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Gigabyte 3D Rocket SE Cooler

Gigabyte 3D Rocket SE Cooler

Supplied by Gigabyte


It’s still as big as a house

But not as quiet as a mouse; a mouse with big shoes perhaps. Gigabyte’s 3D Rocket-SE heatsink is the stripped down version of the impressive 3D Rocket Pro that previously blew us away.

The Gigabyte 3D Rocket SE dwarfs the standard heatsink/fan assembly as seen in a comparison between the SE’s cousin, the 3D Rocket Pro, and a stock socket 939/940 heatsink. The 3D Rocket Pro and SE are the same core heatsink with differences in add-on features favoring the Pro model. This review is very similar to the 3D Rocket Pro review as the SE version is very much the same heatsink.


For its immense size the 3D Rocket SE weighs in at 490 grams or just over 1 pound.


  • 3D Rocket SE PCU22-SE
  • Dimensions: 105x105x119 mm.
  • Rated fan speed: 2500-3000 RPM
  • Noise level:
    • 23.7 dBA @ 2500 RPM
    • 26.3 dBA @ 3000 RPM
  • Socket compatibility: Intel P4 LGA775/PGA 478 and AMD K8/K7
  • Copper heat pipe design
  • Aluminum fins
  • Copper base
  • Total heatsink weight: 490 grams (1.08 lbs)

See Gigabyte’s website for more on the 3D Rocket SE PCU22-SE.

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 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.



There is two havles to the skirt and these clips clamp to the heatpipes at either corner of the heatsink. Be careful while removing and use gentle but firm pressure.

The top cap of the 3D Rocket SE does pop off revealing the bare metal of the stacked heatsink fins. It’s the same with the 3D Rocket Pro but the PCB for the LEDs and fan control is added as a last layer.



The four termination points of the heat pipes can also be seen. The drum fan rotates counter-clockwise to pull air through the fins and then expels it out the lower area of the heatsink.



This draw provides the necessary cooling for the fin. The expelled air is directed by the shrouds (removed in the previous image) onto the surrounding capacitors around the socket. The airflow does aid in cooling the capacitors and, theoretically, extends their life. Removing the shrouds does reduce the slight restriction caused by deflection and would explain better cooling efficiency.


The last important point is that the Gigabyte 3D Rocket SE, like the Pro, does not draw air into the heatsink from the top. There is a clear plastic cover that prevents this. The reflection of the cap struts in it can be seen in the previous image. 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 SE comes with the heatsink, manual, thermal paste and retention clips for Intel P4 775 and 478 and AMD K8 and K7 sockets . The multi-language manual’s only fault is that the installation images are too small.


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.


Gigabyte includes resistor adapter to bring the fan speed down from 3000 RPM to 2500 RPM. It is placed between the heatsink molex and the power source.



Gigabyte included a small syringe of thermal paste that’s definitely adequate for one application and perhaps two if used sparingly.



The 3D Rocket SE has a protective sticker on the base that must be removed.



The finish of the base is smooth but it is not technically a mirror finish. Any visible polish marks cannot be felt. Enthusiasts will most likely lap this base to gain an extra degree or possibly two.


The Gigabyte 3D Rocket SE was easily mounted to the AMD 3800+ test system and required no tools. The two tabs either side of the base are guides for Socket 754/939/940.


Those tabs line up with the two pins either side of the motherboard socket.


Place the K8 clip between the heatsink pipes before trying to mount the heatsink. It can be done afterwards but it’s easier to place the heatsink with the K8 clip already between the pipes.

Indeed the Gigabyte 3D Rocket SE 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 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. The Gigabyte 3D Rocket SE was left at 3000 RPM default speed.

Temperature over time shows two distinct performance groups. The Ajigo heatsink and 3D Rocket Pro (low speed) perform equally. The 3D Rocket Pro (high setting) and SE did shed heat faster than the stock HSF and 3D Rocket Pro at low setting. The winner was the 3D Rocket Pro at high setting with no shroud then with shroud followed by the 3D Rocket SE with shroud in place at 3000 RPM.


The stock heatsink generates 40 dBA which is almost halved by the low setting of the Gigabyte 3D Rocket Pro and SE. It is this remarkably quiet operation that sets the Gigabyte cooler out in front when compared to a stock HSF.


The Gigabyte 3D Rocket SE 2500-3000 RPM blower fan efficiently lowers the overall dBA of the unit. At the lowest setting the cooler is, for all intents and purposes, inaudible. Both the Pro and SE have the same 23.7 dBA rating at low speed. No wonder as the two coolers are nearly identical except for cosmetic add-ons and a controller. The 26.3 dBA “default” setting is also quite quiet due to the design of the blower style fan versus a blade fan. Subjectively speaking the stock Ajigo heatsink seemed louder.

The 3D Rocket SE also knocks 5 degrees Celsius off the stock HSF at high setting. It isn’t the 7 degree difference of the 3D Rocket Pro but the fan speed is also 1000 RPM less. The Rocket Pro leaps out front chased by the SE.



As an interesting side bar AMD’s Cool’n’Quiet feature was enabled for one temperature run. Cool’n’Quiet is remarkable and unlike Intel’s similar offering, isn’t just for notebooks and here’s what it does for desktops.

  • Cool’n’Quiet cuts processor speed when the processor is at idle.
  • Cool’n’Quiet cuts processor voltage when the processor is at idle.
  • Cool’n’Quiet instantaneously ramps up processor speed and voltage in accordance to CPU load.

Read our Socket 940 vs 939 review for a complete breakdown of AMD’s Cool’n’Quiet feature. Basically Cool’n’Quiet reduces CPU Mhz when the CPU is not in use. The processor instantaneously leaps up to full MHz under load. The point is that the lower idle MHz speed really knocks down the heat output. Remember that only the idle temperature is affected and affected it is by almost 10 degrees.




The Gigabyte 3D Rocket SE is the stripped down sibling to the 3D Rocket Pro. Nothing has been changed between the basic structure of the two heatsinks. However, the 3D Rocket Pro does has the LED accents, higher RPM fan and controller as additional features. Modders may want to look into adding their own LEDs to the 3D Rocket SE but the 3D Rocket Pro may be a better choice. Adding LEDs yourself may save a few bucks but the job that Gigabyte does may be neater. Still, it won’t prevent some from trying…including us.

Gigabyte ventured into the heatsink market in early 2004 and the PCU22-SE is one of 6 of this style of coolers. As said in the 3D Rocket Pro review 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.

Both the 3D Rocket Pro do an excellent job in cooling efficiency and overall noise levels but it comes at cost. The MSRP price was not available at press time but it will most likely be approximately twice the price of a “normal” heatsink. Perhaps around the $55-70 USD mark. For enthusiast “I must have it” crowd…it won’t matter. Slim PC case owners will have to think twice and measure as many times for the 3D Rocket line is tall for a heatsink. There will be a very small percentage of PC cases that won’t accommodate the height.


Bottom line is that the Gigabyte 3D Rocket SE is the horse that placed in the race between it and the 3D Rocket Pro. It’s second place standing does leave standard heatsinks far behind but it isn’t as “flashy” or feature the higher RPM fan that the 3D Rocket Pro does. For those who want to stand out in the crowd and want a bit more cooling power then the 3D Rocket Pro is the heatink of choice.

The Gigabyte 3D Rocket SE heatsink is for those who want efficiently quiet operation. It’s impressive to see bolted onto the side of a motherboard but it would be more for those who don’t have window kits in the side of the PC. A pair of these on a dual Opteron system would be impressive.


Our thanks to Gigabyte for
their support of this and many other sites.



  • Quiet
  • Impressive looking
  • Tool-less mounting


  • Price
  • Not for overclocking

Scores Breakdown
Attribute Score Comments
Bonus items & software 7 Thermal paste and 500 RPM reduction resistor.
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. This heatsink mounts to both AMD and INTEL major socket designs. It won’t be obsolete any time soon.
Documentation 8 The manual could have larger images for installation steps.
Features & options 8.5
  • Heat pipe technology
  • Low dBA fan
  • Universal mounting
  • No tools required
  • Only 490 grams
  • “Rocket” airflow design cools surrounding components
Fine-tuning features 9 It does have the additional in-line resistor to reduce speed from 3000 RPM to 2500 RPM bringing the overall noise down from 26.3 to 23.7 dBA. Basically it’s from quiet to silent.
Overclocking features 8.5 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. The SE model is outdone by the higher RPM Pro version.
Performance & stability 9 No errors recorded during testing and beats the standard HSF for efficiency and noise.
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.
Total score 68/80 85%


  1. csimon
    csimon interesting design with unique airflow system.
  2. keto
  3. MediaMan
  4. Unregistered I have an issue I wouold like to bring up: in the LGA-775 motherboards, the only thing that holds the whole thing in place is the surface tension of the thermal paste. It is prevented from moving side-to-side or slipping down by the lga-775 bracket provided, but the metal restrictors that were for other chipsets can simply slip beneath the bracket. Furthermore, at high temperatures, the thermal paste is not very sticky, and the whole thing simply topples off (in a tower, where the ATX is vertically mounted) and took out my graphics card, as well as letting the processor overheat to beyond 90 degrees in seconds, triggering a shutdown. You can imagine the frustration of any gamer should this happen to him.

    If anyone knows how to mount this motorbike-piston-imitation that ensures that it does not fall into all the cards below, besides using superglue(I tried, the glue melted and the thing fell anyway, leaving a sticky mess to solidify all over the motherboard), string, or plenty of tape, please let me know at spamloader@gmail.com and I would greatly appreciate it.

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