- About the Gigabyte XCF700…
- Design Overview
- Installation Process and Motherboard Clearance
- How its tested??
- Temperature Readouts and Observations
- Thermal Paste Spread and Conclusion
- Online Purchase Links
Disclosure: This review unit is provided by Gigabyte
About the Gigabyte XTC700 CPU Cooler…
Its only fair at some point brands try making other stuff from their comfort zone and see if anything good comes out of it. Memory makers are now known more for its cases, power supplies and other add-ons. Motherboard/Graphics card makers are no different because it helps to create a complete ecosystem. The main point for us is that its good enough to be purchased and used. We want good hardware, irrespective of the brand name.
The XTC700 CPU cooler isn’t the first for Gigabyte. A quick google check reveals G-Power II Pro. So its safe to assume Gigabyte has a good deal of expertise to make a good CPU cooler. This is a 120mm CPU tower then pre-installed dual ball bearing fans with RGB accents for its logo. It supports a wide range of CPU sockets, including the phased out ones. As long as it doesn’t come in the way or affect cooling performance, nobody would care about that.
Packaging, Contents and Specifications
Gigabyte isn’t too shy about showing its CPU cooler design on the box, along with dimensions from three angles. The specifications are mentioned, and you’ll observe that XTC700 supports long dead CPU sockets such as Intel 775 and AMD 754, 939. This is redundant as it would overcomplicate a mounting plate with multiple holes. We’ll see if it comes in the way as we progress with this review. The product is advertised to show ‘RGB spectrum’. As you can see, this is limited to Gigabyte’s Xtreme Gaming logo.
The CPU heatsink and the accessories are packed separately. There are four packs of screws- one for Intel, one for AMD and the other set are common parts. The last pack is for securing the mounting plate against the CPU cooler. The XTC700 has a backplate and a mounting plate. Gigabyte includes a wrench with a long handle and a thermal paste. Yes, there’s a metal case badge too.
|CPU Socket||Intel 2011/ 1366 / 1156 /1155 /1151 / 1150 / 775
AMD FM2+/ FM2/ FM1/ AM3+/ AM3/ AM2+/ AM2/ 939/ 754
(L x W x H)
|139 X 109 X 169 mm|
|Heat Sink Dimensions
(L x W x H)
|133 x 59 x 156 mm|
|Heat Sink Materials||3x 10mm heat pipes / Aluminum Fins|
|Heat Sink Weight||740 g|
|Heat Pipe Dimensions||ø 10 mm|
|Fan Dimensions||ø 120*25mm*2 pieces|
|Fan Speed||500 – 1700 RPM ± 10%|
|Fan Air Flow||14- 53 CFM ± 10%|
|Fan Air Pressure||0.2- 1.93 mmH20 ± 10%|
|Fan Life Expectancy||70,000 hours|
|Noise Level||12 – 31 dBA|
|Bearing Type||2 Ball Bearing|
|Rated Voltage||Fan: 12V DC, LED 3V|
|Power Consumption||6 W|
|Fan Weight||162 g|
This CPU cooler is rated to have a total weight of 1015 grams. But that’s surprising considering there are three heat pipes 10mm in diameter. In comparison, the Noctua NH-U14S officially weighs 935 grams and NH-U12S with 755 grams. Both clearly feels heavier than the XTC700. Gigabyte is providing fans with ball bearings, a much-preferred option over sleeve bearing unit. While the fans take power via 12v, the RGB LED takes 3V power via USB header.
At first, you’ll not expect it to be anything out-of-the-ordinary compared to many 120mm tower CPU cooler. The base has a direct contact with the heatpipes with tall array of stacked heatpipes. The fans are preinstalled but its secured by fan clips with a cap towards the top. Under the cap, there’s a circuit that has a set of connection for the fans and RGB. Due to the shape of the top cap and the fan frame, you’ll guess that it wouldn’t be possible to swap for another fan with standard frame design.
Judging by the PCB inside, it takes care of supplying power to the fans and the RGB effects.
Both the USB header cable and the Y-cable for the fans are installed inside the heatsink. The Y cable with two ends does not use traditional 4-pin fan connector, which also means the connectors on the fans are the not the same. The single connector has a 4-pin for the motherboard. Gigabyte may have decided to use such wiring for motherboards which have a single 4-pin header for the CPU. However, due to the design of the cap and the fan frames, you wouldn’t able to fit standard frame CPU fans unless you plan on removing the cap. Removing the top cap needs to be done carefully as it latches itself on the top heat fin.
Due to this, these fans have to be really good and last longing. Usually, ball bearings are preferred due to lesser noise at full speed during longer runs compared to cheaper sleeve bearing.
The fans are Power Logic PLA12025B12L 2 ball bearing fan. There are seven fan blades, each having grooves that supposedly improves airflow. During fan re-installation, I observed that the top cap grooves in such a way that only the top and the bottom section of the fan can be installed. Moreover, the metal clamps won’t secure the standard frame 120mm fans, nor it has any convenient way to remove it.
The comparison of the XTC700’s fan (middle) between the Noctua NF-F12 (top) and the Noctua NF-A14 shows the frame extends beyond the 120mm fan frame, but it stays within the 140mm frame design.
The installation experience is frustrating. It has flaws that need to be worked on. The motherboard used for this process is the Gigabyte Z97-Gaming GT, an LGA 1151 socket. All LGA 115x sockets have same mounting space.
Issue with Spacer and backplate installation
According to the instructions given in the manual, the installation process includes eight threaded spacers and rubber spaces for installing behind and front of the PCB. All the spaces are thin, meaning there will be a large gap between the metal plate and the PCB around the LGA socket. I don’t mind the spacers rested at the backplate, but tightening it is a pain. You’ll have to balance the back plate, the screws and its spacers to perfectly align itself while turning it around. Tightening the spacers from the front is not easy as motherboards have variable clearance surrounding the socket. Tightening the threaded spacer towards the top left where the chokes are present is not a fun task.
Issue with mounting plate
The mounting plate is secured by installing two screws on either side through the CPU cooler’s base. But the two set of screws provided for this has thinner threads. I had to use the screws from the AMD pack and that worked. There was another problem that despite tightening it on both sides, the mounting plate constantly moves on either side.
A preinstalled mounting plate is a better option. But it can have a proper support if it has two screw mounts on both sides of the plate (as shown above). Now comes the problem of installing the heatsink with the fan on, as per its instructions.
Issue with final installation
The XTC700 is provided with four spring loaded bolt with a phillips head. Once you put the bolt on all four sides, you tighten it using the provided wrench. This is a problem as the clearance between the bolts and the fan is difficult and the VRAM sinks on the motherboard make it hard. Z97X Gaming GT is an older design with low-profile VRM sinks. Imagine the difficulty on the motherboard with tall heat sinks and plastic overlays like how Gigabyte Aorus and MSI lineup have them.
Because of the rocking chair effect of the mounting plate and the absence of a large spacer, you’ll find it very difficult to tighten the bolts. Alas, such is the worse case scenario. The best way to install this heatsink is to remove the fans and install using the phillips head. The challenge to install the fan while not force on the heatsink while keeping it on the motherboard is better than the instructions. You’ll still need to manage due to the absence of a thick spacer and the rocking effect of the backplate.
Better Installation Process??
As you can see, the mounting turned out to be better. If the mounting plate had two screw mounts on either side to secure itself against the CPU cooler along with a spacer, it would be much easier.
Cooler Master uses thick metal spacers for its liquid coolers, while Noctua traditionally uses plastic spacers of good quality. Both the manufacturers for its units (Nepton 240M and any of the Noctua Tower cooler) have a two piece mounting plate, keeping the other two side free. With the XTC700, the AMD mounting kit contains two additional support to be mounted over its universal backplate.
There is plenty of clearance from the DIMM slot, but awfully near the first PCIe slot. However, as per observation, newer motherboard have more space between the LGA socket and the first PCIe x16 slot. This is probably to accommodate an M.2 drive and also to allow 120/1400mm tower heatsinks to be installing while maintaining space between it and the graphic card with a backplate.
It gives me great pleasure every time I put up a review. It’s always good to appreciate the support that the manufacturers give from time-to-time to review their own products and others on behalf of the readers. Thanks to companies such as Asus, Gigabyte, Kingston, WD and Coolermaster who give me hardware support by updating my test rig no strings attached. Thumbs up to these guys! I would like to thank
- Gigabyte India for providing Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming GT motherboard
- Kingston Taiwan for providing hardware support with memory kits and SSD drive.
- WD India for providing WD 300GB HLFS Velociraptor Hard Drive.
- Coolermaster India for providing Coolermaster GX450 RS-450-ACAA-D3 Power Supply
|Test Setup for:||Gigabyte XTC700 CPU air cooler|
|MB+ Processor||Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming GT (F6 BIOS) + Intel 4790K Processor|
|Memory||Kingston HyperX Blu 8GB 1600MHz DDRIII|
|Primary OS drive||SanDisk Extreme 240GB SSD+ WD Red 3TB NAS Drive|
|Power Supply||Cooler master GM450|
|Chassis||Lian Li A70F Full Tower PC Case|
EIST and other power saving features: off
Thermal Controls: off
I’ve used Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste (Pea Method) System kept on idle for 30 minutes before testing to record minimum temperatures. I did not use the provided thermal paste as all the CPU coolers were tested with the NT1, and hence wanted to use the same for comparable results. The test is done in closed case setup with case’s ambient temperature (recorded via Temperature probe) of 37 degrees with erratic +/- 1-2 degrees fluctuation.
Want to know more about CPU coolers? Check out our guide!
The Gigabyte XTC700 should be near or exceed Noctua NH-U12S in terms of CPU cooling performance as both are single tower dual 120mm CPU coolers. Another CPU cooler to look out for is the CM Hyper D92.
Base Close Testing
In stocks, the Gigabyte XTC700 CPU cooler is comparable with Noctua NH-D9L single/dual fans and CM Hyper 103 Dual fans.
With the 4.5 GHz @ 1.29v setting, the load temperatures are on par with NH-U9S with a dual fan setting. Alas when you compare with fellow 120mm fan setups such as with 4.7 GHz @ 1.35v, it exceeds 88 degrees. Despite turning off Thermal controls on the UEFI and temperature limit on OCCT, the system crashed.
Thermal Paste Spread
Coming to the end…
The mounting system needs to be fixed. I always preferred bolt-through mounting method but this is not how it should be. An aftermarket CPU coolers are made for PC users with variable experience and hence it should be user-friendly. I installed a CM Nepton 240M on a friend’s system a couple of years ago (and dismantled recently), and the only two complaints were the frustration to install two tiny screws through the block mount to hold the brackets and the time wasted to put threaded mounts around the LGA socket. But that was still better as the spacer supported the brackets and an accessible area around the liquid block. Similar case with CPU coolers such as the entire Noctua lineup.
The mounting plate has only one screw mount on either side. Even the G-Power II Pro uses two screw mounts per side to hold down the mounting plate.
The brief history of spacers and spring-loaded screws
The only scenario where similar installation method was easy is with Thermaltake Big Typhoon, my first aftermarket CPU air cooler. The top of the heatbase has supports to hold the mounting bracket properly, and it used small threaded bolts instead of spring-loaded screws. There was enough space between the heatsink and the PCB to tighten it and not deal with the tension that springs usually give during installation. There’s also the inability to remove fans before installation without messing with the top cap. The cap is simply for RGB effects while daisy-chaining two of those fans is redundant.
There are better options out there. Yes, it may mean to choose non-RGB top cap CPU cooler, but at least you should consider that will give adequate cooling and easy to install and uninstall bolt-through system.
Options out there?
We should be seeing newer CPU versions as AM4 is released. So far what I’ve tested Noctua NH-U12S and NH-U14S are the best CPU air coolers you can get. There’s always the commonly picked up Cooler Master Hyper 212x. Easy installation, good fans and easy to maintain. But how much does the Gigabyte XTC700 CPU cooler cost? It’s not listed at any online retail websites for some strange reason. Internationally, this was revealed in December 2016 but no indication of its pricing. But I was already told I can go ahead and publish this review as its embargo was listed on the 1st.
— Hardware BBQ (@HardwareBBQ) March 6, 2017