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V3 Voltair V3TEC120-FC01 CPU TEC Cooler Review

V3 Components claims it can deliver innovative technologies to rival the performance of liquid cooling. We test these claims on an overclocked Haswell-E.

Our Verdict

While the Voltair’s TEC offers the potential of lower CPU temperatures, it doesn’t appear to have the capacity to exceed our processor’s needs. It may work better with a hot dual-core CPU, but for us its TEC appears a needless waste of energy.

For

  • The V3 Voltair offers a taste of TEC cooling at low cost.

Against

  • The V3 Voltair doesn’t beat big air when tested on our big CPU

Introduction

What if you could apply the principle of your USB-powered desktop beverage cooler on a grand scale to keep your CPU cooler? V3 Components is the latest company to embrace a concept so often left to hardcore enthusiasts, explaining that its Thermoelectric Cooler can be even safer than the liquid systems it hopes to outperform. But what are the benefits and risk? If TEC can make things colder than ambient temperature (something liquid can’t do on its own), why isn’t everyone using it?

A quick look back at its predecessor explains that a special type of semiconductor draws heat from one surface and displaces it to another. That same 2007 article shows a cooler that was designed with a very larger TEC capable of producing sub-ambient temperatures in fairly-hot hardware, along with a thermal control designed to prevent that from happening. Condensation is not friendly to unprotected electronics, but thermal modulation on that unit caused it to hum as power was rapidly cycled on and off. The Voltair doesn’t have that problem.

  • ingtar33
    surprise surprise, an undersized air tower can't cool the Peltier (TEC) unit they attached it to.

    I think the only thing surprising is it even managed to keep up at all with those "real" cpu coolers. The problem with using Peltier based cooling is typically if you want to cool 80W of power you need to be able to disperse around 160W-240W of heat energy; it's clear they went with an under powered peltier to avoid condensation, but of course that defeats the whole purpose to one as well; because then you end up with a cooler not strong enough to cool on one side and too hot to cool on the other (with the undersized heatsink)

    really the only sensible use for a peltier in a computer would be through some sort of heat exchange method, like paired with a large custom water loop, and lots of radiator space, while at the same time, insulating the connection point and BACK OF THE MOTHERBOARD to prevent condensation damage to your system.

    throw in the fact that Peltier or TEC cooling wears out over time, and this just looks like a terrible product. too little radiator space, too little voltage going into the Peltier, too much noise generated by the undersized fans, not enough cooling ability... just a mediocre product
    Reply
  • PaulBags
    Several times now I've read in a tom's review references to past experience with big coolers coming loose and/or damaging boards. Would you mind linking us to those examples?
    Reply
  • atheus
    Several times now I've read in a tom's review references to past experience with big coolers coming loose and/or damaging boards. Would you mind linking us to those examples?
    I know this is not what you're asking for, but after building a computer for a friend and shipping it across the country I'm fairly convinced that at least when designing a computer that you intend to ship it's probably best to use a closed loop liquid cooler. I just had a Hyper 212 EVO mounted on an ASUS Z97 GRYPHON, and evidently the USPS dropped it from a substantial height, causing the heat sink to break free and damage the CPU, plus the graphics card tore the PCIE slot in half. I think from now on any time I ship a computer that has a big air cooler, I'll remove the cooler (and graphics cards, if any) and pack them separately. For someone who doesn't have the skills to mount a CPU cooler, I'll just have to stick to closed loop water.

    USPS eventually paid for the damaged computer ($1300), but it took over a month to get the check, and there were tons of hoops she had to jump through. For a while it was even starting to look like they weren't going to pay up. Not worth the headache. From now on I'll make sure any computer I ship is ready to be dropped from an airplane at 500 MPH without a chute, as much as possible.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    16106597 said:
    Several times now I've read in a tom's review references to past experience with big coolers coming loose and/or damaging boards. Would you mind linking us to those examples?
    Linking you? You do know that there's a real world out there, where photos of damaged systems that we packed could be evidence in a lawsuit. And I don't go after the suppliers of prebuilt systems when theirs arrive damaged either, because that feels like adding insult to financial injury. The only ONLINE proof that any of this has happened is in restricted-access servers, though I can't stop anyone from hacking my email ;)

    Most things in this world don't happen online. I think it's nice that someone can tell me "this part got wrecked in shipping" and I can say "send it to me, I'll evaluate it before I replace it". I realize that its unbelievable to some that this still happens in the age of snapchat...

    As for the less spectacular (warped board) failures, they're mentioned in an SBM article where the motherboard was a Z77 Extreme4.
    Reply
  • OcelotRex
    16106917 said:
    16106597 said:
    Several times now I've read in a tom's review references to past experience with big coolers coming loose and/or damaging boards. Would you mind linking us to those examples?
    Linking you? You do know that there's a real world out there, where photos of damaged systems that we packed could be evidence in a lawsuit. And I don't go after the suppliers of prebuilt systems when theirs arrive damaged either, because that feels like adding insult to financial injury. The only ONLINE proof that any of this has happened is in restricted-access servers, though I can't stop anyone from hacking my email ;)

    Most things in this world don't happen online. I think it's nice that someone can tell me "this part got wrecked in shipping" and I can say "send it to me, I'll evaluate it before I replace it". I realize that its unbelievable to some that this still happens in the age of snapchat...

    As for the less spectacular (warped board) failures, they're mentioned in an SBM article where the motherboard was a Z77 Extreme4.

    I am not very sure you sufficiently answered his concerns with hypothetical situations that you cannot prove/disprove. I think that the OP was looking for something concrete since an occurrence has been referenced (in their experience) a few times on the same site.

    I had the same concern when purchasing a larger air cooler - I had settled on the Cooler master 212 on a non-overclocked build to keep it cool/quiet but had been building with smaller, older Zalman fans. To alleiviate those concerns I when with a Silverstone case that inverted the motherboard and added an adjustable stand for the heatsink to take the vertical strain off the MB:


    But to your point shipping a PC is a whole other issue as you cannot control the orientation or handling of the item throughout the process so I can see how bending/warping/snapping could happen. for such large coolers the safest bet would be to disassemble the heavy parts prior to shipping.
    Reply
  • atheus
    16106597 said:
    Several times now I've read in a tom's review references to past experience with big coolers coming loose and/or damaging boards. Would you mind linking us to those examples?
    Here you go. If it's computer snuff you want:
    Yeah, that CPU fan is spinning.
    Reply
  • ubercake
    At the beginning of the article I was excited about the technology.

    At the end of the article, I was sad that it couldn't really compete (but I did feel well informed!).
    Reply
  • Blueberries
    Even when they made these twice the size it wasn't enough. Vapor chambers are the future of heat-sink design, not this.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    16107269 said:
    I am not very sure you sufficiently answered his concerns with hypothetical situations that you cannot prove/disprove.
    I'm not trying to prove or disprove a hypothetical situation. I'm testifying to real-world occurrences. Does anyone really need the testimony of Chris and Don to prove that things he or she knows can happen, did happen?

    This one shouldn't be all that controversial. It's like if I told you about that time I went to Florida and my wife fed squirrels at the park from her hand, and rather than argue about the behavior of the squirrels you began arguing about whether I'd ever been to Florida.

    If I said it rained yesterday you'd probably believe it. On the other hand, if I said it didn't rain you'd probably believe that. Both solutions are equally possible, one solution is actual and the other potentially "hypothetical" (IF it hadn't rained...). The reason you'd have believed either one is that neither option is particularly controversial, and I don't have anything to gain by lying.
    Reply
  • kristi_metal
    I have only one problem with this cooler: the "space" between the heatpipes that form the base of the radiator. The heat is only absorbed by the heatpipes, but the aluminium strips just keep the heat there, it is not that efficient in removing heat from the CPU.
    Reply