Supplied by Gigabyte
It’s as big as house and quiet as a mouse
It’s massive. It looks like a cylinder head for a motorcycle and it clamps onto the CPU socket; most every CPU socket. Gigabyte’s 3D Rocket-Pro heatsink blew us away. It’s intimidating. It dwarfs other heatsinks. It looks like it weighs much more than a socket can handle. It will attract attention at LAN parties as onlookers will gawk through window mods like crowds at a circus event.
It is a big heatsink. On the left is a stock Ajigo heatsink for an Socket 939-940 processor. It’s the one supplied by AMD in recent socket 939-940 review samples. It’s only 5.5 centimeters high (2 inches). The 3D Rocket Pro stands a towering 11 centimeters (4.5 inches).
A heatsink that size should weigh a lot. One would think close to 2 pounds but it doesn’t. It weighs only 50 grams more than the stock Ajigo heatsink.
- 3D Rocket Pro PCU22-VG
- Dimensions: 105x105x119 mm.
- Rated fan speed: 2500-4000 RPM
- Noise level: 23.7 – 37.2 dBA
- Socket compatibility: Intel P4 LGA775/PGA 478 and AMD K8/K7
- Copper heat pipe design
- Aluminum fins
- Copper base
- Total heatsink weight: 500 grams (1.1 lbs)
At press time the PCU22-VG was not yet listed on the Gigabyte website.
How does it work?
The Gigabyte 3D Rocket Pro heatsink is a light weight heatsink that combines traditional fin style blades with heat pipe technology. A heat pipe is a tube or pipe that contains fluid that wicks away heat from the source to be dissipated at another point. In this case the heat pipe wicks heat away from the base to the fin area.
The heat pipe wicks heat away from the base to the fin area.
The principle of directing air from "outside" the heatsink to the interior remains. It’s the old "to suck or to blow" argument. Cool air is still drawn across the fins but since the fan doesn’t sit on top of the fins it "sucks" air through the fins to be blown out the bottom of the heatsink. This is the "Rocket" airflow design.
The Rocket airflow directs air out the bottom of the heatsink to be deflected by a cowling to wash over the surrounding components around the CPU socket.
This, theoretically, aids in extending the life of the capacitors around the heatsink. Gigabyte states that a 10 degree Celsius increase in capacitor temperature will cut capacitor lifetime in half.
The duct is removable and is held on by friction clips. It does remove but not as easily as one might expect.
Gigabyte states that removing the cowling will promote a further 4 to 5 degree Celsius drop in temperature. This is a benefit for overclockers who never keep their systems long enough to worry about capacitor life. It is suggested to keep the cowling in place for those long term users who don’t overclock.
The 3D Rocket Pro is a unique design that combines the benefits of heat pipe technology with the proven reliability of fin cooling. The interior blower style fan provides a low dBA footprint; very low at reduced RPM.
The top cap of the Rocket 3D Pro does pop off revealing a PCB.
On the PCB are mounted blue LEDs and the smart fan controller circuitry. The four termination points of the heat pipes can also be seen.
The fan rotates counter-clockwise creating a tornado effect where the blades cut into the center air column pushing it out the sides. Air must be drawn into the chamber through the fins from the top area since the fan cylinder extends half the heatsink height.
The last important point is that the Gigabyte 3D Rocket Pro does not draw air into the heatsink from the top. There is a clear plastic cover that prevents this. Air is meant to be drawn into the heatsink from the sides THROUGH the fins rather than straight in from the top. The clear plastic top cover only provides a window effect into the heatsink interior.
Inside the package
The Gigabyte 3D Rocket Pro comes with the heatsink, retention clips for Intel P4 775 and 478 and AMD K8 and K7 sockets and a 3.5" bay speed controller with optional rear PCI slot bracket. The multi-language manual’s only two faults are that the installation images are too small and the smart fan controller is not explained.
Top to bottom in the following image is the AMD K8 clip, INTEL P4 socket 478 clips and the AMD K7 retention clip.
INTEL’s LGA775 bracket adds a new twist to mounting a heatsink.
The 3.5" bay controller allows for manual control over the heatsink fan speed.
The included PCI bracket will relocate the speed controller to the rear of the PC case with partial disassembly of the 3.5" bay controller.
Gigabyte includes a 4-pin molex adapter for the heatsink power requirements but this can be bypassed if a free smaller 4-pin power lead off the PSU is routed to the heatsink. The smaller 4-pin power connector sat handy on the same PSU power lead that supplies a hard drive in the test system.
Gigabyte included a small syringe of thermal paste that’s definitely adequate for one application and perhaps two if used sparingly.
The 3D Rocket Pro has a protective sticker on the base that must be removed.
The finish of the base is smooth and free from polish marks that can be noticeably felt but it is not mirror finish. Enthusiasts will most likely lap this base to gain an extra degree or possibly two.
The Gigabyte 3D Rocket Pro was mounted on a socket 939 AMD 3800+ test system. Mounting was easy and tool-less. There are two tabs on the heatsink base seen left and right in the following image.
Those tabs line up with the two pins either side of the motherboard socket.
The K8 clip slides between the fins and the heatsink base and is easily clipped in place. It was surprisingly simple and required much less force than previously experienced with some older K7 style heatsink clips.
There are three connections on the side of the heatsink. Left to right: the fan monitoring connection, the 3.5" bay controller connection and the 4-pin power connection.
The included molex adapter can be used to bring power to the heatsink or, if available, simply use an available appropriate connector off one of the power supply leads. It’s a good idea to mount the 3.5" bay controller first in order to properly feed the controller cable.
Indeed the Gigabyte 3D Rocket Pro is a monster but there were no clearance issues around the heatsink.
The only top of mind consideration with this heatsink is height. There should be a minimum of 13 centimeters or approximately 5 inches between the socket and the inside of the side panel of the PC case. 15 centimeters or nearly 6 inches would be safer.
The heatsink draws air from the sides and not the top so top clearance is not an issue for airflow. The drive bay controller will sit in an available 3.5" bay.
The knob has five markings to indicate approximate RPM and dBA values. These indications are hard settings as the knob is a rheostat based rather than incremental set positions.
The 3D Rocket Pro is lit while in operation which combines nicely with the Gigabyte K8NSNXP-939′s own DPS light effect.
LAN party goers will attract attention with this heatsink and a modder’s suggestion would be to provide some accent neon to light the top or right side of the 3D Rocket Pro to further enhance the effect.
The test systems
- AMD Athlon 64 3800+ Processor (32-bit mode Socket 939)
- Gigabyte K8NSNXP-939 motherboard
- ATI 9800 PRO 256 MB Video Card Catalyst 4.2 drivers (Application preference ticked for Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering in both Direct 3D and OpenGL, VSYNC disabled BIOS AGP aperture set to 256)
- 2 x 512 MB Corsair PC3200LL TwinX DDR RAM in DIMM 1 and 2
- LG 8x DVD +/- RW
- 80 GB Seagate Hard Drive
- Samsung 950p 19" Monitors
- USB Keyboard and Optical Mouse
- AMK SX1000 modded PC case (window, fans, cables, loom)
- Enermax 465 Watt FC PSU
- Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2
The test system used an ENERMAX Fan Control PSU with the rear exhaust fan at minimum. No other case cooling fans were in operation. The PC idled for 30 minutes prior to testing to equalize ambient temperature. Sisoft Sandra 2004 CPU burn-in was run 25 consecutive times on high priority with only the Arithmetic and Multimedia benchmarks enabled. Motherboard Monitor recorded results.
An Ajigo MF043-044 was compared to the Gigabyte 3D Rocket Pro manually set to low RPM, high RPM and without the shroud at high RPM.
Temperature over time shows two distinct performance groups. The Ajigo heatsink and 3D Rocket Pro (low speed) perform equally. The Rocket Pro with and without the shroud in place showed, more or less, the same temperature over time but the lack of shroud allowed the Rocket Pro to cool off faster after the burn-in test stopped.
At low setting the 3D Rocket Pro shows the same performance as a stock heatsink. It is not safe to say that, on average, a stock heatsink will "beat" the Rocket Pro. It is safer to say that they match each other. This does change, however, when it comes to combining the low setting results with dBA.
At high setting the results are as expected but not to as great a degree as Gigabyte promises. Removing the deflector shroud does remove the slight airflow restriction allowing the heatsink to run a 2-3 degrees cooler at peak but not the 5 degrees as anticipated by Gigabyte.
The stock heatsink generates 40 dBA which is almost halved by the low setting of the Gigabyte 3D Rocket Pro. It is this remarkably quiet operation that sets the Gigabyte cooler out in front when the two heatsinks are matching for cooling performance at the Rocket Pro’s low settings.
The 3D Rocket Pro also knocks 7 degrees Celsius off the stock HSF at high setting plus comes in a few dBA less. This clearly sets the Rocket Pro out front.
The Gigabyte 3D Rocket Pro 2500-4000 RPM blower fan efficiently lowers the overall dBA of the unit. At the lowest setting the cooler is, for all intents and purposes, inaudible. The 37 dBA at high setting is also surprisingly quiet due to the design of the blower style fan versus a blade fan. Subjectively speaking the stock Ajigo heatsink seemed louder.
Gigabyte ventured into the heatsink market in early 2004 and the PCU22-VG is one of 6 of this style of coolers. The Gigabyte 3D Rocket Pro is a winner. It’s the apitemy of an "in your face" heatsink for the enthusiast. It’s like bolting a motorcycle piston cylinder head to the motherboard. For a modder it’s a fun heatsink. The heatsink simply looks impressive.
The 3D Rocket Pro does a fantastic job in the department of cooling efficiency versus overall noise levels. There will be other heatsinks that may beat the Rocket Pro in lowest temperature by 2 or 3 degrees but they will sound like jet airplanes inside the PC case. Enthusiasts are done with the high dBA fans. They no longer want to turn on the PC and suffer through the high pitch whine of a heatsink fan whirring away like a travel hairdryer. Been there and threw it out.
The 3D Rocket Pro is tomb silent at the lowest setting. At high setting it barely reaches the level of being noticeable.
The Smart Fan Controller left us in the dark. Gigabyte has been contacted to supply the specific what and how of this feature.
Heatsinks normally don’t come tagged with descriptive lines like "feature rich" but the Gigabyte 3D Rocket Pro does. How can it be "feature rich" when a heatsink is supposed to dissipate heat and that’s it?
- Smart Fan Controller
- Heat pipe technology
- Low dBA fan
- Rheostat control front and rear mountable
- Universal mounting
- No tools required
- LED accent lighting
- Only 500 grams
- "Rocket" airflow design cools surrounding components
That’s a lot of features for a heatsink but it will come at a cost. The predecessor debuted around $70 USD and it won’t be surprising if the 3D Rocket Pro PCU22-VG comes in at relatively the same price. It’s twice the price of a "normal" heatsink but for enthusiasts…it won’t matter. Slim PC case owners will have to think twice as the 3D Rocket Pro is tall for a heatsink. There will be a very small percentage of PC cases that won’t accommodate the height.
Heatsinks were all the craze for a year or so during 2002 -2003 when processor speeds starting jumping up the gigahertz ladder and so did the heat. Then it stopped. For us it was all thought to have been done before until Gigabyte introduced this style of cooler. It may be a bit of a sleeper product but it will gain momentum if the price comes into what enthusiasts classify as affordable.
It isn’t a plain heatsink. It’s got the makings of a must have for enthusiasts. It’s efficient, impressive and quiet. That’s a triple in the heatsink game and Gigabyte’s in a good position to steal home.
Our thanks to Gigabyte for
their support of this and many other sites.
- Smart Fan Controller
- Heat pipe technology
- Low dBA fan
- Rheostat control front and rear mountable
- LED accent lighting
- May not fit small percentage of PC cases
|Bonus items & software||9||Fan controller for front and rear mounting.|
|Design & layout||9.5||No trouble spots on K8 around the socket. Plenty of clearance. Side intake airflow and cooling of capacitors around socket area all in one.|
|Documentation||8.5||The manual could have larger images for installation steps and an explanation of the Smart Fan Controller.|
|Features & options||9.5||
…is there more?
|Fine-tuning features||9.5||The rheostat fan controller can adjust the fan from high setting to inaudible.|
|Overclocking features||9||It will not be the best but it will most likely be the best at cooling at a low dBA. At lowest settings it matches stock HSF and at high setting…beats them on both efficiency and noise.|
|Performance & stability||9||No errors recorded during testing.|
|Price / value||8.5||The MSRP was not available at press time but historically speaking this will be a more expensive product but worth it.|