Alpenföhn Atlas CPU Cooler Review
PLEASE NOTE: This review has been edited as a mistake was made during installation (due to misleading instructions, and me not reading them carefully enough), this originally greatly affected the overall score. The score has since been updated and the review has been edited to reflect this. – Apologies pcG James (Editor).
It’s another new manufacturer again this time around here at pcG and this time it’s the turn of cooling specialist Alpenföhn. Alpenföhn themselves have been around since 2008 and have a German based design team with production in Asia. This particular cooler we have here today is interesting not only in general but also to us here at pcGameware as it’s got that all important Gaming tag in its description!
This then is the Alpenföhn Atlas a small twin stack CPU cooler designed for both Intel and AMD platforms. The cooler measures in at (105mm (W) x 125mm (H) x 140mm (D)) and is equipped with two 92mm fans. This means that the cooler is ideal for smaller Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX systems. Especially as the cooler has a rated TDP of 200w. The cooler itself is made from alloy and is equipped with five 6mm heat pipes while the base is all copper.
The Alpenföhn Atlas arrived at pcG in a smart brownish box with a large golden image of the cooler on the front. It’s an unusual colour scheme yet it works well, dare I say it looks like something from Ancient Greece. There’s not much on the front of the box either just the name and a short description: ‘Premium Twin Tower For Mini ITX/Micro ATX Gaming Systems’. Gaming eh! 🙂
As you can see the box itself has a handy carry handle, although with the cooler weighing in at only 650g, the box is hardly heavy!
Looking at the back of the box we find a specifications table and a compatibility list (see Specifications/Features below), along with a smaller (regular) image of the Atlas CPU Cooler itself.
Each of the sides of the box offers a bit more information with the left side of the box showing some outline drawings of the cooler with it’s associated dimensions (105mm (W) x 125mm (H) x 140mm (D)).
On the opposite side of the box there’s a detailed description of this 200W TDP cooler, also highlighting the fact that this CPU Cooler offers 100% compatibility with PCI-Express Graphics Cards on ITX systems.
On opening the box we can see that the cooler and its associated fans and accessories are well packaged with simple cardboard braces. The cooler itself sits below the two fans found at the top of the box and above the accessories box found at the bottom.
Within the box other than the main CPU Cooler itself we find two 92mm fans, a bag of nuts, posts, clips and spacers, a bag of fan cables with various connectors as well as a rubber spacer for the back-plate and a bag containing the back-plate itself along with mounting brackets for Intel and AMD and some spring fan clips.
At the time of writing, the Alpenföhn Atlas is retailing at Overclockers UK for approximately £43 and comes with a 1 year warranty.
courtesy of Alpenföhn
First impressions of the Alpenföhn Atlas are really rather good, this is one good looking cooler and I just love its small compact size, indeed it does seem perfect (at this point!) for the small yet powerful Gaming rig. Build quality looks good too, with the heatsink itself appearing to be well made. Let’s take a closer look and see how the other parts stack up…
As you can see the heatsink itself is of the twin stack variety and also you can see that the stack is offset in order to aide with memory compatibility. The design is really rather nice, although a little hard to describe, but it’s all angles and corners. Dare I say if there was ever a CPU Cooler that said Gamer, then the Alpefohn Atlas is it! 😉 The stack measures in at just 125mm high, suggesting great compatibility with small Cases and Motherboards.
The top of the cooler is particularly smart as not only is the top highly polished, it also features an array of angled groves that really give the top of the cooler a more aggressive look. We can now also see the five heatpipes beautifully arranged in a semicircle on the top of each stack. Looking at the image (above left) we can see that offset; just note the position of the base-plate (at the bottom) compared to the stacks.
Looking at the bottom of the cooler we find the main cold-plate with its obligatory ‘Warning! Remove Before Installation M’, although I’m unsure what the M denotes!? Underneath this we find a copper base-plate that appears to be nickle-plated.
Looking a little closer at the heatpipes we find that there are a total of five 6mm pipes. We can also see the same smart design has also be followed through to the base of the stacks themselves…
Finally we come to the fans, these two Wing Boost 2 fans are 92mm in diameter, have a maximum rotational speed of 1800rpm and are PWM controlled. Each fan has a (rather long) covered cable with both a male and a female 4-pin fan connector on each end. I guess this is so you can daisy chain the fans together should you only have one CPU fan header on your motherboard. Although some modern motherboards like our ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6 has two CPU fan headers. The fans themselves clip to the main body of the heatsink with regular spring clips.
