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Gelid Slim Silence & Prolimatech Samuel 17 Low Profile CPU Coolers

Gelid Slim Silence & Prolimatech Samuel 17 Low Profile CPU Coolers

July 25, 2010 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Gelid Slim Silence AM2

1U CPU Cooler
Prolimatech Samuel 17

Low Profile CPU Cooler
Manufacturer
Gelid
Solutions
Prolimatech
Street Price
~US$20 ~US$50

In an era where the hardware in PCs is outpacing the demands of the applications
used by most end-users, the trend toward smaller, less clunky computers is on
the rise. When it comes to DIY computers, the hip build of the moment is the
slim and compact mini-ITX rig. Whether your intention is to build a powerhouse
LAN party box, a sleek home theater PC, or simply a general use machine that
isn't a gigantic eyesore, if you appreciate quiet PCs, you may run into a common
problem: cooling a reasonably fast processor is difficult in a cramped space.

While slim short cases have plenty of appeal, they are by definition, short
on space; the massive heatpipe cooler you would ordinarily install in a tower
are out of the question. CPU heatsink clearance is the main obstacle to be overcome,
whether limited by the case ceiling itself or another component hanging over
the CPU socket area. Whatever the case, you have to make the most of the space
provided, which is where low profile coolers like the Gelid Slim Silence and
Prolimatech Samuel 17 come into play.

Gelid Slim Silence AM2



Gelid Slim Silence AM2 box.

First we start with the Gelid Slim Silence, a 1U compatible cooler with a height
of only 28 mm. Its dimensions also rigidly conform to that of the CPU socket,
in this case AM2/AM3 (a LGA775 model is also available) for maximum compatibility.
It is the lowest common denominator so to speak - it will fit in anything. Given
its size, CPU support is limited to 65W — for AMD processors this means
Athlon II X2s and the energy efficient variants of the Athlon/Phenom II X3 and
X4 only. With its super small size, it's really only a candidate for cases with
severe CPU cooler height restrictions.

Gelid Slim Silence AM2: Specifications

(from the product
web page
)
*INCLUDED: Pre-applied high performance
GC-2 thermal compound
Air Flow (CFM): 20 max
Bearing: Ball Bearing
Cable Length (mm): 250
Current (A): 0.20
DC Voltage (V): 12
Fan Dimensions (mm): 65 (dia) x 15 (h)
Fan Speed (RPM): 1200 - 2500
Heat Sink Dimensions (mm): 105 (l) x 74.5 (w) x 28
(h)
Life Time MTTF at 40C (h): 50'000
Noise Level (dBA): 15 - 27.2
Static Pressure (mmAq): 1.25
Warranty (years): 5
Weight (g): 262

Prolimatech Samuel 17



Prolimatech Samuel 17 box.

The Prolimatech Samuel 17 is a much more ambitious cooler. It's weird name
comes from 1 Samuel, Chapter 17 of the Old Testament which recounts the story
of David who of course slew the giant Goliath despite his small stature. Odder
perhaps is that they didn't name the heatsink after David instead. The Samuel
17 is Prolimatech's answer to compact high performance coolers like the Scythe
Big Shuriken
. The Samuel 17 is a downblowing heatsink with 6 heatpipes,
support for 120 mm fans (none included), and a height of 45 mm (we measured
46 mm) making it an almost perfect analog to the Big Shuriken.

Prolimatech Samuel 17: Specifications

(from the product
web page
)
Heatsink Dimension (L) 121.2mm x (W) 120mm
x (H) 45mm
Heatsink Weight 410g
Heatpipe Ø 6mm x 6pcs
Suggest Fan 120mm x 25mm, 120mm x 12mm
Suggest Fan Speed 1000~2000rpm
Suggest Noise Level (dBA) Below 26dBA

Gelid Slim Silence AM2: Physical Details & Installation

The Gelid Slim Silence AM2 is a simple aluminum heatsink with
30 fins, a single heatpipe, and a fan with a wingspan of 66 mm. It measures
105 x 75 x 28 mm (L x W x H) and weighs 260 grams.



The package.



The Slim Silence has an imbedded 9-blade fan at the center of its fin
mass. It ships with its own backplate and spring-loaded bolts.



