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Gelid Tranquillo CPU Cooler Review

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AkG

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Gelid Tranquillo CPU Cooler Review




Manufacture’s Product Page: Click Here
Part Number: CC-TranQ-01-A
Price: Click here to compare prices
Warranty: 5 years



Gelid is not what you would call a household name when it comes to CPU coolers, but they have been quickly making quite the name for themselves in the fan sector with their low noise, high performance, yet frugally priced 120mm fans like the “Wing” and “Silent” series. To be honest, while the name “Gelid” may not be as well known a name as “Arctic Cooling” probably is, Gebhard Scherrer (co-founder of Arctic Cooling) and his business associate VC Tran are for all intents and purposes the driving force behind this young Hong Kong-based company. Given the fact that Gelid only started operations two years ago, the amount of success and respect they have garnered is a testament to how good their designs are. As for how they came up with the name Gelid, it comes from the Latin word “gelidus” which means Icy or cold, which we think is a very fitting name for a company that provides cooling solutions.

In today’s review we will be looking at the new Gelid Tranquillo CPU cooler. While there has been a good long pause between Gelid’s first cooler (the Silent Spirit we reviewed a while back) and this second product, the engineers over at Gelid have been busy as this cooler is not just a rehash of what they have done before. Unlike the Silent Spirit which was a down draft cooler, the Tranquillo is designed as a more standard looking tower style unit. It has an all copper base to help wick away the heat from the CPU and a really interesting fin array designed to help maximize heat dissipation. Needless to say we were very interested to see how well this cooler performs when we first saw it.

The Tranquillo is now available at retailer and e-tailers throughout Canada and very recently we saw it on sale for as little as $29.99. It will be interesting to see if this budget friendly product is going to be able to go head to head with other value orientated coolers like the Cooler Master Hyper 212. If it can, we may just be looking at another great "bang for your buck" heatsink.

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AkG

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Specifications

Specifications



<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Tranquillo/specs.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Tranquillo/1.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Tranquillo/2.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Tranquillo/4.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Tranquillo/5.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
 
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AkG

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories


Gelid_Tranquillo_box_f_sm.jpg
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Interestingly, the package which the Tranquillo comes in is a dead ringer for the Silent Spirit cooler’s box. This is not in the least bit puzzling or actually even surprising as Gelid seems to have settled on this white with colour accents for many of their product lines.

Gelid_Tranquillo_box_o_sm.jpg

Being attractive and informative is only half the reason for having packaging containers and to our way of thinking it is actually the lesser of the two reasons. The other reason is simple: to protect the precious cargo from life’s bump’s and bruises. It is here that the Gelid is only slightly above average. While the cardboard Gelid has chosen to go with for this box is not the thinnest material we've seen, it is far from the thickest nor sturdiest either. Nonetheless, there is very little chance of the cooler being damaged since most retailers ship products out within a secondary box.


The accessories which accompanied our unit are a little bit different than what will be included with yours. As you can see, ours was shipped with a second fan (a recently released Wing PL to be precise) but the list of accessories which was inside the Tranquillo’s box should be the same.

Basically, you get a small syringe of Gelid 3 thermal compound, mounting brackets for the single fan, an installation pamphlet and mounting brackets for AMD and Intel systems. The AMD setup relies on your standard AMD backplate and plastic retention ring, but on the Intel side of things Gelid has included not one, not two but THREE backplates. This means one bracket is included for each of the three main Intel CPU sockets (775,1156,1366). All in all, we think it’s a nice balance of frugality and quality but we really wished Gelid had shown a bit more “love” to AMD fans out there as this will probably mean you will not be able to mount the Tranquillo in the typical East/West orientation.
 
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AkG

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A Closer Look at the Gelid Tranquillo

A Closer Look at the Gelid Tranquillo


Gelid_Tranquillo_fully_loaded_sm.jpg

Gelid certainly showed their skill and knowledge in designing coolers when they built the Tranquillo. It really does thread that fine line between to small and to big for most people’s needs. This is something which we feel they got wrong with the Silent Spirit as that cooler simply did not have the mass to handle higher heat loads. The overall dimensions are 74(l) x 125(w) x 153(h) and it weighs in at 645 grams.

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Without a doubt, the aluminum fin array of this cooler is unique in its design and layout. Gelid bent down the ends of the fins to make an almost box-like fin array which will certainly help keep the air from escaping out the sides before it can properly cool the heatpipes.

