Thermal Take Smart and Silent Volcano 9 CPU Cooler Review

Welcome to another hardware review here at the studio.  I want to start off this one by saying thanks to those of you who provided feedback and questions about the ThermalTake G4 Video Cooler Review.  This is a guess-timate but I think we had over 25 readers switch to the G4 and all of them are pretty happy with it.  On that note I am happy to let everyone know that we are reviewing another Thermal Take product.

The Smart and Silent Volcano 9 Cooler is another product of TT listening to the fans.  Most of you know that back in the day we didn’t care how loud our cases were as long as they were cool.  Times have changed and so have our preferences.  Nowadays we want the maximum cooling ability balanced with the right amount of noise.  This is where the Volcano 9 comes into play.  I have to admit when I first heard about it I was wondering if something as mundane as a CPU cooler could pull this off.  Does it?  Well let’s find out!

First of all let’s take a look at what it comes with and how much it costs.  The Volcano is a mid priced cooler that can be had for under $30.  Now some of you may say ‘Tycho I can get one for $18’.  That is true but like everything you get what you pay for.  Is it worth the money?  Here are the specs on it.

Cooler Dimension
 80x80x77.3 mm
Fan Dimension
 80x80x25 mm
Rated Voltage
Started Voltage
Rated Current
 0.20AMP ~ 0.70AMP
Power Input
 2.40W ~ 8.40W
Max. Air Flow
 20.55 CFM at 1300 rpm
 75.7 CFM at 4800 rpm
Air Pressure
 1.45mmH2O at 1300rpm
   8.43mmH2O at 4800rpm
 17 dB at 1300 rpm
   48 dB at 4800 rpm
Bearing Type
 Two Ball Bearing
Life Time
 50,000 hours
 3 PIN
Tt Fan grille TR=0.38C/W

First thing you will notice is that the fan size is huge!  But upon further inspection you see that it is not the same black heavy plastic you normally seen on fans.  It is made up of a new composite plastic that is, believe it or not, lightweight!  Also you can see it comes with thermal paste, heat sensor and a manual switch.  Before we get into the 3 different modes this cooler can run at lets look at the size difference.


On the picture to the right you can see my old Volcano 6 sitting side by side the new 9 series.  The height of the 9 series is almost a half inch higher than the 6 series.  While the new fan is definitely bigger the height makes up the difference in making sure the cooler doesn’t interfere with memory sticks.  The less obvious thing that you notice is the weight difference between the two coolers.  You would think that it being the behemoth that it is the cooler would be heavy.  This is not the case at all.  It weighs about 25% less than the 6 series.  The only problem I had was that the height blocked my exhaust fan a little.  But that is more a design flaw with my case than any thing else.

Now you may be asking where does the smart and silent come in on all of this?  Well that is what we will discuss next.  The slogan comes from the ability of this cooler to function 3 difference ways.  You can run it (1) at full speed 4800 rpm (2) Temp Control setting (1300 rpm at 20C or 4800 rpm at 40c) or finally (3) Adjustable Manual Speed Control from 1300 to 4800 rpm.

This is done with several different components on the cooler itself or as an add-on.  The Temp Control feature is done with a small sensor that you attach to the bottom of your cpu.  The ingenious thing about this is that the wires are small and thin enough to perfectly fit between the pins on the bottom of the cpu.  With the Manual Control Feature you have a small dial that has a long enough wire to exit the side of your case so you don’t have to open it to adjust it.  Last but not least the Full Speed feature is just a standard 3 pin hook up.

Well how does it perform?  Let’s find out.

Thermal Take Smart and Silent Volcano 9 CPU Cooler Review (cont’d)

One thing I want to touch on before we get into testing was how much it was nice to see a company worried about breaking cpu dies.  As some of you may know a heavy and bulky cooler can trash a cpu die pretty easy.  Well Thermal Take took care of this by going to the 3 prong setup on their cooler.  Most newer motherboards support this way (see picture) of securing coolers.

It definitely takes a little getting used to and does look strange but let me tell you it balances the weight of the cooler a lot more efficiently.  On top of that it is already a lighter weight cooler.  For once I didn’t worry about crushing my cpu die.  Just remember that it is better to take your motherboard out to do this than to try and wrestle around the scratch your MoBo contacts (been there done that, lost the money to prove it).  Please take a lesson from me and do it the right way.  I may know what I am doing now but I sure learned the hard way.  🙂


Okay let’s get to the good stuff.  I was curious to see how the whole ‘Temp Sensor’ thing worked so after putting the cooler on.  You can hear a noticeable difference between the older 6 series and this new one.  It runs a lot quieter than it did before.  I like the idea of the fan spinning up with heat.  Especially since I had heard of it with the GeForce FX’s.  The processor that I have in my rig, Solei, is an AMD Athlon XP +2000 (1.68 ghz) running at 1.775 ghz.  For the thermal paste I only use Artic Silver 3 (best on the market).  So let’s take a look at the before and after temps.

Motherboard: 119.5 F
CPU: 118.6 F

While working on this article I did notice that my new Abit KD-7 MoBo runs just a little hotter than the old Gigabyte did.  I was a little shocked by this because the Abit has a better cooler on the chipset.  As you can see from these numbers that VIA chipsets run a little hotter than the Intel’s do.  However this is offset by the newer XP’s running way cooler than the T-Birds did.  Okay here are the temps with the 9 series attached.

Motherboard: 114.7 F
CPU: 113.8 F

It was about a 5 degree drop on both of them while the computer was idling.  Now let’s turn on the juice a little.  To put a load on the cpu and video card I ranmIRCMSN Messenger, Gamevoice and UT2003 online at The Skipper’s Cove.  All of the things that a hardcore gamer runs for matches.  Remember we do our hardware tests using Real World Gamer’s programs. I’ll leave the pros like Steve at HardOCP with wimpy benches like Quake 3 and SiSoft  (j/k Steve)  Now with those 4 programs we should see a nice pull on the hardware.  Although it’s not a 100% pull, it is close to what a Gamer should have.

Motherboard: 122.1 F
CPU: 120.3 F

I must say that is not too shabby numbers at all.  To be running UT2003 online with the video card cranking out the polys and have that low a temp is pretty good.  The nice thing is that the spin up on the fan really isn’t noticeable at all.  So  now we can start coming to some conclusions.

While some of you may think that a less than 10 degree temp drop isn’t worth the money.  To them I say I disagree and here is why.  We not only saw a drop in the cpu temp but the motherboard as well.  Since the entire system seemed to drop in temperature I decided to try and overclock the video card a little more.  Well it worked as I was able to bring up the core and memory of the card from 300/533 to 310/540.  Combine these things with the fact that the 9 series is noticeably quieter and you have a wise purchase.

Pros: Lighter and quieter than previous Volcanos, runs cooler and looks cool 😀
Cons:  A little pricier than generic coolers

So once again another Thermal Take product deserves a Gamer’s money and we give the Volcano 9 our stamp of approval.

I want to thank Mr. Chen for supplying us with the cooler and to our readers for putting up with my rambling.  Until next time, peace!



ut2 weapons preview

Unreal Tournament 2 Weapons Preview *updated*

2.17.02 – We received a visit from a special person last week in the #|UO| channel.  One of the artists from Digital Extremeswas kind enough to give us a hand with the article.  He helped us fix some mistakes and also gave us some new information.  So as of this moment we now have the correct pictures with the proper weapons.

One of the mistakes that was made was the Shotgun information.  The Shotgun is actually a picture of the new Assault Rifle which was designed by Steve Jones.  He goes on to tell us that it was made more in the organic, anime style… similar to a p90.  The Shotgun was also misnamed by PCGamer, it is called the Shockgun.  According to the DE artist, “we had a big press day a couple months ago for all the gaming rags and the reporters all got their facts mixed up.

We also learned that the Translocator is going through some changes.  At this moment they are working on a “limited” use version of the TL from UT.  While the TL discussion is still very much alive on several North American forums, the Euros seem to be a little more open to the idea of change.

We threw out a few questions about what is there favorite weapon in UT2.  Here is what he had to say.

tycho –  what are you favorite ut2 weapons and what weapon do you miss that has been left out?
DE – the link gun is pretty fun right now and the sniper/lightning gun, both have sweet effects
mmss|mud –  how about the spin up, spin down time with the mini?
DE – it’s pretty fast in primary fire mode, secondary spins up slower I think but it will be firing explosive shells.  We’re discussing that right now too.

So as you can see the new Minigun looks to be a new spin on the good ole’ weapon.    All of the weapons that have pictures are close to the final ones.  The ones without pics or have a question mark are still not final.  That is all for this update and we will have more information as it comes available.

2.10.02 – With all of the excitement lately about Unreal Tournament 2 we decided to take a look at the weapons that will be in it.  The game isn’t finished obviously so several things may change.  I feel the information released so far will be a pretty good indication of what we will see.  We were able to get renders of most of the weapons but there were 4 that were not able to get.  Unfortunately Digital Extremes is at this time being a stickler about a few things and did not return an answer to our emails about the Translocator.  So we do not have actual renders of the new Impact HammerTranslocatorFlak Cannon orRocket Launcher.  We do have in-game shots from the last two however.

Impact Hammer:  The first weapon in the UT2 arsenal is the Impact Hammer.  This weapon gets carried over from UT and was relatively not used a lot until the advent of “cheese” in the later part of 2000.  For the new UTers or Euro readers, cheese was the saying when people used the piston in combination with the jump boots to travel much higher and farther than the game intended.  After a while people learned to adapt to it and from then on the hammer was very much a part of the game (ctf games mostly -ed.)   The new Impact Hammer has a new twist to it.  One of the MODs that was released for UT well after the game was launched was a weapons MOD.  This included a shield for the user that deflected energy weapons.  The draw back was that it didn’t move and only stayed up for a short time.  The new hammer will incorporate a similar feature when using the secondary fire.

