With the release of Intel's Core 2 Duo desktop chip, we suspect that a few of you will be upgrading fairly soon. We thought we'd check out nine top-end coolers and see which one is worthy of your LGA 775 rig. Without further ado...
The Akasa AK-960 looks almost identical to the Intel stock cooler at first glance. In reality, it’s actually closer to the larger heat pipe coolers, such as the Auras 775, in design.
There are some major differences between the AK-960 and the Auras 775, though. The main difference is the way the heat pipes attach. Instead of threading through the copper base, as all the other models do, they instead thread from the bottom of the Aluminium fins to the top. While they are in close proximity to the copper base, they don’t actually pass directly through it.
Base: Because the cooler is almost exactly the same size and shape as the stock Intel cooler, and uses the standard LGA775 retention clips, the Akasa is the simplest of all the coolers to fit. Its small size means it’s easy to grab with one hand, and turn the clips in with the other – so if you’re easily frustrated, this would be the cooler for you.
Noise: The AK-960 uses a 92mm caseless fan, similar to the Freezer 7 Pro. However, unlike the Freezer, the fan is connected directly the heat sink, without any anti-vibration dampening. This doesn’t make a massive difference, but it’s noticeably louder than the Freezer.
When it’s on an idle CPU the fan is near silent – although there is a little bit of whooshing. At full speed the noise does increase noticeably, but it’s still a great deal quieter than all but the quietest graphics cards.
Performance: Even if it’s no towering behemoth, the AK-960 is still one of the coolest heat sinks in the test, coming in fourth after the monolithic 120 Thermaltake unit. At 15°C under the Intel reference temperature it’s still a very good cooler. The only downside it seems to have is that it actually raised the temperature inside the case 1°C over the reference. While not tragic, it’s a lot hotter than the Auras, which managed a chilly 8°C below the internal reference temperature.
Conclusion: If you’re looking for a simple, swap out replacement for your stock cooler then the Akasa AK-960 is a very good buy. It offers very good performance, without taking up a lot of space.
Score: (four star ratings)
Value 3 Performance 3 Noise level 3 Assembly and mounting ease 4 Quality and aesthetic 1