The aluminum fins running down the length of the heatsink are rather thick,
particularly near the base. On average, the fins are 0.57 mm thick, and
spaced 1.66 mm apart. There is a single heatpipe running down a channel
at the center.



Metal backplate.



Memory with tall heatsinks tower over the Slim Silence.

Prolimatech Samuel 17: Physical Details & Installation

The Samuel 17 is composed of 6 heatpipes and 36 aluminum fins.
It measures 121 x 120 x 46 mm and weighs 370 grams, 500 grams with our reference
Nexus 120 mm fan installed using the provided metal bolts.



On average the fins are 0.56 mm thick and spaced 1.98 mm apart. Though
it shares roughly the same dimensions as the Big Shuriken, it is a bit
smaller since the fin mass does not extend as far as the fan frame.



Though fairly small the Samuel 17 has a large base packed with 6 heatpipes
like many, much larger coolers.



From the side.



The Samuel 17 utilizes a bolt-thru installation system, but no backplate
is provided. Mounting arms for all the main sockets are included (LGA1366,
LGA1156, LGA775, AM3/AM2) as well as bolts for both 12 mm and 25 mm thick
fans.



The cooler is secured with bolts from the back side of the motherboard.



On AMD boards, the heatsink can be mounted with the fan overhanging either
the VRMs or the memory. On our test board, our two sticks of Corsair Dominator
memory had to be installed in the last two DIMM slots to fit. With a 25
mm thick fan, the heatsink is 71 mm tall. The bolt heads add an additional
2 mm.

TESTING

Before thermal testing, we took some basic physical measurements.

Approximate Physical Measurements
Heatsink Gelid Slim Silence AM2 Prolimatech Samuel 17
Weight 260 g 370 g

500 g with 120 mm ref. fan and bolts
Fin count 30 36
Fin thickness
0.44~0.70 mm 0.56 mm
Fin spacing
1.40~1.92 mm 1.98 mm
Vertical Clearance*
N/A 28 mm
Horizontal Overhang**
N/A -22 mm
* measured from the motherboard PCB to
the bottom fin of the heatsink.

** measured from the far edge of the heatsink to the top edge of the motherboard
PCB.


Comparison: Approximate Fin Thickness & Spacing
Heatsink
Fin Thickness
Fin Spacing
Phenom II AM2+

stock cooler
0.31 mm
1.03 mm
Phenom II AM3

stock cooler
0.33 mm
1.05 mm
Scythe Big Shuriken
0.33 mm
1.19 mm
Gelid Slim Silence
~0.57 mm
~1.66 mm
Scythe Samurai ZZ
0.33 mm
1.74 mm
Gelid Silent Spirit
0.36 mm
1.77 mm
Xigmatek HDT-SD964
0.38 mm
1.86 mm
Prolimatech Samuel 17
0.56 mm
1.98 mm
Arctic Cooling Alpine 64
0.87 mm
2.11 mm
Scythe Ninja Mini
0.42 mm
3.46 mm

Testing was done on our
AM3 heatsink testing platform
which is designed for smaller CPU coolers.
A summary of the test system and procedure follows.

Key Components in Heatsink Test Platform:

  • AMD Athlon II X4 630 AM3,
    2.8GHz, 45nm, 95W TDP.
  • Asus M4A785TD-V EVO ATX motherboard.
    785G chipset.
  • Kingston
    SSDNow V
    30GB 2.5" solid-state drive. Chosen for silence.
  • 2GB
    Corsair Dominator
    DDR3 memory. 2 x 1GB DDR3-1800 in dual channel.
  • FSP Zen 300W
    ATX power supply. Fanless.
  • Arctic Silver
    Lumière
    : Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed
    specifically for test labs.
  • Nexus 120 fan (part of our standard testing methodology; used when
    possible with heatsinks that fit 120x25mm fans)
  • Nexus 92 fan (part of our standard testing methodology; used when
    possible with heatsinks that fit 92x25mm fans)

The system is silent under the test conditions, except for the CPU cooling
fan(s). At full load, the total system power draw is 132~140W AC, with the CPU
and VRMs drawing 85~91W DC (measured from the AUX12V connector), depending on
their respective temperatures.

Normally, our reference fan is used whenever possible, the measured details
of which are shown below.

