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Prolimatech Genesis CPU Cooler Review

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AkG

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We'll start this review with an oxymoron: while advanced manufacturing technologies are gradually reducing CPU heat output, heatsink manufacturers keep making larger and larger coolers. Odd isn't it? Yes, marketing sells products and to many newcomers, bigger is better but again and again we've seen smaller, well designed coolers take some of the top spots in our charts. And now we have Prolimatech coming along to drop yet another huge dual tower heatsink into our laps. Called the Genesis, it dwarfs almost every other competitor on the market while sporting a fundamentally unique design. But can it succeed where its predecessors have failed?

Prolimatech is no stranger to dual tower designs, as they were one of the first companies to make dual fin array designs both potent and popular with their iconic Megahalems design. While the Genesis may not share much in common with the product which introduced enthusiasts to Prolimatech, it is still trying to forge a new path to greatness.

What makes this design unique is that unlike many other dual tower heatsinks, the Genesis takes a different road, a road less travelled. One that reminds us strongly of the Cooler Master V10 – sans TEC chip – since it combines the improved cooling of a tower style heatsink with the benefits of a down draft design. This is accomplished by simply bending one of the fin arrays at ninety degrees so it extends over the motherboard’s memory modules.

Unfortunately, past heatsinks which used a hybrid design such as the Genesis didn’t exactly perform up to our expectations. The aforementioned Cooler Master V10 took this approach and still couldn’t be called a “best in class” cooler even with a TEC helping it along. But with Prolimatech’s latest and greatest retailing for upwards of $75 USD, we naturally have some high expectations for it.


 
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AkG

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Specifications

Specifications










 
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A Closer Look at the Prolimatech Genesis

A Closer Look at the Prolimatech Genesis



The Prolimatech Genesis comes in a large white box with green, blue and silver accents. While there are no large photographs, or images of the heatsink to be found on the box, there are two small diagrams of it on the side which outline dimensions.

As befitting a Prolimatech branded heatsink, the accessories which accompany the Genesis are of extremely high quality. In grand total you get an installation pamphlet, a small tube of TIM, four wire fan clips (enough to mount two fans) and enough hardware to mount the Prolimatech Genesis to all Intel and AMD motherboards (including the upcoming FM1 socket). The addition of AMD compatibility is good to see but we’d expect nothing less from a heatsink that retails for over $70.


As we’ve already said, the Genesis is uses two massive heatsinks which uses thin aluminum fins in order to reduce the amount of static pressure needed to disperse the generated heat. Since the main tower’s fin array is meant to be pointed towards an enclosure’s back, a single fan should have no problems pushing air towards the rear exhaust fan of your case. In fact, the rear exhaust fan should – in theory – help suck the air through the Genesis and act almost like a second fan.


While each of the two fin arrays are extremely thin, the amount of heat they will be able to suck away from the six, 6mm heatpipes will be less than most single fin array coolers can. However, the amount of surface area granted by the sheer number of fins more than offsets this perceived limitation and could actually take the Genesis to the next level of cooling performance.


As many enthusiasts know, down draft coolers are usually not as efficient as tower style designs when it comes to keeping temperatures in check. But they make up for this by actively cooling a motherboard’s heatsinks. On the surface, combining a tower and a downdraft fin array into a hybrid design makes a lot of sense as it should feature the best of both worlds. In this case though, the downdraft fin array is meant to be positioned over the memory slots rather than VRM heatsinks. While this will certainly give your RAM active cooling abilities, other components are left out in the dark so to speak.

The only way of cooling the motherboard’s hottest running areas is by rotating the entire Genesis 90° and have the tower fin array pointed towards the top of your case and the downdraft pointed towards the PCI-E slots. This isn’t exactly an optimal solution since the Genesis will likely overhang the primary PCI-E slot and any hot air will be directed towards the graphics cards.


On the positive side, the base of the Genesis is finished to the same level we have come to expect from Prolimatech: to absolute perfection. So while we may have some reservations about the fin arrays and their design the same cannot be said about the base. It may not be perfect, but it is still well above average.
 
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AkG

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Prolimatech Genesis Installation

Prolimatech Genesis Installation


For anyone familiar with Prolimatech coolers, the Genesis’ mounting hardware will be instantly recognizable as it is the same as their Super Mega. This is certainly not a bad thing as it is easily one of the best setups currently available.


As usual, the first step of installation is to place the backplate in position and set the included posts into their proper locations. Then, using the short end of the included dual sided thumb screw's bolt, screw through the motherboard and into the backplate.

With the backplate installed the next thing to do is install the two large 775 / 1156 / 1366 combo brackets and gently lay them across the double sided screws before tightening the two larger cross braces into place. With the brackets in place and secured, we then applied our thermal compound and inserted the third bracket through the top of the cooler’s base.


As with previous Prolimatech models, this bracket has two “fingers” which line up with two small indents in the top of the Genesis’ base, allowing the bracket to freeze the cooler in place. With the bracket in place we simply lowered the cooler into position and used the two spring loaded screws to lock the whole thing together. Just remember to install the memory modules before putting the Gensis into place since part of its cooling array overhands the RAM slots.


With the cooler secured you can then easily mount either one or two fans to it with the 4 included fan clips. This is a simple process and we have to give Prolimatech kudos since these brackets are compatible with 120mm and 140mm fans. We strongly recommend you use two fans – one per fin array – as doing otherwise will result in less than optimal performance.


Unlike previous Prolimatech coolers we have looked at, the Genesis does have some major motherboard compatibility issues due to its size and the fact that it can only be mounted in one orientation. If your motherboard has overly tall VRM or chipset heatsinks this lone mounting direction can cause conflicts

Amazingly, ram height compatibility seems to be a non-starter since there is more than enough clearance for most IC heatsinks.


Unfortunately, the downdraft fin array was wider than our ATX motherboard which could cause some compatibility issues in smaller cases where the distance between the motherboard's leading edge and the disk drives is minimal at best. Just be aware of this before buying the Genesis.
 
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AkG

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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 centre 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 heat sink 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:



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.

Maximum voltage used is 1.35 volts.


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 what we feel are the best representatives of the main price ranges. These main prices ranges approximately are Intel OEM (free), $30, $40, $50, $60, and unlimited. Please keep in mind that prices are variable and while we have done our best to pick what we feel best represents a given price range there can and will be some overlap as these price ranges are not set in stone (with the exception being the Intel OEM cooler). To further help clarify a given cooler’s performance we will also be including a seventh CPU cooling solution, a cooling solution which irregardless of price best exemplifies what a good “all round” dual fan capable cooler should be. For the time being this last 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.

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 8 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 7 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


Please Note: Even though the Genesis does not come standard with any fans, Prolimatech sent our sample with two Prolimatech Red Vortex 140mm, 1000rpm fans. For the purposes of this review are going to consider theses as the “stock fans”.







Considering how quiet these 1000rpm fans are the results we attained are actually quite respectable. It seems the Genesis has been purposely built with low noise computing solutions in mind. Of course, you really do need two fans installed to get numbers what we would even begin to consider as “acceptable” from such a large and costly cooler.
 
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AkG

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High Speed Fan Performance Results

High Speed Fan Performance Results


Please note that as per our usual tests, these were conducted with a single Scythe S-Flex fan in order to better illustrate how the Genesis performs with a single fan installed. The fan was installed on the vertical portion of the heatsink.







These results really don't come as any surprise as this design needs two fans to be properly cooled.

The other mitigating factor is the Genesis' design doesn't need high static pressure fans to excel. However this also means that if you are not satisfied with the cooling results, sticking higher RPM fans on this heatsink will not necessarily improve performance by a noticeable amount.
 
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AkG

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Mid-Speed Fan Performance Results / Dual Fan Results

Mid-Speed Fan Performance Results








As expected, this cooler really, really needs two fans to even stand a chance of coping with high heat loads. This really is the nature of the Genesis beast, and considering the design of it, we can't really consider this a major flaw.



Dual Fan Results




It seems that while the Genesis does need two 140mm fans to give the best results since it seems to do perfectly fine with a pair of Noctua NF-P12s. This is really, really good news as the number of good 140mm fans on the market right now can be counted on one hand; whereas the number of good 120mm fans is nearly limitless. Better still, these numbers show that the Genesis design does not appear to need high static pressure, high speed fans.
 
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AkG

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Conclusion

Conclusion


In the current CPU cooling market releasing a product that stands out from the competition is becoming harder and harder. Many have argued that we have nearly reached the pinnacle of what air-based CPU heatsinks can attain performance-wise and to a certain extent it does seem like there’s been very little improvement over the last year or so.

While a CPU cooling plateau may have been reached some time ago, in our opinion there is always room for innovation. If anything, the unique design of the Genesis did allow it to excel in some areas but fall flat in many others. With a massive and somewhat ungainly shape it is obviously tailored to some very specific needs. That isn’t to say installation is overly hard; it is surprisingly pain free considering the Genesis’ sheer size which speaks volumes about Prolimatech’s engineering excellence. Just don't plan on using any overly tall memory modules.

When paired with large, low RPM fans performance is very good but we also have to remember that two good 140mm fans will also push the Genesis’ cost well over the $100 mark. But if the right fans are chosen and you're willing to pay a good amount of money, this heatsink can excel in numerous situations.

There may be some positive aspects here but we can’t think of a single reason why someone would choose the Genesis over the Prolimatech Megahalems, Super Mega, Thermalright Venomous X, Zalman CNPS10X or any number of other high end, dual fan compatible solutions currently on the market. Every one of the heatsinks we mentioned above functions perfectly well with a single fan installed but the same can’t be said about the Genesis. Its hybrid design means up to 50% of the heatsink will go without active cooling when a paired with a single and as a result, performance will plummet.

The Prolimatech Genesis is what we would call a very decent performer but its temperatures in relation to less expensive competitors makes its existence hard to justify in this day and age. With such stiff competition coupled with such a steep asking price, anything less than ultra high performance or the satisfaction of some obscure market niche is simply not good enough anymore. Unless you sincerely love the looks of the design or have some other need that can only be fulfilled by the Genesis, there are better, less expensive, and less obtrusive options to choose from.


Pros:

- Classic Prolimatech mounting setup
- Unique design
- Great low noise cooling potential
- Good Ram cooling abilities
- Does not require 140mm fans to obtain decent performance


Cons

- Price
- No included fans
- No included fan cable Y adapter
- Mediocre single fan cooling efficiency
- Potentially installation issues
- Memory really doesn’t need active cooling for most situations
 
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