Deep Cool advertises the Ice Blade Pro as having tool-free installation. However, this turns out to be true only for AMD sockets and LGA775. Regardless, we would advise the use of a screwdriver to tighten the mounting screws as this led to an improvement in load temperature by about 3-4 degrees Celsius.
Installation on LGA1366/1156/1155 does not require use of the included backplate. Deep Cool has opted instead to use rivet nuts to secure the retention brackets. The first step is to insert insulating washers on each of the rivet nuts.
Unfortunately, we found it quite difficult to peel off the protective film covering the sticky tape on the washers. The sticky tape is supposed to help hold the rivet nut in place while you install the retention bracket, but in the end we gave up and simply held the rivet nuts with one hand while installing the retention bracket with the other.
The next step is to insert the Intel retention plate above the heatsink base and use four thumbscrews to secure the heatsink to the retention bracket. It is possible to tighten the screws with just your hands, but, for the reasons described above, we strongly recommend the use of a screwdriver.
The final step is to mount the fan using two metal clips. This might require a few tries as the instruction manual is not very clear on the orientation of the metal clips. The anti-vibration rubber spacers appear to be doing their job as we did not encounter any unwanted oscillations even with two fans mounted.
As with many other tower heatsinks, the Ice Blade Pro's fan is likely to overhang the memory sockets closest to the processor. If your memory modules have very tall heatspreaders, you would have to mount the fan on the other side of the heatsink.
Mounting pressure appears to be sufficient and quite evenly distributed, based on the imprint left behind by the thermal paste after removing the heatsink.
While there are no show-stoppers here, the installation process is more tedious than necessary. It is also quite easy to misplace one of the many small parts required for mounting (especially the washers). If Deep Cool had pre-installed these where possible, the process would be simpler.
For all those jokes about bad English from China, the Ice Blade Pro's instruction manual is actually very well done, with clear instructions and diagrams.
We'll be using the Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition, rated for a maximum TDP of 130W, to test the capabilities of the Deep Cool Ice Blade Pro. This is one of the hotter Intel processors in recent times and serves a good differentiator of heatsink performance.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-965 (Reference – 3.2GHz)|
|Motherboard||Foxconn Blood Rage (Intel X58)|
|Memory||3 x 2GB DDR3-1600|
|Graphics||AMD Radeon HD 5570|
|Storage||Intel SSD 320 120GB|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 64-bit|
|Power Supply||Cooler Master Silent Pro 1000W|
The following heatsinks were also tested for comparison:
- Deep Cool Killer Whale
- Intel XTS100H
- Noctua NH-C14
- Noctua NH-D14
- Thermalright Archon
Load temperature readings were taken after running the Prime95 stress test for 30 minutes. The stress test was then stopped and the system allowed to idle for another 30 minutes before the idle temperature reading was recorded. During testing, ambient temperature was kept at a constant 22 degrees Celsius.