Not too long ago, Thermaltake released their next successor to the Volcano Series SocketA Heatsink, the Extreme Volcano 12. The Volcano 12 is a big step for Thermaltake. Their Volcano series heatsinks have been known to cool very well, but at the expense of your ears. Although most of the Volcano series heatsinks did include a fan speed controller, the settings were preset (e.g. Low, Medium, High) and did not allow for full flexibility of adjusting the fan speed/noise to the userís liking. Recently, Thermaltake started including fan speed adjustment knobs (starting with the Volcano 11).

With the Volcano 12, noise is no longer a factor (unless you want it to be). The Thermaltake Volcano 12 allow users full customization of fan speed (thereby controlling the noise) via a knob that can either be mounted onto an expansion slot or 3.5" bay. The specs of the Volcano 12 is unlike any other Volcano heatsink ever made: it has a 3-blade fan (as opposed the traditional 6-8) and 66 copper fin heatsink (which are a lot of fins, compared to other heatsinks). The street price of the Thermaltake Extreme Volcano 12 is decently priced around $30.

We also have the Gladiator 3 from OCZ. Although OCZ is well known for their RAM, they also produce a small line of Heatsink Fans, case fans, thermal compound, and other cooling related products. The Gladiator 3 comes in two versions, one with a medium-speed tri-LED or a high-speed quiet fan. Although not as fancy and buff as the Volcano 12, the OCZ Gladiator 3 is made of single-piece copper construction, unlike the Volcano 12. The Gladiator 3 is street priced at around $17, which is a really good deal, considering it is a Copper heatsink.


Thermaltake Volcano 12

The Volcano 12 is very well built. It has an extraordinary 66-fin large copper heatsink and also a 3-blade fan (the 3 blades are large and thereby compensates for its lack in numbers). The Volcano 12 lets you control the speed of the fan 3 ways: through a control knob (which can either be mounted on an expansion slot or a 3.5" bay), set at full speed via a jumper, or using a heat sensor placed under the CPU (which makes the temperature of the CPU control the fan speed/noise).


1 Volcano 12 Heatsink fan

1 3.5" bay control knob and holster

1 Expansion slot control knob

1 Quick instructions manual (not pictured)

1 A jumper (for setting the fan on full speed)

1 Small bag thermal compound


The fan amazingly only has 3 fan blades (whereas most fans usually only have 6-8 blades). The blades are larger to compensate for its small number. The thickness of the fan itself is also thicker; it measures 33mm (opposed to the standard 25mm). The fan uses a molex connector (which connects to the power supply directly) to power itself and uses a 3-pin female connector to let your motherboard detect the speed at which the fan is going at.


Heatsink Surface:

The base of the heatsink wasnít anything special. The surface was not as shiny as most heatsinks are and wasnít that smooth. The fact that the surface was not smooth shouldnít prove to be a problem, since when applying thermal compound, the compound will fill the microscopic valleys that causes the surface to not be smooth. When placing a dime in front of the base of the heatsink, no solid reflection could be seen. It probably wouldnít decrease performance, but it would have been nice if Thermaltake lapped their heatsink base. Their heatsink base also has an engraving that says, which gives this heatsink a nice touch. Other engravings of the similar sort can be found on other parts of the heatsink.


The fins of the heatsink are very thin compacted, which allowed the Volcano 12 to have 66 fins on its heatsink. The OCZ Gladiator 3 only had 40 fins in comparision. Fins help to dissipate heat and basically the more there are, the better it dissipates heat.



While installing the heatsink, I did encounter some difficulties. First of all, the heatsink is large and might be a problem if your motherboard has some capacitators nearby your socket, since the heatsink might come in contact with the capacitaters. Secondly, the design of the Volcano 12 does not allow users the flexibility to move the "left" clip (the one without the screwdriver insertion hole) horizontally, which makes it hard to secure that clip onto the socket holsters. I had to cover the socket clip holsters with the heatsink in order for me to secure the clip onto the socket (most heatsinks never cover the socketís clip holders). After securing that one side of the clip onto the socket, everything else was simple. The only thing left was to use a flat-head screwdriver and push down and inward the other clip so that the clip would secure itself onto the clip holders (the side where it says "Socket A"). With the heatsink fit snugly on the CPU, all I had to do was plug in the fan control knob (I used the expansion slot one, since I donít have an available 3.5" bay) to the fan and everything was good to go.

OCZ Gladiator 3

The Gladiator 3 is more of a simple heatsink fan. It is small and therefore there are no worries about it being to big for it to not fit on your motherboard. The only tradeoff with its small size is that it would mean that the size of the heatsink itself is small and in general, the bigger the heatsink, the better it cools (and the smaller the heatsink, the lower the performance). There was no fan speed controller included, unlike the Volcano 12. It really wasnít nesccesary anyways, since both the LED Fan and Silent Fan version of the Gladiator 3 are quiet. It was quite disappointing to only find the heatsink fan and some thermal compound in the box and nothing else. OCZ tends to not include instructions for their products and users who donít know how to install a heatsink onto their CPU may have to look online for guides on how to do so. This was quite disappointing since Thermaltake was able to include instructions while OCZ was not.


