Thermalright Contac 29 CPU Cooler Review

Today I'll be showing you Thermaltake's Contac 29 which combines performance and silence in a heatpipe tower package. Priced at $36.99 plus shipping the Contac 29 sits around what I'd consider to be the mid-range price bracket. I must say the majority of the performance oriented heatsinks in the $25 to $50 price bracket all look awfully similar. Below is an artsy image of the Thermaltake Contac 29 heatsink with its bright orange fan.

Thermaltake Contac 29

The Contac 29 is equipped with three 8mm heatpipes that make direct contact with the integrated heatspreader included in modern processors. Pressed into 54 aluminum fins with a 12 fin per inch spacing, the Contac 29 sits roughly 6 and 1/4 inches or 160mm tall from the base to the top of the heatpipes. The fins are 120mm wide to coincide with the 120mm wide fan bundled with the package. The fins themselves are just under 2 inches or 50mm thick. Combined with the 25mm thick fan brings the heatsink to 3 inches or 75mm thick. In the image above you can barely make out the rubber connectors that secure the fan to the heatsink while eliminating any vibrations from the fan.

Thermaltake Contac 29 System Image

Speaking of the fan, it is a 120mm x 120mm x 25mm fan that spins at a maximum of 2000 rpm while pulling 2.28 watts. Using the 4 pin connector on my EVGA Classified I found the fan to spin at 1980 rpm at 100%, 1160 rpm at 50%, and 730 rpm at 25%. Unfortunately there aren't any airflow details regarding the fan but they do rate it at 15 to 33.2 dba which I find wholly believable. Lastly, the Thermaltake states the heatsink weighs 558 grams. Since I haven't got a scale with which to measure this I am going to presume this includes the fan also. Now let's take a look at the heatsink and packaging.

Contac 29 Images

Thermaltake Contac 29 Front

From the front you can see how the heatpipes are formed into the base. In the center of the base are two parralel grooves which are part of the mount for AMD's AM2/AM2+/AM3 socket. For LGA775/LGA1156/LGA1366 there is a push-pin system that I will show later.

Thermaltake Contac 29 Side

From the side you can see how the sides of the fins are bent at 90 degree angles to channel the air through the heatsink forcing the air to pass through the entire heatsink.

Thermaltake Contac 29 Back

From the back you can see the various patches of dead space within the heatsink. The most notable deadspace is caused by the motor hub of the fan. Another significant deadspace is caused by the heatpipes themselves which are arranged in a parallel row.

Thermaltake Contac 29 Base

Looking at the base reveals a few of the more important bits of the heatsink. Most notably is the base itself which is rather flat judging by my patented finger rubbing technique. At the top of the picture you can see the rubber attachment holding the fan to the heatsink. Around the base you can see the four holes used to secure the push-pins used for mounting the heatsink to Intel platforms. 

Thermaltake Contac 29 Top

The fins on the Thermaltake Contac 29 have a raised Tt logo that is similar to the Thermaltake logo printed on the box the heatsink shipped in. Here you can also see how the edge of the fins are notched that I found to be aesthetically pleasing when viewed from a distance of three to five feet.


Contac 29 Box and Mount

Thermaltake Contac 29 Box

The box for the Contac 29 is what I'd consider to be stunningly simple. My only beef with the box art is the gigantic 8 heat pipe badge. Prior to putting an iota of thought into this I though "ahh, 8 heatpipes?!" and then I noticed the little symbol next to the heatpipes which sort of indicates diameter. Instead of this obscure symbol why not put 8 mm heat pipes? Reduces confusion and is more easily understood.

Thermaltake Contac 29 Packing

The heatsink was securely packed away with foam behind the heatsink to protect the fins from any rough handling in shipping. Tucked away in the cardboard package was the mounting hardware indicated below.

Thermaltake Contac 29 Instructions and Mount

The assorted bits and bobs used for mounting the heatsink along with some handy instructions and a warranty card. You can see the angled wedge for AMD motherboards, the four push-pins for Intel motherboards, the four spare fan fasteners, and a tube of thermal grease.

Thermaltake Contac 29 Pushpin Mount

Here you can see how the push-pin bracket attaches to the heatsink and how the push-pins secure to the mounting holes on the board.

Test Configuration

Thermaltake Contac 29 System Image

Thermaltake Contac 29 and Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus

Thermaltake Contac 29 on the left, Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus on the right.

