Gigabyte 3D Rocket II vs. G-Power Lite

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Product(s): Gigabyte 3D Rocket II (GH-PCU23-VE), G-Power Lite (GH-PDU22-SC) HSF
Provided By: Gigabyte
Price(s): ~$55CDN, ~$34CDN Online

Introduction:

Gigabyte has come a long way since it's early days of value motherboards.  Back in the early days, Gigabytes focus was toward entry-level system builders and do-it-yourself techs.  Today, they have broadened their product line to include entry level motherboards as well as some of the fastest, highest overclocking motherboards on the market.  Besides desktop motherboards, Gigabyte also produces server boards, graphics cards, networking notebook computers, storage devices, peripherals and thermal solutions. Today we are taking a look at a couple of Gigabytes latest thermal products that are designed to fit the mainstream computer platforms available, and provide adequate cooling without costing a fortune.  We've got two coolers - the GH-PCU23-VE (3D Rocket II), and the GP-PDU22-SC (G-Power Lite), and will compare them in performance to one of the best Zalman coolers available, the CNPS9700 LED.

3D Rocket II - First Look:

First up we have a look at the 3D Rocket II heatsink.  This heatsink is one of the larger heatsinks we've looked at and is certainly quite tall.  It comes is a nice flashy package that shows off the cooler on three sides.  This way to can get a good idea as to what the cooler looks like and how it will fit in with your computer's theme.

 Rocket II Box
Rocket II Box
 Rocket II Bundle
Rocket II Bundle

The Rocket II comes with a variable fan speed controller than can either be placed at the front of your case by using the included 3.5" bay device or the rheostat can be removed and placed in the included PCI slot bracket for rear-mounted fan speed control.  The 3D Rocket II includes mounting hardware for Intel LGA775 and Socket 478, as well as AMD socket 754, 939, 940 and AM2.  Mounting of LGA775 requires motherboard removal in order to install a retention frame (not pictured), but other platforms should work by using the included hardware without motherboard removal.

 

Controller Damage
Controller Damage

The way Gigabyte has packaged this cooler allows for a fair bit of movement in the package.  This caused a bit of superficial damage to the from fan controller knob as you can see above.  This didn't affect the performance of the control at all, just the visible appearance.


 

Specs & Features:

 Specification
H/S Dimension 112 x 112 x 160 mm
Fan Dimension 92 x 92 x 25 mm
Heat Pipe Number 4
Base Material Copper
Fin Material Aluminum
Rated Voltage 12V
Rated Current 0.38A
Fan Speed 1,500 ~ 3,000 RPM
Noise 16 ~ 33.5 dBA
Bearing Type Ball Bearing
Life Expectancy 50,000 hrs
Total Weight 640g
Compatible CPU Intel® Pentium® Extreme Edition Series
Intel® Pentium® D Processor Series
Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor Series (LGA775)
Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor Series (mPGA 478)
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor Series
AMD AM2 Series
AMD Athlon™ FX Series
AMD Athlon™ 64x2 Series
AMD Athlon™ 64 Series



Up Close:

The 3D Rocket II is a nice looking cooler.  It uses a total of four long heatpipes that travel up two sides of the cooler.  It also uses two fans to provide airflow through the very thin, closely stacked fins.

 Rocket II Full
Rocket II Full
 Rocket II Top
Rocket II Top
   
 Rocket II Bottom Fan
Rocket II Bottom Fan
 Rocket II Base Finish
Rocket II Base Finish


Gigabyte provides different colors of UV Reactive rings for the top of the cooler.  In the picture above (top right) we left the standard blue ring in place, but there are green, yellow and orange UV colors included as well.  As you can see in the bottom left picture, the 3D Rocket II has a bottom fan in place and includes some circuitry for fan control.  Lastly in the bottom right picture above, you can see the finish of the base of the 3D Rocket II.  While it appears to be quite flat, it is not very smooth.   You can feel machining marks, but the cooler sits very flat on the CPU when installed.

On the next page we'll go over installation of the 3D Rocket II on the LGA775 Platform.


Installation:

As is quite customary for aftermarket coolers, installation on the LGA775 platform requires motherboard removal in order to install the retention frame.  This frame feels quite flimsy when not installed, but when it is secured by four screws, it feels more durable.  However, I am a bit concerned that the weight of the 3D Rocket II hanging on the frame could damage it during transportation of the computer to a LAN.  At this point though, it has survived quite a few heatsink mountings of both the 3D Rocket II and the G-Power Lite which we'll cover on the next few pages.

The first thing to do when mounting the 3D Rocket II on an LGA775 board is to remove the board from the case and install the retention frame.  This frame is secured with four screws and kept from shoring out the board with four nylon washers.  There is no stiffener plate required for this cooler so it is quite easy to install.

Retention Frame
Retention Frame

Once the frame is place, you must use the mounting hardware and thread it through the retention frame holes and over the heatsink base then clip both sides evenly in order to secure the heatsink in place.  This requires a bit of co-ordination and a fair bit of room, so I recommend mounting the heatsink when the board is still outside the case.  If you have to install the cooler inside the case, be patient as it takes a little while to get everything lined up and in place.

Rocket II Retention Clips
Rocket II Retention Clips

Once you've got all the hardware wrapped up and installed, you need to install the rest of your hardware and then you're ready to boot up and see if everything works.  Even though this cooler looks large, it's footprint is fairly standard and should work on any motherboard.  We installed it on the MSI 975X Platinum motherboard and there was plenty of room around the northbridge, RAM and voltage regulators.

Rocket II Running
Rocket II Running

On the next pages we'll take a look at the cousin of the 3D Rocket II - the G-Power Lite.


G-Power Lite - First Look:

The G-Power Lite a much smaller heatsink from Gigabyte that offers more compatibility in smaller cases and comes in quite a bit cheaper than the larger 3D Rocket II.  The downside is that the cooler doesn't include simple fan control in a 3.5" bay or rear PCI slot.  The packaging is much better with the G-Power Pro as the clamshell package keeps everything more secure and still showcases the heatsink.  The clamshell can be re-used as it doesn't need to be cut to open it.  This is a big improvement over other clamshell packages that have to be destroyed to open them.

 G-Power Package
G-Power Package
 G-Power Bundle
G-Power Bundle

There are several things that make the G-Power cooler "Lite".  First of all, it comes with a slower fan that the G-Power cooler and it lacks the rheostat fan control option of the G-Power as well.  Other than that, this cooler has a pretty impressive package that fits every current Socket available.  It will even fit the aging Socket 478 Pentium from Intel.

G-Power Low Speed Adapter
G-Power Lite Low Speed Adapter

Although I mentioned that the G-Power Lite, doesn't have a rheostat fan control option, it does have a way of running the fan in normal (high speed) or low speed mode by using an included resistor extension.  This has a resistance of 21Ω and is used to drop the fan RPM down from ~2400 rpm to ~2000 rpm.  With the G-Power Lite, the cooler is almost silent at 2000rpm and still makes very little noise at full speed.


Specs & Features:

Once again, we ripped the specs from Gigabyte's website.


 Specification
Dimension 110x110x109 mm
Bearing Type EBR Bearing
Rated Voltage 12V DC
Current 0.13 Amp (2000 RPM) ~ 0.18 Amp (2450 RPM)
Fan Speed 2450 / 2000rpm
Airflow Max. 41 ~ 48.5 CFM
Noise 23.1 dBA(At 2000 RPM)( With fan speed cable)
27.5 dBA(At 2450 RPM)(Default)
Life Expectancy 40,000hrs
Weight 430g
Compatible CPU Intel® Pentium® Extreme Edition Series
Intel® Pentium® D Processor Series
Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor Series (LGA775)
Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor Series (mPGA 478)
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor Series
AMD AM2 Series
AMD Athlon™ FX Series
AMD Athlon™ 64x2 Series
AMD Athlon™ 64 Series

 


 

Up Close:

The G-Power Lite is another nice looking cooler from Gigabyte.  It's isn't as flashy as the 3D Rocket II, and in fact it looks a little like Thermalright coolers of the past.  Those coolers had a pretty good reputation, so it will be interesting to see how the G-Power Lite compares with other coolers.  Take a look at some close up pictures before we carry on.

 G-Power Profile
G-Power Cooler
 G-Power Side View
G-Power Side View
   
 G-Power Full Bottom View
G-Power Full Bottom View
 G-Power Base Finish
G-Power Base Finish

Like many current coolers on the market, the G-Power Lite relies totally on heatpipes to take the heat from the CPU away from the base and up into the fins.  The G-Power Lite uses three heatpipes and a whole bunch of thin, closely stacked fins to get the job done.  This design is not new, but has proven itself to be quite effective.  The heatpipes run through the entire stack of fins for maximum performance.  The base of the cooler isn't very smooth - much like the base of the 3D Rocket II, but it appears to be flat as there were no high and low spots when we checked it for flatness.  It mounted very well and made even contact on the entire surface of our Core 2 Duo processor.


Installation:

The G-Power Lite installs identically as the 3D Rocket II.  For testing, we left the retention frame for the 3D Rocket II installed, and simply clipped this new cooler onto the existing frame.  Both of these coolers require motherboard removal in order to mount the retention frame on LGA775 platforms, but should mount with very little effort on AMD platforms and Intel's Socket 478.

G-Power Lite Installed
G-Power Lite Installed

The G-Power Lite uses the same retention frame as the larger 3D Rocket II – which was already installed so this cooler installed in a matter of minutes.  It is much smaller that the 3D Rocket II, and installing it with the board inside the case was much easier than with the larger Rocket.  Installation shouldn't take more that 5-10 minutes on any Athlon or Socket 478 setup because of the smaller size and ease of installation.

Test Setup & Info:

Before we jump into performance comparisons and testing we need to make a few things clear as far as our test setup goes, how we measure temperatures, and other factors that greatly reflect on a coolers performance.  To keep things consistent with the latest series of coolers we have tested, we used the Core 2 Duo E6600 test system listed below.

  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 - 2.4GHz Stock - 3.2GHz O/C.
  • 2GB Kit of Crucial PC2-8000
  • eVGA 7950GX2 1GB Graphics Card
  • Seagate 7200.10 250GB HDD.
  • Windows XP Pro SP2
  • Temperatures taken with Core Temp.

Temperatures were recorded with Core Temp and appear to be much higher than other software programs show.  The reason we use Core Temp is that other software monitoring programs vary greatly and don't reflect temperature change as CPU load changes.  With MSI's Core Center software we saw a variation of about 8°C from idle stock speed to full load when overclocked.  The heat output and system watt usage rose quite a bit, but temperatures do not reflect this when using MSI Core Center.  To achieve accurate and consistent results, we continue to use Core Temp.  This software reads the thermal diode on the CPU core itself, and temperatures rise dramatically and instantly when you apply a load to the CPU.

We compared the Gigabyte 3D Rocket II and the Gigabyte G-Power Lite against the Zalman CNPS 9700 LED cooler on the next page.  Below is a picture of the two Gigabyte coolers when compared in size to the Zalman CNPS 9500 AM2 cooler.

Size Comparison
Size Comparison

Continue on the next page for performance results.


Performance Results - Stock Speed:

I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of these two coolers when compared to the massive Zalman CNPS 9700 LED.  Both of these coolers performed quite well at stock speed, but the Zalman cooler still takes the performance crown.  All of these coolers were ran both at their low fan speed settings and then at their maximum fan speed settings.  All of these coolers are virtually silent at low speed, and the Zalman 9700LED and the 3D Rocket II make quite a bit of noise at high speed.  The Gigabyte G-Power Lite remains very quite at high speed.

Stock Performance - Low Fan Speed

 _____________________________

 Stock Performance - High Fan Speed

At stock speed the CNPS 9700 takes the lead by a large margin at high speed when loaded.  The other coolers trade performance leads, and the Gigabyte 3D Rocket II actually takes the lead when running at idle.  As load is applied the gap increases between the coolers and the squatty CNPS8000 comes in last.


 

We crank up the heat and do some overclocking to see how these cooler perform when we run our CPU at 3.2GHz with a voltage bump.

  O/C Performance - Low Fan Speed

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 O/C Performance - High Fan Speed

When the heat got turned up the G-Power Lite cooler does quite well and comes in second in a few of the performance benchmarks above.  During testing the G-Power Lite actually is the quietest of the bunch at high speed and does very well.

Conclusion:

Both of these coolers from Gigabyte performed better than I thought they would.  To be honest, I didn't expect too much from a Gigabyte cooler as they haven't been in the heatsink business as long as other companies.  The reality is that their coolers are decent choices if you are looking for a flashy and/or quiet alternative to stock cooling on your computer.  They don't keep up with the biggest and the best from Zalman, but they do compete very well with the CNPS8000 and will compare nicely with many other coolers on the market.

3D Rocket II - Breakdown: 

Pros:

  • Dual Fan design performs well.
  • Front and Rear Fan Controller Options. 

Cons:

  • Unsecure packaging can damage product.
  • Large heavy cooler.
  • Retention frame is quite flimsy for such a large cooler.
  • Quite loud at high speed.
BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
7/10
Performance:
8/10
Software Pack:
n/a
Stability:
8/10
Features:
9/10
Value:
8/10
Total Score 8.0

 

G-Power Lite - Breakdown:

Pros:

  • Well packaged and secure for shipping.
  • Nice small design works well.
  • Three heatpipes work well.
  • Quite at low speed and high speed.

Cons:

  • Low speed option requires unplugging fan and using a resistor-based extension.

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
9/10
Performance:
8/10
Software Pack:
n/a
Stability:
9/10
Features:
8/10
Value:
9/10
Total Score 8.6


Both of these coolers do alright, but the better cooler is the G-Power Lite in my opinion.  It is cheaper, performs very well and is nice and "Lite" so it fits in many cases without worrying about snapping off during shipping to a LAN.  It is quieter than the 3D Rocket II cooler and performs almost as good in many cases.

I'd like to thank Gigabyte for sending these coolers out for us to review.  If you have any questions or comments, please head on over and post them in the forum.