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Prolimatech Super Mega CPU Cooler Review

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AkG

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As every good company knows, getting to the top of your chosen market niche is only half the battle; the other half is staying there! Prolimatech earned their reputation off the back of the innovative Megahalems design and have been going strong ever since. In order to retain their lead, numerous heatsinks have been introduced which have spanned nearly every category. In the interim however, competitors have released their own answers to the high end CPU cooling conundrum and have pressured Prolimatech to come up with something in an effort to retain their lead. That something is called the Super Mega.

On paper this new heatsink really doesn’t seem all that different from the Megahalems which was one of the same criticisms which was levelled at the now defunct Mega Shadow as well. But looks can be deceiving and instead of just giving it an all black paint job this beast weighs a heck of a lot more then the original and has a couple more small tricks up its polished copper and aluminum sleeve.

Thankfully, the Super Mega is fairly easy to find at your favourite retailer..if you are a resident of the US of A. Here in Canada it is a bit harder to find.

What is interesting is the price; at $70 it is nearly perfectly aligned with what the Megahalems used to retail for. Now the original Megahalems goes for about $60 so we have to wonder whether the Super Mega’s $10 price premium will translate into a meaningful performance difference. Let’s find out.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/spec4_sm.jpg " border="0" alt="" />
 
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AkG

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Specifications

Specifications
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/spec1.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/spec2.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/spec3.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/spec5.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/spec6.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
 
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AkG

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A Closer Look at the Prolimatech Super Mega

A Closer Look at the Prolimatech Super Mega



As with the Armageddon and Mega Shadow’s packaging, the Super Mega’s box is large, strikingly white and lists a basic set of specifications.

Opening up the box we can see that once again, the accessories are housed in their own small container, which is placed along of one side of the sides. The Super Mega itself resides inside of two form-fitting Styrofoam caps with a smaller tertiary Styrofoam cap to further increase its resistance to blunt force trauma while in transit. Also like the Armageddon, the Super Mega is further protected from scratches and the ilk via a thick cellophane bag.

Prolimatech_Super_Mega_access_sm.jpg
Prolimatech has settle upon it seems they have also settled upon a standard list of accessories. In grand total you get a large tube of TIM, installation manual, standard and 70lb mounting springs, two sets of small 120mm / 140mm fan clips and all the mounting equipment needed for Intel 775, 1156 and 1366 systems. Sadly, the Super Mega does not come with a stock fan nor AMD mounting hardware.

Interestingly, this is only the second CPU cooling solution we have seen which comes standard with 70lb mounting pressure abilities. The last one was Thermalright’s Venomous X.

Prolimatech_Super_Mega_ang1_sm.jpg
Prolimatech_Super_Mega_ang2_sm.jpg

When it comes to the design Prolimatech’s Super Mega not much has changed from the Megahalem Rev. B dual tower layout. It even has the same number of cooling fins and 6 large u-shaped heatpipes but this isn’t a bad thing since the previous design was a definite winner on many levels.

Prolimatech_Super_Mega_comp_sm.jpg
Prolimatech_Super_Mega_comp2_sm.jpg

When it comes to the actual physical properties of the fin array the only thing which is different is blatantly obvious: copper. While some other companies have come out with all copper versions, Prolimatech realized that making their already large heatsink out of pure copper would have made it insanely heavy and unappealing to most of the market (a mistake Thermalright had to learn the hard way). Rather then opting for just swapping out the aluminum fins, Prolimatech took advantage of the fin design and swapped out the outer portion of 32 fins for copper ones. This added heat dispersing capacity should help performance.

Prolimatech_Super_Mega_heatpipes2_sm.jpg
Prolimatech_Super_Mega_base_sm.jpg

Sadly, while the fin array did get a make over the base of the Super Mega is still less than optimal. Prolimatech still doesn’t take the time to mirror finish their bases like some other companies and while the Prolimatech standard factory finish is free of pits and burs it can only be considered average by today’s high standards.

Upon first glance, the only tweaks that Prolimatech have opted to include in this “all new” Super Mega cooler are weight and bling. Luckily, they do have another trick up their sleeves to help keep their customers from considering this nothing more then a “Megahalem Rev. C or Rev. D”: the included 70lb springs. This increased mounting pressure added to the additional weight and thermal efficiency the copper fins should give this CPU cooling solution a legitimate reason why it is more than merely a new revision.
 
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AkG

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Prolimatech Armageddon Installation

Installation


For anyone familiar with Prolimatech coolers, the Super Mega’s mounting hardware will be instantly recognizable as a slightly tweaked version of the Armageddon’s kit. This is certainly not a bad thing as it is easily one of the best setups out there.

backplate_sm.jpg
bracket_sm.jpg

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.

install_sm.jpg

As with previous Megahalem models, this bracket has two “fingers” which line up with two small indents in the top of the Super Mega’s 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. If you are the overly cautious type use the stock silver screws, but if you want 70lbs of force use the two black ones. The black ones are obviously a little tougher to get fully installed so expect to use a bit of elbow grease to get them all the way down but since the top bracket still has those wonderful metal cups it isn’t all that difficult either.

clips_sm.jpg
clips2_sm.jpg

With the cooler secured you can then easily mount either one or two fans to it with the 4 included fan clips. To do so you simply slide them in and over the plastic frame of the fan and then place the fan into position on the Super Mega. This is a simple process and we have to give Prolimatech kudos since these brackets are compatible with 120mm and 140mm fans.

ram_sm.jpg

Since this is for all intents and purposes a heavier, yet prettier Megahalem cooler the list of mounting issues you are going to run into is exactly the same: not many assuming your motherboard’s heatsinks are not overly tall. While things were tight all around when it came to dual fan setups, there were no actual physical limitations or installation issues worth talking about.

install2_sm.jpg
install3_sm.jpg
 
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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:

tech_station_sm.jpg


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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High Speed Fan Performance Results

High Speed Fan Performance Results


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/26_scythe.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/34_scythe.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/38_scythe.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

As you can see the new Super Mega with its super sized weight is slightly better then the original Megahalem but the difference is not all that great until the heat is REALLY turned up. This is not all that unexpected as we consider this “all new” CPU cooling solution to be nothing more than the latest refinement on the Megahalem design.
 
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AkG

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Mid-Speed Fan Performance Results

Mid-Speed Fan Performance Results


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/26_1300.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/34_1300.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/38_1300.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

Once again the difference is not night and day between the Super Mega and the older Megahalem but there is definitely an improvement here. This minor improvement compared to the high speed fan results is well within error tolerances but it does firmly cement the idea that this cooler is slightly better then the original.
 
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AkG

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Low Speed Fan Performance Results

Low Speed Fan Performance Results


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/26_900.jpg " border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/34_900.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Super_Mega/38_900.jpg " border="0" alt="" />​

Once again the difference between the two Prolimatech beasts is minor but it now almost a full degree. If we were to hazard a guess we would say it is more a case of the increase mounting pressure rather then the copper fins being efficient enough to cause such a difference.
 
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AkG

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Dual Fan Performance Results / Increased Pressure

Dual Fan Performance Results


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

Once again the Super Mega is slightly better than the Megahalem Rev. B. Is it worth the asking price compared to the Megahalem? Only you can answer that one. With that being said, if performance is your main concern the Super Mega makes a VERY good argument in its favor considering it can do a good job with high, medium, low and even dual fan setups.


Effectiveness of the Increased Mounting Pressure


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

Well it seems that the added pressure does indeed work and work better than it does with the Ven X. It always was our firm belief that it wasn’t pressure keeping the Venomous X from “greatness” but its less than optimal design and this right here is proof of that. Over a full degree difference ion average is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you add in the already slightly improved results the Super Mega posts compared to the Megahalem’s numbers.
 
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AkG

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Conclusion

Conclusion


Thinking back over this review there really is two ways you can look at the Super Mega. Our cynical jaundiced eye side says that this really is nothing more than a fancy new revision of the now classic Megahalem. However, it is also our opinion that Prolimatech doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel every time they release a new cooler. As long as the new revision outperforms the old one, it’s a step in the right direction and that’s exactly what the Super Mega does.

There are plenty of reasons to recommend the Super Mega over its older sibling. It comes with a slightly better mounting setup and fan clips fan clips which are now 120/140mm capable. We also like seeing 70lb springs included which do improve performance without necessarily increasing the difficulty of installation. This also happens to be one of the highest performing CPU heatsinks we have come across in our testing.

Granted, for many people the performance difference between the Super Mega and the Megahalem won’t be enough to justify spending the extra money on the latest and greatest. Looking back at the numbers this reaction is perfectly understandable but we like the fact that Prolimatech now has a product that can satisfy the market that wants something better than their old flagship without paying an arm and a leg for it. Speaking of cost; this is another one of our concerns since with a pair of good 120mm fans installed, the Super Mega starts flirting with the $100 mark. We also don’t like seeing AMD users getting the short end of the stick

The Super Mega isn’t in any way cheap but you can afford the asking price and want very good performance – yet aren’t comfortable with the size of something like the Noctua D14 – then the Super Mega should be on your short list for consideration. The 70lb pressure mounts and the addition of copper fins do indeed produce slightly better temperatures than its predecessor. This puts the Super Mega into a truly elite category amongst other air based coolers.


Pros:

- Easy Installation
- Great performance
- Excellent mounting setup
- Good looks
- Comes with enough clips to mount two fans
- 140mm fan capable


Cons:

- No stock fan included
- Price
- Weight
- No AMD mounting hardware

 
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