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Prolimatech Genesis CPU Heatsink: Retaking the Crown

Prolimatech joins the dual-fan giant heatsink fray is with the unusually-shaped Genesis. An amalgam of a vertical tower cooler and a horizontal down-blower, the Genesis proved potent enough to take the CPU cooling crown.

Prolimatech Genesis CPU Heatsink: Retaking the Crown

April 10, 2011 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Prolimatech Genesis
CPU Cooler
Manufacturer
Prolimatech
Street Price
US$80

In early 2009 we received a CPU cooler sample from a Taiwanese company previously
unknown to us. It arrived with little fanfare in a battered plain box with few
markings. That product was the
Prolimatech Megahalems
which decisively outperformed all of the heatsinks
we had tested previously. Prolimatech had only been founded the year before,
and banked their success on the Megahalems, the company’s only product at the
time.

The Megahalems remains near the top of our performance
chart
, at least amongst single fan coolers. It was a huge cooler in
its day, but its size is not uncommon inowadays. Like many other PC enthusiast
products, CPU heatsinks have continued growing. We’re now seeing even larger
behemoths that have ballooned to well over 1 kilogram thanks to the trend of
dual fan designs. The Genesis is Prolimatech’s big dual 14 cm fan cooler, a
unique design to take on the latest titanic competitors.


The box.


The package contents.

Like other dual fan heatsinks, the Genesis features a split design, with heatpipes
and fins separated into two distinct portions. However the Genesis has made
the unorthodox move of twisting the heatpipes so that the second section is
perpendicular to the first, parallel with the motherboard. There’s a vertical
fin-stack on the rear side that stands tall like every other tower cooler, and
a horizontal one that sits off to the opposite side of the CPU socket, hanging
above the memory slots. It is a hybrid design that provides both side-to-side
and top-down airflow.


Mounting hardware.

Prolimatech also finally showed AMD some love by supporting AMD mounting out
of the box for the Genesis. Their previous coolers such as the Megahalems and
Armageddon were Intel only,
with an AMD mounting kit offered separately. This time around all modern desktop
sockets are supported from AM2 to AM3 and LGA775 to LGA1366. The gear is packed
in a myriad of plastic bags, separating each set of screws in an obsessive compulsive
manner.


The Red Vortex 14 LED.

Like earlier Prolimatech heatsinks, the Genesis ships bare without any fans.
However, a pair of their aftermarket LED fans were also supplied. The Red
Vortex 14 LED
is a translucent 14 cm 1000 RPM fan with a sleeve bearings,
a 3-pin connector, and red LEDs adhered to the corners with thick globs of glue.
The package comes with a 3-pin to molex adapter and standard fan screws.

Prolimatech Genesis: Key Features
(from the product
web page
)
Feature & Brief
Our Comment
* High clearance for better motherboard compatibility.Chipset and VRM heatsinks typically aren’t an issue but memory manufacturers often use ridiculously tall heatspreaders that could cause interference.
* Massive cooling range; cools not only CPU but also MOSFET and RAM.Top-down cooling can increase stability and energy efficiency, especially when overclocking.
* Cooler surrounding temperature allowing more stable environment for higher overclock.So large it lowers the ambient temperature?
* Takes both 12 and 14cm fans for a maximum installation of 3 fans.Two should suffice.
* Six high quality heatpipes for effective heat transfer.Okay.
* Light weight at 0.800 kg (without fans) in the high-end class.800 grams is considered light for a large dual fan heatsink.
* Intel and AMD platform supported. All mounting hardware are included.AMD support at last.
Prolimatech Genesis: Specifications
(from the product
web page
)
Heatsink Dimension (L)146mm X (W)216.5mm X (H)160mm
Heatsink Weight 800 g(without fan)
Suggest Fan 120×25 mm and/or 140x25mm (2 fans)
HeatpipeØ 6mm X 6pcs
Suggest Fan Speed 800~1600 rpm
CPU Platform Intel Socket LGA 775/1366/1156/1155 , AMD Socket AM2/2+/3

PHYSICAL DETAILS

The Prolimatech Genesis is composed of a copper base, six 6 mm
thick copper heatpipes and 98 aluminum fins, all nickel-plated. The heatsink
alone weighs about 780 grams and stands 160 mm high, slightly on the short side
for high performance towers.


