Two Big Top-downers: Big Typhoon VX & Xigmatek HDT-D1264

Table of Contents

Two big CPU coolers that use the traditional top-down airflow design from Thermaltake and Xigmatek go head to head. Are they competitive against the big tower cross-flow heatsinks? How do they fare at whisper-quiet levels?

April 20, 2008 by Lawrence

Typhoon VX

CPU Cooler

CPU Cooler
Thermaltake Xigmatek
Street Price
~$55 USD ~$?? USD

For the past couple of years, tower heatpipe heatsinks have dominated CPU cooling, taking all the glory and accolades. Does this mean traditional top-down
coolers are dead? They certainly aren’t as popular as they were a few years
ago, but they remain. Motherboards are still designed with the expectation of tertiary
airflow over the board components near the CPU, specifically the power
regulation circuitry. MOSFET heatsinks are now a common sight on higher-end
mainboards and they aren’t just for show. For users concerned about these components,
their lifespan, efficiency, and general well-being, a top-down cooler is an
ideal choice, even at the cost of higher CPU temperatures.

The Xigmatek HDT-D1264 on the left, Thermaltake Big Typhoon VX on the

The Thermaltake Big Typhoon VX happens to be such a heatsink. An updated
version of the original Big Typhoon, the VX is equipped with a new fan, a manual
fan speed control, and a completely different mounting system. While it may improve upon its predecessor’s rather lackluster performance, the
question is whether it can compete against the elite top-down coolers we’ve
tested in the past, without sounding like a lawnmower. Our
experiences with Thermaltake products have usually left us with headaches and
a ringing in our ears.

To give the VX a little new competition, we’ll also be looking at Xigmatek’s HDT-D1264.
Another top-down cooler, the D1264 utilizes four, 8mm thick heatpipes, and a
120mm PWM fan secured via rubber fan isolators. It’s a bit wider than the Typhoon,
but it’s also shorter, lighter, and has fewer heatpipes. On paper the Typhoon
has the edge, but the D1264 uses the "direct touch" technology
that allowed the S1283 and SD964 heatsinks to turn in impressive performances,
so it will be interesting to see which cooler comes out on top.


Instead of a clear plastic film window, a large hole is cut in the front
of the box to make the heatsink visible to prospective buyers.

A massive plastic clamshell container accounts for the box’s large dimensions.

In fact the box is nearly twice as big as it needs to be.

Thermaltake Big Typhoon VX CL-P0310: Key Features
(from the product
web page
Feature & Brief
Our Comment
Best performance, supports
up to TDP 130W.
To be determined.
6 heatpipes, maximized heat
A common feature these
High density of aluminum
fins, provides large surface for heat dissipation.
High density does provide
more surface area for heat to dissipate, but it also makes it harder to
cool with low speed fans.
Seamless soldering process
and large copper base provide good contact for heat conductivity
Another common feature.
Waved fins to reduce wind shear noise. We doubt this has much
effect, if any on actual performance. It does make the cooler look more
elegant though.
3 in 1 application
– For LGA775: push pin design for faster install.
– For K8 and latest socket AM2, tool-less clip, easy to install.
Abandoning their previous
nut and bolt method, the VX returns to more traditional mounting techniques.
VR Fan
– Silent and powerful VR fan, 16dBA at minimum fan speed.
– Adjustable fan control to boost cooling performance.
Any type of fan control
is welcome, but it must be set manually. 16 dBA we find hard to believe.
Thermaltake Big Typhoon VX CL-P0310: Specifications
(from the product
web page
Intel Core 2 Extreme(Socket LGA775)
Intel Core 2 Duo (Socket LGA775)
Intel Pentium Extreme Edition (Socket LGA 775)
Intel Pentium D (Socket LGA 775)
Intel Pentium 4 (Socket LGA775)
Intel Celeron D (Socket LGA775)

