Coolers seem to follow a very typical plan of what makes a good tower cooler. Some companies try fancy edge designs, while others implement more and more heat pipes to transfer the heat, all with varying success. To save a ton of money in real world building and testing, computer simulated environments are definitely the way to go. GELID has offered silent cooling prior to this, but this time they looked at things a little differently.
At this point the typical company introduces a louder fan into the mix and says there is give and take to the mix, and that it's just a way of manufacturing a better performing complete package. GELID took a different approach; they were looking for a better way to keep the best of both worlds, and with hours of programming and simulations in the development stages, have come up with a slightly different way to maximize the coolers potential, and at no expense to your ear drums.
What do you have at this point in a design? Well, frankly, a slightly chevron shaped cooler that boasts lower acoustic levels than their previous cooling solutions. Taking on a new design and using a couple of other known "tricks of the trade", GELID hopes to give consumers the best of both worlds; both silence and performance. Now that we have a basic concept fresh in our mind, let's get into the specifications so we can get a better look at this unique design in the GELID Tranquillo.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
As far as typical coolers go, there isn't anything here that leads you to think that the GELID Tranquillo is anything special. GELID uses all the same materials like copper in its four heat pipes and aluminum in the fins, just like any other. The Tranquillo also falls right into the averages in its near 650 gram weight and 153mm height. This will allow the Tranquillo to fit inside of most mid towers and stay clear of door panels. The magic happens in the way the fan rids the specially shaped fins of the CPU's heat.
Speaking of ridding the fins of heat, GELID utilized a 58 CFM, 120mm fan specially designed to handle this task. This fan is PWM controlled and is capable of running as slow as 700 RPM. When demand calls for it, this fan is capable of up to 1500 RPM. These might sound like very good specs for a 120mm fan, but to be honest, they aren't. But GELID is putting silence first and engineered the Tranquillo around this fan. To be real honest, I'm a bit skeptical that the fan can handle very high wattage CPU's, but we will soon see as the T.E.C.C doesn't choose sides.
I'm sorry to say that currently only one e-tailer shows stock of the Tranquillo at this time. I was able to locate it at Mwave.com for $39.99 plus shipping. This price is just above GELID's own $38 MSRP, but the cooler is fresh off the presses and currently there is no competition to drive pricing down a bit. As with most things, once availability rises the pricing should drop a bit as well, especially in the more major e-tailers. If this cooler strikes a chord with you, keep an eye out for stock at your favorite retailers, as I'm sure more stock is soon to hit the shelves.
The Tranquillo ships in the typical white and grey packaging we are used to seeing with the GELID green accents. The cooler is shown in the middle and the compatibility is boldly shown with the same green accent color.
Four features top the list on this side. Under those features is a very well laid out specifications table to inform you of just what you are buying.
The long list of applicable processors for both AMD and Intel adorn the back of the box. In the middle there are small images of the included mounting hardware. The bottom shows just what the simulations showed. The design redirects airflow to maximize what the 58 CFM fan has to offer.
This side, again, shows features. Only this time there are six, now including the silent operation, and five year warranty icons. Near the bottom GELID displays the curve the fan follows with its PWM function, essentially ramping the fan speed based on temperatures usually.
Pulling the Tranquillo out of the box, I found a snap together, plastic inner package that sits on top of the hardware box at the left. This packaging secures both the fan and the cooler for shipment and the box keeps the hardware from causing any damage during shipping.
The GELID Tranquillo CPU Cooler
The first look at the Tranquillo out of the box played tricks on my camera. This is where the fan is placed and as you can tell, this is where the lab testing starts to show. A few of the more visible design elements are the staggering of the heat pipes, the valley cut into the face of the fins, the texturing done to each of the individual forty fins and a pre-cooler on top of the base. These all play into reducing resistance to the 58 CFM GELID chose to work with.
The side of the Tranquillo uses mostly closed ends. This allows the fins to recapture blow-by that usually escapes open sided coolers. The groove to the right is for the wire fan mounts, and the sides are left open right behind the fan, I would assume to allow for draw of more incoming air; sort of a chimney effect.
The "chevron" look of the fins also carries over the back of the Tranquillo. By redirecting all the air from the sides, by the time it gets to the back of the fins most of the air flow is centralized. Adding the point in the center allows the extra square inches of surface area a bit more efficient.
Looking down on the top the chevron shape is more obvious, as well as the texturing done to the fins. Where the four staggered heat pipes come out of the top, GELID has added a shroud that not only captures more lost air from the fan, but it also is a great platform for the Tranquillo sticker. The choice of black Lexan is a nice contrasting touch.
The base of the Tranquillo does have a pre-cooler atop the heat pipes. Remembering the diagram from the outside of the box, air that escapes under the bottom fin blows across this 35 pin cooler. The four, U shaped heat pipes are fused between the solid copper base and the aluminium top portion with the pre-cooler and mounting holes. There is also evidence of TIM squeezing out from between the two dissimilar metals in the base.
The working end and where all the heat leaves the processor, we get a good look at the Tranquillo's mating surface. The discoloration is what I believe to have been coolant from the milling process. As you can see, the marks from the aluminium to the copper match, and against a razor it is flat across the copper, but the edges tended to bevel up a bit. Neither of these is a big deal, as the IHS mostly sits across the copper portion of the base, and a bit of alcohol made all the spots on the base go away.
Now that we have seen the cooler, let's have a look at this fan. The 120mm fan was specifically engineered to allow for maximum air pressure and reduce the resistance of surface areas on the fan. From the angle of the blade to the texture on both the blades and the fans housing, it is all done to benefit the end user with good performance from a silent fan.
Installing the wire fan clips was a breeze, and as you can see, the white blades of this fan cover quite a bit of surface area. You can almost get a real feel for how the air comes in around the sides and gets directed towards the middle in the rear, and just why the points on the back of the fins are useful.
From the side it is obvious the fan covers all of the fins from top to bottom. With just a bit peeking over the top, you can see that there is a bit for the shroud to capture and utilize, and any excess blowing out the bottom will go right across the pre-cooler.
Accessories and Documentation
Starting off the hardware section, we have the case badge and small syringe of GC2 included with the Tranquillo.
Against the wall, and face the front! This is the included line-up of Intel's LGA1366, LGA1156 and LGA775 back plates. All three are specific enough to allow for things like the i5 socket retention mounting, and are also isolated from the motherboard with double sided foam tape.
The rest of the mounting hardware is shown here. Starting off at the left with the adaptable i7 / i7 legs. Simply screw the legs into the side of the base and match the holes up with either socket, and screw the thumbscrews into the back plate.
In the middle are the AMD mounting pieces, which also screw into the sides of the base, but clip on in typical AMD fashion.
The right side shows the LGA775 mounting, and they install in the same way I described the other Intel mounts. Of course, there are the four thumb screws with springs, and the two Phillips head screws for mounting the legs included.
That leaves us with the one set of wire fan clips. Since the Tranquillo isn't designed to allow for a push and pull configuration, one set is plenty.
The instructions are very basic and to the point. The text is multi-lingual to better support GELID's market, and there are very good images to help you along. All three of the Intel setups mount in a very similar fashion; just pick the correct parts and have a look at the assembly process.
The AMD side of the instructions is very similar to Intel's except for the mounting of the cooler to the motherboard socket. Clips replace the outstretched legs and thumbscrews.
Test System &Testing Results
Test System & Test Results
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.
Comparing apples to apples here is a tough one, as most of the coolers on this list are both a lot louder, and usually boast a much better CFM rating. I feel the Tranquillo is on par with performance with a lower output fan. Seeing what this cooler can do with limited airflow, it stands to reason if sound isn't an issue, you could easily slap a 100+ CFM fan on here and keep up with the bigger players.
At 58 CFM I would expect the fan to be on the low end of the spectrum here, but I didn't realize it was going to be anywhere near this quiet. Testing with all the same methods and equipment, I found the GELID Tranquillo fan to have just a bit more noise than what a Noctua fan user is used to. Those who have had the joy of using those fans can understand a fair bit better what sort of accomplishment this is. While there was a bit of performance lost, the dead silence during even loaded operation is outstanding.
GELID left no stone unturned when designing the Tranquillo. From textured, redesigned fin concept to reality, all based around a mediocre performing fan at best, I have to say GELID really surprised me with the end result. I'm not a huge fan of the white blades, but it seems to be GELID's trademark fan color scheme. However, that's personal preference and who am I to mess with their success. Either way, the Tranquillo seems to be the new "sleeper" in cooling technology.
The complaint list is short with the Tranquillo, and actually, it has already been covered when I mentioned the color of the fans blades. Aside from this, there really isn't anything I can nitpick on with this cooler. The build quality is good, the hardware is easy to use and install and the instructions will get you through any tough spots. I really ended up liking the shape and the stamped texture in the fins is something I can live with. I am really impressed with what hours of simulations in a PC environment can lead to in real life.
Limited availability is the only real downfall to the Tranquillo at this time. The asking price isn't what I would call unreasonable; in fact, it's quite average for a newly released 120mm tower cooler. What isn't average is what you get. Aside from larger "monster" coolers, the Tranquillo has to be packed with the most features and design elements over any of its direct competition. I have never personally bought from Mwave, so I can't personally say run out and get one from them, but I will say if you are looking for a silent cooler on a budget, the Tranquillo pretty much takes that crown. If noise isn't an issue, accommodate for a bit extra and have a go. I think this cooler can run with the big dogs if you choose a louder more obnoxious fan.