With today's extremely powerful processors the enthusiast market who dont want to delve into more exotic areas like watercooling or phase change still demand high quality air cooling, with this in mind we are going to take a look at one of the largest coolers ive ever seen, the Asus Star Ice. Ive had good experiences with some quality Asus components lately, the AX800XT PCIe graphics card and the Slot 775 P5AD2 Premium Motherboard, so I had high hopes for this new product.
The Asus Star Ice is very versatile with compatibility for Socket 478/754/939 and 775 it comes supplied in a clear package with the bottom section housing all the screws and fixings.
This behemoth weighs 400 grams and is attached to your motherboard via various bolt on fixings and as you can see it is probably one of the largest you will ever see. The Star Ice comes in a variety of colours - lime green, blue and orange. If you are upgrading your stock cooler you will have to remove the motherboard as this is a "bolt on" cooler, meaning it will need support from the rear of the motherboard.
It has a pure copper base with copper fins and 3 heatpipes and works on the "cold-in/hot-out" airflow management , pulling in cold air from the front and forcing it out the rear towards your rear case fan, certainly a wise and logical piece of engineering. It comes with a single 80 mm fan but you can upgrade the unit if you wish with another 80mm at the backend of the Star Ice.
I tested the cooler with an AMD system and an intel 775 slot design and I have to say the manual they supply is quite confusing and poorly printed, certain pages in the sample I received had pages almost unreadable due to faint printing. I would class myself as pretty much highly experienced with systems but for a user new to one of these coolers Asus certainly dont get top marks for documentation.
Asus supply mounting brackets for 478/754/939/775 and no problems occured with any slot solutions I tested although slot 775 was quite tricky to setup, a colour manual would help especially as some of the screw kits for the various slots are almost identical except for colouring.
The Star Ice comes with a 3 pin standard fan connector to your motherboard and an additional header connector for either a floppy drive size variable fan controller or a rear PCI style controller to cover options for all cases.
For the rear side of a 775 slot motherboard Asus supply a foam "underbelly", this is to ensure no shorts occur with the rear plate.
Its worth mentioning when you are setting up the Star Ice to give yourself some decent workspace beforehand, it can be quite fiddly when attaching the cooler.
So the important question is, how does this cooler perform under everyday use? I measured figures idle and load with two systems, one AMD and one INTEL, both with a stock cooler and the Star Ice.
AMD 3200+ stock speeds and / @ 2450mhz 1.8 volts/
INTEL 775 3.4 Extreme Edition (Engineering Sample) stock and / @ 3700mhz 1.65 volts
Fantastic figures on both setups with load figures 15c less than the reference intel cooler under overclocked load, the Star Ice even handled 1.7 volts on the extreme edition giving load figures of 60c. With the variable fan control you are at ease in changing speeds to suit the work you are doing and the noise levels you wish to endure, around 3000-3300rpm fan noise is quite low, but once you hit 3,800-4500+ it gets into what I class as "The painful zone". I am aware some people arent as annoyed by excessive fan noise as myself but being a watercooling user I find 4000rpm+ personally quite uncomfortable. All depends on the individual users tastes, but I can see 4500rpm coming in useful for high overclocks when gaming for extended periods, then you could lower the fan rpm levels to around 3000rpm for general use.
I love the looks, yes its supersized, yes it looks quite excessive, but it most importantly it works, and works well. The only coolers ive used to match or better the Star Ice would be the thermalright SLK series but as they have yet to make a high end cooler for Slot 775 this is right now unmatched especially when you look at the under load figures.
When you finally get your rig built you will need to make room with regards to cabling around the front end of the Star Ice so a little thought should go into your cabling. Rounded cables are a must.
Asus have put together a very good cooler indeed, which not only handles sustained high loads much better than both AMD's and INTEL's stock coolers, but it will appeal specifically to the case modders who have an eye for the more colourful designs and is a versatile solution covering all the major slots even Intel's new 775. You can even add an additional fan to the rear of the cooler if noise doesnt bother you.
Apart from the relative difficulty an inexperienced user would have with fitting, this cooler comes highly recommended.
At time of publication, overclockers.co.uk stock this cooler for £34.95