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While the stock coolers provided with most modern processors are adequate to keep them operating, they are usually not very effective. They tend to become noisy at higher speeds and the processor temperatures are never satisfactory, especially for enthusiasts and overclockers. It’s not surprising that the aftermarket cooling solutions are one of the most popular products in the industry for everybody but the most basic users. Today we will take a look at a large copper cooler from Zerotherm, the BTF90. The BTF90 is, as the name suggests, a ‘butterfly’ design cooler with a 90mm fan attached to it. It is a fairly large, good looking cooler coming and has a price which pits it against some of the best coolers available in the market today.

Specifications:

  • Support CPU list Intel CoreTM 2 Extreme(Socket LGA775)
  • Intel CoreTM 2 Duo (Socket LGA775)
  • Intel Pentium Extreme Edition (Socket LGA 775)
  • Intel Pentium D (Socket LGA 775)
  • Intel Pentium 4 (Socket LGA775)
  • Intel Celeron D (Socket LGA775) AMD Athlon 64 X2 (Socket 939, AM2)
  • AMD Athlon 64 FX (Socket 939, AM2)
  • AMD Athlon 64 (Socket 754, 939, AM2)
  • AMD Sempron (Socket 754, AM2)
  • Dimension 100(L) x 94(W) x 77(H) mm
  • Heatsink Material Fin : Copper
  • Base : Copper
  • Heatpipe : Copper
  • Heat Dissipation Area 4,400 §²
  • Cooling Capacity Over 150W
  • Fan Dimension 92 x 25 mm
  • Fan Speed Automatic fan speed control by PWM
  • 750~2,500 rpm (10%) normally under 1,500 rpm
  • Acoustical Noise Max. 27 dBA (¡¾ 10%), normally under 18 dBA
  • Air Flow Max. 42.8 CFM
  • Fan Connector 4-pin, 4-wire (PWM)
  • Rated Voltage DC 12V
  • Power Consumption Max. 1.56W
  • Weight 678g (w/o optional components)

Packaging and Bundle

The packaging of the BTF90 is quite imposing. A silver, well designed suitcase-like box with a handle protects the cooler during shipping. There are clear openings at the front and the rear of the package. At the front, you can examine the 92mm fan of the cooler while at the rear you can see the body and the multiple expanding copper fins. Unfortunately there is very little data about the cooler and its features found on the box; the manufacturer only provides a performance graph comparing the BTF90 to ‘other’ coolers.

The bundled items which come with the cooler are only the mounting kits, their screws, a small tube of thermal grease and a small manual. While we cannot complain, there is nothing special about the bundle. There is a socket 775 bracket and a retention plate (necessary if you are going to install it on a socket 775 motherboard) and a single bracket for socket 754/939/940/AM2 processors. Both brackets can be oriented in any direction, which means that you can install the cooler facing anywhere you prefer. Of course, given that you have a rear exhaust fan, having it facing towards the rear of your case is perhaps the most effective solution. As far as the installation manual is concerned, it could use a bit of work. The pictures are too small which prevents it being much help.

The Cooler


Zerotherm tried really hard to make the BTF90 look like a real butterfly. The fins are cut in a shape that resembles butterfly wings and the plastic support at the centre of the cooler is similar to the body and antennas. While this is a cute design, we are more concerned about the performance rather than the looks (of a nearly 700gr cooler) in a computer case. The fan of the BTF90 can be removed. "What for?", you might ask, since the fan is proprietary and you cannot replace it with another. The answer to that is simple; you have to remove it in order to install the cooler inside your case or else you won’t be able to twist two of the screws into place.

The base of the cooler is very smooth and 8 heatpipes expand from it up to the countless large copper fins. The heatpipes are not only sandwiched between the two copper plates of the base but they are soldered to it, which certainly aids long term reliability and thermal performance. The heatsink is considerably heavy but also about 13cm tall, so we do not expect it to fit in any but the largest media center cases. The fan of the BTF90 is a double edged sword as it has nothing resembling a fan guard protecting it. This makes it quieter, as fan guards tend to increase the noise, but since the cooler is tall and the fan is placed vertically it can easily be obstructed by a cable in a crowded or badly arranged case.

Installation

The installation of the BTF90 is fairly simple, but socket 775 users will have to remove their motherboard to install the retention plate. Socket 754/939/940/AM2 users will not have to remove their motherboard. In either case, a Philips screwdriver is needed in order to attach the proper mounting bracket at the base of the cooler. AM2 users however will have to be careful when installing the bracket, as it affects the orientation of the cooler itself. Socket 775 users will not face that problem since they only have to place the retention bracket behind the motherboard and then install the cooler by securing it on the retention bracket using a screwdriver (the fan has to be removed at this point). Finally, the fan’s power cable has to be connected to the motherboard CPU fan connector.

When the system is up and running, the red LED lights on the fan glow. The emitting red light is fairly strong, but not annoying, (unless of course you do not like red as a colour). The towering size of the BTF90 makes it a tight fit on a crowded motherboard like the Asus P5K3-Deluxe, but the result is rather good looking, as the cooler matches the many copper heatsinks and heatpipes of the motherboard.

System configuration:

• CPU: Core 2 Duo E6400 (Overclocked: 333MHz FSB, 1.425Vcore, 2.67GHz)
• Motherboard: Asus P5K3-Deluxe
• RAM: SuperTalent DDR-3 1333MHz
• HDD: Samsung 160JJ SATA2
• VGA: Nvidia 7950GT
• PSU: OCZ ModXstream 700W

For testing, we decided to test the cooler by using the included silicone grease. We placed a layer on the CPU and left the system working in order for the thermal paste to stabilize for about 12 hours. We tested the cooler by running it with the motherboard fan speed control enabled and disabled. CPU load was achieved by running Prime95 torture test (blend) and Super Pi simultaneously for 30 minutes. The idle temperature measurements were noted after the system was resting at the windows desktop for 30 minutes. Ambient temperature is maintained (as accurately as possible) at 28 degrees Celsius at the time of the test. SpeedStep is disabled.

 
Idle Temperature (Celsius)
Load Temperature (Celsius)
Zerotherm BTF90
(fan speed control disabled)
Stock Speed (2.16GHz)
42
50
Overclocked Speed
(2.67GHz, 1.425V)
46
58
Zerotherm BTF90
(fan speed control in normal mode)
Stock Speed (2.16GHz)
48
52
Overclocked Speed
(2.67GHz, 1.425V)
50
61
ThermalRight SI-128 + Revoltec 1200RPM fan Stock Speed (2.16GHz)
40
47
Overclocked Speed
(2.67GHz, 1.425V)
44
55
OCZ Tempest Stock Speed (2.16GHz)
50
58
Overclocked Speed
(2.67GHz, 1.425V)
52
64
Stock E6400 Cooler Stock Speed (2.16GHz)
47
60
Overclocked Speed
(2.67GHz, 1.425V)
58
75

From the above results, we can see the Zerotherm BTF90 competing quite well against some other high end coolers, as well as its vast advantage against the stock Intel cooler. It was able to compete against the SI-128, but only in maximum fan speed mode which puts it at a great disadvantage against the Thermalright cooler when relying on silent operation. The BTF90 is not very loud even under maximum speed, but it is clearly audible. Thankfully, when the thermal fan speed control setting of the motherboard is enabled, the noise emitted from the cooler is ranging between entirely quiet and very acceptable.

Final Words and Conclusion

What we did like:

The performance of the BTF90 is very good. It could easily compete against some of the best coolers available right now in both thermal and noiseless performance. The quality of the cooler is rather good too, all of the parts appear to be well made and properly soldered or assembled. It can also be oriented in any direction, which is definitely a plus.  

What we did not like:

While the size of the BTF90 cannot be considered monstrous, it will still not fit in small HTPC cases and tight systems. That should not be much of a problem since most enthusiasts use at least normal sized tower cases for their powerful PCs, however HTPC users ought to look elsewhere. The fan might also become a problem since there is no kind of guard and its vertical placement has it standing right in the middle of your system. It could easily hit a cable inside a crowded or badly arranged system. Finally, we think that the butterfly design and strong LED fan look a bit ‘kitschy’, but aesthetics are subjective. 

Who would we recommend it to:

The Zerotherm BTF90 is a good performer overall, a good match for a discerning enthusiast’s system. It is not the best cooler we have ever tested, however the thermal performance of the cooler is exceptional and the noise levels are quite low. Enthusiasts will certainly enjoy this cooler, especially overclockers. Unfortunately the cooler will not fit inside small cases, so HTPC users should steer clear of it.  

Considering all of the above, we believe that the Zerotherm BTF90 is worthy of our Editor’s Choice Award.


What do these awards mean?

Quiet PC sell this product and you can buy it over here

Problems finding the product in your area? try these:
$39.99 in Newegg.com and for €48.90 in PC-Cooling.de.



 

 

 
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