Three Low Profile CPU Coolers Tested

Written by Harry Butler

June 11, 2009 | 09:34

Tags: #group-test #low-profile #low-profile-cpu-cooler #performance #review #roundup #tested #testing

Companies: #akasa #bit-tech #gelid #zalman

GELID Slim Silence 775

Manufacturer: GELID
UK Price (as reviewed): MSRP £17.00 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): MSRP £22.50 (ex. Tax)

If the Akasa wasn’t small enough for you then perhaps the GELID's slim silence will impress, measuring up at a miniature 28mm. However, the GELID is a very different cooler to the Akasa, and uses a unique design to keep the CPU cool despite its petite height. The entire cooler is composed from a single brushed aluminium block, with rows of cooling fins covering the top side of the cooler and an 80mm cooling fan recessed into the centre, blowing air down onto the cooler and then out and away through the cooling fins.

The thermal interface in the base is simply an extension of the rest of cooler’s main body, and retains the rough finish of the brushed aluminium, although this can in fact facilitate thermal transfer as the TIM fills the tiny imperfections in the surface.

Directly above the cooler’s core is a single nickel coasted copper heat pipe, running the width of the cooler to ensure even heat dissipation, although it only makes contact with the heatsink on its underside, leaving the heatpipe’s top side inefficiently exposed.

Low profile CPU coolers on test GELID Slim Silence and Zalman VF-2000 Low profile CPU coolers on test GELID Slim Silence and Zalman VF-2000
Click to enlarge

Only slightly larger than the LGA 775 socket you should have no trouble mounting the cooler to any LGA 775 of choice, as it’s well within the cooler size dimensions of the socket. Mounting is handled by a back plate rather than push pins, which does mean the removal of the motherboard to install but the fitting is very firm and the back plate solid, so there can’t really be any serious complaints.

Unlike the Akasa though, the Slim Silence is fitted with a 4-pin PWM cable, allowing the cooler to self regulate its fan speed to find a decent compromise between cooling and noise, a vital inclusion especially for those who’d want to use these coolers in HTPCs. GELID lists the Slim Silence’s 80mm fan as running between 1,100 to 2,300rpm, generating between 15 and 24.5dBA, which should certainly mean it’s very quiet as long as the fan doesn’t spin up.

ZalmanVF2000 Hybrid VGA-CPU Cooler

Manufacturer: Zalman
UK Price (as reviewed): £34.99 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): NA

In comparison to the GELID and Akasa, the Zalman VF2000 is a much larger cooler, but still manages to come in at a full 2cm shorter than the Intel reference design at 45mm. It’s much larger laterally as well, stretching the LGA 775 socket dimensions to the limit by measuring 125mm across at its widest point. However, these larger dimensions mean that despite being fairly short, the VF-2000 is able to tackle any Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad processor as well as the majority of AMD’s AM2and AM2+ range of processors too.

Low profile CPU coolers on test GELID Slim Silence and Zalman VF-2000 Low profile CPU coolers on test GELID Slim Silence and Zalman VF-2000
Click to enlarge

The cooler is able to handle these heating heavy weights thanks to a quad heat pipe design and the large fin stack that it’s regulation stretching dimensions allow. The mirror finished nickel plated copper base plate has four separate nickel plated copper heatpipes running through it, which then bend back on themselves to run through the cooler’s fin stack, evenly dispersing heat.

Cooling is then provided by a low profile 92mm blue LED lit cooling fan recessed into the fin stack, blowing air down onto and through the cooling fins, which are deceptively deep, and down onto the motherboard and PWMs below. The cooler comes with one of Zalman’s excellent Z-mate fan controllers, allowing you to manually set the fan’s speed between 1,380 and 2,400rpm, which Zalman claims produce between 19 and 29dBA.

Uniquely, the VF-2000 is also able to double as a GPU cooler as well as a CPU cooler, with mounting fittings included for ATI’s HD 4870 and HD 4850 and Nvidia’s 9800 GT and 9600 GT, as well as many older models (the full compatibility list can be found here). Zalman even included a bag of black aluminium RAM sinks so a card’s memory won’t miss out on cooling. However, while the 45mm height of the VF-2000 qualifies it as a low profile CPU cooler, this means it’s a beast as far as GPU coolers go and any card using it will occupy three expansion slots, making many SLI or CrossFire configurations incompatible.

As it’s a much larger and more complex cooler than the GELID or Akasa, the Zalman is also a great deal more expensive, lightening any buyer’s wallet by a not insignificant £35. Let’s just hope it’s able to justify this price tag when it comes down to performance.
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