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Anther factor which will help lower the chances of any air escaping out the sides is the face of the cooler’s fin array itself. If there is one area which the Tranquillo engineers hit a home run it has to be here. The Tranquillo has one of the deepest and most well thought out face designs we have seen in a long, long time. While the fin array does not have any serrations like Noctua’s designs nor a big hole in the center like the Prolimatech units, it does incorporate some very elegant design features.

In a nutshell, the face is designed in a deep “V” with the outer edges of the fin array quickly flowing in and away from where the fan will sit. Compared to flat sided affairs the static pressure needed to overcome the air inertia of the fin array is going to be drastically reduced, and by placing the deepest part of the V or grove in front of the fan engine hub they have also eliminated this dead zone found with most flat fin array faces.

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The only issue we can foresee is that this V shape may funnel air up and down and not INTO the fin array itself (as a certain amount of the air will take the path of least resistance). Gelid did foresee this issue and on the top of the cooler they placed a plastic air dam which not only adds a nice snap to the overall looks of the cooler but basically abuts the top of the fan blocking the air from escaping up and out.

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Instead of blocking the bottom of the fin array with another of these plastic air dams, Gelid went for a different approach: a “mini heatsink” on the top of the Tranquillo’s base.The theory behind these secondary heatsinks is to add surface area which will wick away even more heat from the CPU.

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Helping to compensate for this interesting design move was the fact that all the fins have small bumps on them which form straight lines from front to back. These dimples have been designed into the fin array to help promote air flow and to help keep incoming airflow from escaping from the sides of the array. As we have seen in the past, with the OCZ Vendetta 2, these bumps may not be that large, but they could have a positive impact on temperatures.

As a nice bonus, these small bumps also have the added benefit of increasing the surface area of the fin array. With all other things being equal, the more surface area an air based CPU cooling solution, has the better it is.
 
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AkG

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A Closer Look at the Gelid Tranquillo p.2

A Closer Look at the Gelid Tranquillo Cont'd


Gelid_Tranquillo_heatpipes2_sm.jpg
Gelid_Tranquillo_heatpipes_sm.jpg

The four heatpipes the Gelid Tranquillo sports are of course the smaller 6mm and not the larger and beefier 8mm variety.

In what is becoming a recurring theme, the Gelid engineers did go for an interesting design choice when they laid out the heatpipes. The heatpipes are in a standard U shape configuration but the have been clustered in what can only be described as a double “C” shape. You could almost call this a “half diamond” pattern similar to those found on a TRUE or any other cooler with many, many more heatpipes. It certainly is an interesting design and if we were to hazard a guess we would say this odd arrangement was found to be the most efficient as the back heatpipes have a greater chance of not being blocked by the front ones (i.e. not in their air “shadow” or dead space).

Gelid_Tranquillo_base_sm.jpg
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While all the above features are unique and have the potential to increase the efficiency of the heatsink, there is still one crucial feature which can make or break any cooling product: the base.

Once again Gelid has opted for a non standard approach with the use of a copper base. While this is not the first non-coated copper base we have seen, it's still nice to see one used in a budget-friendly product. We can honestly say that while copper can tarnish with time, it is a great base material which should help evenly distribute the heat to not only the four heatpipes, but also the thin secondary fin array. Unfortunately, you can see in the above photo that this base is far from perfect and really, really needs a good sanding. Will this affect temperatures? Probably not all that much since it is the job of the thermal compound to “fill in the gaps” so to speak.

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The 120x25mm fan which accompanies the Gelid Tranquillo is of course an “in house” design by Gelid. This does make perfect sense as they do have the expertise and experience to make a good fan…so why outsource if you don’t have to? It uses a Hydro Dynamic bearing which basically makes it an FDB-totting unit. As such, it should prove to be very quiet, especially when we consider the fact that Gelid states it runs between 750-1500RPMs. At its maximum speed it is rated to move 58 CFM and do it with a moderate 1.6mm of static pressure.

Gelid_Tranquillo_4pin_sm.jpg

The Gelid Tranquillo fan is not only 4 pin PWM capable but is also fully sheathed in a nice black nylon braid. All in all we like this fan but there is one thing worth noting and that is the fact that while it is obviously a Fluid Dynamic variant, it doesn’t have the same longevity as a true FDB. While we put almost zero stock in MTBF numbers, when you see only 50,000 hours, you have to wonder if this was done to help further reduce noise at the expense of longevity.
 
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AkG

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Intel Installation

Intel Installation


Gelid_Tranquillo_backplate_sm.jpg

To install the Gelid Tranquillo the first thing you have to do is select the proper backplate for you Intel system. This is required as Gelid has not gone for an all in one approach to the backplate but rather uses three separate and yet distinct back plates: one designed for 775 (smallest), one for 1156 (mid sized) and the largest being the 1366 backplate.

Gelid_Tranquillo_clip_sm.jpg
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After you line up the holes of the backplate through your motherboards, you then have to install the Intel retaining brackets. Unlike the multiple backplate issue, Gelid has gone with a simple all in one Intel retaining bracket which is used on 777, 1155 and 1366. These brackets are a two part affair. To put this another way: you have to install two brackets irregardless of what Intel system you use, and install one bracket to each side of the base.

Unlike most other CPU cooling solutions which have used a two part retaining bracket scheme, the Gelid’s brackets are held in position by a combination of one screw and a lip and grove like clamping mechanism. The upper edge of these brackets has a slightly extended edge which when properly positioned fits snugly and securely into a grove in the aluminum edge of the top of the base of the Tranquillo.

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When the cooler is properly positioned you then simply grab one of the four bolts and gently thread it into the backplate. We found it easiest if you give each of the four bolts one turn to get them started and then go onto another bolt in a diagonal pattern.

With the Gelid Tranquillo CPU firmly and properly mounted the last thing you have to do is install the fan. This cooler uses the tried and true wire tension and retention system that is found on most cooler out there and we have no issue with this whatsoever..

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At this point we would like to take a moment and go over the compatibility issues we ran into with this moderate sized cooler and our Gigabyte 1366 motherboard. To be honest, since the fin array starts quite high, you shouldn’t run into many issues with motherboard compatibility unless your board has abnormally tall heatsinks.

The other crucial detail they got right was in not making this cooler so deep that the fan would overhang the ram. Even if your are running exotically cooled ram, there will be no problems as long as the sticks (or there heat-spreaders) are unusually wide.

Gelid_Tranquillo_int_install6_sm.jpg
Gelid_Tranquillo_int_install2_sm.jpg
 
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AkG

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AMD Installation

AMD Installation


Gelid_Tranquillo_amd_clip_sm.jpg
Gelid_Tranquillo_amd_clip2_sm.jpg

On the AMD side of things, the Gelid Tranquillo has its own set of positives and negatives. On the positive side, since it uses the standard AMD backplate and retention ring, installing it is as easy as installing the two AMD brackets to the base of the unit, prepping your CPU, applying TIM and clipping it in place. This certainly makes for a much more streamlined and down right speedy installation but it also means Gelid’s heatsink cannot be mounted in the typical East/West orientation. This is simply unacceptable in this day and age. We truly wish Gelid and many other manufacturers would take the time to do a proper AMD installation and stop treating this group of consumers like second class citizens.

Gelid_Tranquillo_amd_inst2_sm.jpg
Gelid_Tranquillo_amd_ram_sm.jpg

Moving on, the compatibility is not nearly as good as they were on the Intel side of things due to the oddball orientation of the heatsink. To be honest it really does feel like AMD compatibility was an afterthought as it certainly did not get the time and attention to details the Intel side of things received. Basically, we had to move our ram from their normal positions and use the other two slots. To be blunt, if you run 4 sticks of ram on an AMD rig you may run into problems with this product.

Gelid_Tranquillo_amd_inst5_sm.jpg
Gelid_Tranquillo_amd_inst6_sm.jpg
 
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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


To ensure that the results from one review to another are not only reproducible but actually pertinent to this review, the Testing Methodology will be the same throughout all reviews used. If something does change we will be sure to make a special note of it and explain why this change was done and more importantly why things had to be changed or altered.


Thermal Paste and Application Methods:


Arctic Cooling MX-2 thermal paste was used for all coolers during these tests unless otherwise noted.

For all non HDT coolers, application of thermal paste was in accordance with the TIM manufacturer’s instructions; and while not necessary, the TIM was allowed to cure for 24 hours under moderate to high loads (with periods of low loads) prior to testing.

For all 3 pipe HDT coolers two lines of TIM is applied to the two center metal posts and for all 4 pipe HDTS three (smaller) lines of TIM are applied to the metal posts. This method has been found to provide significantly better coverage than the more typical methods.


Fans Used:


120mm:



For all CPU Cooling Solutions which do not come with their own fan, a Noctua NF-P12-1300 and a Scythe S-Flex “G” 1900RPM fan will be used if it accepts 120mm fans. With these two fans we are able to simulate different fan speed conditions as indicated below.


Low Speed:


900RPM with a Noctua NF-P12-1300 with ULNA adapter. To be more precise our specific fan runs at 930RPMs. Any stock fan which comes with the ability of being controlled by means other than the motherboard (e.g. remote fan speed controller, potentiometer, rheostat, etc) will be set to this speed during the low speed test and BOTH sets of performance results will be included.


Moderate Speed:


1300RPM Noctua NF-P12-1300 with NO adapters used. To be more precise our specific fan runs at 1326RPMs. Any stock fan which comes with the ability of being controlled by means other than the motherboard (e.g. remote fan speed controller, potentiometer, rheostat, etc) will be set to this speed during the moderate speed test and BOTH sets of performance results will be included.


High Speed:


1900RPM Scythe S-Flex “G”. To be more precise our specific fan runs at 1860RPMs. Any stock fan which comes with the ability of being controlled by means other than the motherboard (e.g. remote fan speed controller, potentiometer, rheostat, etc) will be set to this speed during the High speed test and BOTH sets of performance results will be included.


Dual Fans*:


Dual NF-P12-1300s

*Dual fans only used if the cooler comes with the necessary mounting hardware.


92mm Fan:


If the cooler being tested only accepts 92mm fans, a Noctua NF-B9-1600 will be used.

If the given CPU cooling solution comes with a stock fan we will also include its numbers in the closest of the main tests BUT we will also include our standard fan results in that particular tests.


Fan Notes:


- If a heatsink cannot mount an aftermarket fan, we will be only including the stock fan results. However, if the stock fan speed can be precisely controlled by means other than the motherboard BIOS (an included remote fan speed controller, potentiometer, rheostat, etc), the cooler will be tested at different fan speeds.

- For dual fan results ALL coolers capable of mounting two fans (and come with the necessary hardware) will be tested with two NF-P12s and the Dual Fan graph will contain data for other such dual capable fan coolers.


We feel that the combination of multiple speeds and multiple fans will allow us to give you our readers clear and precise idea of the capabilities of a given unit, in an accurate comparison. It will also help eliminate the occasional “zinger” such as when a manufacturer includes an extremely high-speed fan in order to possibly offset poor heatsink thermal performance.


Environment:


All comparison testing was done on an open bench with a constant ambient temperature of 24°C. If at any time the room temperature increased or decreased by more than 1°C, testing was halted until the temperature constant was re-established.


Testbed:


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/tech_station_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

Unlike our previous methodology which used an open bench setup with a horizontally orientated motherboard, our new open bench is a modified Tech Station with a twist.

It has been modified so that the motherboard is in a more typical vertical orientation as it would be when installed in a case.

This has been done by the simple expedient of drilling out the bumper pads and threading long bolts (typically used for mounting fans to water cooling radiators) up through the top base of the tech station. Then by simply threading the bolts up through the motherboard we can then secure said motherboard to the tech station. Rubber mounts followed by a nut ensures that nothing moves. When the motherboard has been secured we simply tip the tech station on its side and using weights on the lower “legs” to keep it from tipping over we end up with a vertical orientated motherboard which is safe and secure yet still an open, controlled benching environment.


Mounting Orientation:


Only the typical East / West (aka forward / back) orientation will be used.


Temperature Recording:


Recorded temps were as reported via the Real Temp plug-in for the RivaTuner monitor program.

Max and Average load temps are based on 15 minutes of running Prime95 “small fft” and are taken directly from RivaTuner’s built in capabilities.

The maximum temperatures will be the highest recorded temp displayed for any of the cores during the 15 minute test. While RivaTuner will display each core's average temperature it does not easily show the average of ALL the cores. To this end we will be simply taking the average of all the cores adding them together and then dividing by the number of cores.

If during any test temperatures of 90°C or more are displayed in RivaTuner (for any core) for more than 10 consecutive seconds the testing will be halted and that test run will be considered a "fail".

Idle temperatures are the lowest recorded temperature during idle period as recorded by the RealTemp Rivatuner monitoring program.

All CPU throttling technology was disabled in the BIOS; as was all CPU fan speed control. In addition, Turbo Mode was disabled and Hyperthreading was enabled.

All tests are run a minimum of three times and only the best results are represented.


Charts & Graphs:


Due to clutter and confusion we now will only be including the best of the best. We understand that “best” does mean different things to different people, to this end we will only be including the top two “budget oriented” coolers and the top two performance orientated coolers, helping round out the charts we will also be including a 5th cooler which we feel is more well rounded with dual fan capabilities. For the time being this will be the TRUE Black. After each published cooler review we will re-evaluate the coolers being included in the charts and based on the value or performance may swap out a cooler for a cooler that was just reviewed.

We will also include the Intel OEM stock cooler results. This way you will not only know how it compares to the Intel stock unit and the best Damn Good Value coolers but also the best of the best Damn Good coolers out there. In grand total there will only be 6 coolers represented in a graph. However, if the review is a “round up” review this limitation will be extended to include all coolers in that review plus the above 6 cooling solutions. We will endeavour to keep the number as low as possible while still giving an accurate picture of the performance of all coolers being reviewed.

Each chart will include the Maximum or “peak” temperature we recorded, the average temperature and the idle temperature.

No passive results will be shown UNLESS manufacturer claims the ability to passively cool a processor. If a manufacturer claims passive capabilities we will include the performance numbers in the charts. The only exception to this is if the review is a “review roundup” and to keep the charts from becoming confusing we may not do so.


Sound Pressure Testing:


To give a more accurate and less of a personal opinion on the noise level of the stock fan which accompanies the heatsink, we have included a new section for sound pressure testing. These tests are done in our open case setup outlined above with the meter positioned 30 inches away from the cooler and mounted on a tripod. To ensure the background noise does not skew the results all tests will start by recording the ambient noise of the room. Only when it meets our standards will the testing commence.

To ensure that no external noise unduly skews the results, the GPU used will be a passively cooled unit and the only active fan will be the one on the cooler while the PSU and HDD are isolated away from the immediate area.

These tests are run late at night when no other people or animals are awake and thus unable to influence the results.

All fans are run at their maximum speed with no voltage or PWM control being used during the sound pressure tests.

The sound pressure meter used is a DT-805 which has been professionally calibrated and NIST certified. We will record the highest levels obtained with said meter and record it as our result. The test will be 15 minutes long and will be run while the fan is running full speed via a Molex connector and the CPU cores are under a full load via Prime 95 Small FFT.


Please note: The Scythe S-Flex G and Noctua NF-P12-1300 (at 1300 and 900rpms) numbers are taken when mounted to a Cooler Master Hyper 212+. We feel that it would be extremely unfair and unrealistic to include noise rating for these after market fans if they were NOT mounted onto a cooler. They are included to help give some sense of proportion to the charts and allow you to more easily compare a stock fan against a known quantity.


Complete Test System:


Processor: Intel i7 920
Motherboard: Gigabyte X58-UD3R
Memory: 6GB Aneon Xtune DDR3-1600
Graphics card: EVGA 7300GT passive
Hard Drive: 1x WD 320GB single platter
Power Supply: Topower Powerbird 900W


Special thanks to Direct Canada for their support and supplying the i7 920 CPU.

Special thanks to Gigabyte for their support and supplying the i7 motherboard.
 
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AkG

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Stock Fan Performance Results

Stock Fan Performance Results


2.6GHz


26_stock.jpg

As you can see, the 1500rpm stock fan on the Tranquillo does come awfully close to the performance levels offered by that of the Wing 12 PL 1800rpm fan. It is certainly going to be interesting to see how this cooler does with even lower speed fans. As with the Zalman Flex, the solid copper base certainly does help with efficiency and while it cannot compete with the likes of the Titan Fenrir, it is a very, very good cooler at this heat load.


3.42GHz


34_stock.jpg

As the heat is turned up, the Gelid Tranquillo once again easily beats most HDT coolers like the venerable OCZ Vendetta 2 and Cooler Master Hyper 212+!


3.8GHz


38_stock.jpg

Even when the heat is really turned up this cooler still does an admirably good job when compared against most other products in its price bracket. Of course, the best of the best are not included in these charts as the big boys usually don’t come with a fan.
 
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High Speed Fan Performance Results

High Speed Fan Performance Results


2.6GHz


26_scythe.jpg

Well one thing is certain: that Wing 12 PL is a really good fan as even the formidable Scythe S-Flex “G” can only barely beat it at stock heat loads. Also on the positive side is the Gelid Tranquillo is a very good cooler at stock heat loads and can even beat the mighty Prolimatech.


3.42GHz


34_scythe.jpg

Things are not quiet as rosy as they were at stock levels, as this cooler does drop down the charts a bit but it doesn’t fall as fast or as far as would have thought.


3.8GHz


38_scythe.jpg

The trend which started with the mid heat load test has obviously continued and as we can see the Gelid Tranquillo has a firm grip on 5th place. While this may not sound all that great, it actually is when you notice that the other more budget orientated coolers have fallen off the pace set by the big boys, this cooler is still holding its own and only doing slightly worse than the venerable TRUE Black.
 
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