AMD Athlon 64 X2 (Socket 939, AM2)
AMD Athlon 64 FX (Socket 939, AM2)
AMD Athlon 64 (Socket 754, 939, AM2)
AMD Sempron (Socket 754, AM2)

Heatsink Dimension 122(L) x 122(D) x 103(H)
Heatsink Material Copper Base & Aluminum
Fin (142Fin)
Heatpipe Copper Tube, 6mm x 6 pcs
Weight 822g
Fan Dimension 120x120x25 mm
Rated Voltage 12V
Started Voltage 7V
Power Input 3.00W
Fan Speed 1300 ~2000 RPM
Max. Air Flow 86.5CFM
Max. Air Pressure 2.22mmH2O
Noise 16dBA~24dBA
Life Expectation 30,000hrs
Connector 3 Pin


The HDT-D1264 box is much more compact.

Package contents.

Xigmatek HDT-D1264: Key Features
(from the respective product
web page
Feature & Brief
Our Comment
H.D.T. (Heatpipe direct
touch) technology.
As with all Xigmatek
HDT heatsinks, the base is removed as an intermediate heat transfer medium
to improve performance.
Anti-vibration rubber design. Unlike the Big Typhoon/VX
which use hard-mounted fans, Xigmatek opts for rubber fan isolators instead
to reduce vibration transmission.
Special fin shape design. "Special"
fin designs are usually aesthetic rather than functional.
Particular raised-point on fin design.
Efficient air flow to cool
down components around CPU.
A welcome feature as
motherboards are designed with the expectation of some secondary top-down
airflow directed over the components surrounding the CPU socket.
4pcs x 8mm high performance
Thick and numerous, Xigmatek
went all out with the D1264.
Light weight. At 667g it’s almost 20%
lighter than the Big Typhoon VX. However, it is in fact the heaviest of
all of Xigmatek’s DHT coolers.
High performance &
easy installation.
To be determined.
120mm highly efficient PWM
We always like to see
PWM fans included as some motherboards do not support DC voltage control.
3 in 1 application: LGA775
pushpin/K8 & AM2 tool-less clip.
Uses the same methods
as the S1283 and SD964.
Xigmatek HDT-D1264: Specifications
(from the respective product
web pages
Product Name
Product Number
Outside Dimension
145(W) x 150(H) x 134(D) mm
Weight 667g (w/fan)
Thermal Resistance 0.14 °C/W
Application All Intel Socket LGA 775
Core 2 Extreme / Quad / Duo
Pentium Extreme Edition / D
Celeron D
All AMD Socket AM2 / 754 /
939 / 940 CPU
Athlon 64 / FX / X2 / Opteron / Sempron
Aluminum Alloy
8 x 4 mm
Dimension 120(W) x 120(H) x 25(D) mm
Voltage Rating
800~1500 R.P.M
Bearing Type
Rifle Bearing
Air Flow
56.3 CFM
Air Pressure
1.57 mm H2O
Life Expectancy
40,000 hrs
Noise Level
27.2 dBA
4 Pin with PWM


The Big Typhoon VX.

The VX is for the most part, physically identical to the original
Big Typhoon, so
we’ll keep the details to a minimum. Only three things have changed: the fan
is different, a manual fan speed controller has been added, and the mounting
system has been revised. The fan and grill are still held on screws, as is
the metallic fan frame. Hard contact between the fan and heatsink is a source
of noise; something Thermaltake either isn’t aware of, or simply doesn’t care

Heatsink with the fan and frame removed.

With its fan and frame stripped, the Typhoon VX is essential
two giant blocks of densely packed fins held up by two sets of heatpipes.
At the top and bottom, the fins are are shaped to resemble a wave on the beach,
or lazily drawn seagulls.

From above.

There is some, but not a lot of separation between the two
blocks. With very fine fin separation it does not look like a good candidate
for low airflow, quiet cooling.

Heatpipe/base contact.

The heatpipes begin (or end) at the base, where they are soldered
into grooves to the base. It’s standard operating procedure these days.

The base.

