Gelid Solutions Tranquillo Review

ccokeman - 2010-05-29 18:01:23 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: July 28, 2010
Price: $39.99


The heat sink is an important part of what we as enthusiasts/overclockers do with our computers. On one end of the spectrum you have the group wants to run the processor at stock speeds and gain the benefits of a larger more capable cooling solution, with the ultimate goal of dropping the CPU temperature lower than what the stock Intel or AMD solutions are capable of, all for a modest price. On the other end of the spectrum are the group that go straight for liquid nitrogen and phase change solutions, where costs can be measured almost in cubic dollars. Somewhere in the middle you have high-end air cooling and liquid cooled solutions, where pricing is not always indicative of cooling capacity. But then again, the same can be said of a budget cooling solution. The Gelid Tranquillo is a tower-style heat sink that follows the current design trend. With a name like 'Tranquillo' one would assume this heat sink fan combo from Gelid will be a low noise cooling solution. The only way to find out is to put it through its paces. Let's take a look and see if the Tranquillo lives up to the name while still providing enhanced cooling of the CPU.

Closer Look:

The packaging of the Tranquillo is a multi-tone box with information all the way around to engage the consumer with each view. The front panel has a profile shot of the Tranquillo with the fan mounted. Additional information includes the socket compatibility that includes Intel sockets 775,1156 and 1366 and AMD sockets from 754 to AM3. The left side panel lists the features including the use of four heat pipes, an optimized fan and 5 year warranty. Under the features is a graph showing the "Intelligent PWM Curve" for the Gelid fan. The right panel lists the features in text form with a specifications table underneath. The back panel lists the socket compatibility in detail. Underneath the compatibility chart is a mechanical drawing of the Tranquillo that shows the design concept for the airflow through the heat sink.

















Opening up the package, it looks like the hardware package is right on top of the plastic clam shell holding the Tranquillo. Pulling it all out of the box shows the packaging method is a rigid plastic clamshell that prevents damage in all but the most extreme cases.




The accessory bundle contains all of the parts necessary to connect the Tranquillo to all of the compatible sockets from Intel 775 to 1366 and AMD socket 754 up to the current AM3. The hardware comes packed all in one bag and separating it, you end up with three piles: AMD, Intel and the common parts. With the common parts, you get a tube of Gelid's GC2 paste, fan brackets and an install manual. The Intel parts include back plates and brackets for each socket, one of which is capable of being used with two sockets.



Closer Look:

The Gelid Solutions Tranquillo is a tower style heat sink that uses a series of four copper heat pipes arranged in a semicircular pattern to transfer the thermal load from the copper base plate to the aluminum fin array for dispersal. The view from all four sides does not show the design of the fin array. To see the shape and how it will allow the air to flow through the heat sink, you have to look from the top down. The top covers give the illusion of the Batman logo at a casual glance with the V shape of the Tranquillo adding to that effect. This design was developed using software simulation to come up with a shape that had lower airflow resistance to promote quiet cooling. The Tranquillo is not as large as some of the monstrous heat sinks I have tested, but comes in at 153mm tall, 125mm wide and 74mm deep, weighing 645 grams. Lighter than most of the comparison field in our testing, but close to the height of these same comparisons. The design of the Tranquillo prohibits the mounting of a second fan to be used in a push /pull configuration. The 'v' shape is not able to take advantage of it fully, although you could "strap it on" and make it work.



















The base of the Tranquillo is made from copper encased in aluminum with the four copper heat pipes passing through it. On top of the aluminum surround is a small finned heat sink that uses airflow from the CPU cooling fan that flows under the Tranquillo to aid in cooling the CPU even further. Gelid does protect the surface with a thin clear sticker that contains the obligatory warning about its removal. The base is not mirror polished but is smooth without severe machining marks to impede performance.



The fan that is shipped with the Tranquillo is a 7 blade PWM controlled fan that uses 0.18 amps of current at 12 volts. With seven blades instead of nine, you would think the fan would be noisy, but the Tranquillo is built to be a silent heat sink. The fan runs at between 750 and 1500RPM at only 25.5 dBA at full song. Silent fans normally suffer from a lack of airflow and static pressure. This fan from Gelid pushes 58 CFM at the maximum 1500 RPM speed. Since quiet is the name of the game, Gelid has incorporated a hydrodynamic bearing into the fan instead of a ball or sleeve bearing, further reducing the audio signature of the fan.



The Gelid Tranquillo is a bolt-in heat sink instead of one that uses Intel style push pins to locate and lock the heat sink into place. The brackets attach to the heat sink base with a single screw. The Intel brackets for socket 1156 and 1366 installation are the same with two indexed holes that fit the cooler to either socket. To complete the installation, the back plate is positioned on the back of the board over the CPU retention back plate and is screwed in with the four spring-loaded screws. These four screws put the correct amount of pressure on the Tranquillo's base for the best possible contact patch. Once done, you can install the fan on the heat sink with the included clips. These proved to be an extremely tight fit, but did prevent any fan vibration.




Gelid included one of their Wing 12PL fans for use with the heat sink. This fan pushes slightly more CFM than the included fan at 75.3 with 2.66mmAq of static pressure. This fan features a self-lubricated "Nanoflux" bearing. This design uses magnetic fields to make sure that the moving parts never touch reducing noise, friction and abrasion to deliver a MTBF of 100,000 hours in Gelid's durability testing. The Wing 12 PL fan is a PWM controlled fan that runs between 600 and 1800 RPM with a noise signature close to that of the Silent series fan that comes with the heat sink. This fan is available in both a UV green and UV blue.




What good would a CPU heat sink be without a good thermal paste? The Tranquillo comes with a small tube of GC-2 thermal paste, but Gelid supplied a tube of their GC Extreme thermal paste for use in this test. The GC Extreme comes in a 3.5 gram applicator tube/syringe and includes a small applicator to smooth out the thermal paste. GC-Extreme is a non conductive, non toxic and non corrosive thermal paste and proved effective in the testing.



Just on looks alone, the Tranquillo appears able to leverage its design to provide a strong series of results.


Air Flow (CFM):               
58 max
Hydro Dynamic Bearing
Cable Length (mm):
Current (A):
DC Voltage (V):
Fan Dimensions (mm)
120 (l) x 120 (w) x 25 (h)
Fan Speed (RPM):
750 - 1500
Heat Sink Dimensions (mm):
74 (l) x 125 (w) x 153 (h)
GC-2 Thermal Compound & Installation Kit for AMD & Intel sockets
Life time MTTF at 40C (h):
50 000
Noise Level (dBA):
12 - 25.5
Static Pressure (mmAq):
Warranty (years):
Weight (g):

All information courtesy of Gelid Solutions @


Finding out how the Tranquillo from Gelid performs is the object of this exercise, so I will be making a comparison of the CPU temperatures in both an idle and loaded state. Both will be made while the CPU is at the stock voltages and clock speeds, as well as when the CPU is overclocked and 'over-volted'. This will help to show what kind of cooling performance that this cooling solution from Gelid has to offer, when compared to other socket 1366 compatible high-performance cooling solutions. These cooling systems will be tested head-to-head as they are delivered from the manufacturer. I could throw in a bunch of testing variables, but it is not what the products are capable of as delivered. To test the idle temperatures, I will allow the computer to stay in an idle state for 30 minutes and take the idle temperature at this point. For the load testing, I will use Prime95 version 25.11 and choose the blend testing and allow the processor and memory controller to heat up to the maximum temperatures. The time frame is a four-hour run, to allow the temperature to peak - usually at or around the 14K test. I will use Real temp 3.0 to take the high and low temperatures and average the temperatures generated over the four cores as my reported temperatures.

Testing Setup:


Comparison Heat sinks:







For a cooling solution as quiet as it is, the Gelid Tranquillo does a decent job of keeping the processor cool with a mild overclock. At 62 degrees under load when overclocked, it does not offer the best performance, but is within 4 degrees of the FRIO on low with not one, but two fans. When compared to the rest of the heat sinks, the Tranquillo compares to the Coolit ECO ALC and Noctua NH-U9B in terms of cooling performance.


As part of Gelid Solutions Silent line-up, the implication is that the Tranquillo will be silent. In that respect, the expectation has been met and exceeded. One of the compliments I can bestow on this cooler, is that my son walked into the room and asked what was broken since it was so quiet in the room. Kind of an eye-opener once the white noise of high CFM fans used in air cooling are no longer there. Performance enhancements for the Tranquillo will be limited to adding a higher CFM fan to increase the cooling capacity of this cooler, since running a second fan on the back side is not supported due to its 'v'-shaped design. But then you step away from the concept of the Tranquillo.

When the cooler's performance is compared to other coolers with a similar design, the Tranquillo is slightly behind the curve with its lower CFM silent fan. However, when you look to the results of the stock Intel cooling solution, it is a much stronger cooling solution with about a 25% improvement over the stock solution when overclocked. The fit and finish of the cooler did not show any outward signs of defects or poor build quality. The base plate was smooth but not mirror finished, something I don't put a lot of stock in anyhow.

Mounting the heat sink was no more difficult than any of the myriad of coolers on the market. The base plate fits correctly and the spring loaded screws seem to provide enough tension to keep the heat sink from swiveling around on the CPU. As a larger tower style heat sink, you sometimes run into clearance issues with motherboard components or the system memory. When installed on my MSI Eclipse SLI, the first DRAM slot was made unusable by the installation of the Tranquillo. This is not a problem exclusive to the Tranquillo, as just about any tower style heat sink is going to run into this problem. The most commonly used slots on an X58 board are the 2, 4 and 6 slots, with these still being wide open for use. Priced just under $40, the Tranquillo is a great upgrade from stock cooling to keep your processor cool, as long as you keep the voltages and clock speeds in line when you venture into the world of overclocking.