Today, we have a chance to take a look at OCZ’s latest CPU cooler, the Gladiator MAX. The most prominent feature of this cooler is its Heatpipe Direct Touch design, also known as H.D.T. Unlike other coolers which use heatpipes to transfer heat from the base of the cooler to the main heatsink, OCZ’s Gladiator MAX has heatpipes that are actually the base of the cooler as these come in direct contact with the IHS of the CPU.
The Gladiator MAX cooler weighs 780 grams with the fan, and its dimensions are 63x120x165 mm (LxWxH). These dimensions are quite compact for a 120mm fan cooled cooler, and some other coolers are significantly bigger and heavier than OCZ's Gladiator MAX. It supports AMD 754/755/939/940 and AM2 sockets, as well as Intel 775 sockets. It features four pure copper heatpipes, while the heatsink is made out of pure aluminum. OCZ also has a smaller version of this cooler, dubbed simply OCZ Gladiator, which uses a 92mm fan and is, of course, much smaller.
As mentioned the cooler comes with a rifle bearing 120mm PWM fan that spins from 800 to 1500RPM and produces from 19.6 to 26.4 dBA of noise.
The fan comes with rubber anti-vibration mounts which are quite simple yet very effective way of mounting the fan on the heatsink.
The cooler is packed in a rather big and colorful box which shows a fan in the front and has features and specifications listed on its side.
The back side of the box is reserved for a picture of the OCZ Gladiator MAX heatsink and its H.D.T. design of the base.
The heatsink and the fan are safely secured in a large foam block, and the pack includes mounting hardware for all aforementioned AMD and Intel sockets, some generic thermal compound and an installation manual.
OCZ’s Gladiator MAX uses Intel’s standard push-pin mounting system, and at this size and weight it isn’t that good, as you might bend your motherboard since it doesn’t come with a backplate.
Luckily, OCZ offers Force 2 1366/LGA 775 retention brackets for both Gladiator and Vendetta series. They use a more serious spring/screw mounting system with a backplate, and we sincerely recommend getting one if you plan to buy this cooler. The push-pin system works but if you want maximum performance, solid and even mount, than you should keep an eye out for this retention pack, which is unfortunately sold separately, but shouldn’t cost over €10.
The heatsink itself has a unique design, and as you can see from the picture, it is quite different than the traditional block/flat design which can be seen on many other coolers in this price range.
This design directs air towards heatpipes and you can actually feel that the air is sort of pushed in all directions of the cooler, rather than simply to the back. This allows lower airflow resistance and should aid in cooling of the heatpipes and the heatsink.
Due to the H.D.T. design, OCZ has decided to use somewhat larger 8mm heatpipes, which should provide superior heat conduction compared to 6mm pipes. The Heatpipe Direct Touch technology is something that some of the cooler manufacturers that we talked to are trying to avoid as for some reasons it just doesn’t work for them. It has its drawbacks, but the theory of the direct contact with the IHS sounds like a great way of quickly drawing heat off the CPU.
The biggest drawback are probably the gaps in the cooler base, which means that you need some more thermal paste in order to fill those but if the heatpipes are touching the CPU IHS and the cooler has a solid mount we see no reason why this technology shouldn’t work.
The mounting is quite simple if you take the motherboard out of the case, which we recommend you to do, as you will simply have more room. The included push-pin system is quite simple and all you have to do is to screw it down to the heatsink and clip it on your motherboard. Due to the height of the heapipes we had no issues with the clearance on our motherboard which has a quite large northbridge heatsink and we doubt that any motherboard will have any problems with this cooler, but just in case be sure to check out the dimensions before buying it.
The mentioned Force 2 1366/LGA 775 retention bracket is a bit more complicated as you have to mount a back plate and then simply screw the four screw/spring screws to the backplate. Again, we must note that we would like to see this kit bundled with the cooler but we guess that some might settle for the simple push-pin system, and might even prefer it, but for maximum stability and performance Force 2 retention kit is a must.
When placed next to an Intel stock cooler, you can clearly see that the OCZ Gladiator MAX isn’t a small cooler, although it's still a bit smaller than your average 120mm cooler.
All temperatures are measured with RealTemp 2.70, on Intel’s E8400 clocked at reference 3.0GHz.
As you can see from these results, OCZ’s Gladiator MAX sweeps away the competition, and it even outperforms the big AC Freezer Xtreme by 2 degrees in idle and 6 degrees under full load. When you compare it to the Intel’s stock fan, which isn’t really fair but good to know if you plan to ditch your stock cooler, the CPU is 8 degrees cooler in idle and 15 degrees cooler when under load.
The results should be even better on some CPU with a higher TDP, and if you decided to buy that Force 2 retention we believe that it will be just fine with Intel’s Core i7 processors. We must note that the fan was dead silent during testing and even at 1500RPM it is still pretty inaudible, at least compared to a working HDD and bunch of other case fans.
OCZ’s Gladiator MAX is great catch, and it proves that Heatpipe Direct Touch technology works quite well, at least for OCZ. The fact that Force 2 retention pack isn’t bundled with the cooler is a bit disappointing, but we found it listed at €8,90 which isn’t such a big deal. You can also go for the OCZ Socket-775 Force kit that also has a back plate and spring/screw mounting system and which you can find here.
OCZ Gladiator is simply a great cooler as it does its job quite well while it maintains the noise level at a minimum. It comes with a two year warranty which adds value to the complete package, and as you can see, you can only be impressed with its performance.
The OCZ Gladiator MAX cooler can be found all over Europe and the lowest price stands at €29,71 (GBP 27,95) in the UK, or €34,81 in Germany. Just for reference, Noctua’s 120mm coolers sell for over €50 and Freezer Xtreme can be found for around €30. When you pair this price tag and the performance that we saw today, it is perfectly clear why we are recommending it.