How low can you go?
You're building that super slim HTPC for the living room because the wife's fed up with the big ugly computer case sitting next to the TV and has threatened to take the china and the dog unless you do something about it.
You buy a nice slim case and go to shove the Blu-ray drive in, only to realise, BANG! - It's hit the ungainly CPU cooler occupying half the case.
What to do, what to do...
Buy a new slim-line Blu-ray drive? Expensive!
Buy a larger case? Divorce!
Buy a new CPU cooler? BINGO!
Up steps GELID Thermal Solutions with the low profile Slim Silence CPU cooler.
GELID has taken its silent fan technology and sunken it right down into a heat sink that's barely an inch high, with an added heat pipe thrown in for good measure to prevent any hot spots from developing within the stealthy black aluminium.
Pre-applied thermal paste and a back plate support for the AM2 edition of this cooler make up the contents of the box along with a small manual and some free stickers.
As can be seen from this profile shot and the addition of a 2p coin, the heatsink is specified as 28mm high, putting it a few mill' over an inch.
The secret is in the frosting
GELID were also kind enough to supply their own brand thermal paste with a mini-spatula for precise application.
We can also see here that GELID has added to its packaging our Best Performance award as per our review on the GC-1 thermal paste a while back.
After cleaning back the pre-applied thermal gunk to put a fresh layer on the CPU itself, we can see that the back retains the same black anodised aluminium finish as the rest of it. However, quite disappointingly this has not been smoothed down at any point and is quite a rough surface. While I might not be an expert on HS/F's, I'm pretty sure that the contact base is supposed to be flat and smooth as possible in order to maximise contact and minimise thermal material between the two metals.
Any colour you like, so long as it's black
Any colour you like, so long as its black
Strapping this monolith to our test ITX rig, it looks very fitting with the J&W colour scheme or black aluminium fins.
The whole thing comes no higher than all the other heatsinks on this board and certainly is lower than the standard ATX format backplane on this motherboard.
Strapped into our compact ITX case, the biggest noticeable difference is that the heatsink does not dominate the space like others have; there is going to be plenty of room in there for a full sized Blu-ray drive now.
So that's what we shoved in, because after all, it's a HTPC. And look at that clearance! Less than half an inch of clear air stands between the heatsink and the bottom of the drive.
To give you a better idea of the sizes involved, this front of case shot shows how a full sized CD-ROM drive dominates the internal space of the casing, leaving barely enough room for a motherboard to fit beneath it.
So how does it run after shoe-horning the system together?
Booting up the system and leaving it to settle for 10 mins before taking some temperatures, we can see that it starts off initially quite acceptable at 41 deg C.
This is expected form a compact system where airflow is restricted and there are a lot of heat generating components close together (HDD, graphics, CPU, PSU).
After running Prime95 for 10 mins on both cores, we can see the temperature shoots right up to 67 deg C which is worryingly high for a system that can't exhaust heat as fast as regular systems can.
I feel that the system setup might be a bit too compact for this fan, with the need for more intake and exhausting fans to keep the heat down. Prolonged running of the system under load could easily result in thermal runaway and potentially damaged components.
I suggest to anyone building a slim system that if you choose this HSF to consider your airflow carefully and maximise it where possible.