DV Hardware review - Cooler Master CM Storm SF-19 Strike Force

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Cooler Master CM Storm SF-19 Strike Force



Testing
To test the performance of the SF-19 I used a 15.6-inch Dell Studio 1558. Cooler Master markets the product as compatible with laptops of up to 19", and as you can see on the picture below there's still plenty of room on the cooler to fit a larger laptop.

SF-19 Strike Force with 
laptop


I compared load temperatures and noise temperatures with and without the cooler to test the SF-19's effectiveness. The temperature of the laptop's CPU, GPU and HDD were monitored with Argus Monitor. Load temperatures were obtained by finishing five benchmark runs in the Unigine Heaven benchmark, first the laptop was placed on a wooden table, then on the SF-19 with fans turned off, next with the fans at minimum and finally with fans at max speed. Throughout the test the ambient temperature remained around 22°C.

Test system specifications:
  • Dell Studio 1558 15.6" laptop
  • Intel Core i5-430M (2.26GHz) processor
  • ATI Mobility Radeon HD 545v 512MB graphics card (a rebadged Mobility Radeon HD 4570)
  • 2x 2GB DDR3-1333
  • 500GB SATA HDD (5400RPM)
  • As is to be expected, even lifting the laptop onto the cooler with the fans deactivated increases cooling efficiency because the open design of the base and the angled construction of the cooler makes it easier for the laptop to dissipate its heat. The difference between the fan at minimum and maximum speed is very small, the HDD and GPU temperatures only drop one degree Celsius while the CPU temperature remains the same regardless of the fans' speed. The cooler is able to drop the CPU's load temperature by 5°C while the GPU's temperature falls by 6°C. The impact on the HDD is less outspoken, the difference is just 3°C.

    Without a cooler the base of the laptop got really hot but after the tests with the fans turned on it barely felt lukewarm.

    SF-19 Strike Force load 
temperatures


    Another aspect of notebook coolers that I find very important is noise, and in this area the SF-19 doesn't score that well. Even at minimum fan speed the cooler is too loud for my liking, and at maximum speed it's freakishly loud. Sound level tests were performed with my AR824 decibel meter at a distance of 30 centimeters from the laptop. The Dell Studio 1558 is a very silent laptop in idle mode, you can barely hear it and the sound meter registered a noise level of 37.8dBA, which is the lowest level that my model can detect. With the cooler at minimum fan speed the noise level rose to 41.7dBA and at maximum fan speed it was 51.6dBA.

    During the load tests the laptop's fan kicks a notch higher and hits a noise level of 42.6dBA without the cooler. With the SF-19's fan speed at minimum the laptop's own cooler had to work less hard, as a result the noise level dropped to 41.5dBA during this load test. With the fan dial at maximum the noise level climbed to 51.6dBA and the noise became so obnoxiously loud that I can't imagine anyone using the SF-19 at maximum fan speed. It's so loud that you'll be having a hard time hearing game audio through your headset.

    SF-19 Strike Force noise


    One feature that I haven't covered yet is the SF-19's light show. Pressing the light switch on the left of the cooler activates the four LED arrays. You can switch between seven colors; red, green, blue, light blue, purple, yellow and white, and it also includes effects like rotating colors.

    SF-19 Strike Force noise


    Conclusion
    As with all laptop coolers, the cooling potential of the SF-19 is quite limited because you're not directly cooling the internal components but the laptop's base. On top of that, most laptops have a plastic base, a material that doesn't excel at dissipating heat. Still, being able to drop temperatures by 5-6°C is a pretty good score. Other good points are the carrying handle, the great comfort when used on your lap and the USB 3.0 hub. The main cons are that you need to use a power adaptor for the fans, and that the fans are loud, even at minimum fan speed. The Cooler Master CM Storm SF-19 Strike Force retails for $79.99, making it one of the most expensive laptop coolers ever made.

    The Good Stuff
  • Comfortable to use on your lap
  • Good cooling capacity
  • Rubber carrying handle
  • Fancy lights
  • Fans easy to replace
  • Four USB 3.0 ports

    The Bad Stuff
  • Fans are very loud
  • Fans require power adapter
  • Build quality could be better

    DV Hardware awards the Cooler Master CM Storm SF-19 Strike Force with a 8/10.

  • Added: April 26th 2011
    Reviewer:
    Score: 8/10
    Related Link: Cooler Master
    Page: 3/3



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