With the AMD Phenom 9850 set at a stock 2.5Ghz and 1.3v, the MaxOrb EX was tested at both minimum and maximum fan speed. Idle temperatures were a cool 26-27° C which is less than 5° over ambient. Load temperatures ranged in the mid-40's, with the max fan speed reducing peak temperature by just 3° C over the much quieter, minimum setting. Leaving the fan set at maximum, the CPU was then overclocked to 3.0Ghz at 1.4v and tested again. Idle temperature did not change much, increasing by only a single degree, however at 100% utilization on all four cores, the operating temp slowly worked its way above 50° C and the system became unstable. It took a few minutes at full load for this to occur; more than likely it would have topped out in the low-50's had OCCT not crashed.
The Thermaltake MaxOrb EX is nearly identical in most ways to the previously-released MaxOrb. The EX sets itself apart through its use of copper fins in the outer heatpipe ring and its inclusion of a tube of Thermaltake's own thermal compound with the cooler. Although the EX adds official support for AM2+ socket types, any AM2-compatible cooler should also fit AM2+ without a problem. Indeed, both the physical dimensions and the mounting mechanism of the MaxOrb and MaxOrb EX are identical. Performance-aside, the only apparent difference between the two is the color. Unfortunately, given the length of time between reviews, a direct comparison of the two was not possible. Although just looking at the temperature differences between min and max fan settings, and stock and overclocked processor, by all appearances the EX may favor a slight advantage over its aluminum-finned sibling.
Although rated at only 16 - 24 dBA, the MaxOrb EX fan noise is very noticeable when run at full tilt. Having just completed testing the similarly-rated Gelid Silent Spirit prior to this, it's obvious to me that somebody is fudging their numbers, there's no way the two are comparable. The MaxOrb EX is noisy enough that I would not want to run it at full speed for 24/7 use. The fan does move a good bit of air though, up to 86cfm according to Thermaltake, and the MaxOrb EX definitely carries the advantage when it comes to temps. While the manual fan control knob is easy to use, as I pointed out in the MaxOrb review it would be nice if Thermaltake gave the option to have this done automatically, through PWM smart control.
You might think that switching to copper fin construction would raise the cost of the MaxOrb EX, however it shares the same MSRP as the original MaxOrb, $69.99. The MaxOrb has been available for awhile however, many vendors are selling it for $20-$30 less, whereas the EX averages around $60 among various online retailers. That is still a very competitive price for a top of the line air cooler and comparable to other brands.
Minor Quality Issues
The Thermaltake MaxOrb EX earns the OCIA.net Seal of Approval.