Translocator:  The Translocator was and still is one of the most controversial weapons in the Unreal Universe.  The TL proceeded to get a lot of flak (no pun intended) when the idea of it first came out.  Even the popular online comic Penny Arcadetook a potshot at it. (sorry about the quality of the comic it was not our copy – ed.)

The main complaint of the weapon was that it was too powerful a weapon.  The debate has reared its ugly head again lately here in North America because of the love/hate for it.  Some people thought is was too fast, some not fast enough.  Some liked that you could kill someone if you needed to in an emergency.  Some hated the fact that they could have 150/199 and be instantly killed.  I personally like it just the way it is but not everyone does.  Not much is known what DE has planned for the TL except that it will be in the game.

:Assault Rifle:  The Assault Rifle is the base weapon for UT2 and has two features.  The primary fire is your standard machine gun.  New to UT2 is the secondary fire on the rifle, a grenade launcher.  This feature was moved from the Rocket Launcher to the Assault Rifle.  This weapon is the “do it all weapon for UT2.  The grenade launcher will definitely come in handy from time to time.


:Link Gun:  The Link Gun is one of the new weapons to make its debut in UT2.  This weapon is a kissing cousin to the Pulse Gun in UT.  Its primary fire is a ball/bolt of green energy.  This weapon has a high rate of fire.  The secondary fire is a continuous stream of energy that gradually drain the health/armor/shield of its opponent.  The weapon also features a new “Bonus Fire” when in action with others.  To quote PCGamer and DE;  “Three teammates can “link” their guns to give the central player a more powerful shot.”  But unfortunately while everyone is linked the 2 supporting players lose ammo and can’t defend themselves.  This feature will be interesting to see in action.

:Shockgun:  *Update* The Shockgun is a new incarnation of the ASMD rifle.  The ASMD was probably one of the most used and misunderstood weapons in both Unreal and UT.  In the hands of a skilled player this weapon could prove trouble some on defense.  The Shotgun’s primary fire is an energy beam.  The secondary fire is a blob/ball of energy that when struck by the primary sets off a small explosion.  It should be noted that it is not known if the Shotgun will do the same kind of damage as UT’s ASMD.

:Minigun:  The Minigun is one of the two, what I think, weapons that are the staple of any good FPS. It’s primary fire is a high rate of fire weapon that shots heavy duty bullets.  The secondary fire is a burst of bullets that can do a lot of damage but it has several drawbacks.  The weapon takes time to spin up to its peak rate of fire, consumes ammo faster and it loses some of its accuracy.  We have recently learned that this weapon will fire explosive shells while using secondary mode.

:Flak Cannon:  The Flak Cannon which is another hotly debated weapon.  Often called the “Noobie” weapon because of its rapid rate of fire and splash damage than can kill enemies easily without requiring much skill to use.  The primary fire is a large amount of shrapnel that bounces off of walls.  It is still unknown if the damage from this weapon will be lessened.  The secondary fire is a ball of shrapnel that does quite a bit of damage.  The flak ball from UT featured one of the funniest things in FPS’s.  When the ball was fired directly at you, you viewed a “Have a nice day” smiley that signaled your doom.

:Rocket Launcher:  The Rocket Launcher, what can I say but every good FPS has one of these.  Often called a spam weapon but in truth it takes a little bit of practice to be able to anticipate your opponents move and kill them with this.  However some of the “spam” will be reduced due to the fact that you will only be able to load 3 rockets at a time.  The “Homing” feature with be left in with the several rocket fire being used as the secondary function of the weapon.


:Sniper Rifle:  The Sniper Rifle is the most hated weapon in all of the UU, in my opinion.  The primary fire in UT2 will be different from UT.  It remains a instant hit weapon but instead of firing bullets it fires a bolt of lightning.  The leaves a signature as to where it was fired.  The weapon remains lethal but will compromise your position when used.  The secondary fire allows you to use a UV scope that shows the target as heat signatures.  This will come in handy for bad weather and night maps.

For those of you that are fans of “Super Weapons” you won’t be let down.  As of last posting UT2 will feature 2 weapons:  A gun similar to the Redeemer that homes in on its target and travels low to the ground and a gun called the ION Cannon that is a giant laser housed in a satellite in outer space.  The IC will fire a giant laser down on a “painted” target on the ground and do some incredible amount of damage.  Obviously this weapon will only be useful on outdoor maps.

Mind you that these weapons are features are subject to change.  But, I think that DE has learned a lot from playing, watching and listening to the UT community.  I think the weapons will be pretty fun and well balanced.  Then again I hope they still leave them a little too powerful because that was one of the things that separated UT from Quake 3 was the chaos and speed of the weapons and game.

We will update this page as changes are made to the weapons.  Thanks for stopping by.