CPU Cooler Final Thoughts
It’s not like the V8 GTS performed horribly – an overclocked FX platform doesn’t run cool by any stretch of the imagination, and keeping around 200W of heat in check is still an accomplishment. I was left a little confused at the price/performance ratio, and can only conclude that wasn’t the only objective of the V8 GTS. Perhaps it was to modernize the old V8, perhaps to bring forward a platform that uses horizontal vapor chambers – or perhaps it was just to make a cool-looking CPU cooler. It bears repeating: price/performance is an important ratio, but it isn’t always the sole consideration you should make when choosing a CPU cooler. I would personally pay extra for better mounting systems, or for particular aesthetics that are unique to my tastes because that’s what I like about building PCs!
Cooler Master V8 GTS Conclusion
It’s tempting to fall into the “it didn’t finish at the very top of the chart, so it’s not a good cooler” trap. I say trap, because I think that’s exactly what it is. Too often we think of products in terms of “what’s the best,” without stopping to define exactly what that means. Too many of the attributes that make one CPU cooler better than another are subjective for each particular user. As I mentioned above, sometimes I don’t mind paying extra for things that don’t necessarily translate to better performance (as long as those extras have value to me, obviously), and I think products like the V8 GTS reflect that mentality. I think the question here shouldn’t be “does the V8 GTS perform on par with other $99 coolers,” but rather “given the performance, how much do you care?”
Performance is something that can be measured objectively however, and the V8 GTS still manages an impressive cooling performance on its own. Measured against the competition, that picture of performance is tainted a little bit – especially when one of Cooler Master’s own (EVO 212) racks up a similar temperature. That specific example impacts the discussion of value more than anything, but I can’t help but think there is some hidden performance still in this thing. I can’t deny the result though, and I did twice as many test runs as usual to make sure. Perhaps a different platform would unlock the advantages of that horizontal vapor chamber and generate a more significant result.
Appearance, as always, is much more subjective. In my personal opinion, this is where the V8 GTS is justifying the price tag – to those that like the “engine” look, you can’t get it anywhere else. The red LEDs and unique heat-sink layout contribute to an attractive CPU cooler – it is fun to look through the window (let’s face it, if you’re interested in this cooler you’ll want/have a side panel with a window) of your computer case and see a “V8 under the hood.” Obviously others have felt the same, as the V8 GTS was awarded a Red Dot Design Award in the Product Design 2013 category.
The attraction ended as soon as I began playing with the V8 GTS. In taking off the plastic frame, the PCB that held the center red SMD LEDs fell off. Well, it was still attached by the wiring I guess, and it was just hot glued on anyway…don’t worry though, I fixed it. It looks as if the glue they used had dried too quickly or just didn’t make good contact, as the posts it sits on are pretty small. Maybe it was a quality control issue, but a customer that purchases a $99 cooler isn’t going to want to experience it falling apart. Sure, if you never take out the fans it won’t be an issue…but if you value your time and energy, you’ll be forced to take them off for installation and removal. The plastic used just struck me as brittle overall. It looks nice from a distance and has adequate strength to do what it needs to do, but it just felt out of place. That didn’t worry me quite so much as some of the aluminum fins rattling after removing the plastic frame – they appear to be stamped/crimped in place, without any solder attaching them to the heat-pipes. It felt like I could just start unstacking them…again, maybe it’s because I was careless in removing the fans or an early release/quality control issue, and I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but this is a little worrisome on a product that retails for $99.
At least the V8 GTS is functional for a product in this category. I was glad to see all of the brackets necessary for various orientations included, so you should be able to install this cooler in your desired direction or to clear any motherboard components. The two included PWM 140mm fans seem to do their jobs quietly and effectively, and serve to contribute to the engine aesthetic. Overall, it adequately cools a hot CPU, which is what it is supposed to do.
Therin lies the problem. The V8 GTS is a good cooler, but it’s priced like an excellent cooler. As of September 2013, the V8 GTS was selling online for $99.99 (NewEgg / Amazon). You can commonly find 240mm AIO coolers for around that price on sale, which are much easier to install (although you may have clearance issues in another area). Some of the newer 120mm AIO liquid coolers will avoid any clearance issues and still generate better temperatures – which brings up that price/performance ratio again. Is that the only metric to measure value? Only you can really decide that.
I’m still curious to see if the horizontal vapor chamber will generate better results on a CPU with a smaller heat-spreader. Perhaps that feature will be a boon to those on the socket 1150 platform, and the V8 GTS will better earn its asking price there.
Until that can be determined I feel I can only recommend the V8 GTS to those that truly enjoy the “engine” look, and would appreciate the lower noise from the twin 140mm fans – not to mention, the V8 GTS will still keep your CPU cool. I don’t think the target demographic would be disappointed with the V8 GTS because it seems obvious to me you don’t buy a CPU cooler like this for practicality; in that sense the V8 GTS delivers. If all you want is a product that gives you the best performance for the price there are better options.
+ Appearance is unique and eye-catching
+ Uses new technologies (vapor chamber)
+ Includes twin 140mm PWM fans
+ Allows for various mounting orientations
+ Adequate performance
+ Impressive RAM clearance for a 140mm CPU cooler
– Construction could be better
– Price/Performance isn’t very competitive
– Can be unwieldy while installing
– Vapor chamber might not see full benefit on every platform (more testing required!)
Final Score: 7.10 out of 10.
COMMENT QUESTION: What is your favorite desktop CPU cooler?