Product: AMD Athlon II Lineup, Cooler Master Vortex Plus
Company: Cooler Master
Authour: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: May 11th, 2010
Summary & Conclusions

The Cooler Master Vortex Plus performed very well in these tests, showing itself more than adequate for dissipating the heat loads overclocked quad-core Athlon II processors can generate; given its compatibility with Intel's 140W TDP socket 1366 processors, this is no surprise.

The Vortex plus is not a true low profile heatsink - which to be fair, is not the description from Cooler Master themselves. I wouldn't install it in my Apevia Q-Pack case, to replace the current Artic Cooling Freezer LP, despite the better cooling it offers, as it is just not going to fit. However, for the majority of common slim, desktop and micro towers it'll work great. In operation the Vortex Plus fan is quieter than the AMD stock fan, even if a little more fiddly to install, making it a great choice for quiet PC applications.

CoolerMaster Vortex Plus
CoolerMaster Vortex Plus

AMD's new Athlon II processors offer more performance for the same money - an instant win. Increasing the supported memory clock speeds for both DDR2 and DDR3 is another bonus. All of these sub-100W processors are capable of delivering HD gaming performance with a Vision Premium graphics card, in our case the ATI Radeon HD 5830. The Athlon II processor line exists to provide the lower power platform with a continuing upgrade path - just because a mainboard doesn't support 125W TDP processors doesn't mean it can't have a high performance multi-core processor upgrade.

Manufacturers should be providing BIOS updates now, if not already, to allow the new processors to be detected correctly. AMD's socket AM2+ and AM3 have had long legs, giving the AMD desktop platform a simplicity and longevity missing from the competition. The pricing and model differentiation is very close, which is a plus for tight budgets and OEM's or system builders looking to hit a price point, but also makes it hard to pick a standout product. The Athlon II X4 640 is still a little pricey, getting into Phenom II territory. It delivers value thanks to its 95W TDP versus the Phenom II X4 125W TDP, but the competition has had much lower TDP multi-core processors for while.

For energy conscious builds, the Athlon II 200 and 400 e-series are solid choices. The regular Athlon II processors are a great choice for low platform cost office, productivity or gaming systems, to just build and go or upgrade your older systems. The Athlon II X4 610e is a little pricey; you really have to be building into a high performance low thermal envelope application to pick it. If you're an overclocker, the X3 and X3 energy efficient models give you opportunities for fun with core unlocking for an instant 25% productivity boost in multi-threaded applications. Enthusiasts will likely plump for the Phenom II X2 Black Edition processors, and invest in a good core unlocking mainboard to enjoy the challenge of doubling the core count and clocking it faster than any shipping quad core processor. Using the Cooler Master Vortex Plus they'll have a solid cooling solution, too.

Rage3D awards the Cooler Master Vortex Plus 5 stars! Priced around $30USD this is a great solution for any budget build, HTPC or otherwise. Flexible mounting options give you peace of mind for future upgrades, and the fan can be easily replaced with your own preference. Our five star pick of the new Athlon II processors is the X3 415e, for it's superior performance per watt, even when unlocked and overclocked. 

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