At this point I’m extremely impressed with the Alpenföhn Atlas CPU Cooler as it really is one of the nicest coolers that I’ve seen, it seems pretty well made too. So, let’s get it installed and see if it can perform as good as it looks…
|Case||Cooler Master HAF XB||Power Supply||Corsair Professional Series AX 760i|
|Motherboard||ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 GAMING K6||CPU||Intel Core i5-6600K|
|CPU Cooler||Alpenföhn Atlas||RAM||G Skill Ripjaws 4 16GB|
|Graphics Card||EVGA GeForce GTX 980Ti Classified||SSD||HyperX FURY 120GB|
The first task was to assemble all of the parts that would be required for our Intel Core i5-6600K Skaylake (socket LGA 1151 based) processor. For this we used all of the parts for the LGA Socket 115x install. And, wow what a lot of parts there are, way too many in my honest opinion. 🙁
Most of these parts though simply go to making up the back-plate assembly, consisting of a total of 10 parts, this could have been just one part as other manufacturers have demonstrated in the past.
Note the inclusion of the rubber spacer/insulator on the top of the back-plate, this I think will cause problems latter on, but the manual (which is quite clear) definitely says to fit it! It has since been discovered that this washer is only for a socket LGA 775 install.
The first simple task was to just insert the back-plate’s pillars through the back of the motherboard. Make sure you get the orientation correct (image above left), each of the three holes should align with the studs on the back of the board. The next simple task is to just add one spacer to each of the four pillars (image above centre). Now the final task is to add the support brackets (note top and bottom, not left and right) and secure with the four nuts.
Unfortunately this is where the fun (NOT!) started, as the pillars simply don’t poke through enough to get the nuts on! 🙁 With a bit of trial and error and a fair amount of both cursing and forcing the task was finally achieved. But any engineer, would simply say that this didn’t fit! I just made it fit, not a good sign. The problem is most likely caused by the rubber parts, as these take up a fair amount of height, until they get squashed that is… 😉
Due to some rather misleading instructions (and me not studying them enough (my bad)!) the above is not valid as the black rubber spacer that causes this issue should not be installed, and is only for socket LGA 775.
When I went to install the stack and screw it to the mounting bracket’s I came across another issue (image above left). The issue was that the brace that sits across the cooler with its associated sprung screws at either end, would now not easily reach the screw holes on the base-plate. The answer here was again brute force and ignorance, not nice but I guess it worked as after some time the cooler stack was finally fitted.
The fans were then installed (courtesy of those wire spring clips) and thankfully this was a far easier task, although not as easy as others I have come across in the past. One thing I did’t like though was the fan cables, not only are they just too long, and not only are they covered with a (far too thick) outer sleeving, but at the end we find and extra short length of cable and two plugs~! What I’m I supposed to do with all of this cabling and these extra plugs that I don’t need!
In the end I did the best I could. Now while you can fit the fans to any side of the cooler, I wanted to fit the first fan to the RAM side (as is normal), as it sort of fits. But as you can see (image above right) RAM clearance is pretty tight! Of course, if it’s too tight, it is possible to fit this fan on the opposite side.
Once it’s all fitted though (no easy task!) the trials and tribulations of the install begin to fade, as once it’s in the case the Alpenföhn Atlas is one good looking cooler, a perfect match for any Gaming Rig maybe!?
|For CPU Cooler testing, we here at pcGameware run Prime95 for a 15 minute period. During this period the temperature is monitored via ASRock’s F-Stream utility and the CPU temperature recorded. Between each stress test we allow a 15 minute cool-down to allow for more accurate results. To adjust the fan speed we simply use the UEFI. A close eye is also kept on the ambient temperature, with the maximum being recorded for each run, this allows us to calculate the Delta temperature (Core – Ambient = Delta). Each run was performed with the Intel Core i5-6600K CPU at the following frequencies: 3.9GHz (Stock) and 4.4GHz (using the ASRock OC Tweaker, shown in the images below), all results have also been recorded with CPU-Z.|
* Please note: To ascertain the maximum and minimum noise levels produced by our test CPU Coolers, the dBA is recorded at a distance of 1 metre from the cooler, with all case fans unplugged to isolate the sound in question.
Processor speed is set using the OC Tweaker tab within the UEFI, “Disabled” for stock speeds (3.9GHz) and “Turbo 4.4GHz” for the overclock tests. It should be noted that changing the OC settings resets the Fan Speeds, so these are checked on the next reboot and reset to “Full Speed” (see above right). All the fans installed in the system are set to 100% speed using the displayed settings, this is simple with the ASRock UEFI with the option of “Full Speed” being available for all system fans.