The Genesis has a split personality, acting as both a traditional tower
and a down-blower. Significant bending of the heatpipes was required to
create this shape.


Like previous models, the Genesis has a visible separation line in the
middle of both heatsink stacks. It’s really four sets of fins fused into
two.


On average, the fins are 0.51 mm thick with 1.99 mm of separation between them, more or less the same as the Megahalems and Armageddon. This layout has worked well for them in the past.


The horizontal portion of the Genesis is slightly larger, being composed of 46 fins to the 44 making up the vertical section.


The base is slightly convex, rising up slightly at the center. Semicircular machine marks are visible on the surface.

INSTALLATION

The most critical aspect of installation is for the heatsink be
securely mounted. A firm mating results in good contact between the heatsink’s
base and the CPU heatspreader and more efficient heat conduction. Ideally it
should also be a simple procedure with the user having to handle as few pieces
of hardware as possible.


The installation procedure is the same as the Megahalems and Armageddon.
A backplate is secured to a pair of metal supports on the other side with
nuts and double-threaded bolts. Here it is secured on a LGA1366 motherboard.
Installation on AMD motherboards is essentially the same.


Another metal bar goes over the base and is screwed into the ones on the side.


The fan clips wrap around the edge of the fan housing rather than hooking
into the mounting holes, working on both round and square frames alike.
The horizontal portion of the heatsink cools the DIMMs but also provides
airflow over the chipset heatsink. On a side note, this section went past
the side edge of our test motherboard by approximately 13 mm.


As the vertical tower is a bit smaller, its fan can be lowered past center without adversely affecting CPU cooling. Pulling the fan downward helped cool the VRM heatsink near the rear of the board.


With the heatsink hanging over the memory slots, clearance can be an issue. A stick of Corsair DHX memory (measuring 52.2 mm tall) fit with 1~2 mm to spare.

TESTING

Before thermal testing, we took some basic physical measurements.

Approximate Physical Measurements
Weight
780 g
1070 g with two Red Vortex 14 LED fans and clips
Height160 mm
Fin count46 + 44
Fin thickness
0.51 mm
Fin spacing
1.99 mm
Vertical Clearance*
52 mm (vertical portion) 54 mm (horizontal portion)
Horizontal Overhang**
-11 mm
* measured from the motherboard PCB to
the bottom fin of the heatsink.
** measured from the far edge of the heatsink to the top edge of the motherboard
PCB.
Comparison: Approx. Average Fin Thickness & Spacing
Heatsink
Fin Thickness
Fin Spacing
Thermalright HR-01 Plus
0.45 mm
3.15 mm
Scythe Ninja 3
0.39 mm
2.64 mm
Noctua NH-U12P
0.44 mm
2.63 mm
Noctua NH-C12P
0.47 mm
2.54 mm
Noctua NH-D14
0.43 mm
2.33 mm
Prolimatech Armageddon
0.51 mm
2.08 mm
Prolimatech Megahalems
0.50 mm
2.00 mm
Prolimatech Genesis
0.51 mm
1.99 mm
Zalman CNPS10X Quiet
0.40 mm
2.00 mm
Scythe Kabuto & Zipang 2
0.34 mm
1.94 mm
Scythe Mugen-2
0.31 mm
1.89 mm
Swiftech Polaris 120
0.43 mm
1.85 mm
Noctua NH-C14
0.38 mm
1.79 mm
Scythe Yasya
0.32 mm
1.78 mm
Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366
0.40 mm
1.70 mm
Arctic Cooling Freezer Xtreme Rev.2
0.30 mm
1.70 mm
Scythe Grand Kama Cross
0.38 mm
1.66 mm
Zalman CNPS9900 MAX
0.16 mm
1.59 mm
Thermalright Silver Arrow
0.32 mm
1.57 mm
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
0.43 mm
1.54 mm
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme Rev.C
0.56 mm
1.52 mm
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme
0.42 mm
1.50 mm
Note: Fin thickness and spacing are factors
in determining airflow impedance (resistance) through the fin stack. Thinner
fins and greater spacing usually result in better low airflow (read: quiet)
cooling performance.

Testing on larger heatsinks are done on our
i7-1366 heatsink testing platform
, while smaller coolers tackle our AM3 heatsink testing platform. A summary of the test system
and procedure follows.

Key Components in LGA1366 Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Core i7-965 Extreme
    Nehalem core, LGA1366, 3.2GHz, 45nm, 130W TDP.
  • Asus
    P6X58D Premium
    ATX motherboard. X58 chipset.
  • Asus
    EAH3450 Silent
    graphics card.
  • Intel
    X25-M
    80GB 2.5" solid-state drive. Chosen for silence.
  • 3GB QiMonda
    DDR3 memory. 3 x 1GB DDR3-1066 in triple channel.
  • Seasonic X-650 SS-650KM
    650W ATX power supply. This PSU is semi-passively cooled. At the power levels
    of our test platform, its fan does not spin.
  • Arctic Silver
    Lumière
    : Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed
    specifically for test labs.
  • Noctua 140 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 140x25mm
    fans)
  • Nexus 120 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 120x25mm
    fans)
  • Nexus 92 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 92x25mm
    fans)

Key Components in AM3 Heatsink Test Platform:

  • AMD Athlon II X4 630 AM3,
    2.8GHz, 45nm, 95W TDP.
  • Asus M4A785TD-V EVO ATX motherboard.
    785G chipset.
  • Kingston
    SSDNow V
    30GB 2.5" solid-state drive. Chosen for silence.
  • 2GB
    Corsair Dominator
    DDR3 memory. 2 x 1GB DDR3-1800 in dual channel.
  • FSP Zen 300W
    ATX power supply. Fanless.
  • Arctic Silver
    Lumière
    : Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed
    specifically for test labs.
  • Noctua 140 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 140x25mm
    fans)
  • Nexus 120 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 120x25mm
    fans)
  • Nexus 92 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 92x25mm
    fans)

The systems are silent under the test conditions, except for the CPU cooling
fan(s).

Normally, our reference fans are used whenever possible, the measured details
of which are shown below.

Reference Noctua 140mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
SPL@1m
Speed
12V
28~29 dBA
1250 RPM
9V
21 dBA
990 RPM
7V
15~16 dBA
770 RPM
6V
13 dBA
660 RPM
Reference Nexus 120mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
SPL@1m
Speed
12V
16 dBA
1100 RPM
9V
13 dBA
890 RPM
7V
12 dBA
720 RPM
Reference Nexus 92 mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
SPL@1m
Speed
12V
16 dBA
1470 RPM
9V
12 dBA
1150 RPM

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system
    power.
  • Custom-built, four-channel variable DC power supply, used to regulate
    the fan speed during the test.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer:
    SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital
    audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber
    with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented in our
    standard fan testing methodology
    .
  • SpeedFan,
    used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensors. The sensors are not calibrated,
    so results are not universally applicable. The hottest core reading is used.
  • Prime95,
    used to stress the LGA1366 CPU heavily, generating more heat than most real applications.
    8 instances are used to ensure that all 4 cores (with Hyper-threading) are
    stressed.
  • CPU Burn,
    used to stress the AM3 CPU heavily, generating more heat than most real applications.
    4 instances are used to ensure that all 4 cores are
    stressed.
  • CPU-Z,
    used to monitor the CPU speed to determine when overheating occurs.
  • Thermometers to measure the air temperature around the test platform
    and near the intake of the heatsink fan.

Noise measurements are made with the fans powered from the lab’s variable DC
power supply while the rest of the system was off to ensure that system noise
did not skew the measurements.

Load testing was accomplished using Prime95 or CPUBurn to stress the processor, and the
graph function in SpeedFan was used to ensure that the load temperature is stable
for at least ten minutes. The temperature recorded is the highest single core
reading. The stock fans were tested at various voltages to represent a good
cross-section of airflow and noise performance.

The ambient conditions during testing were 10~11 dBA and 21~23°C.

Prolimatech Red Vortex 14 LED Fan Measurements

Specifications: Prolimatech Red Vortex 14 LED
Manufacturer
Prolimatech
Power Rating
2.4 W
Model Number
RL4R S1402512L-3M
Airflow Rating
87 CFM
Bearing Type
Sleeve
Speed Rating
1000 ±100 RPM
Corners
Open
Noise Rating
18.1 dBA
Frame Size
140 x 140 x 25 mm
Header Type
3-pin
Fan Blade Diameter
130 mm
Starting Voltage
4.7 V
Hub Size
44 mm
Weight
140 g
Data in green cells provided by the manufacturer
or observed; data in the blue cells were measured.

The Red Vortex is a sleeve bearing fan with a nominal speed rating of 1000
RPM, so it should be fairly quiet. The design is fairly ordinary, with straight
struts and gently curved blades lacking sharp corners. The fan is light for
a 14 cm model, and its hub is a bit large. Unlike some 14 cm fans, it lacks
12 cm mounting holes which may make it incompatible with some cases and heatsinks.

Fan Measurements: 2 x Prolimatech Red Vortex 14 LED
Voltage
Avg. Speed
SPL@1m
12V
880 RPM
21~22 dBA
9V
750 RPM
17 dBA
7V
620 RPM
13 dBA
6V
530 RPM
12 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from
center of heatsink.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA.

The acoustics of the Red Vortex fans were impressive. The pair droned at 12V
and had a bit of a hum at 9V, but were otherwise smooth throught the speed range.
At 7V they became extremely quiet, and were practically inaudible at 6V. Overall,
they’re a huge improvement over the nameless
fan
sent by Prolimatech with the original Megahalems.


The Red Vortex fans became pretty quiet at about 9V. A slight hum was
noted at ~120 Hz.

Cooling Results

Fan Voltage
SPL@1m
°C Rise
CPU
NB*
VRM*
Fans: 2 x Prolimatech Red Vortex 14 LED
12V
21~22 dBA
33
25
20
9V
17 dBA
34
27
20
7V
13 dBA
37
31
21
6V
12 dBA
39
37
23
Reference Fans: 2 x Noctua NF-P14
12V
30 dBA
34
24
16
9V
22 dBA
35
28
20
8V
19 dBA
36
30
24
7V
16 dBA
37
31
27
6V
13 dBA
39
35
28
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (21°C)
at load.
*NB and VRM temps taken with an IR thermometer from the hottest portion of each heatsink.

The Genesis’ performance was stellar, keeping the processor’s thermal rise
above ambient under 40°C, even at the virtually inaudible 12 dBA level.
It did a fair job of cooling the Northbridge and VRM heatsinks as well. The
Red Vortex fans performed noticeably better than our reference Noctuas, beating
them by a couple of degrees at the 21~22 dBA level. The difference was greater
at 13 dBA when you consider the Prolimatech fans provided superior cooling for
the Northbridge and VRM heatsink by margins of 4°C and 7°C, respectively.

Board Cooling Comparison

Prolimatech Genesis vs. Noctua NH-C14
(2 x Noctua NF-P14 fans)
Fan Voltage
SPL@1m
°C Rise
NB*
VRM*
Prolimatech Genesis
12V
30 dBA
24
16
9V
22 dBA
28
20
8V
19 dBA
30
24
7V
16 dBA
31
27
6V
13 dBA
35
28
Noctua NH-C14
12V
29 dBA
11
12
9V
21 dBA
24
14
8V
18 dBA
28
15
7V
15 dBA
30
20
6V
12~13 dBA
38
24
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (21°C)
at load.
*NB and VRM temps taken with an IR thermometer from the hottest portion of each heatsink.

