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.

  • prev
  • Go to mainpage

Testing / Conclusion

Test Methodology

Madshrimps (c)

The ORB will be compared against AMD/Intel stock air coolers provided with each Retail boxed processor, as well as H20 cooling via Alphacool's NexXxos XP CPU water-block using Socket-939 and LGA-775 mounting hardware, based on the CAPE Cora 642 Convect Maxi passive radiator system. The pump, built by OASE for Alphacool is the AP1510 centrifugal 12V. To simulate LOAD on the processors I've employed what I believe to be the most stringent CPU stress test available as freeware, S&M Beta 1.7.6. CPU temps were monitored using CPU on-die thermal diodes as well as thermistor data available from each motherboard. Since internal case temps vary with every case based on air-flow (fan compliment), case material and size only external or ambient temps will be included. For this purpose we'll employ the TTGI Fan Master SF-610 placing several thermistors internally and external of the case.

Overclocking with the ORB
Both systems were overclocked until Stock air-cooling was unable to maintain stability under full LOAD (S&M Beta 1.7.6). The AMD test system (A64 3500 + DFI nF4) ran at 10x250FSB=2.5GHz and 11x250FSB=2.75GHz. Our Intel system (Prescott 630 + Asus 925XE) ran at 15x200FSB=3.0GHz and 15x268FSB=4.0GHz. Thumbnails below reflect both AMD and Intel system data with the Thermaltake Blue ORB II in place.

AMD Test

Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c)

Intel Test

Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c) Madshrimps (c)

And for easier comparing:

Madshrimps (c)

Madshrimps (c)

I was amazed to discover while installed on the DFI motherboard the ORB's fan remained motionless for several seconds during system start-up. In a CPU the internal temp can fry the chip long before your finger has lifted off the start button, the fact the ORB acted as a passive cooler for these seconds exemplifies this unit's 869g mass functions as a passive cooler until Thermal Equilibrium is reached. The A64 3500 running 10x250FSB=2.5GHz at 1.475Vcore dissipates a constant 128W. If Heat is kinetic energy in the form of rapidly colliding molecules to an object of lower temperature, then Cooling can be described as the dissipation of that energy as the rate of collision subsides. Since our CPU is a constant source of kinetic energy, the fact the fan didn't need to power up for several seconds speaks volumes about this unit's thermal efficiency.

Q-fan will not increase speed from the user-setting until CPU temps reach 53C (its lowest setting). In the DFI nF4 BIOS fan controller menu are simply dictated by temp and either off or on. I've placed screenshots from each BIOS page pertaining to fan controls.

Madshrimps (c)

Madshrimps (c)

Sound Test

To record sound for the review I placed a microphone outside the case between the case and my work area approximately 1-meter away. Using the freeware program Dexster Audio Editor 3.0 I recorded all coolers in the overclocked stage running at the CPU at IDLE and LOAD. Only the stock coolers were audible from 1-meter, the ORB was inaudible running IDLE or LOAD and indistinguishable running at 100% RPM or 60% using Asus Q-fan controller. I recorded sound clips, but the only thing you’ll hear on them is… well, silence! I've also provided a wavelength chart from the Dexter audio program which may be compared to a crude Oscilloscope.

Madshrimps (c)

The ORB can move 77.8CFM which for its noise level (or lack thereof) is quite impressive. The 120mm blade size (and shape) is an integral aspect of the ORB's design. Larger blades will move more air then smaller blades (90mm, 80mm, 70mm, etc) with fewer revolutions; ergo pitch is lower which translates to lower noise.


In my Asus P5ND2-SLI Deluxe article I attempted to dispel the antiquated view any one PC component is more "important" then another. Modern Desktop-PCs are truly integrated systems, only as strong as their weakest link. Often times we look to extreme cooling as a means to improve performance and unwittingly neglect other aspects of our system. In H20 or Phase-change cooling heat is removed at the source via a CPU-water block or phase-change block leaving the Mosfetts and passive NB to rely on the aerodynamics of the case. While CPU temps are eliminated as an overclocking or performance obstacle, Mosfetts or passive NB then take on that role. An unbalanced system could be defined as someone spending 900.00USD on phase-change cooling leaving only enough capital for a 915-chipset/Celeron system. As an Overclocker you might literally be the "Coolest" kid on the block, but certainly not the smartest. Thermaltake makes products which free us from the myopic view of extreme specialization re-focusing our attention on pragmatic upgrades which compliment the system as a whole. The Blue ORB II is undoubtedly the very best HSF I've used to date and not simply based on CPU temps, it also cools a large amount of motherboard real estate where it matters most, including memory on many boards

Thermaltake Blue ORB II CL-PO257
Price at time of writing:
- $42 at Newegg
- £17.95 at CaseTech.UK

Excellent performance at low noise levels
Solid design with good compatibility (AMD/INTEL)
Fair pricing

AMD mounting hardware slightly off (Only tested on the DFI LAN party nF4 UT)
Rather heavy (weight) but it pays off in the cooling performance
Inclusion of a fan speed controller would be most welcome

Questions/Comments: forum thread

  • prev
  • Go to mainpage