For today's testing I'll be using my Intel X58 setup with a temperature probe secured against the processor IHS to measure IHS temperatures. Windows 7 Professional x64 was used with processor loading performed by executing individual Super Pi 32M threads. Testing was performed at a one, two, four, and eight threads with fan speeds at 25%, 50%, and 100%. To make things a bit more interesting the CPU was run at 4GHz with 1.35vcpu, 1.30vtt, and 1.65vdimm with the memory at DDR3-2000 and the uncore at 4GHz. Temperatures were measured by CoreTemp 0.99.5 and with my UEI DT302 and the factory k-type probe. Arctic Silver Ceramique was the thermal grease used for both the processor and the IHS probe. Lastly a half-pea sized dab of Ceramique was applied to the center of the IHS. For each heatsink the system was warmed up to 80C after which it was rotated slightly to thin the thermal grease. For temperature measuring each value was recorded after 5 minutes of the indicated loading. For instance, after 5 minutes of sitting at idle in Windows the measurement for idle was recorded.

Intel X58 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Xeon w3570

Motherboard

EVGA X58 E760 Classified

Memory

Corsair Dominator GT DDR3-2000 C7 3x2GB

Video Card

Asus HD 4890 1GB

Hard Drive

Seagate 7200.10 320GB

Case

Dimastech Bench Table Hard V2

Cooling

Thermaltake Contac 29

Power Supply

Corsair HX1000

Operating System

Windows 7 Professional x64

Test Results

Thermaltake Contac 29 Test Results

Thermaltake Contac 29 Test Results

I mentioned the test methodology on the previous page but I'll quickly cover it again for those of you who skip straight to the results. The CPU was run at 4GHz with 1.35vcore, 1.30vtt, and 1.65vdimm. The memory was run at DDR3-2000C7 with the IMC at 4GHz. Loading was performed by executing individual threads of Super Pi 32M with the temperature measurement occurring after 5 minutes of testing.

The first thing that struck me was the vast delta between the IHS temperatures and the core temperatures. At idle it could be as low as 15 degrees but under heavy loads it could exceed 40 degrees. The graphs also show precisely how worthless the stock Intel heatsink is for overclocking. The two mid-range heatsinks were rather close through all the testing with the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus running slightly cooler through the majority of the tests. I figure the 50% fan speed tests were most important as they show a nice compromise between noise and performance. For the IHS testing the Thermaltake Contac 29 ran just ever so slightly warmer with the delta between the two heatsinks at under a degree through all the tests. For the Core Temp results the delta was a bit larger at 2 degrees except for the 8 thread test where the limits of the thermal diode killed the accuracy of the readings.

Contac 29 Conclusion

Of the two heatsinks compared today the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus was the cheaper of the two priced at $37.55 versus $43.97 for the Thermaltake Contac 29. This isn't a surprise though considering how the Hyper 212 Plus weighs 626g versus 558g for the Contac 29. The two fans were similarly matched up with regards to RPM and noise but since I haven't got airflow measurements for the Contac 29's fan I cannot declare if one fan was better than the other. Between the two heatsinks the only major performance difference was the usage of 4 6mm heatpipes on the Hyper 212 Plus versus 3 8mm heatpipes on the Contac 29. Perhaps in this instance more is better?

Thermaltake Contac 29 and Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus

Thermaltake Contac 29 on the left, Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus on the right.

One thoroughly frustrating feature of the Contac 29 was the mounting system for Intel motherboards. Just because Intel uses push-pins doesn't make them a satisfactory mounting solution. I understand normal users will not frequently change out their heatsinks but even on the first attempt I thought I was going to have to snap my board in half in order for the pushpin to fully deploy. I really wish Thermaltake had spent the time to deploy an easier mounting solution. Requiring a screw driver to mount a heatsink is perfectly fine. If you are applying a 3rd party heatsink to your build surely you have a screwdriver kicking around somewhere.

Thermaltake Contac 29

Not that it matters much but Thermaltake offers a three year warranty for their CPU heatsinks. Besides the fan there are no moving parts so outside of a manufacturing defect I see no reason why the warranty would need to be called into service. While heatsinks are incredibly simple I must say the machining and assembly of the Contac 29 was superb. The extruded copper fins were also quite aesthetically pleasing with their jagged edges. Pile that on top of the signature orange Thermaltake fan and you have a heatsink that tries to standout from the sea of heatpipe towers on the market. I imagine the margins are already brutally thin in this price range but seeing how the Hyper 212 Plus was both cheaper and performed ever so slightly better it would be nice to see the Contac 29 drop a tad bit in price to reflect this. In the end it is still leaps and bounds ahead of the stock Intel heatsink and shouldn't immediately be overlooked if you are shopping for a 3rd party heatsink.

Legit Bottom Line: The Thermaltake Contac 29 provides a compromise of performance and noise at a price that won't break the bank.