Cooler Master Storm SF-19 Strike Force Notebook Cooler

Author
Logan King
Editor
Aron Schatz
Posted
December 8, 2010
Manufacturer
Cooler Master
Product Page
SF-19 Strike Force
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41936
Cooler Master Storm SF-19 Strike Force Notebook Cooler
The Cooler Storm SF-19 offers performance that could best be described as fantastic. However, there are some major drawbacks in practicality that keep the cooler a niche product.

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Page 1
Introduction

Generally, performance and usability sit on opposite ends of a sliding scale. You can buy a Ferrari, but it wouldn't be useful day to day. You could buy a Volvo and give up performance for practicality. In regards to notebook coolers, most products tend to be somewhere along the middle. However, the market niche for a performance-oriented cooler still exists. ASE Labs has Cooler Master's recent entry into that market, the SF-19 Strike Force.

About Cooler Master

Quote

Cooler Master was founded with the mission of providing the industry's best thermal solutions. Since its establishment a decade ago, the company has remained faithful to this mission, emerging as a world leader in products and services for companies dealing with devices where heat issues must be resolved.

In pursuing this mission, Cooler Master is absolutely committed to delivering solutions that precisely meet customer requirements for features, performance, and quality. Moreover, we strive to be a reliable long-term partner for our customers that they can truly depend on. Cooler Master aims to be the first and foremost name that comes to mind for companies around the world seeking thermal solutions, and seeks to build such a reputation through outstanding technology, sophisticated design, and superior service.

Cooler Master's current business encompasses a comprehensive lineup of thermal solutions for a full range of applications. Our products range from heat sinks and fans to component housing, chassis, and ducting for computers, industrial machinery, telecommunications equipment, and many other devices.

A critical component of Cooler Master's ability to successfully pursue its mission is an unstinting commitment to quality, as demonstrated by the ISO 9001 certification granted to its main manufacturing plant in Taiwan. We have also enforced ISO guidelines and is in the process of applying for ISO 9002 certification at its second and third plants, located in China. Cooler Master has also implemented a number of analytical and testing protocols to ensure top quality, including at subcontractors, to further ensure thorough quality control. Moreover, Cooler Master's dedication to quality extends beyond manufacturing to every aspect of its operation, including service.

http://www.coolermaster-usa.com/contact.php?page_id=2


Packaging

The SF-19 comes in a very imposing, very large package. It has a similar design to the rest of the Cooler Master Storm product range, with a primarily black and gray design with red and white accents on the outer portions. The front of the box shows a picture of the cooler from an angle, and it also proudly displays the USB 3.0 functionality.

Packaging Front


The rear of the box shows a small spec list, as well as another picture of the cooler.

Packaging Rear


The packaging is a hinged design, with a small plastic window underneath. The inside flap also has a more detailed inventory of the features and specifications.

Packaging Clamshell
Page 2
Specifications

  • Model - SGA-6000-KKYF1
  • Net Weight - 1.98kg / 4.37 lb
  • Dimension (H*W*D) - 500 x 340 x 75 mm (19.7 inch x13.4 inch x 2.9 inch)
  • Cooling System - Two 140 x 140 x 25 mm fans, 1200-2600 RPM
  • Material - Reinforced Anti-slip Rubber/ABS Plastic/Enhanced Mesh Structure
  • Color - Black
  • Power Connector - DC 12V / 2.5A adapter
  • USB port - Advanced USB 3.0 x 4
  • USB Connector - USB Micro-B
  • Notebooks Supported - Up To 19"
  • Newegg Link, Amazon Link


As you can see, the exterior dimensions of the box don't lie. This thing is large, heavy, and uses up some serious power.

Marketing Summary

Quote

With the latest trend in mobile gaming, extreme gamers continue to seek for high performing gaming notebooks to match the specifications needed to play their game. However, not all laptops are built with adequate thermal solution, even performance laptops from well know companies can overheat, lead to unfavorable in-game lags, and possibly pose permanent hardware damage. CM Storm unveils the SF-19 laptop cooler to solve this problem, crafted to take all laptop performances to the next level.

To protect the gamers’ most fortifiable gear while under massive game play, the SF-19 offers an ultra heat dissipation surface made out of strengthened mesh for all laptop sizes, featuring 2 x 140mm adjustable turbine fans, specially engineered to provide unprecedented airflow and system optimization.

Designed with innovation, SF-19 is equipped with 4 advanced USB 3.0 ports which is future proof for all devices such as high speed hard drives, high performance gaming mouse, headset and peripherals that needs execution of high speed transfer rates.

Styling with the Multi-Light Shader™, the laptop is accompanied with 7 colored light profiles for the ultimate in-game ambience. Geared up to dock all high-end notebooks, the SF-19 fits the best gaming notebooks in the market today. Note: SF-19 even accommodates the widescreen 19" gaming notebooks. USB 2.0 version is also available.