The base is rough by contemporary standards. The machine
marks can be both seen clearly, but are difficult to distinguish by touch
alone. In our experience, this isn’t a game-breaker.



At first glance, two physical features of the D1264 stand out. The heatpipes
which curve inward at the bottom, presumably to avoid contact with larger
northbridge and VRM heatsinks, and the trenches running across
each side of the fin edges to accommodate the rubber fan isolators.


The fins, at the top of the heatsink, slope downward and out, to catch
any airflow that may leak past the sides of the fan isolators. At the bottom,
the fins curve inward, with less area in the middle and more on the sides.

From the side.

The heatsink does bend downward slightly as if the fins and fan are too
heavy for the heatpipes to hold its mass completely upright. The fin spacing
is tight, but nowhere near as tight as the Big Typhoon.


Underneath the fan, the top of the fins slope inward toward the center,
likely to reduce noise further and to direct more air below the fan’s dead-spot.
Rubber fan isolators protrude upward — it’s Xigmatek’s fan mounting method
of choice and is ours as well.

HDT-D1264 mounting plate

The mounting plate has two screw holes for mounting the LGA775 pushpins
and two guides cut down the middle for the AMD tension clip.

The base.

The base is the same as the previous Xigmatek heatsinks we’ve reviewed.
The bottom of the heatpipes are flat and smooth, but the points of separation
between the heatpipes and mounting plate are clearly noticeable, both visually
and by touch.


Old mounting system.

New mounting equipment.

The VX installation procedure is much simpler than the troublesome nut
and bolt method of the original Big Typhoon. The VX uses a simple tension
clip for K8/AM2 installation and standard Intel pushpins for LGA775.

LGA775 installation is easy.

At the center of the mounting plate there is a simple guide for the LGA775
mounting frame. The mounting tension might not be high enough.
It was easy to rotate the entire heatsink up to about 10 degrees without
using much force.

Heatsink mounted on our test platform.

The heatpipes may cause trouble for some users.
While the heatsink is symmetrical, it can be rotated, at least for Intel
systems. On most AMD motherboards, the heatpipes will face left-right, that
is 90 degrees to the orientation pictured.


The LGA775 mount.

The installation procedures for the D1264 are just as easy. For AMD systems,
a standard tension clip is provided. For Intel platforms, two sets of
pushpins need to be screwed to the mounting plate.

Thermal compound footprint.

After testing, we removed the heatsink and inspected the base. The footprint
of the CPU heatspreader left on the base shows us that only the two center
heatpipes made complete contact. The outside heatpipes overhung the
CPU. Makes you wonder whether three heatpipes might actually perform better.
A fair amount of thermal compound found their way into the gaps between
the heatpipes and mounting plate.

Heatsink mounted on our test platform.

The tension on the pushpins of the HDT-D1264 was much higher than usual, suggesting that the distance between
base and final pushpin position is smaller than on most coolers. We highly recommend this heatsink be installed outside the case as a lot of force
is required to engage each pushpin Once on, it was firmly mated —
it would not rotate, even when moderate force was applied. Expect the
corners of the heatsink base to leave marks on the heatspreader (and vice
versa). It’s a bit nerve-racking having pieces of plastic holding up this
much weight. As with the VX, the cooler can be rotated to suit your individual
needs, but the majority of AMD users will be forced to have the heatpipes
either pointing downward or upward (in any tower case).


Testing was done according to our
unique heatsink testing methodology
, and the reference fan was profiled
using our standard fan testing
. A quick summary of the components, tools, and procedures
follows below.

Key Components in Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel
    Pentium D 950
    Presler core. TDP of 130W; under our test load, it measures
    78W including efficiency losses in the VRMs.
  • ASUS
    motherboard. A basic microATX board with integrated graphics
    and plenty of room around the CPU socket.
  • Samsung
    40GB 2.5" notebook drive
  • 1
    GB stick of Corsair XMS2
    DDR2 memory.
  • FSP
    300W fanless power supply.
  • Arctic
    Lumière: Special fast-curing thermal interface
    material, designed specifically for test labs.

