Thermaltake Engine 17 cools 35-W CPUs with 17 mm of stature

We've already seen a few coolers based on Sandia Labs' Air Bearing Heat Exchanger, most notably Thermaltake's Engine 27. That cooler's name is meaningful: it's only 27 mm (just over 1″) tall. If you don't have that much room to spare for a CPU cooler, don't worry, as Thermaltake can still hook you up. The company just released the Engine 17 CPU cooler, and yes, it's only 17 mm tall.

Thermaltake Engine 17 low-profile CPU cooler

While these coolers are certainly inspired by the Sandia Labs archetype, they're a lot closer to the design pioneered by Coolchip. A metal air circulator in the center of the cooler acts both as fan and as additional surface area to dissipate heat. This design is significantly safer than the Sandia original, where the whole contraption was a single rotating impeller.

It's difficult to overstate how tiny this cooler is. In Thermaltake's demo images, it's shorter than the RAM on the motherboard. Thermaltake says that due to its minuscule size, the Engine 17 is limited to low-power chips with TDPs of 35 W and below. These days, that's still enough for some pretty serious hardware, like a Ryzen 5 2400GE. The cooler will fit in 1U server chassis and just about any HTPC case, too.

The underside of the Engine 17's impeller

Thermaltake says that the Engine 17 is released and available now, but we couldn't actually find it at e-tail yet. The company didn't tell us how much the cooler would cost, but we reckon it should be a little cheaper than the Engine 27's $46 price

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    • DarkMikaru
    • 1 year ago

    Where the heck was this when I was struggling with building my Silverston Sugo SG13?! LoL That case has no clearance for a standard CPU cooler of any kind and I had to go with a CLC to make things work.

    Really looking forward to the reviews on this thing. Very interesting.

      • Chrispy_
      • 1 year ago

      Reviews for its bigger sibling (Engine 27) aren’t good.

      Yes, this may be only 17mm tall but it’s pointless if it’s no good at cooling. The SG13 should have ample room for a Noctua NH-L9i or Cryorig C7 at 37mm and 47mm tall respectively.

      It’s getting hard to find DDR4 that’s shorter than that these days.

    • Goty
    • 1 year ago

    I wonder what the clips on the fan blades are for? Balancing issues?

      • Chrispy_
      • 1 year ago

      Yes. The metal rotor is much heavier than a plastic fan blade and it spins at a higher RPM too, so it’s important they’re balanced.

      It’s not just about noise and vibration though, the bushings are floating (for the air bearing to work) so if it is out of balance by enough it’ll potentially wobble its way loose.

    • Krogoth
    • 1 year ago

    It reminds me of the golden orb family albeit after getting a massive trim.

      • Starfalcon
      • 1 year ago

      Tt had the Orb coolers for years, now they have a way to bring them back. They were everywhere back in the day, and the Golden orb coolers were very good at cracking cores on P3 chips. Heck they came out with a huge Orb cooler for the thunderbird athlon that was 6 inches or so high with 2 fans inside. That was a terrible cooler, that could barely keep a 1.0 Ghz athlon from overheating….and the entrance of the Delta Black Label fan put the Orb coolers out to pasture for good.

        • RAGEPRO
        • 1 year ago

        I wonder what ever happened to Global Win.

          • ozzuneoj
          • 1 year ago

          Global Fail?

    • psuedonymous
    • 1 year ago

    The problem with the Termaltake-engineered lookalikes of the Sandia cooler is they lack the critical component of the Sandia cooler: the precision air-bearing mount for the ‘fansink’ that allows the fansink to rotate while still remaining thermally coupled to the baseplate. This is a precision-fit part leaving a microscopic gap between the numerous ‘flutes’ of the bearing. The Thermaltake design instead uses a traditional air-bearing with MUCH looser tolerances, so there is almost no thermal transfer between the base of the heatsink and the metal fan, with the surrounding fixed fins doing almost the entire job of actual cooling.

    Not to mention the [url=https://www.chronicle.com/article/Who-Deserves-MITs-200000/128810<]accusations of IP theft from Sandia Labs by Coolchip[/url<], which may mean the Coolchip design lacks the Sandia cooler's precision air bearing design in the first place.

      • Waco
      • 1 year ago

      That was my first thought too – it looks cool, but I’m pretty sure the same mechanisms aren’t at work here. If they were, the outer ring should be more “fan blade” instead of a radiator.

    • pirate_panda
    • 1 year ago

    From what I remember the Engine 27 was neither particularly good at cooling or quiet, it was simply smaller than the competition like the Noctua NH L9. I’m at a loss trying to think of a scenario where even the Engine 27 is too tall to use.

    • windwalker
    • 1 year ago

    Would (something like) this be appropriate to use in laptops?

      • Ethyriel
      • 1 year ago

      Usually laptops need something quite directional.

        • brucethemoose
        • 1 year ago

        Slap a plastic shroud on like a GPU blower, and it would be directional.

        I can envision using this in the top left or right corner of a laptop, sucking air in from just above the keyboard and blowing it out both the side and the back.

          • DPete27
          • 1 year ago

          Some gaming laptops already do that with conventional plastic centrifugal fans and a heatsink in each direction.

      • Kougar
      • 1 year ago

      Since the fan “blade” is a single piece of metal I’m not sure about the weight. A few knocks or a drop of the laptop with the fan at speed might pop the impeller off the spindle? I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be comfortable with that kind of setup in a mobile device.

    • JosiahBradley
    • 1 year ago

    Meet the 2400GE thread grinder!

      • chuckula
      • 1 year ago

      Well if the chip is named after GE that thing almost passes for a turbofan intake.

    • brucethemoose
    • 1 year ago

    This would be a fantastic blender attachment.

    Or better yet, a milk frother! Use your loaded CPU to make a nice frothy drink!

    • DPete27
    • 1 year ago

    If the Engine 27 was already no taller than RAM, what’s the need for the Engine 17? It’s not like thin mITX is getting any love nowadays.

    Also, like conventional downward-blowing CPU coolers, this still suffers from exhaust heat being deflected off the RAM, VRM heatsinks, and GPU on all 4 sides and entering back into the intake.

      • bhtooefr
      • 1 year ago

      Cheap 1U servers with either low profile RAM or with angled DIMM slots?

        • brucethemoose
        • 1 year ago

        The 1U server would need to draw air from the top, right? Which you cant do in a tight rack. Seems like you’re better off with a box heatsink and a blower.

          • bhtooefr
          • 1 year ago

          With this, it could likely draw air from above the heatsink, and blow it out.

          Granted, real 1U servers just use 40 mm fans mounted in front of the motherboard, and blow through passive heatsinks…

          • strangerguy
          • 1 year ago

          IIRC all my 1U servers at work also uses standard sized DIMMs slotted at the same 90 degrees like desktops do. So not even the 1U argument is valid for this.

      • Chrispy_
      • 1 year ago

      What happened to the old half-height DIMMs? I’m guessing they were single-rank which have fallen out of favour?

      I have fond memories of incredibly low-profile Samsung ECO DIMMs and some Crucial Ballistix LP that enabled me to fit a giant peltier cooler with ease, back in the day….

    • chuckula
    • 1 year ago

    Nice to see some of that technology making it to market.

    Although I am somewhat bummed that the Spinning Blades of Death (TM) design was altered.

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