Reference Nexus 120mm fan

Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
Speed
12V
16 dBA
1100 RPM
9V
13 dBA
890 RPM
7V
12 dBA
720 RPM


Reference Nexus 92 mm fan

Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
Speed
12V
16 dBA
1470 RPM
9V
12 dBA
1150 RPM

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system
    power.
  • Custom-built, four-channel variable DC power supply, used to regulate
    the fan speed during the test.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer:
    SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital
    audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber
    with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented in our
    standard fan testing methodology
    .
  • SpeedFan,
    used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensors. The sensors are not calibrated,
    so results are not universally applicable.
  • CPUBurn,
    used to stress the CPU heavily, generating more heat than most real applications.
  • CPU-Z,
    used to monitor the CPU speed to determine when overheating occurs.
  • Thermometers to measure the air temperature around the test platform
    and near the intake of the heatsink fan.

Noise measurements are made with the fans powered from the lab's variable DC
power supply while the rest of the system was off to ensure that system noise
did not skew the measurements.

Load testing was accomplished using CPUBurn to stress the processor, and the
graph function in SpeedFan was used to ensure that the load temperature is stable
for at least ten minutes. The stock fan was tested at various voltages to represent
a good cross-section of airflow and noise performance.

The ambient conditions during testing were 10~11 dBA and 23~25°C.

Stock Fan Measurements: Gelid Slim Silence AM2

Stock Fan Measurements
Voltage
Speed
SPL @1m
12V
2570 RPM
33 dBA
9V
1990 RPM
26-27 dBA
7V
1480 RPM
18~19 dBA
6.8V
1000 RPM
15 dBA
6V
720 RPM
11 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from
the intake side of the fan.

Ambient noise level: 11 dBA.

As one would expect, the Slim Silence's stock fan is fairly loud at high speed
with a noticeable and unpleasant whine at 9V and above. At 7V the fan becomes
quiet as the whine disappears leaving a generally smooth sounding character
with a slightly rattle audible from a distance of one meter and closer. Below
7V there is a rapid reduction in speed, with the fan dropping by almost 500
RPM at 6.8V, and halving at 6V, making the fan virtually inaudible.

COOLING RESULTS

Prolimatech Samuel 17 w/ ref. 120 mm fan
Fan Voltage
Temp
°C Rise
12V
16 dBA
52°C
27
9V
13 dBA
56°C
31
7V
12 dBA
61°C
36
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (25°C)
at load.

The Samuel 17 equipped with our quiet reference 120 mm stock fan kept the thermal
rise well under 30°C at 12V which is excellent given the noise level of
only 16 dBA. At 9V, the temperature shot up by only 4°C. At 7V we saw an
additional 5°C increase.

Gelid Slim Silence AM2
Fan Voltage
Temp
°C Rise
12V
33 dBA
64°C
39
9V
26~27 dBA
69°C
44
7V
18~19 dBA
79°C
54
6.8V
15 dBA
>85°C
>60
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (25°C)
at load.

The Slim Silence cooled our 95W Athlon II X4 test processor adequately, until
the fan voltage was lowered to a quiet level, 7V, at which point the thermal
rise surpassed 50°C. At 6.8V, testing was stopped after the CPU temperature
reached 85°C. Obviously the Slim Silence just doesn't have enough muscle
to cool a 95W processor quietly.

Gelid Slim Silence AM2

X4 630 @ 2.0 GHz, 1.225V (55~59W)
Fan Voltage
Temp
°C Rise
12V
33 dBA
51°C
26
9V
26~27 dBA
55°C
30
7V
18~19 dBA
61°C
36
6.8V
15 dBA
67°C
42
6V
11 dBA
79°C
54
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (25°C)
at load.

As the Slim Silence only lists support for processors with TDPs of 65W or lower,
we tested the heatsink again, this time with the X4 630 underclocked and undervolted
to produce power consumption levels close to that of the Athlon
II X2 255
as measured from the AUX12V connector (~57W). The resulting
performance improved by double digits, and the heatsink was able to keep the
processor at acceptable temperatures with lower fan speeds and accompanying
noise levels.

Comparison Charts

°C rise Comparison
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
11
Ninja Mini (ref. fan)
-
-
-
-
23
-
-
-
27
-
HDT-SD964
-
-
-
-
-
22
-
27
34
Samuel 17 (ref. fan)
-
-
-
-
27
-
-
31
36
-
Samurai ZZ
-
-
29
-
-
30
-
-
-
32
Big Shuriken
26
-
-
-
30
-
-
37
-
37
Silent Spirit
25
-
-
-
35
-
43
53
 
Alpine 64
-
-
-
34
-
43
-
-
46
-
Phenom II AM2+
36
-
-
-
-
-
42
-
53
 
Phenom II AM3
43
-
46
-
53
-
-
-
-
Slim Silence
-
54
-
-
>60
-
-
-
-
Gray boxes indicate failure CPU overheating.

The Samuel 17, aided by our reference 120 mm fan, rises to a position near
the top of our charts, edging out the Big Shuriken paired with its 12 mm thick
stock fan. The difference is particularly notable at the 13 dBA level where
the Samuel 17 takes a 6°C.

The Slim Silence, being so much smaller than the rest of the field sits comfortably
in last place, 10°C back of the most recent Phenom
II AM3
stock heatpipe cooler. Though it seems like a disastrous result,
it is rather impressive given the Slim Silence is less than half the height
of all the heatsinks compared above.

°C rise Comparison (reference fans)
Heatsink
Nexus 92 mm fan voltage / [email protected]
12V
9V
16 dBA
12 dBA
Scythe Ninja Mini
23
27
Xigmatek HDT-SD964
24
30
Scythe Samurai ZZ
25
31
Scythe Big Shuriken

(Nexus 120 mm fan)
24

(12V)
33

(7V)
Prolimatech Samuel 17

(Nexus 120 mm fan)
27

(12V)
36

(7V)
Gelid Silent Spirit
30
36

The tables turn when both the Big Shuriken and Samuel 17 are equipped with
our reference 120 mm fan. Scythe's heatsink edges out Prolimatech's by 3°C,
both at 12V/16 dBA and 7V/12 dBA, so the Big Shuriken retains remains the top
dog when it comes to compact coolers.

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high
resolution, lab quality, digital recording system
inside SPCR's
own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber
, then converted to LAME 128kbps
encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation
from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of
what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds
in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 5~10 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan
at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that
the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume
setting again.

Comparable CPU cooler sound files:

FINAL THOUGHTS

Gelid Slim Silence AM2

The Gelid Slim Silence AM2 obviously wasn't designed to be a high performance
heatsink, but it performs remarkably well considering its height conforms to
the 1U standard. Paired with a 95W CPU on our open test platform, the stock
fan has to be run at high speeds to keep load temperatures within reason —
in a cramped/hot mini-ITX or rackmount case we would wager it would need to
be run at full speed if it were to work at all.

It performed much better when we underclocked/undervolted our processor to
the point where it mimicked the power level of a 65W chip, the recommended maximum
TDP listed in the specifications. With a cooler processor like an Athlon II
X2, the whiny fan can be undervolted until it sounds smooth and unobtrusive
while keeping its cooling performance adequate. That's as much as we can ask
of a 1U CPU heatsink.

Prolimatech Samuel 17

While an excellent performer on its own, the Prolimatech Samuel 17 fell a few
degrees short of toppling the widely available and affordable Scythe
Big Shuriken
. The Samuel 17 is really only superior in two ways, the
first being its size. Though it's about the same height as the Big Shuriken,
it's shorter by 15 and 5 mm in the other two dimensions — this may make
a difference in some cases. Its second advantage is its mounting system, particularly
for Intel motherboards. Trying to engage pushpins underneath the Shuriken's
main fin mass is an agonizing experience — Prolimatech's bolt-thru method,
even without a backplate, is far preferable.

For the moment, the Big Shuriken seems unassailable from both a performance
and value standpoint. The Samuel 17 doesn't cool quite as well, its street price
is US$10~$15 higher, and it doesn't ship with a fan which further complicates
matters. A standard 25 mm thick fan along with the included bolts increases
the height of the Samuel 17 to 73 mm which is too tall for many mini-ITX cases.
A good slim fan would be ideal, but they are difficult to find with the exception
of the 12 mm thick Scythe Slip Streams, one of which is conveniently included
gratis with the Big Shuriken.

Our thanks to Gelid
and Prolimatech
for the Slim Silence AM2 and Samuel 17 heatsink samples.

* * *

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212 Plus: Direct Touch Revisited

SPCR's 2010 CPU Heatsink
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* * *

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