans can be mounted.


The fins are thick, measuring 0.52 mm wide with an ample 3.30 mm separation, presenting very little impedance to system airflow. To maximize its surface area, it’s asymmetrical, particularly length-wise.


The narrower side is also uneven with three of the six heatpipes placed at a sharper angle, stretching the heatsink further toward one direction. Though it’s difficult to tell from the image above, the fins are soldered to the heatpipes.


Unlike the Thermalright HR series, the fins are solid with no additional holes to provide extra ventilation.


The base was flat on one side and slightly concave on the other which isn’t ideal in our experience. The surface has a dull finish with faint straight lines visible from the sanding process.

BASE & INSTALLATION

The most critical aspect of installation is that the heatsink be securely
mounted. A firm mating results in good contact between the heatsink’s base and
the CPU heatspreader and more efficient heat conduction. Ideally it should
also be a simple procedure with the user having to handle as few pieces of
hardware as possible.


The mounting assembly is easy to put together. Bolts go into the back of the motherboard through the backplate and some plastic spacers. Mounting clips are attached to the ends of the bolts with nuts, the heatsink is placed onto the CPU, and a bar goes over its base and is secured to the clips with spring-loaded screws.


As the heatsink is only attached via two screws, it’s very easy to remove. The crossbar also delivers significant pressure directly over the base, pinning it to the CPU heatspreader with considerable force.


The HE02 mounted on our test platform with a pair of our reference 140 mm fans, Noctua NF-P14’s. In this orientation, the longer portions of the heatsink face the DIMM and expansion slots.


The edge of the HE02 just clears the first expansion slot of our test board.


Due to the HE02’s width, the fans hang over both the memory slots and VRM heatsink, forcing the fans into unusually high positions. Clearance below the bottom fin was 49 mm.


On our setup we encountered an issue with the fins clanging (they seemed to be a bit loose), most notably when two fans were mounted and running at high speed. Adding some adhesive foam to the fan corners helped somewhat.

TESTING

Before thermal testing, we took some basic physical measurements.

Approximate Physical Measurements
Weight
990 g
Height160 mm
Fin count30
Fin thickness
0.52 mm
Fin spacing
3.30 mm
Vertical Clearance*
49 mm
* measured from the motherboard PCB to
the bottom fin of the heatsink
Large Heatsink Comparison:
Average Fin Thickness & Spacing
Heatsink
Fin Thickness
Fin Spacing
SilverStone Heligon HE02
0.52 mm
3.30 mm
Thermalright HR-01 Plus
0.45 mm
3.15 mm
Thermalright HR-02 Macho
0.34 mm
3.12 mm
Scythe Ninja 3
0.39 mm
2.64 mm
Noctua NH-U12P
0.44 mm
2.63 mm
Noctua NH-C12P
0.47 mm
2.54 mm
Noctua NH-D14
0.43 mm
2.33 mm
Thermalright Archon SB-E
0.49 mm
2.33 mm
GELID Tranquillo Rev.2
0.40 mm
2.30 mm
GELID GX-7 Rev.2
0.31 mm
2.25 mm
Phanteks PH-TC14PE
0.40 mm
2.21 mm
be quiet! Dark Rock 2
0.38 mm
2.22 mm
Prolimatech Armageddon
0.51 mm
2.08 mm
Prolimatech Megahalems
0.50 mm
2.00 mm
Zalman CNPS10X Quiet
0.40 mm
2.00 mm
Scythe Kabuto & Zipang 2
0.34 mm
1.94 mm
NZXT Havik 140
0.41 mm
1.91 mm
Scythe Mugen-2
0.31 mm
1.89 mm
Swiftech Polaris 120
0.43 mm
1.85 mm
Thermalright Venomous X
0.53 mm
1.84 mm
Noctua NH-C14
0.38 mm
1.79 mm
Enermax ETS-T40
0.40 mm
1.79 mm
Scythe Yasya
0.32 mm
1.78 mm
Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366
0.40 mm
1.70 mm
Arctic Cooling Freezer Xtreme Rev.2
0.30 mm
1.70 mm
Scythe Grand Kama Cross
0.38 mm
1.66 mm
Reeven Kelveros
0.47 mm
1.61 mm
Zalman CNPS9900 MAX
0.16 mm
1.59 mm
Thermalright Silver Arrow
0.32 mm
1.57 mm
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
0.43 mm
1.54 mm
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme Rev.C
0.56 mm
1.52 mm
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme
0.42 mm
1.50 mm

Testing on larger heatsinks are done on our
LGA1366 heatsink testing platform
, while smaller coolers tackle our LGA1155 heatsink testing platform. A summary of the test system
and procedure follows.

