This is the first time I have had the pleasure of getting my hands on a GELID cooler. Most likely this is due to GELID being a fledgling company established in 2008, based in Hong Kong with Swiss management. As you know from their knives, the Swiss leave nothing to chance. And this goes for GELID's products as well. There are features on this cooler that take engineers a lot of time to figure out solutions to, but GELID took the bull by the horns and ran with their ideas and concepts which made it to the fruition of their new cooler. With GELID taking their name based off the word gelidus, Latin for icy or extremely cold, with our testing we shall see if they can stand up to their company name sake.
This time around, we are looking at the GELID Silent Sprit, the latest of GELID's products to surface. This coolers small footprint and lower clearance makes it a good candidate for HTPC's and m-ATX users. With the 90mm fan that comes supplied with the Silent Spirit, I would expect this cooler to hold its own against the rest of the group.
While I would lay money on the fact that this cooler isn't designed with the overclocker in mind, here at TweakTown we pull no punches when testing our coolers; they all get equal abuse in our testing. With that being said, I think it's about time to get a look at the Silent Spirit and strap it to the test rig and see just how well GELID does.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The GELID Silent Sprit is a space saving design that measures in at only 125mm high and weighs in at a measly 370 grams. This cooler includes a copper base that has its four heat pipes soldered to it, topped with a nickel-plated aluminum heat sink to get the heat removal started. The heat is then transferred to an intriguing, textured aluminum fin, which I personally have never seen before on a cooler. The Silent Spirit is also not entirely parallel in the fins relationship to the motherboard. This is to improve the airflow from the cooler with its ability to also cool the surrounding components.
GELID cools the Silent Spirit with a 90mm open cage type fan. This cage is more of a finger guard than anything else. The openness of this cage is to allow the most air into the fan with the least restriction. The fan itself is isolated from its plastic mount with anti-vibration dampeners in each corner. With a sound level proposed at a maximum of 25.8 dBA, I would expect a bit of noise, but nothing unmanageable. We shall soon see in this review just how well this fan does.
The GELID Silent Spirit is found on a select few e-tailers. Taking some time to search it out with Google shopping lead me to two sites I would consider purchasing from, other than E-bay. First was aerocooler.com which has a retail price listed at $29.75 plus shipping. The second hit lead me to feppaspot.com, where they had a bit of a surprise. They actually list the cooler for a bit more money, $31.95 to be exact, but it is listed to include the LGA1366 hardware as well. Looking around, I also found the LGA1366 mounting hardware for sale on its own at a price of around $5. Either way, if you purchase them together or separately, it isn't going to hit you hard in your pocket.
The Silent Spirit is shipped in a really non-descript grey and white package with just a slash of bright light green for accent. There is a small cut-away so you may get a little peek at the side view of the cooler.
The right side of the package shows us the nine main features of the Silent Spirit and a graph of the aggressive fan speed control of GELID's intelligent PWM management.
The back of the box is where GELID has gone ahead and explained the features a bit more in depth this time. Underneath that are some of the more important specifications listed.
The other side shows the applications for the Silent Spirit, while under those is a graphic showing GELID's airflow concept.
Removing the cooler from the box reveals this cooler is shipped centered in some plastic trays. This system is very secure and does prevent shipping mishaps. Included with this cooler is the switchable AMD mounting hardware and a GELID case badge. In the accessories section of GELID's site they include a single 3-pin to dual 3-pin PWM "Y" adapter and the LGA1366 mounts, as being sold separately.
The GELID Silent Spirit
The compact nature of the Silent Sprit is very evident from the side view. This cooler comes equipped from GEILID's factory ready to be applied to any LGA775 motherboard. One point of interest is the slight angle GELID has chosen to use on this cooler. This is in place to help aid in the cooling of the surrounding motherboard components.
With this view of the "top" of the cooler there is a good look at the textured fin pattern that surround those four, 6mm heat pipes.
A look from this side shows how the nickel plated base and its surrounding heat sink takes the heat to the soldered in heat pipes. The fins on the other hand are stamped, slid down and stacked to finish the heat dissipation.
The base of this cooler is shipped from the factory with pre-applied GC-1, high performance Thermal compound. This base is a copper center surrounded by a nickel plated aluminum heat sink atop of it. While this works for most end users, I have to remove it and level the field by testing with the same TIM on every cooler.
Here I have removed the TIM and get a close up of the flatness of the base. While this image shows a nice pattern in the milling of the base, it isn't as obvious to the naked eye.
This is the point where I get to the workhorse of the Silent Spirit. This 90mm, 45.8 CFM fan is surrounded by a very open finger guard style cage. That combined with the rubber anti-vibration mounting for the fan will keep the fan and the cage from making noise against each other.
This view of the underside of the fan is set on this angle to point out how this fan mounts to the fins of the Silent Spirit. With two simple tabs on either side, this fan simply clips over the top of the cooler with minimal effort. The final fit is a bit loose for the cage to the cooler; the fan can move around a bit.
This is a really close look at how the Silent Spirit has the cage and the fan housing separated from vibration from each other. GELID didn't take this train of thought all the way to the cooler though, as the plastic is in direct contact with the fins, loosely as stated earlier.
Here we view what usually isn't able to be seen clearly while the fan is mounted to the cooler. GELID has taken a two fin high, three fin low design concept. They have put a lot of thought into the airflow on the Silent Spirit, so I would venture to say they did this to keep the correct spacing to maximize the turbulence created by the fan.
From the side this fin design is less evident as GELID has left the edges with a tab on every fin to help support the fan clamping system.
Accessories and Documentation
As I covered when I opened the package originally, the included goodies are minimal. Just the AMD mounting hardware and the GELID case badge come with it. A bit of looking online shows that some of these coolers are sold with the LGA1366 mounts in the box as well.
GELID has simplified the Silent Spirit's installation process to a six step process for Intel LGA775 users. For those using AMD or LGA1366, there is an additional step of removing the screw to swap out the appropriate mounting hardware, then screw it back into place. Then continue on with the instructions as GELID shows. While GELID goes as far as to show these instructions in four total languages, even including images, the Silent Spirit was easy to take out of the box and install.
A close up look at how the LGA775 bracket comes mounted from GELID installed.
With the removal of one Phillip's head screw on either side, the LGA775 mounts can be taken off and replaced with the AMD or LGA1366 mounts as needed.
TweakTown uses a different method for testing CPU heatsinks which allows for an even playing field across all product tests. We feel that by using the same ambient temperature and strict lab-like testing procedures we are able to accurately compare one product to another. More information on our testing procedure can be found in the T.E.C.C. article here.
The GELID Silent Spirit holds its own in the torture chamber of testing we at TweakTown submit them to. While definitely not a record setting run, the cooler performed better than most of the competition at load. The Silent Sprit idled at 56.8 Celcius, while load temps weren't far from that, peaking at 62 Celcuis right on the nose. That leaves this cooler better than more than half of this list at load. Nice job done by GELID there.
This bit of the testing is where I was a little disappointed. With all the science and know-how put into the rest of this cooler, the noise levels weren't all that nice to have coming out of the test rig. Only three coolers did worse than the Silent Spirit in this category, one of those being the AMD stock cooler. Although even with its higher level of sound, 63dB at idle and 68dB at load, when the fan ramps up the difference is minimal. One thing I did notice that contributed to the noise factor is that once the fan runs at full speed on 12V power, the entire mounting system rattled against the fins. If GELID could somehow do away with that aspect, the noise levels would drop a bit.
Update - New Test Results In
Update - Retail Cooler Test Results
GELID had taken note of our review of their Silent Spirit CPU cooler and were disappointed with our audio testing results. As such, they had gotten in contact with us to have us retest using a new retail sample. With the previous sample being a pre-release version, certain things might be overlooked and improved upon before the product makes it to retail shelves. It's time now to test the replacement in the box and get some pictures and new sound results.
GELID assumed the cooler must have been damaged in shipping. I feel it was honestly more so an issue with the fan. This does happen and it's nobody's fault. With the amount of hardware I go through, I sort of expect a failure at some point, simply due to playing the averages. But there's no point in making a fuss over what the problem actually is; the main point here is that GELID saw something they didn't like and stepped up and replaced the cooler on the spot. I can only hope that this type of treatment goes on down the line to their everyday customer.
My first action was to mount the cooler to our rig and get the audio testing out of the way with the cooler in its "out of the box" condition. I will address this further into the review. I then took the fan off of the fins and took a few images of my findings.
Here we have a side by side comparison of the fans in question. To the left is the new replacement; to the right is the pre-released version. Other than a sticker switch, there was a tiny bit of plastic added to the retail version of the fan.
Here is the pre-release cooler with the bit of plastic I was speaking about earlier; the first "rib" of plastic on this fan doesn't quite make it all the way to the inner edge of the fan housing.
As you can see here on the retail sample, the same bit of plastic has been extended and also visible is a light indent of where the old piece stopped.
Now let's put it to the test and see if there's an improvement to be seen, or heard I should say.
Mounting the cooler and getting the testing done left me surprised to say the least. Our idle testing revealed that the fan was spinning, but slowly enough to be almost completely inaudible, as the chart shows.
Switching over to the load voltages is where I was stunned. This cooler revealed to me in no uncertain terms why it is called the Silent Spirit. With a loaded reading of 35dB, the Silent Spirit soars to the top of our list for quiet cooling solutions. GELID set the bar high on this one to beat out most of the competition by being almost 50% quieter. That's an impressive feat to achieve!
Update: GELID have responded in regards to the rattling issue and claim the reason for this was that the cooler was damaged in transit. You can read our response to this in the Right of Reply section at the end of the review.
The GELID Silent Spirit enters the market admirably for the size and cost of this cooler. While the general idea of this type of cooler is nothing new, GELID takes the idea many steps further in their design. At the bottom the heat pipes are soldered in for better thermal transfer, an extra step not taken by most manufacturers. These then go up to the nickel plated lower heat sink, similar to the SkiveTEK heatsink on the Nexus I just reviewed. All of this heat is then taken away by the pipes into the textured fins.
I alluded many times the fact of all this science and math that is involved in the production of the Silent Spirit; here is what I was getting at. GELID started by angling the cooler as Nexus did, but with a less severe angle to the motherboard; both of which are designed to increase the cooling to the vital components surrounding the CPU socket, nothing really new here. Upon closer inspection I found that the fan is designed to actually stay off of the fins by a certain set measurement, which is to maximize the turbulence of the airflow that reaches the fins. That leads me to the final engineering trick, the textured fins. I have a feeling that this has to do with the same principle of a golf balls dimples. Instead of the surface being flat, the texture actually creates mini pockets of air to reduce drag, effectively speeding the airflow along through the Silent Spirit.
Update 2: After GELID having issued us with a fixed retail sample that well surpassed our expectations, I sit here typing, having to eat my words for tonight's sustenance, as GELID was right on the money with their assessment of my findings. Again, no matter why the original cooler was producing such a racket, GELID has in my eyes redeemed themselves and produced one of the best solutions for both the temperature control of the CPU, as well as being the quietest solution money can buy on air.
For the HTPC users and those who just need the sound of, well, nothing, the Gelid Silent Spirit CPU cooler should be at the top of your list.
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Since the CPU cooler sample TT received was a damaged (thank you post man) first pilot run sample we both have decided to retest a new mass production sample and revise the review.
Upon arrival, all package