1 Gladiator 3 Heatsink Fan (either LED Fan or Black Quiet Fan)

1 Small Bag Thermal Compound



The Gladiator comes in two versions: one with a LED fan and one with a black fan (which is more quiet than the LED Fan). Both are 60mm in diameter, which means that the fans are very small and are the same size as the AMD Stock coolers, at least diameter wise. When using the LED Fan, I found the colors to be quite solid but not fitting for modders, since the Tri-Color would look weird among the other uniformed color theme that most modders have in their case (e.g. blue LED case fanes, blue cathode lights, blue EL wire, blue UV ATA cables, etc), however that is just my opinion. Nonetheless, the colors emitting from the fan is solid and strong. Both fans were quiet but the black fan produced practically no sound while the LED fan produced a very small amount of sound. All in all, they are very silent and since they make very little sound, I would recommend getting the LED fan instead of the black one, since the LED fan cools better (as you will see in the Performance section of the review). The LED fan is powered by a 3-pin conector that connects to the motherboard whereas the black silent fan uses a molex connector and is powered by the power supply directly. The black fanís speed, unfortunately, cannot be monitored by the motherboard since it does not use a 3-pin connector.

Heatsink Surface:

Unlike the Thermaltake Volcano 12, the OCZ Gladiator 3 has a very smooth and shiny copper base. A clear reflection could be seen on the surface when placing a dime in front of it. I did notice some scratches on the surface, but that is really nothing to worry about, since it wouldnít affect performance (the thermal compound would fill the microscopic valley that the scratches created).


The fins are of single piece construction and are made of copper. There are 40 fins on each side of the heatsink. The fins were somewhat thicker than those of the Volcano 12ís, but not as numerous.


Installing the Gladiator was simple and easy. Both sides of the clip were "flexible" unlike the Volcano 12, where one side of the clip could not be moved horizontally. All I had to do was secure one side of the clip to the socket, and then secure the other side. Afterwards I just had to plug in the fan to the motherboard (or power supply, depending on which fan you are using) and everything was done.

Test Setup


AMD Athlon XP 2800+ Barton (Overclocked to Athlon XP 3200+ 200x11)


Gigabyte GA-7N400 Pro2 nForce2 Ultra 400

Graphics Card

XFX GeForceFX 5900

Hard Drive

Western Digital 200GB w/ 8 MB Cache


Corsair TwinX1024-3200LLPRO 1GB PC3200 Dual Channel

Optical Drives

Memorex Dual-X Dual Format Burner

TDK IndiDVD 440N DVD Burner


Ahanix dboX

CPU Cooling

CoolerMaster Aero 7 Lite HSF

OCZ Gladiator 3

Thermaltake Extreme Volcano 12

Operating System

Windows XP Professional w/ Service Pack 1

Power Supply

Allied 400W PSU w/ Bottom Intake

Prime95 Torture Test was used to put CPU under load for one hour each test.

When idling, the computer was left to do nothing for an hour.

Temperatures were read by Gigabyte EasyTune4 and verified with Speedfan 4.09

Here is a picture of the two heatsinks compared. The size of the Volcano 12 is much bigger than the Gladiator 3 a you can see by the picture.

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound was used for testing all heatsink fans.


As you can see, the Volcano 12 at its maximum fan speed managed to cool the best during both idle and load state. The only drawback was that the fan is VERY LOUD. The sound was a loud hum (which is always better than those loud screeching sounds other heatsinks make when set at maximum RPM) but nonetheless very annoying.

The Volcano 12 at 3500RPM provided the best noise/cooling ratio because it provided adequate cooling and at the same time was quiet. It performed on par with the OCZ Gladiator 3 with the LED fan. Unlike the LED fan version of the Gladiator 3, the high speed silent black fan version of the Gladiator 3 performed the poorest compared to the CoolerMaster Aero 7 Lite and the Thermaltake Volcano 12 (even at their lowest settings). The LED Gladiator 3 cooled much better than the Silent Black fan version of the Gladiator 3 and since the LED fan was almost as silent as the black fan, I recommend getting the version of the Gladiator 3 with the LED fan.

The Gladiator 3 (LED fan version) tied in second place with the Volcano 12 @ 3500RPM. Considering the fact that the Gladiator 3 costs almost half as much as the Volcano 12, the Gladiator 3 performed exceptionally well and should be considered for both overclockers and conventional users alike.

When at the lowest setting, the Volcano 12 was as silent but did drag behind cooling wise.


The Thermaltake Volcano 12 performed exceptionally well due in part to its numerous fins and big fan. It cooled the best (set at 5500RPM Ė maximum setting) when compared to the Gladiator 3 and CoolerMaster Aero 7 Lite. The only drawback when it was running at its maximum RPM was the loud noise that was produced, which made a very annoying and irritating loud hum.. At its medium setting of 3500RPM, the Volcano 12 was quiet and even though it did not provide as much cooling as it did at 5500RPM, it provided more than enough adequate cooling and did not hurt the ears, making it the ideal RPM setting for the Volcano 12. When set at its minimum of 2000RPM, the Volcano 12 dragged behind and did not provide that adequate an amount of cooling. Iíd also like to note that that the Volcano 12 @ 3500RPM did not produce much more noise than it did @ 2000RPM and since the Volcano 12 cooled much better at 3500RPM, I highly recommend not running the Volcano 12 @ 2000RPM. The Volcano 12 gives a lot of head room for overclockers since the fan speed can always be adjusted when the CPU is heating up very badly. It is also ideal for the people who have the flexibility to control the noise of their heatsinks.

The OCZ Gladiator 3 performed very well when using the LED fan and was tied in performance with the Volcano 12 @3500RPM. Both the LED Fan version and Black silent fan version of the Gladiator 3 were very quiet however the black fan version of the Gladiator was quieter than the LED fan, but by just a little. It is recommended that when users plan to buy this heatsink, they should choose the LED fan version since it cools much better and does not produce much more sound than that of the black fan version. The LED version of the Gladiator 3 cooled exceptionally well however the cooling of the black fan version was lacking.

Thermaltake Extreme Volcano 12:



SLRating: 9.5/10 Editorís Choice

OCZ Gladiator 3 (LED Fan Version)



SLRating: 9/10


OCZ Gladiator 3 (Black Fan Version)



SLRating: 7/10

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