The Genesis doesn’t do too badly against the top-down cooler Noctua NH-C14,
at least at lower fan speeds. Using the same NF-P14 fans, the down-blowing C14
kept a small lead over the Genesis in both VRM and Northbridge cooling, particularly
at 8V and below, which is where most SPCR users will set the fan speeds. The
Genesis measured a touch louder, despite using identical fans though, likely
because of turbulence effects due to fan orientation. (Editor’s Note:
A single decibel difference is pretty hard to hear, though.)

Dual 14cm Fan Heatsink Comparison Table

CPU °C Rise Comparison (Noctua NF-P14 reference fans)
Heatsink
Fan Voltage / SPL*
8V
7V
6V
18~19 dBA
15~17 dBA
12~14 dBA
Prolimatech Genesis
(Red Vortex 14 LED fans)
 
34 (9V)
37 (7V)
Prolimatech Genesis
36
37
39
Noctua NH-C14
37
39
41
Thermalright Silver Arrow
37
39
41
Noctua NH-D14
38
40
42
*Note: Minor differences in measured SPL arise
from the variety of fan orientations of the compared coolers.

Ultimately the Genesis proved to be the best CPU heatsink we’ve tested, edging
out the NH-C14 and the Thermalright Silver Arrow by a couple of degrees. It
performed even better with the Prolimatech Red Vortex fans, which outpaced the
Noctua NF-P14’s by 2~3°C. Incidentally, these fans retail for US$12,
significantly less than the NF-P14’s which start at about US$20.

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high
resolution, lab quality, digital recording system
inside SPCR’s
own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber
, then converted to LAME 128kbps
encoded MP3s. We’ve listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation
from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of
what we heard during the review.

The recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in
actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn’t hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn’t record it either!

The recording starts with 5~10 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan
at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that
the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don’t change the volume
setting again.

FINAL THOUGHTS

With the Genesis, Prolimatech continues its impressive run of high performance
CPU heatsinks. Its cooling proficiency is unmatched, even by other dual fan
titans from longer established manufacturers like Noctua and Thermalright. It
has an additional advantage over tower designs like the Noctua
NH-D14
and Thermalright
Silver Arrow
, as it delivers good cooling to the components around the
socket, not just the processor itself. The Genesis doesn’t perform quite as
well in this regard as the Noctua
NH-C14
, a pure top-downer, but seems to have created a happy medium
with its unique hybrid style design. The mounting system is excellent as usual
not having changed from previous Prolimatech offerings, but compatibility for
AMD motherboards has been added out of the box, something they’ve neglected
to do until now.

The Red Vortex 14 LED fans provided by Prolimatech are very quiet when undervolted
and work well with the Genesis, but unfortunately they aren’t included. This
is the Genesis’ Achilles heel — it ships without fans, but is slated to
retail at US$80. This is about the same price as the Silver Arrow and
the NH-C14, but both include a pair of 14 cm fans at no added cost. An extra
US$15~$20 for fans hard to justify on the basisis of the Genesis’ performance
edge; its close competitors also provide excellent cooling with very low noise.
The bottom line is that the Genesis is not exactly great value, but it is the
best air cooler for CPUs that money can buy at the moment.


Prolimatech Genesis wins the SPCR Editor’s Choice award.

*

Our thanks to Prolimatech
for the Genesis heatsink sample.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest


Swiftech Polaris 120 CPU Heatsink
Zalman CNPS9900 MAX & CNPS5X CPU Coolers
Thermalright Silver Arrow Dual 14cm Fan Cooler
Noctua NH-C14 Dual Fan Top-down CPU Cooler
Thermalright Shaman 140mm Fan GPU Cooler
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme Rev.C & AC Freezer Xtreme Rev.2

* * *

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