Xigmatek Loki CPU Cooler Review

David Liu October 17, 2011 0
Xigmatek Loki CPU Cooler Review
  • Build quality
  • Cooling
  • Noise
  • Value

Although they now make almost everything from massive full-tower chassis to power supplies to thermal paste, Xigmatek is most known for its trademark Heatpipe-Direct-Touch (HDT) CPU coolers. They sent us three such coolers—the entry-level Loki, the midrange Gaia, and the top-of-the-line Aegir—for testing. Today, we’re looking at the smallest and least expensive of the bunch, the $28.99 Loki. Measuring only 134mm tall and weighing 330g without its 92mm fan, the Loki is one of the smallest and lightest coolers you can find.

Detailed specifications taken from Xigmatek’s website

Dimension 92(W) x 50(H) x 134(D) mm
Heat Sink Base Material H.D.T. (Heat-pipes Direct Touch)
Fin Material Aluminum Alloy
Heat-pipe SPEC ?6mm
Q´ty 3 pcs.
Fan Dimension 92(W) x 92(H) x 25(D) mm
Voltage Rating 12V
Starting Voltage ?7V
Speed 1200~2800 R.P.M.
Bearing Type HYPRO Bearing
Air Flow 52 CFM
Air Pressure 3.7 mmH²O
Life Expectance 40,000 hrs
Noise Level 20~28 dBA
Connector 4 Pin with PWM
Weight 330g (w/o fan)
Thermal Resistance 0.18 °C/W

The HDT technology that Xigmatek is famous for has several distinct advantages. If you flip over the Loki, you’ll see that instead of the flat metal plate that most CPU coolers have, its base has machined channels in which the three 6mm copper heat pipes sit. These pipes are in direct contact with your CPU (ignoring the thermal paste); eliminating intermediates increases the efficiency of thermal conduction. This high-performance quality, however, only works if the heat pipes and the base block are absolutely level; any height difference will create air pockets that prevent heat transfer. Manufacturing standards have to be extremely high for these coolers to work well—an ill-fitted store-brand “HDT” CPU cooler could cause serious damage to your system. Xigmatek’s HDT systems, however, have always been very impressive. The Loki is no exception.

The Loki comes with a universal back plate and all the hardware to mount on any of Intel’s LGA sockets as well as AMD’s K8, AM2, and AM3 sockets. Although only one 92mm fan is included, Xigmatek provides a second set of anti-vibration rubber mounts in case you want to mount a second fan for push-pull.

The Loki’s serrated “sawtooth” fins increase the surface area for heat dissipation. The fins measure 94mm x 50mm. The fins are closed off at the sides, keeping airflow concentrated over the fins.

The Loki’s small footprint means that, even with a fan, there’s no chance of clearance problems with your RAM. The overhang is very small and will not block any DIMM slots.

The 92mm fan supports PWM and operates at a range of 1200-2800RPM, generating up to 52 CFM of airflow.

Installation is very straightforward: secure a universal backplate with four screws and standoffs, bolt a pair of securing brackets to the heatsink’s aluminum base, slip the assembly onto the mounting screws (after applying some thermal compound, of course), and secure with a set of thumbnuts. The backplate has a thick foam pad to prevent the motherboard from short-circuiting against the metal plate.

The rubber fan mounts can be a bit tricky at first, but after a few minutes’ trial and error it becomes effortless. These mounts isolate the fins from the fan’s vibrations, making for quieter operation.

Now that it’s mounted, we can move on to testing. Our testing platform for CPU coolers is as follows:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-920 (stock 2.66 GHz and overclocked 3.8GHz)
  • Motherboard: EVGA X58 SLI3
  • Memory: OCZ Gold DDR3 PC3-12800/1600MHz
  • GPU: MSI Radeon 4870
  • OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium x64 SP1

The whole rig is wrapped up in an Antec 1200 full-tower case, and the heat sinks are tested with the included thermal compound. To stress test the coolers, we first left the system to idle for 30 minutes and recorded the average temperature across all 4 cores, then ran Prime95’s Blended test for 30 minutes at both stock and overclocked speeds, recording the average temperature under load. Temperature logging was done with CoreTemp 0.99.8.

First, let’s take a look at the stock Intel i7-920 cooler’s performance.

At idle, the stock cooler recorded an average temperature of 40.5°C at the standard 2.66GHz. Under 100% load from Prime95, we recorded an average temperature of 81.7°.

Our 3.8GHz overclock was achieved with a base clock of 190, 20x multiplier, and a vcore of 1.35. Under these conditions, the stock cooler idled at 52.1°C. We stopped the stress test two minutes in when CoreTemp showed it hit a dangerous 100°C.

Although it’s the “entry-level” offering of Xigmatek’s range, the Loki put up a strong showing, recording idle and load temperatures of 35.1° and 60.8° respectively at the stock speed. Overclocked, idle temperature increased to 44.4° and load to 66.0°.

Don’t be fooled by its small size or its low price—the Loki is a very capable cooler. Not only did it provide a massive advantage over Intel’s stock heatsink, it did so with much less noise. Although it can be fairly noisy at the 2800RPM maximum fan speed, at a more reasonable 1200RPM it was nearly silent; its PWM support allows users to fiddle with the BIOS to find a decent power/noise ratio.

HDT coolers are the core of Xigmatek’s business model, and I’m happy to say that the Loki has not disappointed us. It offers as much cooling power as most users will ever need, and does so without undue damage to either your bank or your eardrums. The Loki would be a great choice for anyone who needs some upgraded cooling but can’t fit a large heatsink in their case. Xigmatek hasn’t fallen into the trap of decontenting or under-engineering their lower-tier offerings, and the Loki is proof of that.

Xigmatek Loki$28.99

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