ZEROtherm BTF90

Review

posted 5/7/2007 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
Platforms: PC
ZEROtherm has been producing products for a little bit now in Korea but they haven't been available in the United States until recently. They specialize in cooling products for computers. Established in July of 1999, they are ready to go global with their line of coolers. Today we're going to look at one of their unique coolers. The ZEROtherm BTF90 is an all cooper cooler that fits Socket 775, AMD Socket 754,940,939, and AMD Socket AM2 processors. Does this artistic cooler do a good job at keeping your computer cool?


The BTF90 comes complete with the cooler, thermal paste, and two brackets. Depending on the CPU you are installing on, you'll be installing one of the brackets on the bottom. But before we get to that let's take a look at the cooler. As you can see, the cooler is shaped like a butterfly if you look at it from the top. Why the butterfly design? Well from the companies' website:
So the butterfly design was to be incorporated into our first product because it represents our first flight into the retail market, but also like a butterfly, our company APACK was changing from a very comfortable OEM market to the very open world-wide market.
I think the butterfly design gives this cooler a nice unique look and something that the company can use to market. As long as it doesn't impede performance, why not go for something a little different? The copper wings meet in the middle where a red plastic column also has a slot to hold the fan. When you look from the front, you can see it's a pretty tall cooler with over 40 fins.


A very shiny aluminum plated copper base sits at the bottom of the cooler. When taking the picture, I had to come at it from an angle because it was so reflective. The 4mm thick base is the source of where four 6mm heat pipes connect to. The heat pipes flow up the middle of the wings and are folded at the top whereby doubling the number of heat pipes that carry the heat away from the CPU. Four screw holes in the corner of the base unit lets you attach on of the brackets to mount the cooler on the motherboard.

To help cool the unit down, there's a 92mm fan that sits in the center of the cooler. You can easily remove the whole fan unit by sliding it up away from the middle. It easily locks into place when you put it back in. Should you need to replace the fan, it would seem like an easy operation as long as ZEROtherm sells replacements. When running, there's a red LED that glows behind the fan. A four pin fan header connects the fan the motherboard and the wire is of generous length. In fact, the wire almost looks like the tail of the butterfly.

The nice thing about the AMD bracket is that it'll fit pretty much all the current sockets available. The Intel socket 775 bracket features the four spring loaded screws and it's used in conjunction with a motherboard bracket. You'll have to take apart your computer if you plan on putting this in a current socket 775 build. There's an adhesive that helps hold the motherboard bracket in place. When installing you can use the included thermal paste should you not have any onhand. I would've liked to have seen more included as I ran out of paste trying to install the cooler on my AM2 CPU. While smaller CPUs will be fine, large surface area CPUs such as the AMD will need a few more dabs of paste. With that, I suggest picking up another tube as the included thermal paste isn't enough.

Installation of this cooler can be problematic though for some motherboards. For example, I installed this cooler on a mATX ABIT NF-nView motherboard and the fan interfered with the DIMM slot closest to the CPU. On this board, the spacing between memory slots and CPU is closer than most of the normal sized ATX boards that I have so it was fine on others. I had to move my memory sticks to the DIMM slots farthest away on the ABIT board rendering the first two slots unusable. I wouldn't recommend this cooler for mATX motherboards but regular sized motherboards should be OK with this cooler.

To test the cooler, I setup the following system
  • AMD64 X2 4600+
  • 2 GIGS PC-5400 DDR2 ram
  • ABIT NF-nView motherboard
  • Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX
  • 120GB 7200RPM Western Digital HDD
  • Windows XP Professional w/ Service Pack 2

The entire setup is installed on a workbench that's out in the open. For starters I left the setup on idle for about 15 minutes to get a solid temperature. Using Prime, I ran two threads for 30 mins and took the highest readings. The temperatures stayed steady for most part after 15 minutes of Prime running with deviation of 1C. I'll compare it to a stock AMD64 X2 cooler so you can see what the performance would be replacing the included cooler. To check on the temperatures, I utilized Motherboard Monitor to display the temperature settings.

Cooler Idle Load
Stock 33c 58c
BTF90 29c 52c

As you can see, the BTF90 really brought down the idle temperature as well as being cooler when on load. Given that you probably won't have both cores running at 100% all the time, you'll get a cooler performance out of the BTF90. As stated earlier, the setup is on a test bench where it's wide open so I would expect it to even be better once inside a case and with good airflow through the interior. Overall, I was pleased with how it did out in the open and I liked the silence of the setup when in regular usage with the fan running at low speeds.

With proper air flow in a case you should get better results but I found the BTF90 to perform very well. It was quiet and had a great difference in temperature at idle and was cooler when the CPU was running at its peak. Don't let the shape of the cooler fool you. The BTF90 offers great cooling and it's quiet too boot. While I found the full speed of the fan to be a little noisier than I would've liked, the fan did run pretty quiet for the most part when using the dynamic fan speed setting. The all copper and heatpipe design delivers well on performance. While they may not be a big name yet, the ZEROtherm BTF90 cooler does an admirable job with a fun design. Compatible with all the latest CPUs, you should consider the BTF90 if you're looking for a nice oversized copper cooler. Just make sure you have enough room between the CPU socket and DIMM slot if you plan on getting this cooler but that's the advice for all oversized coolers out there really.


A-
Even with it's unique shape, I really liked how the cooler performed and how quiet it was.



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