Review – GELID GX-7 CPU Cooler

GELID got into the custom cooling late in the game, 2008 was the first experience to the world while everyone was already pursuing the next trend to come in cooling tech. It hasn’t taken the company long to come forward from that point, today we have a unique setup with their GX-7 CPU cooler. A 7 stage heat-pipe design that directs heat not only using near flush connected heat-pipes but a stacked system as well. The stacked part is where things get sketchy, normally the idea is to spread your pipes equally and maximize the surface absorption and distribution, you’re still getting that in the GX-7 design though. The change is the 5 pipes handle the surface contact while the upper 2 remove excess heat over the center of the cooler as that’s where the silicon and primary heat rest.

With that breakdown said, let’s get into the details of what we’re running and jump into testing.

Test system:

  • AMD Phenom 9750 B3
  • Jetway 790GX HA08 ComboL
  • ASUS EAH 6850 DirectCU
  • 4GB Crucial DDR2 800 (5-5-5-12)
  • Hitachi 1TB 7200RPM
  • Seagate 300GB 7200RPM
  • Cooler Master Real Power Pro 650W
  • NZXT Phantom Case (extra NZXT 200mm on top)

Coolers:

  • AMD OEM Cooler – Standard Phenom
  • AMD Black Edition Cooler (2 Heat-pipe design)
  • Cooler Master Hyper 612 PWM
  • GELID GX-7
  • GELID GX-7 (2-fan w/Wing 12PL PWM)

Thermal Paste:

  • GELID GC-Extreme Thermal Compound

Monitoring:

  • Core Temp 1.0
  • AMD OverDrive 3.1.0
Synthetic bench:
  • HyperPI 0.99b (12M calculation for stress testing)
  • SiSoft Sandra 2011 (Arithmetic)
Gaming bench:
  • Battlefield 3
  • Saints Row: The Third

With all the details out-of-the-way let’s get rolling!

Bundle

The GX-7 packs everything you need in a slim case, the packing is enough to protect it from shipping trauma and they make sure to keep the extra screws and panels isolated to their own box to prevent confusion.

As a special case with this review we have an extra 120mm GELID fan to attach so we’ll be using those extra wire tension bands for the rear. What will not go into use is the default cooling paste as we’ll be using the GELID GC-Extreme compound instead so we can max this out.

Supported AMD Platforms: AM2/AM2+/AM3/AM3+/FM1
Supported Intel Platforms:  775/1155/1156/1366

  

Design

Out of the box the GX-7 is conservative looking for a cooler for this market, the pipes on top are capped off with a plastic cover, the side fins are extremely tight together allowing for little turbulence to develop as wind passes through. Speaking of which, the frosted finish on the back of the blades gives the cooler a dull appearance when it’s not running, crank up the power and the and the glow fills the blades and the case itself.

From an external viewpoint the design comes off like a sleeper until it goes live, once the juice hits the fan all bets are off.

  

From a technical standpoint, the design of the GX-7 is unique, the finish is competitive with current generation offerings, nothing too smooth for the finish but it’s not unpolished either and leaves a slight mirror effect. The pipes are welded with care and in touch testing there was a noticeable level of heat gathering in those pipes that would normally fall to rogue currents or a basic heat sink. Copper pipes to aluminium fins channel the main power and the PWM fan takes up airflow duty from 800 – 2000 RPM depending on your workload. If you plan to run dual fans I would say try to get the same model fan so you’re not suffering with turbulence in the fins as one pushes harder than the other.

Installation

Installation is a snap with the GX-7, by that I mean it’s about as hard as any other performance cooler on the market and that in itself is incredibly hard the first time around. Fortunately GELID has heard the cries of the fallen and has attempted to help with their setup this time around.

How it works:

  • Remove your old CPU cooler (remember to clean the top and re-apply paste)
  • If you have an access port big enough to remove the back plate for the cpu bracket then do so
  • If not, remove the motherboard and remove the bracket and plate
  • Install the included washers over the mounting holes for the bolts and then slide the bolts through as shown in the diagram.
  • Tighten the nuts down to the motherboard base so you have all 4 exposed
  • After that, lower the cpu cooler on the 4 posts and use the special twist caps with springs to tighten the cooler down on each point, move in an X pattern to give equal pressure to each side.
  • Once tightened plug-in the PWM fan to the port and you’re ready to roll!

How it really worked:

  • Everything went relatively well until it came to installing the cooler on the posts, I had to remove the clips holding the fan on the heat sink to get my hand in to tighten the posts on that side.
  • The clips are actually easy to use, just remember to keep tension and equal pressure on them or they will pop off during fan installation.

Comparing this to the Hyper 612 is tough, if you’re scared about supporting the cooler while sideways or you’re not a fan of having your board upside down to mount and tighten the screws the GX-7 starts to step in as your cooler. If you’re fine with that it’s really a toss-up that our performance area will help you decide with.

Performance

The GX-7 took no mercy just like the rest of the lineup, I did go ahead and split coverage up with the 2 fan and single fan setups though for fair representation. Idle measurements were made after 30 minutes in Windows 7 with no active applications running (Steam/Origin/etc). Load was taken with HyperPi running all 4 cores to 12M at normal priority once temps reached an average plateau. Load was verified again against Battlefield 3 in-game and Saints Row: The Third as they’re both CPU intense especially on mid-range models.

bamfas.com

 

The results are interesting, 2 fans do make an impact on the GX-7 results, high does bring a bit more noise into the scenario but leaving it at auto for the PWM to work seems the best choice for those who have no wish to constantly adjust the fan speed by hand. The most interesting area was the configuration differences with the GX-7 and Hyper 612, the idle temps were higher than the 612 but the performance of the cooler at higher temps held low, it’s a trade that users will have weigh on their own. Lower idle temps vs roughly equal load performance once the real use goes into effect. In game, average temps between high load often left the cooler in the high 30’s most of the time.

Noise

Given the setup of this review it’s a unique situation to discuss loudness of this cooler, I’ll break it down based on the type of user you might be.

Power User: Using manual control to force the fan to 100% load will bring some extra noise, no more than the Cooler Master variant in real world application. When using a dual fan setup there is a bit of extra noise created and the trade-off versus auto mode is questionable.

Casual User: Using auto control leaves the GX-7 to manage itself and the noise level is able to stay at the bottom end of the spectrum. If you’re gaming you’ll rarely ever notice the fan kicking up in speed and in dual fan mode the same will stay true as the cooler rarely brings itself to 100% fan speed by default.

Over a stock cooler the GX-7 makes the time for installation well worth the effort, no tiny fans spinning up to high dB levels creating annoying sounds. Instead the 120mm just hums along cranking out high cfm through the cooler and you rarely ever notice it speeding up during games.

Conclusion

At $69.99 the GELID GX-7 is a solid performer, at idle temps the cooler runs a little higher than the competition but when then the pressure is on it matches up against top coolers in the field around the same price. The perk with the GX-7 is the gamer focus of the cooler with the LED PWM fan that really is super bright in the case, it saves users from having to invest in a new fan for another brand and essentially shelve the packaged fan.

If you’re a modder looking for an all-in-one CPU cooler that delivers performance and lighting then look no further than the GELID GX-7. You get a bit of everything with the cooler, design, lighting, performance and a simpler installation system. I do feel that some might find the design of the mounting system itself to be a huge plus over other installations, be sure to follow the guidelines packaged with the cooler so you don’t install the washers on the wrong side though.

With GELID looking to expand in 2012 the enthusiast market certainly has something to look forward to. If you plan on investing in the GX-7 I would say do yourself a favor and get the Wing 12PL to go with it and take up those 3-4c off in temps.

Performance:★★★★★★★★½☆ 
Design:★★★★★★★★★☆ 
Weight:★★★★★★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★★★★★★☆ 

 

GELID GX-7 Gallery: