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Your cooler, set in silver
Product : Akasa Silver Mountain
Price : 28.20 (price includes VAT)
Available from : Overclock UK
Related articles : [ThermoEngine Ultra]-[Super ORB]-[Alpha PEP66U]

Akasa weren't a name synonymous with cooling. Manufacturers such as Alpha or Globalwin were more common to us, until Akasa released this product was released from their stables. The Silver Mountain is one of the copper breed of heatsinks with a twist. When we first got the Silver Mountain in for review, we were surprised at it's size and the smoothness of it's base.

The Silver Mountain is really a copper heatsink with a coating of silver on top. Simply put, it's a silver plated heatsink, and thats where the Silver in it's name comes from. We all know copper is a very good thermal conductor, however silver goes one better. Pay attention now, here's the science bit. The specific heat capacity of copper is 385 J/(kg.K), for silver it's 232 J/(kg.K).

Specific heat capacity is a property of all materials. Specific heat capacity is the amount of energy (in Joule) that is required to raise the temperature of the material by 1 degree Kelvin (not Centigrade). Kelvin is the absolute temperature scale (0 degrees Centigrade is 273 degrees Kelvin). The higher this number is then the more energy is required to heat the material up. In terms of heatsinks this means the temperature of the processor's contact with the heatsink will have to be hotter to raise the temperature of the heatsink. What we want is a processor that is "cold" and a heatsink that is "hot". The heatsink is designed to dissipate heat and for that reason we don't mind it being hotter than the surface of the processor core.

Although the above values are true for pure Copper and Silver, they won't be the values achieved on an Akasa Silver Mountain, because of course it is really Copper with a silver "coating". However the silver coating does, without doubt help the heat transfer process.

Copper heatsinks became all the rage once it was seen as a viable alternative to aluminium. Copper has much better thermal properties than Aluminium, and companies like Alpha had been using copper inlay in their heatsinks for years. The first mass produced all copper heatsink to hit the UK shores was the Kanie Hedgehog. After seeing the popularity of that, many other manufacturers followed suit, and prices started to drop amid competition. All good for us overclockers.

The Silver Mountain isn't the biggest heatsink we've seen, however it is fairly "chunky" and bigger doesn't always mean better does it? Overall on the size side, we'd say it was mid-range. The fan supplied was Akasa's own 6,800 RPM fan. This beast is no where near the 60mm Delta fan we saw on the Thermoengine Ultra (review) however it does a very respectable 37.6CFM, and doesn't sound like a foghorn.

A nice touch was the chrome grill that is attached to the Silver Mountain's fan. It adds a little bit of class, and when you have a silver coated heatsink, you want all your other fittings to have a touch of class, don't you?

Installation

The Silver Mountain uses the traditional retainer system which clips onto the socket. It doesn't use the 4 screw system that coolers such as the Swiftech MC462-BA. This allows the Silver Mountain to be used with a greater variety of motherboards, and not just ones with the four holes drilled out of the motherboard's PCB.

Akasa supply a tube of thermal compound which says it contains silver, however it did look quite white when we were applying it. However appearances can be deceiving, so we use it in our tests. The Silver Mountain went on the processor without much trouble. Not a huge amount of pressure was required and once the cooler was in place, the contact with the processor's core was steady.

People wishing to "lap" the base of the heatsink wouldn't have a large amount of work to do, and will have to use a finer grade of sandpaper to start of with than usual. As you can see from the image above (click to enlarge) the base is very smooth and produces a good reflection of the 20 pence piece.

Results

Our first outing for the new test rig. The specifications are detailed below :-

AMD Athlon AYHJA 1400Mhz @ 1533Mhz
EPoX EP-8K7A+ motherboard (from Overclock UK)
256Mb Kingmax PC2100 DDR ram @ CAS 2.5

We tested the ThermoEngine Ultra and the Akasa Silver mountain. The machine was under full load at all times during the test (running Seti among other programs) :-






Conclusion

The Akasa Silver Mountain is a very nice heatsink for any Socket A machine. The solid copper heatsink which comes with a coating of Silver performs well, and coped with our testing. It isn't the quietest thing around, however if you are looking for this type of performance then you will have to make sacrifices.

On the whole the Silver Mountain experience wasn't bad. Akasa supply a small tube of thermal compound, it comes in good packaging and has a concise leaflet documenting the installation and installation of the heatsink. The installation is easy, so long as you have a flat head screw driver. The base of the Silver Mountain is polished and most people will find there is no need for further "lapping" to be done.

The Silver Mountain is also quieter than the ThermoEngine Ultra, and performs slightly better. That could be put down to the fact that it's made out of copper and not aluminium, and has a silver plating. We recommend the Akasa Silver Mountain to anyone that wants good cooling performance at a reasonable price. It remains in our test rig as the heatsink of choice.

As is becoming custom here over at UKGamer, we did a size comparison of the Akasa Silver Mountain against the ThermoEngine Ultra.