• Home
  • blog
  • Thermalright Silver Arrow Dual 14cm Fan Cooler

Thermalright Silver Arrow Dual 14cm Fan Cooler

The Thermalright Silver Arrow is a monstrous 1.2kg heatsink with 8mm thick heatpipes and a pair of 14cm fans. Does it have what it takes to beat Noctua’s flagship NH-D14 cooler?

February 22, 2010 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Thermalright Silver Arrow
CPU Cooler
Manufacturer
Thermalright
Street Price
US$70~$80

Thermalright has a history of simple, but incredibly effective cooling products. TR’s Ultra-120 series of CPU heatsinks is the longest-lived high performance CPU coolers, remaining popular to this day despite virtually no changes over the years. The Silver Arrow shares a similar construction and look as the Ultra-120 line but in a much larger package. Weighing in at 1.2 kg and armed with a pair of 14 cm fans, this monstrosity looks to take on Noctua’s flagship NH-D14 heatsink.


The box.


Contents.

While the Silver Arrow retains Thermalright’s utilitarian cardboard box design, there is a tiny bit of artwork at the side. Apparently this is as fanciful as Thermalright packages get. Inside, cushioned by foam are the heatsink itself, a pair of 14 cm fans, mounting hardware, and instructions.

The heatsink itself is not really new; it is simply a tweaked version of the apparently discontinued IFX-14 which included a small heatsink to cool the backside of the processor. We never got a chance to test the IFX-14, but the Silver Arrow should be representative of its performance. The Silver Arrow also has an updated mounting system and two fans are provided at no extra cost. It has four 8 mm thick heatpipes compared to the 6 x 6 mm heatpipes on the Noctua NH-D14. Its fin stacks are not as deep, but there are more fins and they are packed tighter.


Mounting hardware.

The last Thermalright heatsink we reviewed, the Ultra-120 eXtreme Rev.C, featured a Prolimatech/Noctua style mounting scheme for Intel motherboards. The Silver Arrow has slightly tweaked hardware with thumbscrews and nuts to make it easier and faster to install. Also instead of long fan damping strips, black triangular adhesive pads are used to cushion the corners of the fans.

Thermalright Silver Arrow: Key Features
(from the product
web page
)
Feature & Brief
Our Comment
4 X 8mm large sintered heat-pipes efficiently remove excessive heat away from the CPU, allowing for great Overclocking potential. Larger than the 6 mm thick pipes used in most high performance heatsinks.
Nickel Plated Base and Heatpipes, increase the longevity of the heatsink by slowing oxidation and deterioration rates… maintained performance over time. All Thermalright heatsinks are nickel-plated to prevent rust.
Double fin stack design, provides each tower with an impressive 147 x 103mm of surface area for heat dissipation The Silver Arrow looks like a pair of smaller heatsinks fused into one.
Special Arrow fin design, which allows cool air to pass through while rapidly moving heat away and maintaining a quiet operating volume . A variation of their “bent winglet design” introduced by their Ultra series heatsinks.
Soldered Copper Base, ensure the highest of Thermal conduction. Standard.
Support for Multiple-Platforms: Intel Socket 1366/1156/775 & AM2/AM3. Good.
Includes Two TY Series Ultra Low noise 160*140*25mm PWM controlled fan. Okay.

 

Thermalright Silver Arrow: Specifications
(from the product
web page
)
Cooler Dimension: Length 147mm x Width 123mm x Height 160mm
Cooler weight: 825 g (excluding BTK and Fan)
Heat-pipe: 8mm Sintered Heatpipe*4 units
Cooler Base Material: C1100 Pure Copper with Nickel Plating.
Fan Dimension: Length 160mm x Width 26.5mm x Height 140mm
Fan Speed: 900~1300 RPM (PWM)
Fan noise level: 19dBA
Fan Airflow: 69CFM

PHYSICAL DETAILS

The Silver Arrow is composed of a copper base, four “U” shaped copper heatpipes and a stack of 55 fins on each side, all nickel-plated. By our measurements,
it weighs approximately 1210 grams, 870 grams without the fans and clips, making it slightly lighter than the NH-D14. The Silver Arrow is also taller than the Noctua by 5~10 mm; the heatsink measures 165 mm high, but with the fans centered, the overall height increases to 170 mm.


Like the NH-D14, the Silver Arrow’s fins are split into two sections on each side of the heatpipes. The fins are thinner, narrower, and packed tighter though than the D14 though.


On average, the fins are 0.32 mm thick and spaced 1.57 mm apart. Its fairly tightly grouped which is typical for Thermalright heatsinks.


The gap between the two sections measures about 40 mm which gives the fan at the center an extra 15 mm of breathing room behind it. On the D14, the arrangement is much tighter with almost no separation between the fin stacks and the middle fan.


Like the entire Ultra series, the base is convex, which means there will be more contact with the processor in the middle. It’s an apt strategy as most of the heat generated emanates from the center, and most current CPUs have a heatspreader that tends to be concave..


The base surface had a few visible machine marks. There was also noticeable banding at certain angles. The base was polished to produce an almost mirror-like reflection.

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 to minimize user error.


The same hardware is used for mounting all of Intel’s modern sockets, LGA1155, 1156, and 1366. It consists of a backplate, washers, thumbscrews, a square frame, nuts, and a rectangular bar with screws to secure the heatsink to the frame.



For AMD boards, the same method is used as previous Thermalright heatsinks. An “X” shaped frame is slipped over the base and spring-loaded bolts mount the cooler to a backplate. The frame can swivel allowing rotation depending on which direction you want the fans to blow. The only problem with this method is the bolts are positioned directly under the fins making them difficult to tighten.


Mounting frame halfway installed on our LGA1366 test board.


The retention bar is held down with two screws, but if it’s still loose, the nut at the center can be tightened using the included wrench. The final mating is very secure.


Fully installed with both fans.


The Silver Arrow appeals to users with high performance systems, but the premium RAM associated with them typically have very tall heatspreaders which can be problematic. The second fan on our install just cleared a bare memory stick by 2 mm (you can move the fan upward to buy yourself another 5 mm).

TESTING

Before thermal testing, we took some basic physical measurements.

Approximate Physical Measurements
Weight
870 g
1210 g with stock fans and clips
Height 165, 170 mm with fans centered
Fin count 55
Fin thickness
0.32 mm
Fin spacing
1.57 mm
Vertical Clearance*
48 mm
Horizontal Overhang**
-7 mm
* measured from the motherboard PCB to
the bottom fin of the heatsink.
** measured from the far edge of the heatsink to the top edge of the motherboard
PCB.

 

Comparison: Approximate Average Fin Thickness & Spacing
Heatsink
Fin Thickness
Fin Spacing
Scythe Ninja 2
0.39 mm
3.68 mm
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
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
Scythe Mugen-2
0.31 mm
1.89 mm
Cooler Master V8
0.30 mm
~1.85 mm
Noctua NH-C14
0.38 mm
1.79 mm
Titan Fenrir
0.36 mm
1.78 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
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 was done on our
i7-1366 heatsink testing platform
. A summary of the test system
and procedure follows.

Key Components in 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 system is 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 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 were made with the fans powered from the lab’s variable DC
power supply with the rest of the system 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.

STOCK FAN MEASUREMENTS

The Silver Arrow ships with a pair of Thermalright’s TY-140 fans. The TY-140 is a 14 cm seven blade fan with curved struts to produce a desirable angle with the trailing edges. The blades are rather unusual in that the leading corners are rounded and the trailer corners seem to have been cut so they are not perpendicular. The housing is also an unusual shape.

 

Specifications: Thermalright Silver Arrow Stock Fan
Manufacturer
Power Rating
2.4 W
Model Number
TR-TY140
Airflow Rating
56~73 CFM
Bearing Type
Hyper-Flow
Speed Rating
900~1300 RPM
Corners
Open
Noise Rating
19~21 dBA
Frame Size
152 x 140 x 26 mm
Header Type
4-pin PWM
Blade Diameter
130 mm
Starting Voltage
4.9 V
Hub Size
42 mm
Weight
160 g
Data in green cells provided by the manufacturer
or observed; data in the blue cells were measured.

 

Stock Fan Measurements
Voltage
Avg. Speed
SPL @1m
One Fan
Two Fans
12V
1290 RPM
23~24 dBA
26 dBA
9V
1000 RPM
18 dBA
19~20 dBA
7V
780 RPM
13 dBA
14 dBA
6V
650 RPM
12 dBA
12~13 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from
the center of the heatsink.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA.

The stock fan’s acoustics are average at 9V and above. The fan generates a dry, tonal hum that decreases with speed, but it is always audible at close proximity. At 7V and below, it is barely noticeable at one meter, and if enclosed in a good case, it should be inaudible. The measured noise level is very low for a fan of its size and speed, generating just 23~24 dBA at full speed and approaching our anechoic chamber’s noise floor at 6V.


At 9V, the stock fan generated some tonality at ~350 Hz.

COOLING RESULTS

Fan
Voltage
One Fan
Two Fans
SPL@1m
Thermal Rise
Thermal Rise
SPL@1m
Stock Fan: Thermalright TY-140
12V
23~24 dBA
36°C
34°C
26 dBA
9V
18 dBA
38°C
35°C
19~20 dBA
7V
13 dBA
42°C
38°C
14 dBA
6V
12 dBA
46°C
40°C
12~13 dBA
Alternate Fan: Noctua NF-P14
12V
28~29 dBA
37°C
34°C
30~31 dBA
9V
21 dBA
39°C
35°C
22~23 dBA
7V
15~16 dBA
45°C
39°C
16~17 dBA
6V
13 dBA
49°C
41°C
14 dBA

The overall performance of the heatsink with both the stock and reference fans was excellent. We found that the Thermalright fan consistently outperformed the Noctua fan at similar noise levels. The biggest difference was at 13 dBA@1m, where the TY-140 led the NF-P14 by a massive 7°C. With two fans, the Noctua caught up a bit, but was still beaten by 3°C at 14 dBA@1m. The NF-P14 has smoother acoustics, but at lower fan speeds and enclosed in a PC chassis, both should be too quiet to notice.

Using two Thermalright fans rather than one lowered the temperature by 2° to 6°C, depending on fan speed. Our reference fan was more successful when doubled up, improving cooling by 3~8°C. It seems the Noctua fans work better as a tandem on the Silver Arrow.

Comparison: Dual Fan Coolers

The following is a comparison chart of the top coolers we’ve tested so far on our LGA1366 heatsink platform. The results were generated using our reference Noctua 140 mm fans as is indicative of CPU cooling performance with dual low airflow/noise fans.

°C rise Comparison (Noctua 14 mm reference fans)
Heatsink
16~17 dBA
14 dBA
12~13 dBA
Thermalright Silver Arrow
(stock fans)
n/a
38
40
Noctua NH-D14
37
39
Noctua NH-C14
15 dBA
41
39
Thermalright Silver Arrow
39
41
n/a

As an ultra-low noise dual fan cooler, the Silver Arrow comes out on top, just barely edging out the Noctua NH-D14 at the 14 dBA@1m level. The difference is small enough to be ignored for practical purposes. When using Noctua’s fans, the Silver Arrow is less efficient. The stock fans seem to be superior, at least when used on the Silver Arrow with its thinner fin stacks and tighter spacing.

Incidentally, though the downblowing NH-C14 uses the same fans as our reference models, there was a 1 dB difference at 6V; this may be due to slight variations in the fan samples or the difference in orientation.

Comparison: Single Fan Coolers

The following is a comparison chart of the top single fan coolers we’ve tested so far on our LGA1366 heatsink platform. The results were generated using our reference Nexus 120 mm fan as is indicative of CPU cooling performance with a single low airflow/noise fan.

°C rise Comparison
Heatsink
Nexus 120mm fan voltage /
SPL @1m
12V
9V
7V
16 dBA
13 dBA
12 dBA
Thermalright Silver Arrow (stock fans)
n/a
14 dBA
12~13 dBA
38
40
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme Rev.C
38
40
43
Prolimatech Megahalems
38
41
44
Thermalright Silver Arrow (Noctua 140 mm fans)
16~17 dBA
14 dBA
n/a
39
41

n/a

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
Scythe Yasya
41
43
47
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme
40
43
48
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
41
44
48
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
Zalman CNPS10X Flex
45
50
54
Cooler Master V8
46
50
54
Scythe Grand Kama Cross
45
52
57
Arctic Cooling Freezer Xtreme Rev.2
49
52
58
Scythe Kabuto
51
53
60

The Silver Arrow outperforms all the single fan heatsink we’ve tested, especially at very low fan speeds.

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

The Silver Arrow is another in a long line of successful heatsinks from Thermalright. Taking a slightly different approach than the Noctua NH-D14 by using narrower, more densely packed fins and thicker but fewer heatpipes, the end result is more or less comparable. Both the D14 and Silver Arrow provide only a slight improvement over single-fan heatsinks, at least with a Core i7 at stock settings. But if you’re looking to cool a heavily overclocked processor, undoubtedly the extra surface area provided by these titans will come in handy. The recent change in Thermalright’s Intel mounting hardware also brings it up to par in ease and security with Noctua’s installation system.

The TY-140 fans that ship with the Silver Arrow perform well compared to the NH-P14’s that ship with Noctua’s various heatsinks. At similar measured noise levels, the Thermalright fans consistently delivered better temperatures, especially when we tested the Silver Arrow with just a single undervolted fan. The bad news is that they don’t sound as good, generating a low frequency hum that is absent in the NH-P14’s. The good news is at lower fan speeds, you probably won’t be able to hear the difference, especially if it’s mounted in a case. Also, NH-P14’s have a high starting voltage (6.4V vs. 4.9V) and lack PWM, so running them at low speeds requires a dynamic fan control system to ensure they actually start spinning when the PC is turned on. This can be problematic as some motherboards don’t offer more than one fan header with voltage control.

With a street price of US$70, the Silver Arrow is on par with the NH-D14 in cost. For many, the choice may simply come down to availability and price, but if you’re looking for a top-notch CPU heatsink and money is not a concern, you can’t go wrong with either.


Recommended by SPCR
The Thermalright Silver Arrow is Recommended by SPCR.

Our thanks to Thermalright for the Silver Arrow heatsink sample.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest


Noctua NH-C14 Dual Fan Top-down CPU Cooler

Thermalright Shaman 140mm Fan GPU Cooler
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme Rev.C & AC Freezer Xtreme Rev.2
Scythe Ninja 3 & Scythe Yasya CPU Heatsinks
Gelid Slim
Silence & Prolimatech Samuel 17 Low Profile CPU Coolers

SPCR’s 2010 CPU Heatsink
Test Platform [Updates: 10 April & 31 May]

* * *

Discuss
this article in the SPCR forums.

Leave a Comment

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