As stated above, to make our performance tests easier to follow and to get the most accurate recordings, all of the following tests have been carried out with case fans set at 100% and the Alpenföhn Atlas fans also set at 100%.
- Intel Core i5-6600K – 3.9GHz (stock)
|CPU Cooler||Air/Liquid||Fan Speed||Ambient Temperature||Max CPU Temperature (core average)||Delta Temperature||Noise Level|
|NZXT Kraken X31||Liquid||100%||22.00||43.00||21.00||39dB|
As you can see from the list above it’s pretty short! That’s because we just upgraded all of our Test Rigs to the new Skylake platform and this (unfortunately) means that all of the past results are no longer valid. But we have to upgrade at some point, so please bear with us as over time this list will surely grow…
Well it seems that the AlpenföhnAtlas has redeemed itself (from that terrible install) posting one of the best Delta’s we’ve yet seen on our new Skylake platform. With a maximum Core temperature of 42 (21 Delta) degrees Celsius the Alpenföhn finds itself at the top of our chart (for now). Let’s see how it copes with a hefty overclock and a bit more voltage…
- Intel Core i5-6600K – 4.4GHz (OC Tweaker)
|CPU Cooler||Air/Liquid||Fan Speed||Ambient Temperature||Max CPU Temperature (core average)||Delta Temperature||Noise Level|
|NZXT Kraken X31||Liquid||100%||22.00||61.00||39.00||39dB|
Wow! I wasn’t expecting that! This little CPU Cooler really does seem to pack a 200W punch! Again we find the Alpenföhn CPU Cooler at the top of our (ok somewhat short) chart with a maximum CPU temperature of 58 (37 Delta) degrees Celsius and this time it shares the lead with no one! Of course in Gaming the temperatures will be even lower, and let’s be fair (as I’ve said many times before) who sits down for an evening of Prime 95 anyway!? 😉
I was assuming that the two 92mm Wing Boost 2 fans running at their maximum rated speed of 1800rpm would produce a lot of noise, but no. At approximately 39dBA the noise produced is more than tolerable, especially if you’re Gaming wearing a Headset. Of course with the cooling as good as it is, you could just switch over to Motherboard based PWM control and let the Alpenföhn Atlas do its thing, with no worries of your CPU getting too hot!
After finding out that I mistakenly used a rubber washer during the install I can now recommend the Alpenföhn Atlas, the install is still not as easy as it should be, but this is still one cool looking and cool running little CPU Cooler…
The Alpenföhn Atlas arrived at pcG in a smart brownish coloured box with a golden image of the CPU Cooler on the front. It was nice to see something other than the usual black ‘n red colour scheme and the brown ‘n gold worked better than you may think! Once inside we found that the CPU Cooler and it associated accessories were simply (but adequately) packaged with simple cardboard bracing.
Once out of the box it was easy to fall for this smart looking little cooler, with little being the operative word. With dimensions of (105mm (W) x 125mm (H) x 140mm (D)) the Alpenföhn Atlas has been specifically designed for Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX systems. It’s a good looking cooler too, one of the best I’ve seen in fact; must be down to its small size and that aggressive angular styling.
Now while the cooler looks good it was a bit of a pain to install, which is a shame! Not only are there simply too many parts IMHO, but the tolerances are just too tight, if I was an engineer (and I was BTW! 😉 ) I’d simply say it doesn’t fit! The support brace doesn’t seem to want to meet the screws on both sides, if you try and tighten one side first (just a bit), it’s almost impossible to get the other side to fit (see image above)! But after studying the manual (that originally I didn’t read well enough!), I did the next best thing that any engineer (or ex-engineer) would do; I made it fit! 🙂
With the installation behind us it was time for some redemption, and redemption came in the form of pure cooling performance. The Alpenföhn Atlas performed really well in both our stock test at 3.9GHz and our overclocked test at 4.4GHz. With a maximum temperature of just 58 degrees and a Delta of 37 degrees the Alpenföhn Altlas finds itself at the top of our 4.4GHz table.
This cooling capacity also never came at the expense of high noise levels, which is surprising considering the high (1800rpm) speed of its two 92mm fans. But with a maximum recorded noise of approximately 39dBA, the Atlas seems not only cool but relatively quiet too!
Well this little cooler has given me quite a ride, as the install that went badly because of misleading (IMHO) instructions and maybe me not studying them well enough! But now I find myself corrected (thanks for that), the install woes are far less of a concern. Therefore at this point I can now recommend the Alpenföhn Atalas, and that I’m pleased about as it really is a good looking little cooler that offers great performance, even if the install is a little awkward…
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Many thanks to Alpenföhn for providing this sample for review