The last cooler we looked at from Thermalright was the Macho Rev.A that performed well for its price and was nice and quiet too. With us today is the Archon SB-E X2, which retails for just over £55. This price cements its position in the market as a premium air cooler and places it in competition with the likes of the Noctua NH-D14 and the Phanteks PH-TC14PE, so it'll need to do a lot to impress.
The Archon SB-E X2 consists of a single symmetrical aluminium fin stack. It therefore only supports two fans, rather than the three that other large high-end coolers tend to support, with the extra fan between a duo of fin stacks. Its style is closer to that of the Phanteks PH-TC12DX, for example. A consequence of this is that compared to its competition, especially the Noctua NH-D14, it's actually not that big, with the fin stack measuring just 53.6mm in width. It is 170mm tall, however, so you'll need to ensure your case has room for it in that sense.
Click to enlarge - Thermalright's cooler has a single fin stack and eight heat pipes
Thermalright's cooler also sports a whopping eight copper heat pipes. By comparison, the Phanteks PH-TC14PE has five whereas the Noctua NH-D14 has six. All eight heat pipes pass through the very crowded baseplate at the same level to ensure that heat dissipation is as even as possible between them, before passing up through the fin stack on both sides. The baseplate itself is made from pure copper, and has a shiny mirror-like finish thanks to the cooler's nickel plating. Everything about the cooler feels well-machined; Thermalright hasn't cut any corners when it comes to build quality.
Included in the package are two Thermalright TY-141 140mm fans, both of which are controlled via pulse width modulation (PWM). A Y-splitter cable is also provided so that both fans can be connected to a single header, and the fan cables are nicely sleeved too. The yellow and grey-green colour scheme is a little odd, and unlikely to be to the taste of everyone, but as with Noctua's coolers it does lend the hardware a fairly unique identity. Thanks to the slimline profile of the heatsink, the width of the cooler with both fans attached is less than 110mm, meaning it won't block out any RAM slots and leaves users free to use memory modules of any height, which is something many high-end coolers cannot lay claim to.
Click to enlarge - The cooler holds two fans in a push-pull configuration
The installation procedure begins by attaching the fan clips and anti-vibration rubber pads to the heatsink. You then construct the mounting area which consists of a backplate and front mounting plate, both of which are formed from reassuringly solid metal. Both the Intel and AMD backplates come pre-fitted with bolts, with the Intel one requiring you to simply align the bolts for the appropriate socket. Everything is secured with thumbscrews for simplicity, and Thermalright provide a generous helping of thermal paste too.
With everything in place, the cooler goes onto the CPU and is secured with a pressure plate that attaches to the mounting block via a pair of screws. However, the Archon SB-E X2 also utilises what Thermalright has named its new and proprietary Pressure Vault Bracket System, whereby a bolt in the middle of the pressure plate can be tightened, thus applying direct downward force on the centre of the baseplate. This can be achieved with your motherboard mounted to its case, but it's much easier to do so outside of a chassis, as is attaching the two fans. Trust us when we say that trying to turn a wrench inside a component filled enclosure is a recipe for shouts and swears.
Click to enlarge - The Archon SB-E X2 uses a bolt above the middle of the baseplate to increase mount pressure
We can't deny that the resultant pressure from the mounting mechanism is immense; we could almost hear our CPUs weeping in pain. However, what also happens is that the thermal paste between the CPU and baseplate provides a low friction surface, while the central pressure bolt provides something of a pivot for the heatsink, and you're actually able to turn the cooler side to side a little, even with it firmly attached. It's an odd thing to observe, and even though it's obvious that the mount pressure is more than adequate, it is a little worrisome.