Package Contents

Flipping open the interior of the packaging reveals the SF-19, in all its glory, covered by a large amount of heavy-duty foam padding. One interesting trick that Cooler Master did with the design of the inside of the box is raise the cooler up off the bottom so they could package all of the accessories underneath it.

Cooler Padding


Aside from the cooler itself, included in the box is the required power adapter, the USB Micro cable, and the instruction manual. The power adapter has a nifty design that has the plug portion slide off when not in use to make storage less of a hassle.

Packaging Contents
Page 3
Cooler Master Storm SF-19 Strike Force

The cooler itself has an impressive, imposing design. The overall impression that we get from it is something like a stealth plane, which is what Cooler Master seemed to be going for. Everything you can touch on it gives off a nice quality feel, and there are many nice little design touches that elevate the design as a whole that much higher.

CM Storm SF-19


For example, at each corner of the cooler, there are large rubber mounts to place your laptop on so it doesn't slide around. However, the embossed Cooler Master Storm logo at the top center of the cooler is made out of the same material which allows the cooler to be usable with laptops smaller than the rubber mounts along the outside.

CM Storm Logo


Moving to the right side of the cooler, we can see the 4 USB 3.0 ports and the power adapter plug. The USB plug that goes to the computer is a standard USB 3.0 Micro-B plug, so it can be replaced with any similar USB 3.0 Micro-B adapter cable if something happens to the one included.

USB 3.0 Hub


At the back of the cooler we can see the outer edge of the rubber feet, and another of the nifty details of the design of the SF-19. The rubber feet have grooves cut into them for the purposes of running wires through, so if your laptop doesn't have USB ports on the right side you can run the USB cable without worrying about it getting in the way. These grooves are cut into all of the rubber mounts, including the two on the bottom, which is a nice touch.

SF-19 3/4 View


On the left side of the cooler, we can see the fan and LED controls. The two chrome buttons are for controlling the LEDs, with one of them shutting them off and the other cycling through them. The inline switch is for controlling the fan speeds, but it also turns them off. One nifty feature about the LEDs is that they are tied into the fan speeds. At low fan speeds, the lights slowly pulse in and out. However, turn the fans up and the lights stay solid in whatever color you selected them to be in.

LED and Fan Controller


Looking at the bottom of the cooler gives you a good idea of how performance-oriented the cooler is. It has the same large rubber feet that the top has, but of particular interest is the door that encloses the fans from the outside. It is a simple and durable trapdoor-style opening allowing for easy access so you can move the fans around easily. There is also a grab handle built into the bottom side of the Cooler Master Storm logo.

SF-19 Bottom View


Pulling back the door better reveals the fans as well as the PCB that the fan controller is connected to. The plugs used for the fans are standard 3-pin Molex Fan plugs, and there are four of them included so you can customize the cooling for your laptop even further.

SF-19 Fan Compartment
Page 4
Testing

In order to get a good idea of how effective the SF-19 Strike Force was at cooling, we put it through a series of tests. Each test was using Avidemux to transcode an AVI/MP3 movie into a MP4/AAC movie. Each test was run with the priority set to maximum. What this basically means is that the CPU was running at 100% for about 50 minutes in each test. The test system was a Dell XPS M1710 laptop with an Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 CPU, 4GB of RAM, an nVidia GeForce 7950 GTX, and Windows 7 Professional 32-bit. The M1710 has five different settings for the internal fans: Both fans off; one fan on "low" (around 1500RPM), one off; both fans on "low;" one fan on "high" (around 3600 RPM), one on "low"; and both fans on "high."

Temperatures were recorded with I8kfanGUI, a third party program designed to read the GPU, CPU, chipset and RAM temperatures of Dell Inspiron laptops, and used as an alternative fan controller to the one built into the BIOS. While there were thoughts of testing the temperatures that occurred during gaming, the notion was dismissed due to the lack of consistency in the testing variables. Finally, because this cooler has the ability to lower the fan speed, we also tested how well the SF-19 Strike Force worked on its lowest and its highest speed settings.

Temperature Testing Results (all numbers in °C unless noted otherwise)

Name
Value
Percentage
CPU Temperature At Idle
Laptop Flat On Desk 
45
 
Laptop on SF-19: Fan On Low 
46
 
Laptop on SF-19: Fan On High 
41
 
CPU Temperature Min During Full Load
Laptop Flat On Desk 
75
 
Laptop on SF-19: Fan On Low 
56
 
Laptop on SF-19: Fan On High 
51
 
CPU Temperature Max During Full Load
Laptop Flat On Desk 
79
 
Laptop on SF-19: Fan On Low 
81
 
Laptop on SF-19: Fan On High 
80
 
Time to Reach 75°C From Peak Temp During Full Load (in Seconds)
Laptop Flat On Desk 
97
 
