Alpenfohn Atlas Heatsink CPU Cooler Review. Today we examine an interesting CPU cooler, from Alpenfohn. The design here is a slight step away from what we tend to see, upon first glance it would appear just another twin heatsink, but the key difference is the asymmetrical design, that has been crafted with memory clearance in mind.
The unusual approach ought to eliminate the common issue of RAM interfering with the cooling fan (S).
The target market is Mini-ITX / Micro-ATX, as I’ve touched on many times recently, the hardware is there now. A small form factor no longer means limits and restrictions of power/speed. So logically we are now in need of able but compatible coolers just like this one. The product is said to able to tame up to 200W of TDP, with its dual 92mm fan configuration. Pricing on the day of review is a touch higher than I anticipated, available at Overclockers UK for around the £44 mark. Does it warrant such a price tag?
[Features and Specifications]
Aerodynamically optimized design:
Atlas features a brand-new aerodynamically optimized design of the aluminium fins.
The unique stamping process to form the fins helps leading the pre-heated air of the first fan alongside the second tower. This prevents the second fan from using warm air for cooling. The mirrored shape of the 2 towers influences the airflow characteritics and increases the airflow speed to dissipate the heat from the CPU even more effective.
Heatpipe/Coldplate with Diamant Cut
- the five U-shape Heatpipes have a large contact area to the full copper baseplate to optimize the heat-transfer from the CPU.
- the special shape of the new designed “Diamante-Cut” convex colplate ensures a performance advance, even on Haswell based systems.
100% compatibility with your memory
Due to the asmetrical heatsink all memory slots can be populated – even if high heatspreaders are used on the modules.
100% compatibility with PCI-Express graphics cards on ITX sytems
Most of todays mini-ITX mainboards have very little space between the CPU socket and the PCI-E slot. Whereas big CPU coolers often block the PCI-E slot our Alpenfoehn Atlas offers perfect compatibility with current and upcoming PCI-Express graphics cards. In addition the cooler was designed to be used in any standard mainboard form factor such as ATX, micro ATX, ITX and mini-ITX even if the graphics card uses a preinstalled backplate for mounting the GPU cooler.
92mm WingBoost2 Premium Fan
- S-Shape geometry
With the improved S-Shape geometry we could reach a higher static pressure compared to conventional designs.
The new developed HD Bearing (Hydraulic Bearing) reduces friction noises to a minimum and thus enables to a quiet operation.
- Plus Function:
- The new WingBoost 2 is equipped with a “plus-function”. That means that a Y split cable has been attached to the PWM connector for a second fan. Thanks to this split cable it is possible to control additional PWM fan with the same PWM connector on the motherboard instead of using a cable adapter or a 3pin connection.
Courtesy of Alpenfohn. More information available HERE
[Packaging and Bundle]
Packaging is bold and intriguing, producing an almost mythical feel. Each side is reserved for something meaningful and key, rather than attempt to cram as much detail on as possible.
With Dimensions of just: 125x105x140mm, the cooler ought to be suitable for the most compact ITX/m-ITX builds. Granted it wont likely rival a more traditional top down cooler, because of its smaller footprint but this is a performance product. Without the usual memory limit I may add. The Atlas is made up from alloy with a copper base
The unique stamping process to form the fins helps guide the pre-heated air of the first fan alongside the second tower. This prevents the second fan from using warm air for cooling. The mirrored shape of the 2 towers influences the airflow characteristics and increases the airflow speed to dissipate the heat from the CPU even more effective.
Most of today’s mini-ITX main boards have very little space between the CPU socket and the PCI-E slot. Whereas big CPU coolers often block the PCI-E slot, the Alpenfohn. Atlas offers perfect compatibility with current and upcoming PCI-Express graphics cards. In addition, the cooler was designed to be used in any standard main board form factor such as ATX, micro ATX, ITX and mini-ITX even if the graphics card uses a preinstalled backplate for mounting the GPU cooler.
A total of 5 pipes connect to the copper base (plated) The convex surface of which improves the thermal contact to the CPU. Especially beneficial when using the likes of intel CPUs (Haswell generation)
The new WingBoost fans are equipped with a “plus-function”. Which means that a Y split cable has been attached to the PWM connector for a second fan. Thanks to this split cable it is possible to control additional PWM fan with the same PWM connector on the motherboard instead of using a cable adapter or a 3pin connection.
Typical mounting method for the Cooler
- Four bolts are passed through the backplate, and then flip the motherboard over.
- The main cooler is Secured down with the pressure mounted bolts (with springs) and a support bar, that lays across the centre of the coolers base.
- To complete the install, add the fan connectors to the header of your choice, or bypass them and use the converter for 7V Molex.
[Clearance and observations]
Compatibility is usually one area we talk about in detail, does the claim of superb compatibility really stack up?
It does indeed, because the fans mount with a clip system, simply raise them up, and gain space underneath if you need it, likewise as claimed, the product is nowhere near the PCI-e Slots. A win for the Atlas!
RAM with very tall heatspreaders will conflict, the workaround is easy enough. Move the fan to the other side of the product.
[Test Setup & Method]
Proudly Powered by our Dimastech Mini V1.0 Test Bench
Intel® i5 4670K
|Memory:||Kingston HyperX Beast 2400Mhz 8GB|
|Motherboard:||MSI Z97 GAMING 7|
|Video Card:||MSI Radeon 270X Gaming|
|Hard Drives:|| |
SSD – Kingston HyperX 3k 240GB
M.2 -Kingston M.2
|OS:||Windows 8.1 64-Bit|
CPU coolers and test method is an area that causes much confusion and debate. We should point out that many sites test in different ways, but the majority share the same core idea that a simple math equation should be used. So that a consistent value can be recorded and re-used against other products
This simple equation of [recorded result] [minus] [ambient room temperature] = Delta
This test method simply means no matter how warm or cool the testing room is, the data is comparable. There will always be a degree of error in such testing. There are so many variables such airflow, testing location and such. So we perform all our testing on the same hardware and in the same location.
- Our procedure is to fit the cooler and allow a 24 hour period before any testing, allowing the thermal paste to settle. The system is booted and allowed to sit idle for 15 minutes. We take our first recording. Then using a selection of software forcing the CPU to run at 100% load. We then take our load temperatures.
- This process is repeated 3 times and the results are converted to an average.
- We provide delta temperature [Load temperatures minus ambient room temperature].
- This allows us to provide consistent results no matter the room temperature.
Many factors can skew results and to ensure accuracy we repeat all of the above three further times. Including refitting the cooler, this compensates for factors such as burn in time, amount of thermal paste and such.
I must point out that we do not manipulate and force the fan to run at 100%, it is something we had considered in the past and if we had done, most of the products in the chart would appear to have better results.
However what we present is a fair representation of how a product will perform out of the box. With this in mind what we tend to find, in our stock testing is that the fan(S) does not always hit 100%.
* Our test CPU is ran at default auto clocks and voltage for stock testing. For overclocking it’s not the best around and requires 1.375 volts to operate at 4.6 GHz. All results shown are at these settings unless otherwise stated*
The test that matters more for Overclockers… we applied a heavy overclock, which requires lots of vcore. I honestly did not expect the Atlas to do that well, given its smaller than normal size. Again, the Atlas was trading blows with much larger heatsinks.
As you might have expected the dual 92mm fans aren’t silent!
The Atlas isn’t the first product I’ve worked with, that claimed to offer true RAM compatibility, many others have (most Noctua products for example) generally they do exactly as they claim, but not always. Pricing tends to be deciding factor, with the cheaper products usually falling short of the statement. For a £45 investment I was delighted to see the Atlas deliver everything it claimed it would. Installation was trouble free, RAM compatibility was superb too. The real strength of the product is the small footprint, allowing those working with smaller form factors, to unleash the potential of their hardware.
Finding a good cooler for the mini-ITX platform isn’t difficult, lots of brands produce them now. From our growing experience though, they’ve not all been great, and the Atlas is one of the few that I’ve really liked. The price is going to be the final deciding factor for many I suspect. If you’re not running a hot chip, in a small case then the product probably isn’t for you. If you are…well it is!
Realistically there are other options out there that could deliver similar results, perhaps even cheaper but ….not at this ultra-compact size! That is the real strength here, based on what the product is able to do, in terms of its smaller footprint. The Atlas must be applauded.
Noise is another area that can make or break any product, I’ve seen a few compact coolers lately, and they don’t all offer what I personally would want. While I’m impressed with the thermal ability of the Atlas , I’m not interested in a no comprise high air flow (louder) product, I want the cooling performance to be balanced against noise emissions, so the 7V adaptors are appreciated, I needed to restrict those fans. (same can achieved via PWM) Based on everything I’ve seen today I must first grant the Atlas our design award, and further complement it with the performance award too.