Thermaltake Blue ORB II Review

Cooling/CPU Cooling by KeithSuppe @ 2006-01-11

Thermaltake revolutionized the PC-market with their original ORB back in early 2000, today we test a reincarnated Blue ORB version barring little resemblance to its former self.

  • next


Madshrimps (c)

Copper is better conductor of heat, while aluminum radiates heat more rapidly...The ultimate HSF will have a copper base with aluminum cooling fins.

Intro to Thermodynamics of Metallurgy 101:

The statement above muttered some 4-years ago has been a point of contention ever since. The thermodynamic facts of the matter are quite simple really and can be resolved with a basic understanding of physics borrowed from (the Bible for Enthusiasts) Georgia State University's Hyperphysics website;

Specific Heat
Specific Heat = the amount of heat per unit mass required to raise the temperature by one degree Celsius. The relationship between heat and temperature change is usually expressed in the form shown below where c is the specific heat.

Madshrimps (c)

The relationship does not apply if a phase change is encountered, because the heat added or removed during a phase change does not change the temperature....For most purposes, it is more meaningful to compare the molar specific heats of substances.

The molar specific heats of most solids at room temperature and above are nearly constant, in agreement with the Law of Dulong and Petit. At lower temperatures the specific heats drop as quantum processes become significant. The low temperature behavior is described by the Einstein-Debye model of specific heat.

Heat Conduction
Heat Transfer by means of molecular agitation within a material without any motion of the material as a whole. If one end of a metal rod is at a higher temperature, then energy will be transferred down the rod toward the colder end because the higher speed particles will collide with the slower ones with a net transfer of energy to the slower ones. For heat transfer between two plane surfaces, such as heat loss through the wall of a house, the rate of conduction heat transfer is:

Madshrimps (c)

What perplexed or inspired the original authors of the opening statement was a case of premature extrapolation concerning a dichotomy between specific heat capacity and conductive values assigned to copper and aluminum. There is juxtaposition in the metal's properties where copper has a lower specific heat capacity and higher conductivity compared to aluminum, while aluminum has a higher specific heat capacity and lower conductivity then copper. To reiterate the hyper physics definitions, thermal conductivity describes a specific material's ability to absorb energy, heat capacity is the amount of energy required to raise or lower the temperature of a material by one degree Celsius. How does this specific relationship translate to HSF performance? It doesn't.

Madshrimps (c)

Many thought the misnomer concerning copper and aluminum was a marketing ploy. If true it was well crafted, not because it was intended to target those unfamiliar with physics, in fact the opposite was true. Those whom were exploring the use of metal in heatsink manufacture, at that time a discipline in its infancy were drawn into arguments concerning such statements. With copper having a density 3.3x greater then aluminum, yet just 1.4x the conductivity the issue then becomes one of economics. At the time of writing Kitco metals ($/lb) has aluminum at 1.02USD/lb, copper selling for 2.09USD/lb. Marketing has become a dirty word from the time there were Snake Oil salesmen to Enron based on misuse. Thermaltake's marketing ethics have been grounded in pragmatics of ROI (Return On Investment). Will the money spent for an all copper HSF be justified in by a drop in temperature? For the adamant Overclocker with unlimited funds investing in the very best phase-change system is literally a no-brainer, ironically in the family PC where finances and stock options are saved there's probably a stock HSF.


In hobbies responsible for terms such as WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) deriving from the Audiophile world and describing a Wife’s reaction upon seeing what her husband has done to their sons room the moment he left for College. Entering she sees a leather bound recliner they couldn't give away sitting next to a spiked-footed steel rack holding Oracle Delphi turntables, tubed pre-amps sprouting tri-amp cables snaking across the floor to 6-pairs of vacuum tube monoblocs themselves dwarfed by 2m tall electrostatic speakers and all costing over 50,000USD. Comparatively a bulky phase-change unit may seem like small potatoes, but there's no gauging the WAF, it's just not a rational "science." Contrary to popular belief Ergonomics and Technophiles are not mutually exclusive. This is the reason for my predilection for Euro H20 systems which incorporate ergonomics without sacrificing performance.

CL-PO257 Specifications

Madshrimps (c)

At 30,000 hours your ORB should last approximately 3.5 years. At 17dbA and 77CFM (Max) both your hearing and CPU will remain healthy as well. Not a bad investment. If your an atypical PC-owner three years is about the time between systems, as a PC-enthusiast or Overclocker that time is much shorter depending on so many factors.

ORB Design Specifics

The ORB design bares a resemblance to the original Thermal Integration Technology Dr. Thermal HSFs such as their TI-V86N (Techno yard review). These were the original "minimal footprint" copper slug surrounded by aluminum fins arranged to allow air-flow to travel down to and around the CPU/socket area. Intel finally caught on to this relatively inexpensive yet highly effective concept and began packaging similar units with their Pentium-IV 3.06 processors. As you can see below the ORB makes contact so that the copper base makes firm contact with that area of the IHS above the core. Intel stock HSF have improved dramatically as a result of this technology due in part to secondary cooling based on the HSF's air flow. Below we see the recent Intel HSF design.

Madshrimps (c)

Looking at the ORB from the same viewpoint the similarities in air-flow characteristics become prima facie. When this design is implemented with just the right balance of materials, powerful fan and precise air-flow, this is the most effective HSF on market eschewing heat-pipe technology.

Madshrimps (c)

Although the ORB is comprised primarily of aluminum it's massive cooling fins give the unit substantial weight. At 869g, secure mounting hardware will be critical, this is a cooler you don't want to drop on your toe let alone any PC components. Thermaltake doesn't compromise in this respect and includes through-mount hardware both for AMD and Intel. For Socket-939 a back-plate is provided with two stand-offs raising the cooler to the correct height. For LGA-775 two brackets are mounted to the board on each side of the socket with two screws each. Each bracket has a single stand-off in which the ORB mounts. Fundamentally the ORB used two pre-installed spring-loaded screws which are fastened to the unit on opposites sides. Located between the cooling fins they act as the primary mounting and retention fasteners (seen below).

Madshrimps (c)

AMD testing next ->
  • next