Laptop on SF-19: Fan On Low 
41
 
Laptop on SF-19: Fan On High 
26
 
Time to Reach Max Temperature During Full Load (in Seconds)
Laptop Flat On Desk 
48
 
Laptop on SF-19: Fan On Low 
84
 
Laptop on SF-19: Fan On High 
131
 


As you can see, the SF-19 Strike Force is an absolute monster when it comes to performance. It pumps out pretty ridiculous performance, especially with the internal fans working in tandem with it. For example, take a close look at the idle temperatures. They may not seem that impressive with the cooler on, but keep in mind that those are the temperatures that the laptop is running at with the internal fans off, and the normal idle temperature is with the internal fans on. Another notable bit of performance is the time taken to reach the peak temperature during full load. With the laptop simply running by itself, it took under a minute for it to reach the peak temperature. However, with the laptop running the SF-19, it took well over two minutes to reach peak temperature. Quite a difference.

There are some drawbacks to this, though. First of all, this is not really a passive cooler by any means. While most active coolers can be used passively and still get decent performance, the SF-19 doesn't seem to have been made with such a thing in mind, particularly considering the plastic construction and large rubber feet. Of course, this should be rather obvious considering the hefty power adapter that it uses. It is for this reason that we didn't do any tests of the cooler without the fans on.

Finally, although the SF-19 does boast some impressive performance, it also boasts some pretty loud noise as well. The lowest setting isn't really that bad. The fans move air efficiently, and aren't much louder than the internal fans. It actually sounds somewhat like a muted airplane propeller, with a deep kind of growl that is much easier to ignore than the internal fans are at any speed. However, with the fans turned all the way up, the noise begins approaching a level similar to a handheld vacuum cleaner.
Page 5
Use

Well, the SF-19 Strike Force certainly has performance up its sleeve. But how easy is it to actually use? Well, that really depends on what you want from it. The most obvious knock against it is the size and weight. When Cooler Master say it is for up to 19" laptops, they aren't joking around. Even a laptop as intimidating to see as the test XPS M1710 is completely dwarfed in all dimensions by the cooler. You certainly won't be taking it with you anywhere without some effort, in any case.

SF-19 in Use


That being said, most people with laptops exceeding 17 inches barely carry them around anyways, so it isn't so much a flaw as it is meeting the expectations of the target market. Similarly, the fans on this get really loud at max speed. On the other hand, the gamers that buy laptops that need these sort of things usually have headsets, and the laptops themselves aren't too quiet under high load situations either.

It really is an odd set of circumstances. For any normal person the SF-19 represents such a huge amount of overkill for what they would need it to do. On the other hand, for the kind of person who would conceivably need something like this not only would be able to overlook the drawbacks, but it is almost as if they wouldn't exist for them anyways. Think of it like having a Ferrari as your only car, but all of the roads between your house and wherever you go are racetracks with no speed limits. The drawbacks are still there, but you would never likely use the item in a way that you would notice them.

One thing to note: During our testing, we discovered something fiddly with the USB hub. We tested several peripherals with it, ranging from Playstation 3 controllers to external hard drives to card readers to several types of USB flash drive. All of the things tested with it worked without flaw, with the exception of a Lexar JumpDrive TwistTurn 4GB USB flash drive. It would randomly reset itself and act as if it had been removed and then plugged back in. We were unable to replicate this with any other peripheral, but it consistently did it with the Lexar no matter what we tried. While this actually points towards some incompatibility with the flash drive itself, it is an interesting thing to see nonetheless.

Conclusion

The Cooler Master Storm SF-19 Strike Force is a bit of an odd duck. It has the performance to back up its claims, but it does so at the cost of many things that people tend to associate with a more "typical" laptop cooler. And at a price of around $80 as we go to press (Newegg Link, Amazon Link), it is also quite a bit more expensive than a typical laptop cooler. At the same time, though, the people in the market for a cooler such as this don't tend to have a "typical" laptop. In the end, we at ASE Labs can certainly recommend the Cooler Master Storm SF-19 Strike Force. However, just make sure that the equipment you are using it with justifies the extra costs.

ASE Labs would like to thank Cooler Master for making this review possible.

Comments

images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/04/4367l9p.jpg Preview Photo images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/07/4371mf8.jpg Packaging Front images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/07/4372mu8.jpg Packaging Rear images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/07/4373md3.jpg Packaging Clamshell images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/07/4374m6n.jpg Cooler Padding images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/07/4375m08.jpg Packaging Contents images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/07/4376m33.jpg CM Storm SF-19 images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/07/4377mu8.jpg CM Storm Logo images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/07/4378m6n.jpg USB 3.0 Hub images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/07/4379mhd.jpg SF-19 3/4 View images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/07/4380mwd.jpg SF-19 Bottom View images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/07/4381mkx.jpg LED and Fan Controller images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/08/4391m1n.jpg SF-19 in Use images/siteimages/upload/2010/12/08/4392mrd.jpg SF-19 Fan Compartment

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