Key Components in LGA1366 Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Core i7-965 Extreme
    Nehalem core, LGA1366, 3.2GHz, 45nm, 130W TDP.
  • Asus
    P6X58D Premium
    ATX motherboard. X58 chipset.
  • Asus
    EAH3450 Silent
    graphics card.
  • Intel
    X25-M
    80GB 2.5" solid-state drive. Chosen for silence.
  • 3GB QiMonda
    DDR3 memory. 3 x 1GB DDR3-1066 in triple channel.
  • Seasonic X-650 SS-650KM
    650W ATX power supply. This PSU is semi-passively cooled. At the power levels
    of our test platform, its fan does not spin.
  • Arctic Silver
    Lumière
    : Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed
    specifically for test labs.
  • Noctua 140 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 140x25mm
    fans)
  • Nexus 120 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 120x25mm
    fans)
  • Nexus 92 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 92x25mm
    fans)

The systems are silent under the test conditions, except for the CPU cooling
fan(s).

Normally, our reference fans are used whenever possible, the measured details
of which are shown below.

Reference Noctua 140mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
SPL@1m
Speed
12V
1250 RPM
28~29 dBA
9V
990 RPM
21 dBA
7V
770 RPM
15~16 dBA
6V
660 RPM
13 dBA
Reference Nexus 120mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
SPL@1m
Speed
12V
1100 RPM
16 dBA
9V
890 RPM
13 dBA
7V
720 RPM
12 dBA
Reference Nexus 92 mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
SPL@1m
Speed
12V
1470 RPM
16 dBA
9V
1150 RPM
12 dBA

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system
    power.
  • Custom-built, four-channel variable DC power supply, used to regulate
    the fan speed during the test.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer:
    SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital
    audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber
    with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented in our
    standard fan testing methodology
    .
  • SpeedFan,
    used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensors. The sensors are not calibrated,
    so results are not universally applicable. The hottest core reading is used.
  • Prime95,
    used to stress the LGA1366 CPU heavily, generating more heat than most real applications.
    8 instances are used to ensure that all 4 cores (with Hyper-threading) are
    stressed.
  • CPU-Z,

    used to monitor the CPU speed to determine when overheating occurs.

  • Thermometers to measure the air temperature around the test platform
    and near the intake of the heatsink fan.

Noise measurements are made with the fans powered from the lab’s variable DC
power supply while the rest of the system was off to ensure that system noise
did not skew the measurements.

Load testing was accomplished using Prime95 to stress the processor, and the
graph function in SpeedFan was used to ensure that the load temperature is stable
for at least ten minutes. The temperature recorded is the highest single core
reading. The stock fans were tested at various voltages to represent a good
cross-section of airflow and noise performance.

The ambient conditions during testing were 10~11 dBA and 21~23°C.

TEST RESULTS

Test Results: SilverStone Heligon HE02
(Reference 140mm Fan: Noctua NF-P14)
Fan Voltage
One Fan
Two Fans
SPL@1m
Thermal Rise
SPL@1m
12V
29~30 dBA
42°C
40°C
33 dBA
9V
22 dBA
45°C
42°C
26~27 dBA
8V
19 dBA
46°C
43°C
23 dBA
7V
15~16 dBA
48°C
44°C
19 dBA
6V
12~13 dBA
50°C
46°C
15 dBA

As a traditional heatsink/fan, the HE02 delivers rather poor performance in relation to its size. With one of our 140 mm reference fans it produced a CPU thermal rise of 42°C~50°C. In comparison, elite coolers easily produce a result of 40°C or less with only moderate fan speeds. Adding a second fan garner predictable improvements of 2~3°C at higher fan speeds and 4°C at low speeds. Our sample emitted an intermittent clanging sound with one fan and the problem was more pronounced with two. It was steady enough to actually affect the dual fan noise measurements, making them slightly higher than usual.

The noise generated caused a prominent tonal peak with a frequency of approximately 950 Hz, a significant departure from the smooth, broadband profile we typically see with the Noctua NF-P14’s. This won’t be an issue for users who use the HE02 as it was intended, as a fanless heatsink.

After testing we took a look at the thermal compound left behind by the HE02. The branch-like pattern is indicative of suboptimal contact between the heatsink base and CPU heatspreader. Elite coolers leave behind a very faint smudge of TIM. The physical design of the HE02 exacerbates this issue; due to its odd shape, the distance between the center of the body of the fans is very large, diminishing their ability to exhaust the radiating heat.

Heatsink Comparison Tables

CPU Coolers (ref. 140mm fan): °C Rise Comparison
Heatsink
Fan voltage / SPL @1m*
9V
7V
6V
18~22 dBA
13~16 dBA
11~13 dBA
Thermalright Archon SB-E
37
40
42
Prolimatech Armageddon
39
42
45
Thermalright HR-02 Macho
39
43
45
NZXT Havik 140
40
43
47
Noctua NH-C14
(top mounted)
40
44
48
Noctua NH-C14
40
44
49
Thermalright Silver Arrow
39
45
49
Phanteks PH-TC14PE
42
45
48
SilverStone Heligon HE02
45
48
50
be quiet! Dark Rock 2
49
51
53
*Note: there are minor differences in measured SPL due to the variety of fan orientations and mounting methods offered by the compared coolers.

