OCZ Gladiator Max CPU Cooler

Nov 25th, 2008 | By

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OCZ Gladiator Max CPU Cooler

: 11/25/08 – 04:52:13 AM


: Cooling

Page 1 : Index

OCZ Technologies entered the marketplace in August 2000, pioneering several advances in computer memory. They're largely known for their high speed DDR2 and DDR3 laptop and desktop memory, but today they maintain a vast variety of products for both the casual gamer and the hardcore enthusiast from PSUs and CPU coolers, to solid state disks (SSD) and even a few phase cooling kits.

For this review at Overclockers Online, I'll be reviewing one of their newest additions to the CPU cooling lineup, the OCZ Gladiator Max.

The Gladiator Max is available in two sizes, the smaller featuring a 92mm fan, and the larger 120mm fan for those who require a more extensive cooling solution while also maintaining a whisper quiet footprint. In this review, I'll be using the 120mm version. Primarily geared towards media centers or office desktops, this cooler is perfect for any environment where minimal noise is a high priority. Read on for more…

Page 2 : Package

We all love a well designed package that isn't bland, but also not overly flashy. At first glance, the Gladiator Max packaging seems to fall right into that bracket. The front side is rather simple, the image to the bottom left of the package gives a clue to what's inside, and if you missed that image, the package specifies the contents' purpose in nice bold letters to the right of the see-through window. The window features a teaser of the 120mm fan inside, OCZ's insignia is also located in the upper left corner.

Turning to the right side, going along with the clean informative theme, is a bold list of specifications – we'll delve into those later. Under the list of specifications is a very brief description of the CPU cooler along with the translation into five other languages.

The back of the package is essentially a mirror image of the front, but instead features a larger image of the heatsink.

And the final side lists the coolers compatibility, and also the fans specifications.

Once opened up, it's clear that OCZ really took precautions with their packaging. The first sight to greet you after opening it is loads of plastic peanuts. Under those is a custom Styrofoam block, encasing both the heatsink and fan. There's zero wiggle room in the packaging, ensuring that the 42 very fragile fins aren't going to be bent during shipping.

Page 3 : Heatsink and Specifications

Specifications were taken directly from OCZ's website.


Now, what sets the Gladiator Max apart from rival air-cooling solutions? The largest difference is that the Gladiator Max utilizes Xigmatek's HDT (Heat-Pipe Direct Touch) design. HDT is exactly how it sounds; the copper heat-pipes physically touch the top of the processor, allowing the heat to dissipate directly into the heat-pipes. On conventional coolers, the heat first goes through a copper base and then up the adjoining copper heat-pipes that have been welded to the base. These welds increase the thermal joint resistance present, and therefore decrease the heat flow from the CPU.

The Gladiator Max sports four copper heat-pipes, one more than its little brother, the Vendetta 2 cooler. The heat-pipes are also 30% larger in diameter than the 6mm standard that's present in most CPU coolers, the extra 2mm theoretically should raise the heat transfer rate. There are also six aluminum pegs extending from the base to the bottom three fins, supposedly to dissipate heat from the aluminum surrounding the base, and also to provide support for the rather hefty 780 gram heatsink and fan.

It's also necessary to notice the trademark vectored design present in the back of the fins designed to allow high velocity air to move through the heatsink with more ease. Also imporant is the slight V curve present in the middle of the heatsink that increase the surface area of the heatsink, allowing better heat dissipation.

Page 4 : Contents

The contents of the package include the heatsink itself, and the 120mm fan. As I mentioned previously, both are encased in protective Styrofoam shells to minimize risk of bending an aluminum fin.

Included in the plastic bag are mounting pins for LGA775, AMD mounting hardware, two small screws, four rubber mounts for the fan, and a small package of silicon thermal paste.

The package also includes an installation guide for the CPU cooler.

Page 5 : Installation

Now that we've gone through the aerodynamics and design of the Max Gladiator, let's put it to test and see if the design offers a performance increase or not when pitted against various coolers. But first of all, we need to install it, and here's where I'll show you how to do just that using the LGA775 mounting kit OCZ provided.

