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Digital-Daily : Cooling : gigabyte-3d-cooler

Cooler Gigabyte GH-PCU21-VG (3D Cooler)

Author: Aleksandr Mitrofanov
Date: 03.02.2004


In the year 2003, the industry of cooling devices made a big leap forward. Cooler manufacturers were able to solve the problem of adequate cooling of processors and began drawing more attention to other factors like noise levels, installation convenience and exterior. Of special mention is the success of Zalman which initially produced the CNPS-7000 (-Cu -AlCu) cooler, model followed by the improved CNPS-7000A version. This product sports an impressive cooling efficiency with a very low noise level. Besides, it is easy to install on all the popular platforms (SocketA, Socket478 Athlon 64) and offers a speed regulator. However, Zalman 7000-Cu is not a champion at cooling: this title is lost to Thermalright SP-94 radiator. The cause of the victory is in the use of "heat pipes" that are able increasing the efficiency of air-cooled radiators.

At the very end of 2003, a new cooler emerged on the market: - Gigabyte 3D Cooler. No doubt, that was a marvelous marketing move: it's been a long time motherboard manufacturers ignored the cooling systems. The only what we can recall is equipping MSI boards with coolers and the release of a very popular (in its time) Asus FSCUG9C-6FC cooler. As we found out then, Asus was not the direct manufacturer of the cooler - it simply delegated its production to OEM partners. But the way Gigabyte behaved now is not quite clear: presumably, the company ordered it to the OEM suppliers or established own division for the manufacture of cooling devices. The latter option is even more likely to happen, since it's no secret that the manufacture of various computer accessories brings fantastical profits.

3D Cooler Package Bundle

Anyway, the cooler is there in our test lab, and we'll be testing it thoroughly enough :). First off, look at the packaging: it is made of transparent plastic with numerous cardboard inserts.

Gigabyte GH-PCU21-VG

Inside the box, there are lots of various components.

Gigabyte GH-PCU21-VG inbox
  • Gigabyte 3D Cooler;
  • Fastening for Pentium4 motherboards;
  • Fastening for Pentium4 motherboards;
  • Fastening for Athlon XP (SocketA) motherboards;
  • A tub of proprietary thermo paste;
  • Rotational speed regulator + a cap for the rear panel of the PC housing;
  • Setup manual in 10(!) languages;
  • Power supply adapter.

The foreground in the package bundle is the user's manual. This is no wonder though: cooling systems sometimes offer intricate shapes and are difficult to install without pictorial guides. Anyway, installation of the Gigabyte cooler is intuitive, and you can get by without a setup guide.

Manual 3D Cooler

Then there goes Gigabyte's proprietary thermal paste (we'll estimate the efficiency later on) and the cooler itself.

Gigabyte GH-PCU21-VG

3D Cooler Design

On to the fastening. To install the cooler on a Pentium 4 motherboard, two metals clips hooked up by the socket plastic frame are used. As regards the Athlon 64 motherboards, we were unable to estimate the fastening effectiveness: although there are many boards getting dusty in our lab, we were unable to get the right processor. And things with the fastening on a SocketA board is much simpler in all senses: the relatively small weight of the cooler allowed developers to apply a fastening clip with 6 hooks by the socket teeth.

As a result, the cooler can be installed on practically any SocketA board; with the exception of those boards where capacitors of the power supply module are positioned too close to the processor socket.

In this regard, Gigabyte 3D is more friendly to the use than even Zalman 7000A. As the inquisitive reader recalls, the Zalman cooler is fastened to the board that should have assembly holes on the sides of the socket. And most motherboard manufacturers give up making the feature. Therefore, the cooler can be installed trouble-free on only a few motherboards (e.g. - Asus A7N8X rev2.0). Although many motherboards have assembly holes, you have to shorten Zalman 7000A cooler and the fastening clip (with a hack-saw :) to install it . Thus, in upgrading to the Socket 754 platform this cooler becomes useless.

Therefore, installation of the Gigabyte 3D cooler is very simple and performed without an issue. The only thing left is that the fastening clip for the SocketA platform does not have a fixed position, so the cooler might get fitted at a small warp. Example:

This is very easy to avoid - make the clip run right through the center of the socket.

As regards the fastening on the Socket 754, it is effected with a longer clip that has a plastic fixing lever. Finally, installation of the cooler on a Pentium4 is effected with two metal clips.

In fact, the fastening means if the only technical issue which makes Gigabyte 3D similar to the remaining coolers. In all the other respects, this is an absolutely unique creation :). Anyway, upon a closer look we see that Gigabyte engineers haven't created anything new. Let's run through it step by step: the heat generated by the processor is intensely absorbed by the thoroughly polished copper base.

The processing quality of the base is 9/10. To prevent it from scratches, there is a sticker.

Then the heat is quickly transferred through two heat pipes. And the pipes are bent so that the heat is passed over to both ends (i.e., visually we see four pipes :). As a result, their efficiency goes up.

But the pipes themselves can't transfer heat to the ambient environment (very small surface area). So approximately 50 thin aluminum plates are put on the pipes thus repeatedly increasing the surface area. Therefore, the total mass of the cooler is small - merely 430 g. In fact, this allows transporting the CPU unit without removing the cooler (with Zalman 7000A, I did that very carefully).

However, the great surface area is not a guarantee of high efficiency. It's the heat conduction of the heat-pipe contact and the radiator fin that plays the big part. At that, we are in for a disappointment: the contact is "dry" - that is, no thermal paste is used.

So the design of GH-PCU21-VG(3D Cooler-Pro) cooler deserves a firm 4+.


  • Design
  • Design, contd.
  • Performance and conclusions

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