Although the ChillTec is rather large, I had no problem installing it on the test system's motherboard. As you can see, there is plenty of clearance over the RAM and the large chipset fan on this board.
As mentioned earlier, I will be testing the ChillTec on my dedicated test system which consists of the following hardware:
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
EVGA 680i SLI Motherboard
2 Gb Corsair XMS PC2-6400 Memory
Two 8800 GTX cards in SLI
74 Gb Western Digital Raptor 10k RPM HDD
Lite-On Optical Drive
120mm Front Intake Fan
OCZ 1,000w Power Supply
CoolIT RAM Fan
Before we move on to testing, I wanted to take a minute and talk about the included 5 1/4" control module. The display shows the temperature of the CPU as well as displaying total time online and a timer that shows how long the system has been on since you last turned it off. There is also a graphic of a stick figure digging a hole. This graphic is somewhat amusing but other than that, it serves no purpose. Also, the CPU temperature is so far from being accurate that it also really serves no purpose. I observed the "CPU" temperature only reaching 31 C under full load at an overclock of 3.5 GHz, which is about 25 C off from the actual CPU temperature. Besides looking pretty in six different colors, the display is really pointless. Sure, the internals of the module are responsible for controlling the TEC and fan speed, but having this in a drive bay serves no purpose to the end user.
All temperatures were obtained using NVIDIA Monitor. Idle temperatures were taken after 30 minutes of no system activity. Load temperatures were taken after 30 minutes of running Prime 95 (one instance per core). An overclock of 3.2 GHz was obtained using a core voltage of 1.40v. An overclock of 3.5 GHz was obtained using a core voltage of 1.56v. A constant room temperature of 24 C was maintained throughout testing. Do note that these temperature results are specific to this exact system configuration, etc... your results may vary slightly. I will be comparing the ChillTec to a few recently reviewed coolers from my heatsink results database: CoolIT's Freezone, EnzoTechnology's Ultra-X and also the stock Intel heatsink. Room temperatures between test configurations are all within 1-2 C of each other. Also note, I ran the ChillTec tests with the system out of the computer case. It is a huge hassle to remove the motherboard a few times a week, so from here on out, I will be testing coolers without a case. First up, we have results at the stock clock of 2.4 GHz.
At stock speeds of 2.4 GHz, we see the ChillTec holds its own very well, falling only to the Freezone on High Setting. Next up, we bump the processor speed to 3.2 GHz.
Again the ChillTec comes in 2nd place behind the Freezone, but notice the temperature gap is much smaller than it was at the stock processor speed. Next up we move to 3.5 GHz. The stock Intel cooler and the Freezone on Low Settings were not able to compete here.
Like a predator stalking its prey, we see the ChillTec has caught up and even surpassed the Freezone on High Setting under load. The Freezone still takes the cake under idle, but only by a mere two degrees.
I will admit that I am very surprised by the results obtained with the ChillTec, especially how well it scaled as we increased the clock speed on the processor. At lower clock speeds, the ChillTec was beat only by the Freezone on High Settings. At 3.5 GHz the two coolers were almost neck and neck. Of course, there are a few things to remember and consider when comparing the two coolers at 3.5 GHz. First, The Freezone was tested inside a computer case while the ChillTec was tested in an open environment so I would imagine the ChillTec had a small advantage here. Second, the Freezone cost twice as much as the ChillTec, so you need to consider price vs. performance. And finally, the ChillTec is much quieter at full power than the Freezone on High Setting. Ultra lists the ChillTec at a max noise level of 28 dbA, where as the Freezone is listed up to 37 dbA.
Installation of the ChillTec is not any more difficult than most other heatsinks and is compatible with all of the newest Socket types from AMD and Intel. The TEC does not put a hefty strain on your power supply, so if you are running a somewhat decent PSU, you should be good to go. The only real issue I had with this cooler is the virtually useless 5 1/4" drive module. The CPU temperature it reports is not even close to being accurate and well, doesn't serve much of a purpose besides that. Eliminating this module and having a simple mountable circuit board to control TEC output and fan speed could perhaps cut down on manufacturing costs, which then could be passed along to the end user.
Ultra has a great product on their hands in the ChillTec, and I am surprised nobody has released a product like this yet. Using both traditional heatpipe technology and a "mild" TEC is a great combination, without the normal condensation issues that a TEC brings to the table. The price of this unit is also very attractive, with a MSRP of $149.99 as of writing.
OCIA.net has awarded the Ultra ChillTec Thermo Electric Cooler our seal of approval.