ProlimaTech MK-13 Multi VGA Cooler Review

RHKCommander959 - 2010-01-14 00:23:19 in VGA Cooling
Category: VGA Cooling
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: April 8, 2010
Price: $66

Introduction:

Most avid enthusiasts will get into either silent/quiet computing or extreme forms of cooling. The heatsink reviewed here from ProlimaTech - the MK-13 Multi VGA heatsink is designed to fit many various graphics cards and allow either quiet configurations or optimal cooling for users who want to push their graphics cards - in either case the card equipped with this heatsink should run cool judging from the sheer size of the main heatsink with six heatpipes spanning its length with moderately spaced fins for a balance between restriction and performance. Fans aren't included, which allows users to customize the setup to their liking - up to four fans can be fitted on the heatsink as long as the case space allows - a bracket stretches out on which to mount the fans.

 

Closer look:

Looking at the box, a white outline of the MK-13 is immediately visible with a camouflage look in the background. Blue, black, green, and white colors are common on the box art. The ProlimaTech name and website are both boldly presented on the front of the box along with the larger MK-13 and Multi-VGA Cooler moniker. A white line separates the picture and the company logo/part name. Rotating to the back reveals a similar style - torn border at the top that separates ProlimaTech's logo/website, MK-13, and Multi-VGA Cooler from the installation notes and features - Omni-Mount Retention System for installation on various VGA cards, supports a maximum of four fans, no fuss, easy no-tool installation, solder on all contact points for maximum heat transfer, exclusive Prolimatech Omni-Mount Retention System for installation on all major VGA cards including future VGA cards, six high-quality copper heat pipes, works with 12cm duo fans (not included) for maximum cooling capacity, and Includes metal supporting cast to install two fans perpendicular to the VGA heatsink. The heatsink is made in China.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first side sports the graphics card compatibility list separated for ATI and NVIDIA graphics cards. Starting with the NVIDIA list, both Geforce and Quadro are listed and range from Geforce 7800 series all the way up to Geforce GTX 285 and from the Quadro FX1400 all the way up to Quadro FX5600. The ATI side lists fewer - starting with the Radeon HD 3850/3870 and Radeon HD 4770 to Radeon HD 4890, to the Radeon HD 5750 and Radeon HD 5870. In red at the top it warns: "to ensure a more steady installation, a chassis with at least 20cm of width is strongly recommended." Oddly, the 9800GX2 is listed as supported although it is a dual GPU graphics card, which I think is an error. Opening the box shows some plastic foam padding the heatsink for protection, with the manual on top ready for viewing.

 

 

Lifting the initial foam pad shows another formed pad that encircles the heat sink- more are underneath it and provide a ring of protection. The large heatsink is finally revealed! Mounting holes are visible, along with the heat pipes. A protective bag and a sticker over the base also help keep the heatsink safe during the transition from shipping to installation. With everything removed, users will find that several medium and small heatsinks were also included for cooling memory and the occasional hot spots as well as voltage regulation. A backplate and many thumb-screws are also included, meaning a straight and easy installation, although most people will have already used tools to get their old graphics card cooling solution taken apart. The mounting brackets for the fans are seen to the right. Lastly, we have the user manual that lists the parts and numbers them accordingly in several languages and should be a good aid in installing the heatsink to a graphics card.

 

 

Time to get some close ups and get it installed!

Closer Look:

ProlimaTech is a name that might be familiar, the company also made the popular Megahalems CPU heatsink. Lapping is not condoned by ProlimaTech (and any other heatsink manufacturer that I can currently think of) and the base is smooth and straight enough anyway so I wouldn't suggest it unless yours isn't and you know what you're doing. For users who want to keep their warranty safely intact on their graphics cards, I would suggest EVGA as I think its warranty covers cards that have had third party cooling systems attached. The ProlimaTech MK-13 Multi-VGA heatsink cooler is massive by most accounts, though the silvery metal doesn't match the added accessories that are black. The fins have an artistic cut to them, like a barbwire look. The end of the base plate comes to the middle of the heatsink so it is offset some; also the heat pipes are angled to come away from the motherboard before doubling back and crossing over the base plate. Each of the six heat pipes are angled slightly more severely from the next and look like dominoes as they are falling. Two bolts hold each of the two mounting plates that are interchangeable for future support. The thickness of the base plate is around an inch and should allow the fins to sit above capacitors and chokes easily, although the heat pipes might get in the way of a few graphics cards. This solution should fit virtually all graphics cards listed in the support of the box - minus the 9800GX2 which has two PCBs. The last fin of the near-80 finned bunch has a small ProlimaTech logo painted on along with a much larger MK-13 in blue and black. This should be a great heatsink for voltage modifiers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view of the back of the heatsink shows the staggered heat pipes that get more angled as they go, with the second from the right nearly going straight up. The angled heat fins are viewable and give the heatsink some flair, simple but effective. The last fin has ProlimaTech and MK-13 in blue and black, the only identifier on the whole heatsink kit. The center two heat pipes are grouped closer together than the other four, and will also receive the most heat as they should be centered on the GPU core. The fins have four small holes for mounting as well as two cut grooves for the fan bolts and mounting brackets.

 

 

The base plate is protected by a thick plastic sticker that warns users who install the heatsink to first remove it: "Please peel this label off before you use! WARNING." This is also a good opportunity to look at the six mounting holes on the installed mounting plates and the ends of the six soldered heat pipes. The base isn't perfect but the machining marks are minimal and the base is flat. The base plate gets larger after the heat pipes and has its own heat fins underneath the heat pipe-fin assembly to give it a small boost in cooling. Machining marks are more evident on the larger piece, but this isn't visible when the heatsink is installed and doesn't affect performance.

 

The mounting bracket for the fans has three long slits and four holes (with the other side mirroring it) to allow at most four fans of a size up to 120mm or 140mm to be installed with a preferred depth of 25mm. Grooves run the length of the cast support bracket and help strengthen it and are intended to slide into the grooves on the heatsink fins.

 

 

This bracket helps the previous bracket to mount to the expansion slot, which provides the support for the fans in conjunction with the fin slots. It mounts to the chassis and then bolts together with the support bracket once the video card is in place. Zip ties are also included to aid in installation.

 

 

Many various screws and additional mounting brackets and a backplate are included. Screws for fans, the main heat sink, the support brackets, and so on are needed and provided to get a smooth installation, four of the screws have springs. Eighteen medium sized black heatsinks and four small and four miniature heatsinks are included for cooling the memory, VRM, and anything else that gets hot - extras are included and the low profile heatsinks should fit on memory under the heat pipes if such an occasion occurs.

 

 

 

Here we see the ATI Radeon HD 5870 with the stock heatsink removed for a size comparison between the two heatsinks. The ProlimaTech heatsink isn't as long as the stock heatsink but it is wider. The individual dedicated heatsinks should cool better than the large clunky base of the stock heatsink as well - the smaller heatsinks are already installed on the PCB of the ATI Radeon HD 5870. With the heatsink installed, it is still easy to see the smaller heatsinks and finned baseplate underneath the large array of fins and six heat pipes. There is extra space to the front and end of the graphics card with the MK-13, users should make sure to have good case cooling also since the heat won't be vented out actively anymore with the ProlimaTech kit.

 

 

The ATI Radeon HD 5870 with ProlimaTech MK-13 installed! This heatsink is much taller and wider than the stock heatsink, and no fans are provided. In testing I used a few different configurations of one and two-fan setups. Four-fan testing was not conducted. With it installed in the case with some room to spare, the fan support bracket can be seen in action. The fans sit around half an inch from the heatsink, and the heatsink hovers above the smaller ones with some room to spare. If the fans mated or were sealed to the fins more, then improved performance could be achieved.

 

 

After a quick view of the next page of specifications and features, it's time to move then to testing!

Specifications:

Heatsink Dimension
(L)205mm X (W)99.87mm X (H)43.5mm
Heatsink Weight
550g
Heatpipe
6mm X 6pcs
Suggest Fan
90/120/140mm X 25mm
Suggest Fan Speed
800~1600rpm
Suggest Noise Level (dBA)
Below 26dBA
Air Flow
57CFM
Direction of heatsink
Faces the VGA card

 

Features:

All information courtesy of ProlimaTech

Testing:

To test the graphics card heatsinks I ran two batteries of tests: idle and load for the stock heatsink, Sapphire Vapor-X heatsink, and ProlimaTech MK-13 heatsink without a fan, with a single low CFM fan, single high CFM 38mm wide fan, and dual low CFM fans. Both the stock and Vapor-X heatsinks were left on auto for one iteration and then set for 100% fan speed on another to get the best case scenario possible for those heatsinks. Furmark was used to get the load numbers after a 15-minute run, between runs a cool down was allowed to let temperatures settle back down. GPU-z was used to monitor the temperatures.

 

Testing Setup:

 

 

 

 

 

Passive cooling a 5870 was not possible with the MK-13 as once it hit 90C the card began throttling to keep it safe, once it hit 99C testing was aborted for safety since passive wouldn't work. With the addition of a single fan however, it handily beats the stock cooler running on automatic speed. With a larger 38mm width fan the temperatures were at their best and beat all other results. Dual low CFM 25mm fans performed 9C better than with just a single fan and edged out the Vapor-X on automatic speeds. At 100% both the Vapor-X and stock heatsink got similar scores. It is unfortunate that overclocking results weren't possible where real differences could possibly have been better observed.

Conclusion:

Overall, the ProlimaTech MK-13 provided solid performance when equipped with any of the three configurations of fans and was able to operate quietly or provide the best cooling out of the three heatsinks tested. Personally, I would equip it with some form of fan control so that it can be adjusted between quiet and performance mode on the fly with a good pair of fans. With higher end cards like the HD 5870 testbed, you will need to use fans since running passively is just not an option in a standard case. If you have a case that is equipped with a large fan blowing over the graphics card you just may be able to make it work as long as you monitor the temperatures. What I found in the testing was that the MK-13 likes airflow and lots of it. The higher the airflow, the better temperatures you will see. This does however, come with one drawback; the MK-13 with the supplied fan bracket and any installed fans will consume the space that is normally reserved for your expansion cards such as a sound card, NIC or another video card, making this a five to six slot cooling solution instead of the two slots occupied by the reference and Vapor-X cooling solutions used on the testbed video card. You can mount the fans in a blow down configuration to combat this but at best it's a three slot solution. The multi position fan bracket is sturdy enough to hold just about any combination of fans from one to four and probably more with some creativity on your part.

The supplied heatsinks were initially tough to keep on the memory modules and VRM but it seems once the card heats up they are not going anywhere and really are large enough to do the job of keeping the components cool. When it came to installing the Prolimatech MK-13, the directions were pretty clear on how the product was installed and there were no surprises as the pre mounted brackets were the ones needed for use with the HD 5870. Prolimatech has included a large number of heatsinks in a multitude of sizes and fin configurations to accommodate the large install base. You get all the screws and mounting hardware you need to get the heatsink installed. It took more time to read the instructions than it did to mount the MK-13 on the card. This large install base should mean that many customers can equip this heatsink with their graphics cards, and provides an upgrade to users who want more cooling but don't want to jump to water cooling but still want a way to reduce the temperatures on the graphics cards. One other item that should be resoled is the size of the heads on the thumb screws used to mount the MK-13 to a video card. These fasteners look and function great but stuck out far enough to make the use of the x1 PCI-E slot above the card useless. Many sound cards are in use with this interface so this can be a real concern. The thumb screws are cool and look good, they just get in the way.

Just like with any product, you get a bit of the good, the bad and the ugly, the trick is to minimize the latter. This is what Prolimatech has done with the MK-13 heatsink. You get a ton of heatsinks, a customizable fan mounting system and a heatsink that looks and performs great. Priced at about $66, it comes in at the high end of the scale, but for that price it does deliver. As the first graphics card heatsink released by ProlimaTech, it is easily one to keep on your radar when looking to upgrade from the "Hoovers" that most high end card come equipped with from the factory!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: