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The most impressive thing about Xigmatek’s Gaia might be that the company rolled most of its former improvements into a single $30 product.
The Gaia stats off with one of the smoothest direct-touch heat pipe bases that we’ve seen, a design that certainly reduces latent heat, while supposedly reducing CPU temperature. Our tests don’t measure latent heat, but CPU temperature will be a big part of the evaluation.
A groove directs airflow down the sink’s center, while partly-enclosed sides also help to reduce pressure loss. Unlike the similar effort from Gelid, Xigmatek’s Gaia is designed to support fans on both the front and back, if desired.
A universal support plate fits AMD sockets as well as LGA 1156, 1366, and 775. Xigmatek adds enough rubber pins to support a fan on each side of the Gaia, but only one is included in the package.
Long screws and spacer nuts attach the socket support plate to the motherboard, while the cooler’s mounting brackets are attached to the cooler base using smaller screws. The brackets engage the support plate’s screws using a second, shorter set of nuts.
AMD installation follows this same procedure, though the rectangular bracket allows the cooler to fit only one way. For most motherboards, the result is the preferred cross flow orientation.