In the ongoing war to keep CPUs cool despite our best efforts to melt them with overclocking, Akasa is proving itself to be quite the arms dealer of late. A couple of months ago we saw the stealthy, low-noise Akasa Nero S, and now we have the bolder, brasher, more garish Venom. Whereas the Nero S was focused on combining low noise with quality cooling, the Venom is an unashamed overclocker’s cooler, targeting the lowest possible temperatures to tame the overvolted CPU beneath it.
The Venom’s design will be familiar to many, utilising four 8mm-thick, direct contact nickel coated copper heatpipes which rise through a tall aluminium fin stack in a configuration similar to that of most high-performance coolers these days. The fin spacing on the Venom is very tight, cramming 45 fins into 113mm of fin height (the cooler as a whole is 163mm high). The fins themselves slightly are curved on one side to negate the dead zone of air behind the included 120mm fan’s motor.
Click to enlarge
Each fin also features four pre-cut grooves for mounting fans onto the cooler, accomplished using rubber, vibration-dampening grommets. These fit into the grooves on each corner of the cooler and allow for fairly pain free fan fitting; pulling rubber rods through fan holes is certainly easier than the dreaded retention wires. Eight of the rubber grommets are included with the Venom, allowing you to mount two 120mm fans to the cooler, one on either side. The included cooling fan is an Akasa Viper which uses the same S-blade fan design as seen on the Nero S’s fan. As this is the overclocker’s model, the fan speed has been upped from 1,200rpm to 1,900rpm and the blades are yellow, but there’s still a 4-pin PWM connector handling fan speed control (as long as you’ve configured your motherboard to do so).
As the Venom is a direct contact cooler, each of the 8mm bi-directional heatpipes also form the basis for the heatsink’s CPU contact plate. However, the heatpipes don’t look as if they’ve been flattened at their base, as we’ve seen in other coolers. Instead, it looks more like Akasa has used perfectly round U-shaped heatpipes and ground them down to make them flush with the rest of the contact plate – note how the nickel coating seems to have been milled away, and the gaps between copper heatpipe and aluminium spacer. You can clearly see that there are gaps in the contact area of the Venom cooler, which may hinder its cooling potential.
Click to enlarge - While the base is far from smooth, the multi-socket backplate simplifies installation
Akasa has further refined the universal backplate we first saw with the Nero S, this time offering a single backplate and retention bracket for LGA1366, LGA1156 and LGA775. The backplate has a slot for each of the four vertical rods, and has a mechanism to hold these rods in place for whichever Intel socket you’re using. These rods then pass through the motherboard’s mounting holes, with the metal hold-down plate clamping the cooler to this backplate via four thumbscrews. The included TIM is a let-down though, as it’s just a sachet of generic white gunk that can’t be resealed for later use.
While the mounting system initially looked to be a refreshingly simple mechanism, the holes in the backplate were unconvincingly cut. It was too easy to accidentally thread the vertical rods through the wrong hole and still install the cooler, or even for the rods to slide between the retention bracket’s holes under pressure. Neither factor is ideal when you’re clamping a cooler to your CPU under high pressure.
As with the Titan Fenrir, the hold-down plate has a ridge running across its middle, and we pointed this downward to create extra clip pressure. The use of washers to increase mount pressure also complicates things, and makes fitting the thumbscrews extremely fiddly. That said, once fitted correctly the mount is extremely secure, with the cooler clamped tightly down to your motherboard – so tight in fact that the hold-down plate actually bent under the strain.
The Venom uses the standard lever clip for AMD’s SocketAM2+/AM3 design, meaning that you can leave that motherboard’s plastic clip in place.