With one fan, the HE02 placed a few degrees behind the Phanteks PH-TC14PE, a dual tower heatsink which isn’t really optimized for single fan operation.

Dual Fan CPU Coolers (ref. 140mm fans): CPU °C Rise Comparison
Heatsink
Fan Voltage / SPL*
8V
7V
6V
18~20 dBA
15~17 dBA
12~14 dBA
Prolimatech Genesis
36
37
39
Thermalright HR-02 Macho
36
37
40
Noctua NH-C14
37
39
41
Thermalright Silver Arrow
37
39
41
Noctua NH-D14
38
40
42
Phanteks PH-TC14PE
39
41
43
NZXT Havik 140
39
40
43
SilverStone Heligon HE02
43
44
46
*Note: there are minor differences in measured SPL due to the variety of fan orientations and mounting methods offered by the compared coolers.

With two fans, it was again, a step or two behind the more dominant dual fan heatsinks.

Passive Performance

For our passive test we pitted the Heligon HE02 against the Thermalright HR-02 Macho. We ran Prime95 with only four threads instead of eight (to lower the power demand somewhat) and recorded the temperature at 60 second intervals until the heatsink failed (when the CPU throttled to prevent heat damage). The t HR-02’s through holes on the top fin were also blocked off to prevent any advantage due to the horizontal orientation of our test platform.

Passive Test Results: SilverStone Heligon HE02 vs. Thermalright HR-02 Macho
Time Elapsed
CPU °C Rise
Thermalright HR-02 Macho
SilverStone Heligon HE02
Start
14
14
1 mins
41
37
2 mins
48
43
3 mins
53
49
4 mins
59
54
5 mins
65
60
6 mins
71
64
7 mins
76
68
8 mins
79
73
9 mins
fail
76
10 mins
fail
fail

While the HR-02 is the far superior cooler with fans attached, in passive operation, the HE02 persevered, lasting about one minute longer before failing. Starting at the same thermal rise of 14°C, the rate of temperature increase was noticeable slower with the HE02 taking 6°C to 8°C leads toward the end of the test.

In our HR-02 review, we tested the Macho with a slightly overclocked/overvolted quad core Core i5-2400 inside a Fractal Design Define R3. With its two system fans at 5V for a quiet system noise level of 15~16 dBA@1m, on load, the CPU temperature stabilized at 83°C on load (61°C thermal rise). You can expect a moderately better result with the HE02.

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high
resolution, lab quality, digital recording system
inside SPCR’s
own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber
, then converted to LAME 128kbps
encoded MP3s. We’ve listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation
from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of
what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds
in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn’t hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn’t record it either!

The recording starts with 5~10 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan
at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that
the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don’t change the volume
setting again.

FINAL THOUGHTS

As a passive CPU heatsink, the SilverStone Heligon HE02 is very well designed for its purpose, with its wide fin spacing and a massive amount of exposed surface area. Its asymmetrical shape is key for taking advantage of the available space as a symmetrical model would run out of room, surpassing the top edge the motherboard tray on most tower style cases. The mounting system is solid, using a tried and true formula that is found on many of the best heatsinks on the market. There is room for improvement though as we found the contact between the base surface and CPU heatspreader wasn’t optimal. It would benefit greatly from a convex base like those found on Thermalright coolers.

Despite this, in our fanless test, it edged past the Thermalright HR-02 Macho. Paired with a 95W CPU, it shouldn’t have any trouble, assuming some system airflow is available. A fanless cooler isn’t truly fanless — without some airflow passing through it, however little, even the HE02 would eventually succumb to CPU overheating. This isn’t an issue we have with the HE02 specifically, but with the whole notion of passive CPU cooling: if you need to have at least one fan in a system, why not put it on the CPU heatsink where it does the most good?

With fans, the HE02 isn’t nearly as effective, lagging well behind the current crop of top tier CPU coolers. It takes a significant amount of active airflow to achieve good performance due to its substantial width and the distance between the center of the heatsink and the fans. Our sample was also prone to fin vibration, especially when two fans were mounted, making it noisier than competing products. The HE02 is really a uni-tasker compared to the more versatile HR-02 Macho. If you prescribe to the notion of the fanless CPU cooling, the HE02 is a solid candidate for consideration. If you don’t, its rumored price of US$70 combined with its enormous size and lackluster fan-equipped performance makes it unworthy of consideration altogether.

Our thanks to SilverStone for the Heligon HE02 CPU cooler sample.

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Prolimatech Panther CPU Cooler
Phanteks PH-TC14PE Dual Fan CPU Heatsink
GELID GX-7 & Tranquillo Rev.2 CPU Coolers
be quiet! Dark Rock 2 Tower Heatsink
Enermax ETS-T40: Direct-Touch Heatpipe Cooler
Thermalright HR-02 Macho Quiet/Fanless Cooler

* * *

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