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SilverStone SST-AR03 CPU Cooler Heatsink Review

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AR03 Detailed Features

The finish and quality of the AR03 is right up there with the rest of the Argon series. It is packaged well, the mounting hardware feels strong and durable, and all of the surfaces are nicely polished.

AR03_Smoothness

The contact surface didn’t have quite the polish of the AR01 but it was still “shinier” than I expected, and there is much more copper heat-pipe to work with here. You can also clearly see the angled leading and trailing edge of the aluminum heat-sink fins, which should serve to cut down on fan noise and possibly create some turbulence as well (good for conducting heat from the fins). As with the AR01, the fan includes ridges on the trailing edge of the blades to cut down on fan noise which seems to be effective. Spinning at 2200 RPM, you’ll still hear it, but at PWM speeds this does seem to assist in keeping the noise down.

AR03_ClearanceRAM

The AR03 is almost exactly as wide as the clips surrounding DIMM slots – thankfully, it doesn’t intrude on any slots on the Asus M5A99FX PRO R2.0 pictured here, and should clear most components on most ATX motherboards as well. As always, MicroATX and Mini-ITX boards will vary in their clearances, but since space is usually at a premium on those boards you should make sure to measure!

AR03_Coverage

This photo helps illustrate the purpose of the AR03 in the Argon line-up. The chip pictured above is the AM3+ FX-8320 used for testing, along with the imprint left from applying thermal interface material and mounting the heat-sink. As you can see, the contact surface formed from the six 6mm heat-pipes covers the entire surface of the CPU heat-spreader. This maximizes the surface area available for transferring heat, almost all of it being the direct-contact surface of the copper heat-pipes.

AR03_Coverage1155 (2)

The above image shows a Socket 1155 CPU and its respective imprint on the AR03. As you can see, you won’t have as much surface area to help transfer heat from the CPU die itself. Newer, smaller processes bring greater efficiency and lower heat values, but also decrease the surface area from which to dissipate that heat. The AR03 is designed for those larger CPUs, such as the AM3+ or LGA2011/1366 sockets. You may find the AR01 is sufficient for your Core i5/i7 needs, but perhaps the AR03′s slightly greater surface area and staggered heat-pipe arrangement would be enough to consider even if you didn’t need the extra performance. I may have to find out what happens on an Intel platform as well as an AMD, as I couldn’t help but look at those heatpipes and think….”hmm – four 6mm heat-pipes on the AR03 vs three 8mm heat-pipes on the AR01…that’s 24mm of heat-pipes either way…” Would the performance be the same? Well, that’s probably an entirely different article…

The point is, keep your needs in mind when choosing a heatsink. The AR03 is one in a series of three CPU coolers, so you should be able to find one that fits your application.


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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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