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SilverStone SST-AR03 CPU Cooler Heatsink Review

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Closer Look: Argon AR03 CPU Cooler

You’d be forgiven if you thought I had posted the same article twice, especially if you had just read the AR01 review. Be careful not to flip back and forth too quickly, you might miss some of the important differences between the two. While at first glance they look similar, the AR03 targets a different market and is designed for a different purpose.

AR03_Front

It comes with the same 120mm fan, with enough mounts to add another in push/pull. However, the heatsink itself is wider at 140mm, and uses a staggered array of six 6mm direct-contact heatpipes instead of the three in-line 8mm heatpipes of the AR01. The depth (“back” to “front”) of the heat-sink itself stays the same at 50mm, and the height at 159mm as well – so if you don’t have any RAM or side-panel clearance issues with the AR01, you shouldn’t with the AR03 either.

AR03_Corner

The greater number of heatpipes and staggered arrangement should allow for greater heat dissipation and conduction, resulting in the best performance out of the Argon series. The AR03 uses the same fan mounting system as the other Argon coolers, which is by far the best system I have ever seen on this type of cooler. Working with the Argon coolers, I was not afraid to mount the fan after installing the heat-sink, which was a tricky process with many other coolers (and therefore made installation trickier than necessary with other coolers). I appreciated this system, and feel it is one of the strongest advantages the Argon series has over the competition. The AR01 review has some better views of how these silicone/rubber pins work.

AR01_03_Backplate

The mounting system and back-plate is exactly the same as the AR01 though (and presumably the AR02). This isn’t a bad thing – the mounting components are a commonly used design, and work well for the application. As with the other Argon coolers, the mounting system accommodates motherboards that have a built-in back-plate as well (Socket 1366/2011). About the only limitation here is the inability to change the orientation of the heat-sink on AMD sockets – you are limited to the orientation of the socket mounting holes in the motherboard. Since the mounting brackets are pretty standard, you should be able to find an aftermarket kit that allows this feature if you really want it.


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3 comments

  1. BeauCharles

    I’m confused by what you said about not being able to change the AMD “default motherboard orientation”. Does the AR03 (and AR01) point in the traditional east/west direction to blow hot air out the back? If forces a north/south orientation that blows air up I wouldn’t want it (such as my old Xigmatek with an AMD clip).

    1. Tom Jaskulka

      In response to your question, yes. *Most* AMD motherboards use that “traditional” orientation of east/west airflow (or front/back), although many mATX motherboards will switch that up to gain a little more space around the socket in my experience (and although there aren’t many AMD mini-ITX boards, I’d wager all bets are off when it comes to that form factor :) ). The board I use for testing is an Asus M5A99FX PRO 2.0, ATX, and it uses the “traditional” orientation.

      The AMD socket mounting pattern forms a rectangle. If you’re looking at motherboards, draw a line to each of the mounting holes around the socket, imagine that rectangle as the heatsink itself, and that is the direction it will be mounted in *most* cases (of course, every cooler is different, so that really only applies to the AR01/03). I hope that helps clear things up!

  2. BeauCharles

    Thanks for the explanation Tom. This is for an ATX AM3 board (ASUS M4A79T Deluxe), so it sounds like I would get the front/back orientation with either the AR03 or AR01 (which is the one I’m leaning towards).

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