Gelid are one of the most legendary cooling companies in the world and while you may not think of them first when you’re looking at a new CPU cooler, they’re the top choice for many system builders, enthusiast overclockers, and all of us here at eTeknix for our test benches, when it comes to Thermalpaste. Gelid GC-Extreme has been a popular choice for many years, and it’s with that in mind that we know that Gelid has a fair bit of knowledge when it comes to thermal performance in the PC market.
“The Antarctica comes with a 3D optimized heatsink that offers best-in-class thermal performance. The engineers of GELID Solutions especially designed a set of 5 power heat pipes, aluminum fins with improved profiling and an additional smaller heatsink with a copper core. These elements provide exceptional heat transfer from the CPU to the heatsink. Both heatsinks were created using precise software simulation and calculation during the development stage to ensure efficient air flow distribution at the lowest fan speed possible. The result, the Antarctica fully supports heat transfer of TDP 220W being paired with even very low-speed, virtually noiseless fans.” – Gelid
Their latest CPU cooler, the Gelid Antarctica, comes equipped with support for a wide range of CPUs, features a slim cooling tower to ensure it doesn’t conflict with motherboard VRM cooling or large RAM heatsinks, while being tall enough to provide great cooling performance. This is backed up by a high-quality 140mm PWM fan, which is designed to operate at low RPM, providing great airflow while maintaining whisper quiet performance. To make things even more appealing, it’s also backed up by a reassuring 5-year warranty.
“A silent 140mm fan with the intelligent GELID PWM (Pulse Width Module) control compliments the heatsink. The fan blades are optimized to deliver high air flow at low speed, and the newly designed PWM IC eliminates any clicking noise. The intelligent GELID PWM curve operates the fan in an extended speed range of 450 RPM to 1500 RPM, it constantly keeps the fan silent but accelerates speed whenever additional cooling is needed. With 2 sets of fan mounts, a second fan can be installed to improve the cooler’s outstanding performance even further. Additionally, the multi-award winning high performance GC-Extreme thermal compound is already included in the package.” – Gelid
The packaging is pretty straight forward, nothing too fancy overall, but a nice image of the cooler as well as detailing support for Skylake CPUs.
Around the back, we can see that the cooler supports a huge range of CPUs, right back to 775 and old AMD sockets. There’s also 2011 support, but you’ll need to purchase a separate bracket for it.
In the box, you’ll find all the usual documentation, as well as a bag of fitting components.
There’s a backplate for both Intel and AMD motherboards, two mounting arms, four fan retention clips, high-quality screws, a sticker and a very welcome tube of Gelid’s award-winning GC-Extreme thermal paste; the same paste we use for all our cooling reviews!
A Closer Look
The fan is one of Gelid’s own design, a high-quality and durable 140mm design that features 9 fan blades that are shaped for maximum airflow at low RPM.
It comes with all black fittings and a black sleeved 4-pin PWM cable.
The cooling tower is really nicely constructed, with a durable fin stack that provides a sizeable surface area despite the slim tower design.
The sides of the stack are closed off to better direct the airflow through the fins and past the heat pipes, which should help further enhance the overall cooling performance.
There are five heat pipes in total, each bent into a “U” shape to pass through the left and right sides of the cooling tower for better heat distribution, and each passes right through the nicely finished top panel.
There’s a smaller heat sink design on the CPU block, where a small array of fins will provide extra cooling support and no doubt help with higher TDP hardware.
The heat pipes are packed in nice and tight, providing excellent coverage of the large copper contact plate. The surface is nice and smooth too, which will provide a nice clean fit over your CPU of choice.
The backplate is easily mounted, just pop it on the back of the motherboard and slot the four screws through the holes on your motherboard.
You then need to screw four nuts over the screws to hold it in place, which does take a few minutes to wind them all on, but it’s far from physically demanding. This gives your four pegs remaining for which to screw the CPU block down onto the motherboard; pretty easy overall.
Screwing the CPU tower down is nice and easy and while you can use a screwdriver if required, it’s possible to do this whole installation tool-free. Then you simply clip the fan on and you’re good to go.
The slim design means that even with a huge fan on there, it doesn’t conflict with any memory modules or motherboard components, and there’s even room for a second fan should you need extra cooling performance.
Test System and Methodology
We always use the same test system and tests with CPU coolers that we compare against each other. The full specifications of our test system are as follows:
- ASUS P8Z77-V, LGA 1155 socket, Z77 chipset
- Intel Core i5 3570K with Gelid GC-Extreme under the IHS
- 16GB Kingston 1866Mhz DDR3
- 128GB Kingston HyperX SSD
- Antec High Current Gamer 620W
- Cooler Master Test Bench v1.0
- We always use Gelid GC-Extreme thermal paste to make sure testing reveals the efficiency of the tested coolers not the efficiency of the bundled thermal paste.
- Prime 95 is run for 10 minutes and then the average maximum temperatures as recorded by CPUID HWMonitor are noted
- The average temperature across the four cores is taken on our quad-core processor
- Fans are mostly left to operate at default PWM profile speeds and with maximum fan speed for reference.If PWM functions are not supported then fixed fan speeds are used and sometimes a low noise adapter if appropriate/provided. If fixed fan speeds or low noise adapters are used it will be clearly pointed out either on the graphs or in the write-up.
- All default result entries on graphs are for PWM performance unless otherwise specified. A variety of fan speed results are done for a particular product review and then removed from the graphs in future reviews of other products to avoid clutter. If you would like to see more fan speed results for a particular product please check its individual review.
- For water cooling tests, all pumps have been operated at 12 volts directly from the power supply
- Delta temperatures are always used (Observed temperature minus ambient temperature) and we keep the ambient at 22 (+/- 1) degrees for all testing. Delta temperatures should correct for any marginal ambient differences between 21-23 degrees.
- Acoustic measurements are taken 10cm horizontally away from the CPU cooler with the VGA fan disabled, the hard drive in idle and power supply isolated. These are taken at desktop idle and Prime95 load.
- The cooling performance tests are run at stock 3.4GHz (with Intel Turbo up to 3.8GHz) and overclocked 4.5GHz (1.35v) settings. Voltages are fixed to prevent inaccuracy between comparisons.
- All other coolers in the graphs have been tested under identical settings so are fully comparable.
- Each test is repeated 3 times with 3 remounts for consistency of results
- There is approximately a 1-degree celsius margin of error in our temperature recording software CPUID HW Monitor
- There is approximately a 1.5dBA margin of error with our Benetech GM1351 decibel meter
In all these graphs we may have a few “reference” results of particular products that do not fit into that category for comparative purposes.
Stock performance on the Antarctica is certainly impressive, clocking in around the same as the Dark Rock 3 and the TD02 AIO water cooler from Silverstone, of course, we’re hardly taxing the cooler at stock clocks, but this is a solid result overall.
Putting it under pressure with 4.5Ghz clocks, the Antarctica didn’t move too far from the middle of the chart, competing with many more expensive coolers, including a few AIO water coolers and that’s certainly impressive overall. It’s on par with the similar design AR07 from SilverStone too.
Barely a whisper at stock clocks, you’re unlikely to hear this at all when it’s running.
A bit of heat pushed the fan RPM up a little, but it’s still remarkably quiet and unlikely to be of concern. Although given the temperatures we’ve seen, you could easily lower the RPM to cut some noise, or get away with pushing the fans harder for better performance, the choice is yours.
The Gelid Antarctica is available from QuietPC for a very reasonable £33.46. Stock is limited to just a few retailers, but availability seems good overall, so you shouldn’t have any issues finding one at this price. It’s not overly expensive and given the performance, we think this is a great deal for any system build.
I wasn’t expecting particularly huge performance from this cooler, given that it has a relatively slim cooling tower design, but with Gelid’s extensive cooling knowledge, there’s certainly a lot of positive things to say about the Antarctica. The performance wasn’t anything amazing, but when you look at the size of the cooler, as well as its price tag, it’s got what it takes to give the competition of run for their money. Even when overclocking, we found the temperatures to be more than satisfactory and the fan managed to stay calm and quiet throughout. There’s easily room to push the fan harder, or even add a second fan if you wanted more cooling performance, but equally so to lower the fan RPM for ultra-quiet performance, without losing much in terms of cooling performance.
The build quality is perfect, at least for this price range. The fan is particularly nice, with a durable design and a very quiet operation even at higher RPM. The addition of it being all black with a black braided PWM cable only helps sweeten the deal. If I could improve one thing, it would be the fan mounting clips as I don’t like those metal spring clips, but at least they get the job done easily enough.
The tower is very nicely designed, with durable things and thick heat pipes that obviously do a great job shifting heat from the CPU, now doubt helped by that secondary fin array on the back of the cooling block. There’s a good size, smooth copper contact plate too, which give a nice clean fit over the CPU and overall, it’s relatively easy to install. The aesthetics are a little standard and somewhat safe, but I’ll take performance over a flamboyant design any day of the week.
Finally, the best bonus here is a small tube of GC-Extreme, one of the best thermal pastes on the market and there’s enough included for multiple re-installations of the cooler.
- Robust build quality
- Tidy aesthetics
- Great quality fan
- Competitive performance
- Affordable price
- Suitable for overclocking
- GC-Extreme thermal paste included
- Design is a little bland, but that’s hardly a deal breaker
- Spring fan clips are a bit fiddly, but this is true of all clips this style, and many coolers use them
“Great cooling performance, a quiet 140mm fan, robust build quality and an affordable price tag make the Antarctica one of our favourite coolers on the market today. Highly recommended!”
Thank you Gelid for providing us with this sample.