Note: It's a good idea to attach the fan to the heatsink after you've installed the heatsink to the motherboard – if installed with the fan attached, two of the push-to-lock pins are concealed, making mounting a very painful process as I soon discovered.

OCZ provides the standard push-to-lock plastic clips to mount the heatsink. While they're relatively easy to use, the lack of sustainable pressure they offer gives a slight performance decrease – the higher the pressure, the better the performance.

To start off, using the two provided screws, screw the plastic clips onto the base of the heatsink.

Then, after applying a thermal paste to the CPU (I used Arctic Silver 5), simply place the clips over the four holes in the motherboard, and push the pins in until they lock.

Though the heatsink offers quite a bit of clearance under the aluminum fins, it should be noted that in some cases the heatsink may be a tight fit, as evident on my P45 Neo2-FR motherboard.

Page 6 : Testing

Finally, it's time to put the Gladiator Max to the test!

AMD System:

  • Dell Motherboard
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ 2.2 GHz, 1.2 V
  • Intel 7400 GS
  • Dell E521 Case with lid open and one 120mm fan

Intel System:

  • MSI P45 Neo2-FR
  • Intel E8400 3.0 GHz, 1.2250 V
  • ATI Radeon 4850 512MB Video Card
  • Thermaltake M9 VI1000BWS Mid-Tower Case and two 120mm fans

Comparison Coolers:

  • Gladiator Max
  • AMD Stock
  • Dell Custom Heatsink
  • Hyper TX2

In terms of coolers, I'll be comparing the Gladiator Max with AMD's stock heatsink and fan, a custom heatsink by Dell with a 120mm fan mounted behind it, and the Hyper TX2 92mm – a similarly priced heatsink and fan compared to the Gladiator Max.

For each test, I recorded the idle temperature for 5 minutes, and then I loaded up the machine using Orthos Beta. Then I recorded temperatures every 30 seconds for thirty minutes.

The Gladiator Max is a clear winner compared to the two other coolers; it idled at a very desirable 20C, and when the heat load was applied, reached equilibrium in barely two minutes at a still relatively chilly 42C. The AMD stock cooler on the other hand, idled at 30C, but once the load was applied, it struggled to manage the heat, after 8 minutes it sat at a not so desirable 72C.

So OCZ's Gladiator Max is looking pretty good currently compared to these stock coolers, but how will it compare to the Hyper TX2? Let's find out. I ran the tests again, this time a head-on battle between the two coolers – this time with a larger heat load, an Intel C2D E8400.

Performance wise, both coolers are nearly identical, the Gladiator Max maintaining a 3 degree Celsius lead on both its idle and load temperature. Though at this point, it is important to remember – the Gladiator Max was designed to be quiet. OCZ blew me away with just how quiet they managed to make it; a few times I was tempted to place my fingers onto the fan to make sure it was even turning.

Page 7 : Conclusion

The goal OCZ's technicians had when developing this heatsink and fan combo was to make it silent without sacrificing cooling performance, and they managed to do just that. Regarding noise levels, I would have no problem using the Gladiator Max in a HTPC or a workstation PC – the fan is barely audible from a foot away, and is dead silent from a meter on. Though, before you buy it, realize that size may be an issue, as this heatsink is large ((L)63 x (W)120 x (H)165mm). There's only about an inch of clearance in a mid-tower box, and the cooler protrudes half an inch out of micro-ATX sized cases, meaning that it won't fit in many HTPC boxes. Overall, the performance is perfect for lower voltage processors, but I'd have second thoughts before popping this onto a quad-core system unless you really value quiet operation. There you have it, OCZ's ‘Gladiator Max’ CPU heatsink and fan.


  • Quiet Operation
  • Compatible with both Intel and AMD based motherboards
  • Available in both 92mm and 120mm sizes
  • Doesn't require motherboard removal to install


  • Large form factor
  • Not ideal for low profile environments regarding size
  • Comes with standard push-to-lock Intel mounting pins
  • Retention plate isn't included for additional support

Overclockers Online would like to thank OCZ for making this review possible.

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