Finding the right CPU cooler for your PC can often be a very difficult task. There are, after all, many designs to choose from, and, for the vast majority of consumers, you’re probably looking for a model that’ll give you a strong level of performance while not putting too much of a dent in your wallet. – With this in mind, the newly released Thermaltake Toughair 310 has just hit the market and, on the whole, looks to tick all of the right boxes for the savvy consumer.
Thermaltake Toughair 310
Designed as a single tower design, while the Thermaltake Toughair 310 might be comparatively small in stature, it does come with plenty of excellent features. Chief among which, and as the name might’ve already suggested to you, this comes out of the box with one of their ‘TOUGHAIR’ cooling fans. Their latest innovation is strong airflow performance while operating (in our prior experiences – you can check out the review here) at notably quiet levels of noise output.
While the Toughair 310 doesn’t feature any RGB/ARGB lighting effects, this is easily compensated for with its sleek black and silver design. Put simply, for those of you who think it’s impossible for an air cooler to look nice, Thermaltake is trying (with more than a little success I suspect) to change your mind here!
- Single Tower Design
- Optimized 120mm high static pressure Fan for silent operation
- 4 x 06mm high performance U-shape copper heat pipes
- High performance thermal grease included
- Universal Intel/AMD socket compatibility
For more in-depth specifications, please visit the official product page via the link here!
What Does Thermaltake Have To Say?
“TOUGHAIR 310 is a single tower designed air cooler with 4 heat pipes running through the fins, the U-shape heat pipes increase heat circulation creating better heat dissipation in your system and supports up to 170W.
TOUGHAIR series utilizes high static pressure fans, which leverages the TOUGHFAN 12 design and boosts the fan speed to 2000 RPM, providing a new level of cooling performance to our CPU cooler.”
Like many of their ‘Tough’ branded products, the Thermaltake Toughair 310 takes a predominantly black and silver approach with its packaging that is certainly distinctive and eye-catching from their usual fare. Unlike many other brands who go for black, however, Thermaltake has ensured the correct level of contract, so you get a nice clear and surprisingly bold image of the cooler itself front and centre.
Despite the relatively small stature of the Toughair 310 packaging (because this is not a big cooler), Thermaltake has done well to pack a lot of useful information into the relatively small space. To the rear, you’re given the products’ main features and a surprisingly large number of images.
Additionally, the sides have also not been wasted, with the main highlight being the full technical specifications presented in a fantastic large size. Overall, Thermaltake has done exceptionally well on the presentational front with so little to work with.
The accessories for the Thermaltake Toughair 310 are, by air cooler standards, surprisingly light, with you seemingly not having that many individual parts. We can assure you, regardless of whether your motherboard is Intel or AMD-based, you have everything you need here to ensure this can get fitted to your processor.
Thermaltake provides you with some thermal paste and an application grid and spatula in something of mild curiosity. This is unusual because, more often than not, in these instances, the thermal grease comes pre-applied to the contact plate. We will, however, go into more detail regarding this in the ‘installation’ part of this review.
A Closer Look
Out of the box, the first thing that strikes you regarding the Toughair 310 is that this is when compared to many other air cooler designs, quite small. However, while not exactly tiny, it abundantly clear from the size that this cooler should be entirely suitable for the vast majority of PC systems. Before we get onto the testing, however, let’s take a closer look at some of the individual components that make up the overall design.
Despite this being quite a small cooler design, Thermaltake has certainly managed to pack a lot of action into the contact plate. Usually, you would only expect to see 3 heat pipes leading away from each side for a product this small. However, as you can see below, we have four here, which is certainly impressive of the potency available in such a small package.
The radiator stack itself is surprisingly compact despite those four heat pipes, but in terms of aesthetics, Thermaltake has really done an excellent job here. With its sleek stainless steel design with black highlights, this looks exceptionally impressive.
To compensate for the small size of the radiator, Thermaltake has been very clever in designing the fins to allow for maximum coverage while still keeping the overall design as minimalistic as possible. So while I could attempt to explain it myself, I’ll let Thermaltake themselves have a go:
“The fin is designed with an asymmetric structure that allows larger air intake through the fins. This design lowers the air turbulence and straightens out the airflow making it easier to disperse heat from the fins, delivering superb cooling performance.”
The top of the radiator comes with a plastic case shrouding with their logo nicely located to the centre. Although this is a small point in the overall design, this is without a doubt one of the nicest aesthetic aspects of the Thermaltake Toughair 310. If anything, it proves that even without RGB/ARGB (which many would argue has become something of a crutch to hide an otherwise bland exterior), they are a manufacturer entirely capable of making a product stand up visually on its own two legs (metaphorically speaking).
As the name might’ve already suggested, presuming you’re familiar with Thermaltake products, the Toughair 310 comes equipped with a TOUGHFAN 12. This is a recent launch by the company as their new premium fan design, and, as such, seeing it here is certainly indicative that performance is a key factor.
We have seen this fan utilized before, and we should note, is available to buy individually as a case cooling fan upgrade. With its sleek black and off-silver colouring, this should be a perfect accompaniment to the radiator. Not only in terms of visuals but also in shifting that all-important heat away as quickly as possible.
As an assembled design, the Thermaltake Toughair 310 looks absolutely fantastic. The fan and radiator complement each other fantastically, not only in visuals but in providing near-total coverage of the fins. All in all, this should translate into some potentially excellent test results.
While there is a little branding here and there, Thermaltake has made wise choices in where it goes and how big it is. Overall, it seems to add to the aesthetic rather than detract, which is a pitfall/mistake many other manufacturers make, particularly in their air cooler products.
In terms of size, the Toughair 310 is amazingly slim with it fully assembled being no more than around 3 inches thick. As such, although not specifically a key highlight of this design, we see absolutely no reason at all why this shouldn’t offer near-total 100% RAM compatibility.
So, as a whole and individually, the Thermaltake Toughair 310 looks to be an exceptionally potent cooler in a pleasantly small and pretty package. Looks are, however, one aspect of this review. So, let’s see just how easy (or difficult) this is to install!
Starting with something a little unusual, a part of the documentation Thermaltake has provides you with! You will note a rather prominent ‘Please Read Before Installing!!!” pamphlet. This is usually a sign that something strange or different may be afoot.
Well, while certainly strange, the good news is that this doesn’t apply at all. Why? Well, because it refers to water cooling products. As such, its inclusion here, in an air cooler, is a total mystery to us and, just in case you wanted 100% confirmation, completely redundant. Our best guess is that this being inside was either an accident or a little wasteful.
In terms of the installation manual, while it is a little light on written instructions (and by light, we mean practically none at all), the visual diagrams are, on the whole, excellent, clear, and should easily help you ensure you fit this cooler to your system without any notable difficulty. But, again, we should note that there are certainly a couple of parts of it that could’ve been made clearer.
The Thermaltake Toughair 310 has a rather curious installation method in that the mounting brackets are seemingly both required and entirely universal for both Intel and AMD sockets. A smart move in terms of making this as efficient as possible in terms of parts and accessories. What I don’t like, however, is that the main top bracket is affixed using thumbscrews. Yes, overall, this is far more simplistic than screwing each one down. However, there is something in me that never entirely trusts I’ve got these fixed down as firmly as possible. Although I appreciate the effort, I’d have still liked to have been given the option to apply a final bit of pressure here with a screwdriver. And, incidentally, one of those thumbscrews below was amazingly stubborn to tighten when compared to the others. It almost felt like the thread wasn’t quite aligned (despite having around 3 attempts at it).
Another part I didn’t overly like was the cross plate that holds the cooler down. Bizarrely, it seemed to fit in with everything far more snugly the wrong way up. Albeit, you can’t install it this way even if you wanted to due to the screw placements. Even when installed as tightly as I could go, though, the cooler itself was still able to slide around a little, which, I’ll freely admit, I’ve seen before, and although this does seem ‘ok’ as an installation method, similar to the mounting brackets, I just like a cooler to sit extremely firmly to be 100% certain it has a nice solid grip on the processor.
I’ll freely admit that while I appreciate the fact that Thermaltake has seemingly attempted here (with some success) to find an installation method that is quick, easy, and certainly more than agreeable to the first time fitter, on the whole, I can’t say I liked it that much. Yes, the proof in the pudding will be found in our testing and results (which are coming shortly), but on a personal level, while some may absolutely love this, I did not.
From out of the box and onto our test bench, the Thermaltake Toughair 310 took me roughly 10 minutes to install. While this was certainly helped by the easy, if not unusual, mounting method, this would’ve been quicker had I personally felt a little more confidence and particularly so in those thumb screws that I couldn’t pinch any more than the muscles in my fingers would allow.
Putting that to one side, however, once fitted, this cooler looks absolutely fantastic on our test bench. With no reliance on ARGB/RGB lighting, the Toughair 310 still manages to look sleek, stylish, and, dare I say, actually really visually appealing. – With the mildly rocky installation, however, does the performance match the looks? Well, there’s only one way to find out. Onto the testing!
Test System & Methodology
As you may appreciate, we review a lot of coolers here at eTeknix. As such, our prior results sheet was getting more than a little crowded. We have, therefore, applied a new system in which we have picked those coolers we consider most popular or most relevant to this design. Please note that we re-tested the Noctua NH-D15S as our base benchmark for cooling results.
- Gigabyte Aorus Gaming 9 Z270
- Intel Core i7-7700K Delidded w/ NT-H1 under IHS
- Radeon R7 Passive GPU with 2GB VRAM
- 16GB Crucial DDR4 2400 MHz (only swapped to 8GB in the unlikely event of RAM compatibility issues) – If this has been done, it will be noted within the review!
- 512GB OCZ SSD
- be quiet! Dark Power Pro 800W
- Lian Li T80 Test Bench
- All testing conducted using NT-H1 thermal paste
We’d like to say a big thank you to Gigabyte, Noctua, Crucial, Intel, OCZ, be quiet!, and Lian Li for providing us with the above testing equipment and their on-going support.
- We always use Noctua Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste to make sure testing reveals the efficiency of the tested coolers not the efficiency of the bundled thermal paste
- Prime 95 is run for 10 minutes to calculate “load” results
- Unigine Superposition is run for 10 minutes to calculate “gaming” results
- The average temperature across all cores is taken
- Fans are left to operate at default PWM profile speeds unless otherwise stated
- For water cooling tests, all pumps have been operated at 12 volts unless otherwise stated
- Ambient temperatures should be between 21-23 degrees in all our tests unless otherwise stated
- Acoustic measurements are taken 10cm horizontally and 10cm vertically away from the CPU cooler with the VGA fan disabled
- Stock tests are performed using “out of the box” settings for the CPU
- Overclocking tests are performed with the CPU set to 5 GHz and 1.345v
- All coolers were tested under identical settings unless otherwise stated.
- There is approximately a 1-degree Celsius margin of error in our temperature recording software CPUID HW Monitor
- There is approximately a 1.5dBA margin of error with our Benetech GM1351 decibel meter
- In all these graphs we may have a few “reference” results of particular products that do not fit within that category for comparative purposes.
- CPUID HWMonitor
- Prime 95
- Unigine Superposition (1080 Extreme)
Given the overall small size of the Thermaltake Toughair 310, we were clearly not expecting this to be an amazingly high-performer when it comes to temperature control. Although this is open to a few moderate exceptions, usually, when it comes to coolers, bigger is better. With this in mind, therefore, it’s not exactly surprising to see the Toughair 310 topping both of our stock and overclocked temperature charts.
A closer look at the results, however, does show that despite its tiny stature, it still performs impressively. And, when in direct comparison to some of the exceptionally potent models on our list, the Toughair 310 certainly manages to hold its own with respectable, if not impressive, results.
Without a doubt, however, the key highlight of our testing was seen in the acoustic output. With that Toughfan 12, the noise levels were amazingly low, and they actually make this one of the quietest coolers we have ever encountered. Therefore, with this in mind, a compromise is certainly available here to the more savvy user. You do, after all, always have the option within the BIOS fan settings to bump that fan speed up a little, and while putting the noise up a smidgen, we’d expect to see a couple of centigrade easily drop off the temperature score. In other words, a perfect trade-off is 100% possible here depending on which factor you value more.
How Much Does it Cost?
Available now for €34.99, The Thermaltake Toughair 310 represents some amazing value for money. Make no mistake, this is, without a doubt, firmly in the entry-level air cooler price range, and when compared to other alternative models, it easily outperforms the vast majority of them while, at least in my opinion, looking vastly better! Nevertheless, this is mid-tier performance for an entry-level budget, and, quite frankly, you can’t argue with that!
Despite not choosing to adopt any sort of RGB/ARGB lighting, overall, I think that this has been an exceptionally wise choice for Thermaltake. The Toughair 310 looks exceptionally professional in its design, and with the lack of any light show getting in the way, it wouldn’t look out of place in any system build.
Better still, though, whatever you may personally perceive of the aesthetics, the performance the Toughair 310 provides is undoubtedly exceptionally decent. No, not top of the range or the highest we’ve ever seen, but for this price tag… We’ve seen coolers cost at least twice as much that didn’t (relatively speaking) perform half as well.
If there is a gripe to be made, it’s probably in the installation, but this does largely fall on personal opinion as, while the method was unusual, the figures provided in our testing certainly suggested that it worked and worked well!
Should I Buy One?
If you’re after a low-cost and decently performing CPU cooler, then based on my opinion at the time of writing (and my somewhat fuzzy memory based on the masses of products I’ve tested over the years), then the Thermaltake Toughair 310 would undoubtedly be one of the first models I would recommend. It’s inexpensive, perhaps surprisingly so, while still offering exceptionally strong aesthetics and very decent CPU temperature control. Better still, if you value low noise output, then this definitely hits that ball out of the park!
For this price, it’s a no brainer for our ‘Bang For Buck’ award. Based on everything else we’ve seen in the Thermaltake Toughair 310 though, this simply has, if not demands, to be kicked up into a higher tier!