Installing a high-performance cooler always entails a level of construction work and the Xigmatek Gaia SD1283 is no different. In some ways, it's simplified the process by using four long bolts that pass through the standard mounting points.
A knurled spacing bolt is then attached and once you attached the correct brackets to the cooling block the whole assembly can be screwed firmly into place.
The unit comes with a 120mm cooling fan, which is fitted using vibration dampening rubber grommets. It also supports having a second exhaust fan installed for enhanced cooling.
It good to see that the cooler ships with a generous tube of thermal paste, so you don't have to go scrambling around for your own during installation. Once up and running, Xigmatek has clearly chosen a good fan, it's suitably quiet for a gaming rig at its full 1500rpm rate.
Up and running the Xigmatek Gaia SD1283 does a good job. Even taking its unloaded cooling abilities, it runs 14C cooler than our stock cooler. In the grand scheme of things, this is shy of the excellent Prolimatech Armageddon by three degrees.
The good work is carried through to its loaded cooling efficiency. It happily slaps the stock cooler around, beating its temperature by 11 degrees.
Again, though, it's four degrees warmer than the Xigmatek Gaia cooler, showing that the other cooler's extra three heatpipes are certainly hard to beat.
But taking into account its lower price and the inclusion of a fan, it's hard to be too critical when comparing the Prolimatech Armageddon to the Xigmatek Gaia.
As an all-in-one performance cooling solution, the Xigmatek Gaia SD1283 scores well all round. Its cooling performance, while not top-flight, is more than good enough to grab your attention.
The same also goes for its relatively low noise levels. Throw in its near-universal mounting kit and it's a strong contender for your money.
There's little we have to criticise on the Xigmatek Gaia SD1283. It's out-performed a little by more expensive units, but that's why you pay your money. We're not massive fans of the mounting system, but it is highly flexible.
In the current market the Xigmatek Gaia SD1283 does a good job of balancing price with good performance.