For those who are fluent in the Bible, I'm sure the passages of Samuel 17 are well known. For those less apt to attend church, or maybe not as fluent in the big book, it refers to the story of David versus Goliath. In this story Goliath, a giant of his day comes and asks for anyone to come forward and attempt to defeat him. Now, imagine Goliath as the biggest man you have ever seen and he is covered from head to toe with a helmet and chainmail armor, not to mention one of the heaviest swords in existence. As the story progresses, David, with his guidance from the All Mighty, steps up to the challenge with just a sling and a few round stones he had just picked up from a creek bed. Goliath of course laughs at the contender, but in the end, one solidly placed blow from a stone ends up putting Goliath out for the count and face down in the dirt.
Now, David in that story was guided by God to "help" him in his defeat. Now I mean no disrespect to those who pray, but I'm hoping I don't have to be a believer to make this cooler work as advertised. This is the smallest cooler in height I have ever tested, even shorter than the 45mm stock Intel cooler, out of the box. In relative size it should, or could rather, be cooled with an 80 or 92mm fan, but that isn't the case in Prolimatech's latest submission.
Today we will take the Prolimatech Samuel 17 CPU cooler out into the valley and put it up against our Goliath, the T.E.C.C, test box, and see who wins this time around. I will also be using a lower noise producing, 60 CFM fan, as this cooler is designed for HTPC builds and we don't want a ton of noise coming from those. I will also use an 88 CFM fan that in my opinion is loud, but might be acceptable in a SFF LAN build. Let's get a good spot to view the battle and see who comes out victorious in today's world of fierce combat.
Specifications, Availability and PricingSpecifications, Availability and Pricing
Samuel 17 arrives to your door in a very small box, at least for what I am used to seeing. Inside the box you will find a 45mm tall cooler made from aluminum that surrounds the six, 6mm, copper heatpipes. One thing you won't find in the box is a fan, just like with the Megahalems I received. They do recommend a 120mm fan that runs somewhere between 1000 and 2000 RPM. Since the fan noise may be an issue in a HTPC build, a slower fan may be desired to fit on any of today's current processors. For those looking for ultimate performance with the smallest cooler on the market, a 2000RPM fan may be just what you are after to keep your SFF build cool during gaming.
The Samuel 17 draws heat out of the processor via the direct contact of the aluminum base and pre-cooler that surrounds the heatpipes. The heatpipes exit the base and in 27mm they make a u-turn and pass through the aluminum fins. Prolimatech states that there should be no compatibility issues on any motherboard. Seeing for myself how compact it really is, I can say I tried on some really tight motherboards and I had no issues getting the cooler on either board.
Currently, we still haven't seen stock of this cooler arriving on shelves yet. Via emails with them I was told to expect it in late June and well, that time is upon us, so I expect them to show up any day now. With no shopping or pricing available either, all I can go by is the MSRP of $42 set by Prolimatech. Under $50 for a good aftermarket cooler is a fair price, especially for those in a "tight spot". Even though the cooler may fit where some others can't, for that 50-ish dollars, the cooler still needs to be better than stock, or what is the point in going aftermarket, right? - With our Goliath just waiting for the pre-fight imaging to commence, let's get to them so we can sit back and watch the battle ensue.
The Samuel 17 comes in a white box, splashed with blue and uses black to accent. On top of the box Prolimatech also offers a rendering of the cooler inside.
With a cooler so compact and with no included fan, it keeps the specifications down to a pretty simple list.
On the back, or bottom, depending on perspective, there is another rendering of the cooler and a website address if you need any additional information.
This side is used to list seven key features found on and in the Samuel 17.
I removed the contents from the box entirely to show the quality of the internal protection. Using high density foam, they surround and protect the cooler really well. With a notch cut out of the side, the hardware box is packed with mounting hardware and keeps it from getting loose during transit. You will also find a folded up instruction sheet riding on top of the cooler.
The Prolimatech Samuel 17 CPU CoolerThe Prolimatech Samuel 17 CPU Cooler
Just like in the story of David versus Goliath, when I pulled the cooler out of the packaging my first thought was "aww look, it's so cute" and I chuckled to myself, just as Goliath did to David. From this side you can see the large aluminum pre-cooler that holds the six, 6mm heatpipes. These Nickel coated, copper pipes then make a sharp return into the thirty-nine, thick aluminum fins.
Looking at the end of the pipes in the thick bracket shows they are placed evenly on termination. While they use only thirty-seven regular fins, both of the fan brackets are mounted to the pipes and will draw heat away as well.
The opposing side looks the same as the other, only the pipes and shorter fins are reversed. That notch at the left, in some installs, will allow for RAM to sit underneath if need be. You can see the offset is heavier to the left and the notch is an excellent addition to such a compact cooler to fit even easier for any situation.
The other mounting bracket is the first thing the heat pipes will radiate to and these being about twice as thick as the fins, they should actually help out in cooling. The pipes get their initial stress from their soldered position between the base plate and the pre-cooler sections.
The mounts on either side of the fins are made for mounting a 120mm fan and this should give you a much better perspective of just how small the cooler actually is. With the fans mounted position you can see that just over the memory notch in the fins, the fan will blow down over the top of them. If the cooler needs oriented a little different in your build, the chipset or phase area can benefit from this extra air flow.
The actual base material is copper and is milled level, but has a curved texture of lines in the base. Again, just like when I looked at the Megahalems, there is a warning on their site about definitely not condoning lapping the base. The four holes at the top and bottom are used for pins in the legs for the mounting hardware, the others for the screws to secure them.
Here is my silent contender for testing, a Lian Li, 60 CFM fan. For the high speed testing I used a Yate Loon, high speed fan capable of around 88 CFM, but it is much louder under 12 volt power.
With four of the provided screws, I mounted the 25mm thick fan atop the Samuel 17. This 120mm fan has no issues covering this cooler from side to side, either way you approach it.
While the fan more than covers the fins from this angle, there is a rather large area of dead space behind the fan hub. On a tower cooler it is less of an issue, but here the area affects around 20% of the surface area. At the top, the overhang of the fan allows for extra air flow to the surrounding components.
Accessories and DocumentationAccessories and Documentation
Inside of the long white box, you will find a nice stash of mounting legs, screws and a tube of Prolimatech's own TIM.
Spreading out the hardware, you have the LGA775, 1156 and 1366 legs paired, respectively. On the right are the two AMD mounting legs. At the bottom there are four screws for 25mm fans and four screws for 12mm fans. The four nylon washers are used in conjunction with the long screws at the far right with springs on them. The shorter four remaining screws are used to mount the legs into the base.
Unfolding the instructions, I found the front side contains a drawing of all the included parts and a list of what they are. As you can see, this is done in varying languages so everyone has a chance to completely understand what's included and how it functions.
The reverse of the instructions cover the basics of attaching the legs and how the hardware needs to be used during installation. The mounting is done behind the motherboard, so if you don't have an access hole, you going to have to remove the motherboard for any installation.
Aside from the fan mounting, all you need to do is pick the appropriate legs and set them on the sides of the base. Even here you can't get it wrong; the dimples in the legs sit in the two inner holes, so that the socket type is facing you as it is screwed into place.
Just in case you were still unsure of the coolers true stature, I placed this AA battery next to it as a good reference.
Let the battle begin, it is time David meats Goliath.
Test System &Testing ResultsTest 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.
With the compact nature of the Samuel 17, I didn't feel it was actually fair to put it up against a powerhouse like the Noctuas, Megahalems, or even the Xigmateks with 120mm fans, as they don't fit where this cooler can. With that said, I tested it against the listing of coolers with fans under 120mm. If any of the coolers are in contention of fitting half of the places the Samuel 17 can, it would be these and not the coolers I usually see with 120mm fans.
At idle the low noise solution really took a beating coming in at 61.7 degrees. Even at the lower settings, you can see how important fan choice is to the actual numbers you are going to get. Just a few CFM more gained a five and a half degree difference in temperatures.
Under full load, that 60CFM fan just doesn't cut it in my opinion. Coming in at 67 degrees, dropped it right into stock cooling range. As in the idle testing, with 30 more CFM I got a similar five degree difference. By no means are these fans the best in their groups; they were what I had on hand. I strongly suggest you make a wise choice on the fan and really look for something with the best CFM and the lowest sound rating your ears can take from across the room in a HTPC. If this is going into a SFF type of LAN rig, the noise levels won't matter as much and even more performance can be had from this cooler.
My sound testing is solely based on my choices of fans for testing, but I did still want you to get an idea of where a couple of average fans would place the Samuel 17. At idle the Lian Li fan left it dead silent, but at an expense to performance. These five degrees of temperature gained were at quite the expense to your ears.
Again even at load you can see how broad the spectrum can be, and there are tons of choices in between. Either way, silent or loud, the simple and first laughable David has come and conquered our Goliath.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
Samuel 17 is easy to use, simple to assemble and install and can get into tighter positions and locations that most of the coolers I have tested to date. I tried to give the perspective from both sides of the equation. The cooler is warm with a silent cooling solution with only 60 CFM of airflow. Sound levels aside, the extra 30 CFM of the Yate Loon took the Samuel 17 into a whole different league. I know there are plenty of silent fan solutions flooding the market currently. That is why I say choose wisely, depending on your application.
As I mentioned, I tested this cooler mounting on both my DFI P45 Jr. which offers little room around the CPU due to its m-ATX design, and the Foxconn X38A, which has a Northbridge cooler that blocks almost all coolers from mounting. Samuel 17 saddled right up and fit on both boards and in multiple directions. On the DFI the fan does overlap the RAM, and on the older DDR2 rig, where voltages are a bit higher, in a tight spot, that extra bit of airflow can make or break stability.
We were told to expect the cooler to make it to market in late June, and well, that time is now. If you have battled fitting a cooling solution into the cramped confines of a HTPC, or behind a power supply in a SFF chassis, I must say look no further. Prolimatech offers you David in the most compact, universal and unassuming form, and will still deliver that one time headshot. I am really looking back at my first impressions and seeing just how wrong I was to giggle at the Samuel 17 when I first laid eyes on it. Just like in the story, just because it doesn't necessarily look the part, doesn't mean it can't play the part, and with great success, too. Just in case you forgot about the good part, not only does it fit anywhere and do a good job, it's only going to set you back about $42 before shipping!
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