• Home
  • blog
  • Thermalright Archon SB-E 15cm Fan CPU Cooler

Thermalright Archon SB-E 15cm Fan CPU Cooler

Thermalright goes in a slightly direction with the Archon SB-E, an unusually tall and wide 8-heatpipe cooler with an equally unusual 15 cm fan.

June 18, 2012 by Mike Chin & Lawrence Lee

Product
Thermalright Archon SB-E
CPU Cooler
Manufacturer
Thermalright
Street Price
US$80

For the past few years there has been a lack of real innovation in the field of performance CPU heatsinks. The market is mature, to the point where we can often tell without even testing a heatsink how well it will perform. Standard designs have been well established and success can be almost guaranteed by adhering to them: As many heatpipes as possible through as large a fin stack as possible, as large a fan as can be fitted, and a mounting system that applies high pressure to a slightly convex base, to make as much contact as possible with the CPU heatspreader, which almost invariably has a slight concave shape.

Until something revolutionary comes along, heatsink makers seem content to follow these guidelines and just play with the shapes and forms of their coolers, trying to figure out the optimal design for their purposes. For example, Noctua, Prolimatech and Thermalright took their thick fin-stack towers coolers and split them up into two sections, giving each one its own fan, which resulted in the NH-D14, Genesis, and Silver Arrow coolers. The Thermalright Archon SB-E is another variation on the theme.


Packaging.


Box contents.

The Archon SB-E is the second version of a model that is actually a two years old, and its design isn’t unique. A few months before its original release, Prolimatech came out with a similar product, the Armageddon. Both heatsinks were meant for use with 14 cm fans, but the new version of the Archon adds two extra heatpipes, a bigger fan, and LGA2011 support out of the box (SB-E stands for Sandy Bridge Extreme). These updates may give it an edge over the Armageddon.

The Archon SB-E looks like another imposing, shiny metallic tower, difficult to differentiate from say an Ultra-120 eXtreme, at least not at first glance. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice the side of the heatsink fin stack that faces the fan is unusually large. The fin stack is also substantially thinner than normal and there eight heatpipes hidden in its lanky mass, a total of twelve heatpipe paths running between base and fin stack. The distance from the “intake” side of the fin stack to the “exhaust” side is just 53 mm at its maximum, about 20% less than the highest performance 120mm fan heatsinks. This translates to lower impedance to airflow, which is a good thing, especially when a fan is spinning very slowly.

The stock fan looks similar to the model found on the Silver Arrow, but not quite. This fan is larger, an unusual 17 x 15 cm to cover more of that big mating surface presented by the fin stack.

Important Note: the Archon SB-E is not yet listed on Thermalright’s website. Below are the details of the Archon Rev.A, which is very similar except it is 2 mm shorter, along with the differences noted above. Most of the remaining features and specifications are identical.

Thermalright Archon Rev.A: Key Features
(from the product
web page
)
Feature & Brief
Our Comment
Armor style heatsink fin array, with mirrored copper base, elevates heatsinks overall quality. All of Thermalright’s heatsinks are well constructed and most importantly, very shiny.
Large heatsink fin array provides dissipating area of up to 150*125mm, making complete use of the airflow, with 150mm 140mm or 120mm fan. A big, nonstandard sized fan is included to complement the heatsink’s large area. 14/12 cm fans likely do not perform as well.
With the max width of 55mm, tall memory heat spreaders are avoided. The shorter width makes DIMM interference less likely.
Six sintered heatpipe design, all heatpipes are nickel plated, to slow the oxidation deterioration to the heatpipe, to ensure longer usage and performance of the heatsink for the CPU. Nothing new here. Various Thermalright heatsinks are equipped with the same. Note that the SB-E adds two more heatpipes.
Supports Multiple-Platforms, and can be used on Socket 1366/1156/775 (Socket 2011 optional) Platform, and AM2/AM3 Socket. For Intel sockets pressure is adjustable (40~70 lbs.) Previous Thermalright heatsinks have had multiple socket support, but this is the first time using a single backplate for both Intel and AMD mounts.
Includes one Thermalright TY-150 PWM fan, Ultra low noise at 23 dBA at max rpm (50cm testing distance) A fan similar to the 14 cm models included with the Silver Arrow and the Shaman.
Fan-clips are compatible with TY-150/TY-140 140mm and 120mm fan. If you find the stock fan unsuitable for whatever reason, both 14 and 12 cm fans are supported.
The Archon package includes a tube of CF III Thermal paste, to provide the best combination for use with Archon. We can’t comment on the quality of Thermalright’s thermal compound as we use our own as a control. Most TIMs perform within a few degrees of each other.

