Most of you are going to read this for reviews sake. To hear whether or not the Zen CPU Radiator is worth your hard earned bucks. Well, I wont disappoint you there, but this isnt just a review, its a story. There are thrills, chills, spills, heartbreak, and a happy ending.
It all started when I saw how unique the Zen Radiator seemed to be. Inflow Direct was kind enough to send me one to see if it had the bite to match the bark. Well the HSF is a special order from Japan, so it took it a few weeks to get to me, and when it did, I opened the box to reveal my first some assembling required heat sink.
So first thing I did was open up the instruction manual and read about how to assemble it.
Then I dumped out the box and took note of everything I had to work with.So lets get down to business. First thing you want to do is put the fans into the housing. There are small grooves in the bottom of the housing for the wires. On my board (ECS K7S5A) the HSF mounted so that the fans blew air down when I mounted the fans like instructed in the manual. In my case setup, all of the air comes in the front and the back, and is blown out the top, so I turned the fans around so that the air would flow up to my blowhole instead. Once you figure out which direction is best for you go ahead and screw the fans into place and you should end up with something like this.
Now that you have the fans in place, you want to attach the clip covers. If you look closely at the clip covers, one of them is slightly longer on the bottom that the other. The long one should be on the side of the radiator with the heat spreader. Remember that before you attach both of these, you want to drop the radiator in between the fans. You might think that it doesnt matter which way the radiator is facing, but it does. There is a leaf spring at the top of the housing that presses the radiator down, and you want to make sure that leaf spring is on the same side as the heat spreader, otherwise your radiator will not be level on the CPU and you risk damaging it (any more of a risk is just not necessary so pay attention). Now assembling the clip catch and the clip lever can be a bit tricky, but you actually have to feed the catch through a hole in the clip cover, and then drop the clip lever into place. Finally, when your attaching the assembled clip cover to the housing, be careful not to let the radiator fall out of the housing, as until you get at least one cover into place, it will just fall out. Now you should have your final heat dissipating masterpiece.
Now for a bit about what makes this HSF so unique. Before I received this HSF to review, I was thinking about whether or not a HSF would be better with two fans on either side of it pulling air though it instead of a fan blowing air down onto it, and this was a primo opportunity for me to test that idea out. The radiator consists of the same design that a water-cooling radiator does with the exception of flowage. The fluid inside the radiator does not move through it, just maintains heat transfer. The idea is novel since most fluids transmit temperature more quickly and evenly that solids and gases do. Instead of the heat sinks fingers being cold and the base being warm, you have a more even distribution of temperature. Add moving airflow with that theoretically you have an optimum combination of fluid cooling and air cooling.
Now is where we encounter our first plot twist. Upon placing this HSF on my Athlon xp1800+, I apparently wasnt careful enough and I crushed the core of my processor (always a downer). Never fear, I have my trusty old Athlon 700MHz lying in my box o computer stuff. I put that in the system and used it for a day or so with the old heat sink to get temperature readings. Then I moved on to put the Zen onto it and I heard a faint grinding noise. Hmm… Odd, oh well. I hit the power button and tah-dah! No monitor! HSF: 2 Sm4k: 0. Well, I did have an old Duron 700mhz but hadnt taken very good care of it as I thought Id never need it again. I slapped it in there and put the old heat sink on it just to make sure that it still worked, it did. And so then I took the next logical step: kill it! Thats right! I put the Zen on that one and yes… it too fell victim to the Zen. So then I was fresh out of CPUs. Dont you hate when that happens? Lets do a quick recap. I do have fully developed motor skills, by the way. I did read the special instructions on Inflow Directs website, and they did help me figure out what I did wrong the first time. But nonetheless; Im out three CPUs. This HSF is a hardass.
Upon calling local computer stores they laughed at me when I asked for a 700 MHz anything and wanted too much for anything else, so I turned to the internet. (Yes I know I said in my Buying Computers 101 rant that you should always buy online but I needed the CPU now, not next week. Remember that I said this). I found an online store that would sell me some shims for $5 as well as a 700 MHz thunderbird for $35, and overnight shipping Saturday delivery for a total of $70. Well they decided that instead of shipping my order on Friday (like they should have) to send me a confirmation email requiring my replay to say yes, I want to spend just as much on shipping as I did on the order and that caused the order to ship out Monday instead (and for some reason I received my overnight package on Wednesday). I can live with that. What I cant live with, is when websites dont give enough of a description of the product, so that when I receive my order, I open the box and realize that they shipped me two nice and Im sure very functional shims, and a SLOT 700mhz thunderbird. Who uses a slot thunderbird? I called the store up and they agreed to RMA my slot thunderbird for a 700 MHz Duron. I immediately re-boxed the slot thunderbird and shipped it priority mail to them and they received it Thursday. They did their tests on it that night to confirm that I didnt break the CPU out of a fit of rage (and I just about threw one when I opened the box) and sent me my Duron on Friday, and I received it Monday (a week after I claimed to have needed it)
Well anyway, with the help of the shim, I was able to finally put on the Zen and have it NOT kill anything, and I am impressed with the results. Speaking of which, lets talk about those.