Test Tools

  • Seasonic
    Power Angel
    for measuring AC power at the wall to ensure that the
    heat output remains consistent.
  • Custom-built, four-channel variable DC power supply,
    used to regulate the fan speed during the test.
  • Bruel & Kjaer (B&K) model 2203 Sound Level
    . Used to accurately measure noise down to 20 dBA and below.
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented
    in our standard fan testing

Software Tools

  • SpeedFan
    , used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensor. This sensor is not
    calibrated, so results are not universally applicable
  • CPUBurn
    , used to stress the CPU heavily, generating more heat than most
    real applications. Two instances are used to ensure that both cores are stressed.
  • Throttlewatch
    , used to monitor the throttling feature of the CPU to determine
    when overheating occurs.

Noise measurements were made with the fan 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 CPUBurn to stress
the processor, and the graph function in SpeedFan was used to make sure that
the load temperature was stable for at least ten minutes. The stock fan was
tested at various voltages to represent a good cross-section of its airflow
and noise performance.

The ambient conditions during testing were 19 dBA and 20°C.


Thermaltake Big Typhoon VX

The VX’s stock fan, made by Everflow, looks similar to the one used by the
original Big Typhoon, of course it would since they are both painted orange.
It pulls slightly less wattage yet spins significantly faster. Coincidentally,
the original Hong Sheng fan’s maximum speed of 1300 RPM is the Everflow’s
fan’s rated minimum speed.

The VX stock fan.

Big Typhoon VX: Stock Fan Measurements
Fan Voltage
Fan Speed
~2110 RPM
40 dBA
33 dBA
26 dBA
23 dBA
~19 dBA

Measuring the stock fan’s rotational speed proved difficult. For some unknown reason, our tachometer
could not get a proper reading as the fan was spinning. As we use a variable
DC fan controller to adjust the fan voltage, we could not attach the 3-pin
header to a motherboard for a proper reading. If we did, we would not
be able to control the voltage with any degree of accuracy. We tried to get
around this by rewiring the RPM sensing wire to its own 3-pin plug, and tried
it with two different motherboards, but neither could pick up the fan’s actual
speed. With the fan connected via 3-pin header on the motherboard, the strock fan speed controller
could control it from 1500 (29 dBA) to 2110 RPM (40 dBA). We estimate the
lower limit of the controller to be about 8V.

Big Typhoon VX
with stock fan
Fan Voltage
Noise @1m
°C Rise
40 dBA
33 dBA
25 dBA
23 dBA
~19 dBA
Big Typhoon VX with reference fan
22 dBA
~19 dBA
<19 dBA
<19 dBA
Load Temp: CPUBurn for ~10 mins.
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (20°C) at load.
°C/W: based on the amount of heat dissipated by the CPU (measured
78W); lower is better.

Fan @ 12V: The stock fan was producing an unbearable 40 dBA — it was
just plain loud. Cooling was good, as one would expect, but couldn’t match
the performance of the better tower heatsinks, despite the high airflow and
accompanying noise level.

Fan @ 9V: At 33 dBA, it was still far too loud for our liking. The higher
airflow at 12V was masking a fair amount of buzzing, which became more noticeable
at 9V. Performance was more or less the same — it’s obvious the
fan does not need to be anywhere near 2000 RPM.

Fan @ 7V: The fan was fairly smooth sounding, but there was some undesirable,
underlying tonality. Still too loud for our liking. The CPU temperature raised
an extra 3°C.

Fan @ 6V: There was a low-pitch buzz coming from the motor. The overall noise
level is okay, but the type of noise is distracting. At this level the temperature
finally increased a significant amount: 6°C.

Fan @ 5V: The overall acoustics remained the same, just at a lower level.
At one foot it sounds similar to the fan at 6V from one meter away.

Our reference Nexus 120mm fan seemed to work much better, possibly due to
higher static pressure. At 12V and only 22 dBA, it performed better than the
stock fan at 7V and 25 dBA. That’s the difference between annoying and just
noticeable. But like the stock fan, performance suffered greatly at lower
fan speeds. At 7V and below, °C Rise was greater than 30. At 5V, it was
40 — abysmal for a heatsink of the VX’s size, weight, and price.

Big Typhoon VX vs. Big Typhoon
Stock Fan
Fan Voltage
Big Typhoon VX
Big Typhoon
°C Rise
°C Rise
40 dBA
25 dBA
33 dBA
21 dBA
25 dBA
~19 dBA
~19 dBA
<19 dBA
Reference Fan
22 dBA
22 dBA
~19 dBA
~19 dBA
<19 dBA
<19 dBA
<19 dBA
<19 dBA

Compared to the original Big Typhoon, the VX’s fan gives it a broader range
of airflow and SPL. When turned downed to more or less equivalent sound levels,
the VX pulls ahead of its predecessor by a couple of degrees. The results
when using the reference fan showed more improvement, suggesting the change
in mounting system should take most of the credit.

Xigmatek HDT-D1264

The stock fan’s model number is the same as the one on the HDT-S1283. It was a touch different, but the fan speed and noise level are more or less the

Xigmatek stock fan.

HDT-D1264 Stock Fan Measurements
Fan Voltage
Fan Speed
Noise Level
1370 RPM
27 dBA @1m
1250 RPM
24 dBA @1m


980 RPM
20 dBA @1m
550 RPM
~19 dBA @1m
HDT-D1264 w/ stock
Fan Voltage
Noise @1m
°C Rise
27 dBA
24 dBA
20 dBA
~19 dBA
HDT-D1264 w/ reference fan
22 dBA
~19 dBA
<19 dBA
<19 dBA
Load Temp: CPUBurn for ~10 mins.
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (20°C) at load.
°C/W: based on the amount of heat dissipated by the CPU (measured
78W); lower is better.

Fan @ 12V: There was mostly turbulent noise combined with some buzzing. The
overall sound level was a bit distracting. Cooling performance was good,
not great. A far cry from the best tower heatsinks.

Fan @ 11V: The type of noise was similar, only less so. The buzzing became
more faint, but was still evident close-up. The overall sound would fall away
into the background if one was sufficiently distracted or concentrating on
another matter. Surprisingly, the temperature did not change from 12V. 24°C
above ambient appeared to be the limit of the heatsink’s performance with
the stock fan and no additional airflow would help it further.

Fan @ 10V: At this level, the noise it produced was fairly benign, almost
pleasant. At close range there was some low-pitched buzzing. The CPU temperature
only increased by 2°C.

Fan @ 9V: The frequency of the buzzing slowed to the point where it was just
slightly ticking, but it was only audible from inches away. At one meter,
it blended away into the background. Thermal performance dropped by an additional

Results with the stock fan were decent, though far from stellar. What’s most
amazing is the spread of temperature readings: Only 5°C separated 1370
RPM from 550 RPM. Varying the airflow changed the CPU temperature very little
— that’s a testament to the efficiency of the heatsink.

The reference fan improved the HDT-D1264’s performance further, just as it
did with the VX. The Nexus 120mm delivered moderately better temperatures
with lower noise levels across the board.


Compared with other top-down cooler’s we’ve tested in the past with our reference
120mm fan, the Big Typhoon VX comes in dead last, behind the Thermalright
SI-128. The VX is also the heaviest and most expensive of the five, making
its performance even more disappointing. The HDT-D1264 fared much better,
especially with low airflow, placing right in the middle of the pack, ahead
of the SI-128, but behind both the Scythe Andy and Asus Triton 75. However
it was only out performed by Asus Triton 75 by one or two degrees at each
fan speed, well within margins of error. We consider them tied for second

Top-down Cooler Showdown:
Thermal Rise Comparisons using reference 120mm fan
Fan Voltage
Scythe Andy
Asus Triton 75
Big Typhoon VX
22 dBA
~19 dBA
<19 dBA
<19 dBA


These recordings were made with a high resolution, studio quality, digital recording system, 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. It represents a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review. The recordings contain ~10 seconds of the heatsink fan sound at each speed tested, with 5~7 seconds of ambient between each level.

The recording begins with the ambient noise of the test room. Please set your playback volume so that the ambient noise is almost inaudible.

Xigmatek HDT-D1264 with stock fan at 5V, 7V, 9V and 12V at 1m (For best results, save the sound file to your own PC, then listen.)

Big Typhoon VX with stock fan at 5V, 7V, 9V and 12V at 1m (For best results, save the sound file to your own PC, then listen.)

Reference Comparatives

Nexus "Real Silent 120mm fan" at 5V, 7V, 9V and 12V at 1m

Scythe Andy Samurai Master w/stock fan at 5V, 7V, 9V and 12V at 1m

The 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. For best results, set your volume control so that the ambient noise is just barely audible. Be aware that very quiet noises may not be audible — if we couldn’t hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn’t record it either!

More details about how we make audio recordings can be found in our article: Audio Recording Methods Revised.


The power consumption of the test system did not drop with these heatsinks compared
to when we tested traditional tower heatsinks. So the idea that inadequate motherboard
component cooling contributes to overheating and decreased efficiency
was not borne out in our tests. But this is only one platform, and it’s an open bench system; nothing conclusive can be said about top-down versus cross-board airflow. The bottom line is that if you’re concerned about component longevity, the better
top-down coolers are good enough for use with all modern desktop

While it cannot compete with the heavyweight towers, the Xigmatek HDT-D1264 isn’t
exactly chopped liver. The direct touch technology didn’t perform quite as well here
as it did in the S1283 or SD964, but it’s still easily one of the best top-down
heatsinks you can buy. With moderate airflow, it is only marginally outperformed by some popular tower heatsinks, like the Scythe Ninja Copper. The stock fan is quite decent, becoming very quiet when undervolted. The
mounting system is also very secure, though it still worries us to have that
much weight held up by plastic pushpins. Depending on the price, the D1264
could be a good buy; note that the Scythe Andy
and Asus Triton 75 can be found online for as low as $35 USD.

The Big Typhoon VX is improved over the original with a simpler,
more effective mounting system. However the
fan was born in the depths of hell. Even the mention of the word "quiet"
on the VX’s product page is
offensive. 16 dBA is its listed SPL at 1300 RPM, but
the only way it could measure this low is from several rooms away.
The nasty noise signature drives the nails into the coffin. As a low airflow heatsink, it’s pitiful. With high airflow it performs well,
but there are many alternatives that can match its performance without resorting
to a 40 dBA fan. The word that best describes it is "inefficient."
One would expect a cooler of its size to be a tour de force, but this behemoth
turned out to be a puits de insuffisance. It also costs a pricey $55 USD so
it’s impossible for us to recommend — there are many
much better choices.

Xigmatek HDT-D1264

* Excellent cooling
* Very tight mounting
* Anti-vibration fan isolators


* Fan is a bit louder than necessary
* Only one orientation for AMD

Thermaltake Big Typhoon VX

* Fan speed controller
* Easy to install
* Good performance with high airflow
* Better than original Big Typhoon


* Poor performance with low airflow
* LGA775 mounting seems loose
* Only one orientation for AMD
* Stock fan is atrocious
* Expensive

Our thanks to Thermaltake
and Xigmatek for
the heatsink samples.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest
Xigmatek HDT-S1283 &
SD964 "heatpipe direct-touch" CPU coolers
AK-965 socket 775 tower cooler

Ninja Copper: Scythe’s 5th
Year Celebration

Arctic Cooling Alpine 7 Pro: The Alpine 7

Asus Triton 75 CPU Cooler
Scythe Andy Samurai Master CPU heatsink/fan

* * *

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