Currently, our line of Mini-ITX Echo computers is divided up into three categories:
Echo I – Ultra-small chassis with integrated CPU and graphics.
Echo II – Very small chassis with a Core i3/i5 CPU and integrated graphics.
Echo III – Small chassis with a Core i5/i7 CPU and the option for dedicated graphics.
We have been limited to using integrated CPU's with the Echo I simply because the case is so small we were unable to find a CPU cooler that would both fit in the case and provide adequate cooling. With the Gelid Slim Silence I-Plus, we know that at least the physical fit should not be an issue, but small heatsinks tend to have problems cooling well. This is normally not due to bad design, but simply the fact that the smaller the heatsink, the less surface area available to dissipate the heat generated by the CPU.
According to Gelid's product specifications, this cooler should be able to cool CPU's up to 65W max, or even up to 82W with good case ventilation. Due to the size of the Antec ISK 100 used in the ECHO I, we may not have enough ventilation to use high-end CPU's, but we will do the testing anyway to find out.
As with any small form-factor system, spacing is very tight, but we had no problems with the heatsink contacting surrounding capacitors or RAM slots. The side fan fit just fine, providing ventilation to the chipset heatsink
To test the cooling potential, we used two CPU's: a 95W and a 65W CPU. Given Gelid's product specifications, Slim Silence I-Plus cooler should only be able to provide adequate cooling for the 65W CPU.
To fully load the system, we ran a combination of Prime95 and Furmark until the temperatures stabilized (roughly 10 minutes) with CoreTemp being used to log the temperatures. Lets take a look at the results:
|CPU Model||CPU Watts||Idle||Load|
|Intel Core i5 2500K 3.3GHz||95W||35° C||85° C|
|Intel Core i3 2100 3.1GHz||65W||30° C||68° C|
We generally like to see CPU load temperatures below 80° C, and while the 95W CPU is close to that threshold, it does not pass our cooling qualifications. The 65W CPU however is well below our threshold.
One thing worth noting is that when we ran the tests too long with the Intel Core i5 2500K, the system would eventually shut itself off. We found that the PSU that comes with the case will only work until the system pulled more than ~135W from the wall. At that point, the PSU would cut power, causing the system to shut off. In comparison, the system only pulled 65W under load with the 65W Intel Core i3 2100. So even if we had deemed this cooler acceptable for 95W CPU's, we still would not have been able to use it in this case due to the included PSU.
These power readings seem very strange since the 95W CPU should only be pulling 30W more than the 65W CPU. Instead, the system pulled 70W more. This is likely due to the fact that the PSU that comes with the Antec ISK 100 is only officially rated for 80W. Once you pass that threshold, the PSU is being overworked, forcing it to pull additional wattage to keep running. Eventually, the strain is too much, and it shuts off exactly as we saw in our testing.
In conclusion, we found this cooler completely acceptable for 65W CPU's, but inadequate in the Antec ISK 100 case for high-wattage CPU's. Since that is exactly what Gelid advertises, this result did not come as a surprise, but it is always nice when our testing matches the product specifications.
While not as quiet as some of our larger heatsinks, the noise from this cooler is decent for its size and is just a bit quieter than the stock Intel Core i3/i5 CPU cooler. All-in-all, we are very excited to use this cooler as a means to offer even more powerful systems in our ultra-small Echo I line.