 

Thermalright Archon Rev.A: Specifications
(from the product
web page
)
Heatsink
Dimension: Length 155mm x Width 53mm x Height 170mm (175mm with TY-150)
Weight: 806g (excluding fan and mounting brackets)
Heatpipe: 6mm heatpipe*6 units
Copper Base: C1100 Pure copper nickel plated with mirror shine
Fan
Dimension: L170mm x H150mm x W26.5mm
Weight: 180g
Fan speed: 500~1100RPM (PWM controlled)
Fan noise: 19~23dBA
Airflow: 38~84CFM
Connector: 4 Pin (PWM Fan connector)

PHYSICAL DETAILS & INSTALLATION

The Thermalright Archon SB-E is composed of a copper base, 8 x 6 mm thick copper heatpipes soldered to 44 aluminum fins, all nickel-plated. The heatsink measures 172 mm tall or 6.8 inches which exceeds the clearance limit for some smaller cases and it should be noted the stock fan, depending on how it’s mounted can increase the height further.


The heatpipes are staggered in a cramped layout to accommodate the cooler’s eight heatpipes. This increases the separation, allowing more air to flow around them. Though quite long, the heatsink isn’t particularly thick at 53 mm.


The base is polished to a mirror shine. The surface is very slightly convex to ensure good contact with the center of the CPU’s heatspreader.


An odd little slit has been cut down the middle of the heatsink, giving it a bit more ventilation, though we can’t imagine it makes much of a difference. The holes at the top and bottom of the image are for the fan clips. Both 12 and 14 cm fans are supported.


The Archon’s fins measure 0.49 mm thick with an average of 2.33 mm separation. The fin spacing is unusually large for a Thermalright heatsink, making it more suitable for low airflow cooling.


The included mounting system is similar to the one employed by the Thermalright Silver Arrow, except the large thumbscrews have been replaced with standard screws, making it more difficult to put together. The LGA1366 installation procedure is detailed here (ignore the AMD references; the Archon SB-E has a universal backplate).

TESTING

Before thermal testing, we took some basic physical measurements.

Approximate Physical Measurements
Height 172 mm (without fan)
Fin count 44
Fin thickness
0.49
Fin spacing
2.33 mm

 

Comparison: Approx. Average Fin Thickness & Spacing
Heatsink
Fin Thickness
Fin Spacing
Thermalright HR-01 Plus
0.45 mm
3.15 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
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
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
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)

Key Components in LGA1155 Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge core, LGA1155, 3.1 GHz, 45nm, 95W TDP, overclocked/volted to 3.6 GHz and 1.300V.
  • Intel DP67BG ATX motherboard.
    P67 chipset.
  • Asus
    EAH3450 Silent
    graphics card.
  • Kingston
    SSDNow V
    30GB 2.5″ solid-state drive. Chosen for silence.
  • OCZ Platinum Extreme Low Voltage DDR3 memory. 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1333 in dual channel.
  • Seasonic X-400 SS-400FL
    400W ATX power supply. Passively cooled
  • 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
28~29 dBA
1250 RPM
9V
21 dBA
990 RPM
7V
15~16 dBA
770 RPM
6V
13 dBA
660 RPM

 

Reference Nexus 120mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
SPL@1m
Speed
12V
16 dBA
1100 RPM
9V
13 dBA
890 RPM
7V
12 dBA
720 RPM

 

Reference Nexus 92 mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
SPL@1m
Speed
12V
16 dBA
1470 RPM
9V
12 dBA
1150 RPM

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 or CPUBurn 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.

Stock Fan Measurements

Specifications: Thermalright Archon SB-E
Manufacturer
Power Rating
2.4 W
Model Number
TR-TY150
Airflow Rating
38~84 CFM
Bearing Type
N/A
Speed Rating
500~1,100 RPM
Corners
Open
Noise Rating
23 dBA@50cm
Frame Size
170 x 150 x 26.5 mm
Header Type
4-pin
Fan Blade Diameter
142 mm
Starting Voltage
4.7V
Hub Size
41 mm
Weight
180 grams
Data in green cells provided by the manufacturer
or observed; data in the blue cells were measured.

The Archon SB-E’s stock fan has an unusual shape and size. The frame has a mix of both round and straight edges and it measures 17 x 15 cm, so it’s longer on one side. The model number on our sample reads “TR-TY170” but this is a misprint. According to Thermalright, it’s a 15 cm fan, the TR-TY150. The fan has a nonstandard thickness of 26.5 mm. The blades are also unusual, not swept forward as much as usual, with rounded ends that make it look more like a propeller on marine vessel.


The smaller TR-TY140 (152 x 140 x 26 mm).

The 14 cm TR-TY140 included with the Silver Arrow and Shaman has the same shape and color scheme, but the TR-TY150’s fan blades are more rectangular and overlap slightly near the motor.

Stock TY150 Fan Measurements
Voltage
Speed
SPL@1m
12V
1050 RPM
27 dBA
9V
890 RPM
20 dBA
7V
730 RPM
15 dBA
5V
550 RPM
11 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from
the center of the heatsink.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA.

The PWM drive makes the TY150 fan suitable for connection to the 4-pin CPU fan header on any modern motherboard, and it will easily start at below 400 RPM, at which speed it is silent. The noise signature at full speed is mostly wind turbulence, and too noisy for any quiet PC. At 890 RPM, it is much more subdued but still noisy, and some tonal elements are more audible, along with a lower frequency hum. The next step down brings the fan noise to a near inaudible level, but from very close up, that hum is still audible, as are some tonal elements. At the lowest speed, it is effectively silent, the close-up sound being little more than a whispery turbulence. The lowest trace in the spectrum capture below is the ambient of the anechoic chamber, which shows no significant change when the TY150 fan is spinning at 550 RPM.


At under ~800 RPM, the Thermalright TY150 is very quiet. Below 700 RPM, it is effectively silent.

TEST RESULTS

Thermalright Archon SB-E
Fan Voltage
SPL@1m
Temp
°C Rise
Stock Fan
12V
27 dBA
58°C
38
9V
20 dBA
59°C
39
7V
14 dBA
60°C
40
5V
11 dBA
63°C
43
Reference Noctua 140mm Fan
12V
28~29 dBA
55°C
35
9V
21 dBA
57°C
37
7V
15~16 dBA
60°C
40
6V
13 dBA
62°C
42
Reference Nexus 120mm Fan
12V
16 dBA
62°C
42
9V
13 dBA
63°C
43
7V
12 dBA
69°C
49
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (20°C)
at load.

The Archon SB-E’s cooling proficiency is superb for a single fan heatsink, keeping the thermal rise of our test CPU quite low relative to the measured noise. 40°C above ambient is the point where a good cooler becomes excellent and the Archon surpassed this mark, albeit only when using a large fan.

Though the stock fan might have a somewhat “muddier” sound than our reference Noctua 140 mm model, it is slightly lower in SPL and actually ran quieter at slower speeds. Our reference Nexus 120 mm fan, which often outperforms the larger Noctua, was clearly out of its element mounted on the Archon. When its speed was reduced from 9V to 7V, the temperature shot up by 6°C; the best heatsinks we’ve tested typically show only a 2~3°C increase. This shows clearly that the Archon SB-E is optimized for use with a larger fan.

Heatsink Comparison Tables

CPU Coolers (ref. 120mm fan): °C Rise Comparison
Heatsink
Fan voltage / SPL @1m
12V
9V
7V
16 dBA
13 dBA
12 dBA
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme Rev.C
38
40
43
Thermalright Venomous X
38
41
43
Prolimatech Megahalems
38
41
44
Noctua NH-U12P
39
42
44
Scythe Mugen-2
39
42
45
Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366
40
42
45
Prolimatech Armageddon
40
42
46
Zalman CNPS10X Quiet
40
43
46
Noctua NH-C14
39
42
48
Scythe Yasya
41
43
47
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme
40
43
48
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
41
44
48
Thermalright Archon SB-E
42
43
49
Thermalright Ultra-120
42
45
49
Titan Fenrir
43
46
50
Scythe Ninja 3
44
47
49
Noctua NH-C12P
43
47
51
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme
43
47
53
Swiftech Polaris 120
46
49
54
Zalman CNPS10X Flex
45
50
54
Cooler Master V8
46
50
54
Antec Kühler H20 620
(pump at 7V, almost inaudible)
52
52
53
Scythe Grand Kama Cross
45
52
57
Arctic Cooling Freezer Xtreme Rev.2
49
52
58
Scythe Kabuto
51
53
60

When paired with a 120 mm fan, not all of the Archon’s cooling fin surface receives airflow, making it fairly ineffective for an US$80 heatsink. Compared to other performance CPU coolers using the same fan, the Archon’s performance was middling.

CPU Coolers (ref. 140mm fan): °C Rise Comparison
Heatsink
Fan voltage / SPL @1m*
9V
7V
6V
18~21 dBA
13~16 dBA
11~13 dBA
Thermalright Archon SB-E
37
40
42
Prolimatech Armageddon
39
42
45
Thermalright Venomous X Silent Edition
40
43
44
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
*Note: there are minor differences in measured SPL due to the variety of fan orientations and mounting methods offered by the compared coolers.

The Archon is a completely different cooler when using a bigger 140 mm fan, topping our chart with a clear margin of victory over the Prolimatech Armageddon, another lanky tower deisnged for a large fan. Heavyweights like the NZXT Havik 140 and Noctua NH-C14 don’t match up either, but to be fair, they are optimized for dual fan operation.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Though not marketed as such, the Thermalright Archon SB-E is an exceptional CPU heatsink for low noise operation. Most top tier heatsinks have bulky fin stacks with tight spacing, making it difficult for fans running at low speed to expel the heat. A high pressure fan is best for such heatsink. The Archon employs a somewhat different strategy to great success. Its surface area is very large, and the tall, wide dimensions allows the output of a large fan to reach all of the fins surface area even at very low speed. The distance from the “intake” side of the fin stack to the “exhaust” side is just 53 mm at its maximum, about 20% less than the highest performance 120mm fan heatsinks, which lowers airflow impedance. When tested with our reference Noctua 140 mm fan, the Archon SB-E beat out all comers. The larger stock 150 mm fan had similar effectiveness.

Still, our main caution is about size. At 172 mm, it’s one of the tallest heatsinks on the market, too tall for even for fairly big ATX cases. By our measurements, its height exceeds the clearance limit of popular noise-conscious cases like the Corsair Obsidian 550D, Fractal Define Mini, SilverStone Temjin TJ08-E, and Cooler Master Silencio 450/550. Its US$80 street price is hefty, though it isn’t unreasonable given its superb performance. Still, there are countless heatsinks that offer good cooling proficiency for much lower cost; the law of diminishing returns is evident in this case. We also are slightly peeved with the tweaked mounting system — specifically the removal of the thumbscrews which made assembling the mounting bracket on the Silver Arrow incredibly easy. There was no reason to meddle with a system that was almost perfect.

Our thanks to Thermalright for the Archon SB-E CPU cooler sample.


Thermalright Archon SB-E wins the SPCR Editor’s Choice

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Antec Kühler H20 620 & 920 CPU Water Cooling Units
Havik 140: NZXT’s First CPU Heatsink
Thermalright Venomous X Silent Edition CPU Cooler
Prolimatech Genesis CPU Heatsink: Retaking the Crown
Swiftech Polaris 120 CPU Heatsink
Zalman CNPS9900 MAX & CNPS5X CPU Coolers

* * *

Discuss
this article in the SPCR forums.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *