Prolimatech MK-13 VGA Cooler Review

Testing and Conclusion

Prolimatech MK-13 VGA Cooler Review

Testing and Conclusion

Following a prolonged period of finding a motherboard to suit and aligning our cooling lengthways rather than vertically it was time for the testing. After such a lengthy and frustrating installation period this really needs to deliver the goods.

Testing was done with a 3D Mark Vantage High run to simulate average GPU usage in a gaming environment. Fans used we two Xigmatek XLF-F1253 attached to a fan controller and run at 50% as is standard for OC3D. Vertical describes the fans mounted as in the photographs and as per normal coolers. Horizontal refers to fans across the card as you'd find in a side-panel fan.

It's certainly an improvement. Is it enough to rescue the MK-13?

Conclusion

No. No it's not.

There is so much to like about the Prolimatech MK-13. It looks fantastic with a gorgeous combination of nickel fins, large heat-pipes and black heatsinks. The ends are highly polished as you can see in the shot adorning the top of every page. Build quality is outstanding and everything fits together with a crispness that comes from a well engineered product.

It's almost the perfect product for a slack review site to be truthful. You could show the box, mount the cooler to your card, take a couple of photographs and right up to that point it's brilliant and worthy of whatever award your site gives out.

However the rest of it is beset with too many issues to overlook. The odd little foible is allowable because nothing is perfect, but when it gets in the way of the usability of the hardware you really start to take a close look at everything.

The instructions are abysmal. Truly woeful. If we compare it to a much simpler to install multi-format item like the Corsair H50, that came with separate instructions for every CPU socket in exceptionally clear wording and images that left no doubt whatsoever what should go where, in what order. By contrast the MK-13 is two sides of a bit of paper with a few very vague illustrations and none of the installation order is correct. If you were doing this "by the book" you'd end up with a graphics card minus a cooler gathering dust or, even worse, one without heatsinks on either the RAM or, if you're an ATI customer, the VRM.

Fan installation is by far the worst element though. The bar that holds the fans in place is far too short to comfortably allow the installation of two 120mm fans. The most irritating aspect is that Prolimatech clearly know this because they provide cable-ties (!) and mention that you might need them in the instructions. Cable ties. On a £50 product that doesn't come with fans supplied. Not good enough.

I could go on about how the PCI bracket to attach the fan bar to is either too large or too small, but certainly not the right size. How the cross-bar screws are so long that it really limits the motherboards you can install it into. How Prolimatech laughingly claim you can install TWO of these in a dual card system. But really it only needs to be installed once.

So let's pretend we've got it installed swimmingly. Is it cooler than the stock cooler? Well yes as you can see it definitely trims the temperatures down on our HD5870. The 5870 isn't known as being a particularly hot card though. Really the target market for this would be the GTX480 or similar, but when Prolimatech state that you should avoid overclocking when using it, you start to wonder what exactly it's for. It's not as if the use of two 120mm fans is quieter than the reference fan either.

Beyond all that though, far and away the single biggest design flaw is that this is a four slot cooler. Even the largest of cases haven't got more than 7 or 8 PCI slots and certainly only eATX motherboards might possibly give one spare PCI slot. So forget running SLI, or having a PhysX card, or a sound card, or.. well pretty much anything other than one graphics card with a cooler the size of Wales on it.

All in all the Prolimatech MK-13 is like Jordan. Nice to look at from a distance but up close the flaws shine and in the end it's not much good for anything.

Thanks to Caseking for providing the MK-13 for review. Discuss in our forums

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Most Recent Comments

30-08-2010, 05:32:50

tinytomlogan
Following the enormous success of their Megahalems CPU cooler, we take a look at the Prolimatech MK-13 VGA cooler.

Continue Reading

30-08-2010, 06:13:15

F-alienware
Quote:
Originally Posted by VB View Post

As if to make matters even more enjoyable, when we moved the card amongst our various motherboards attempting to find one that it would fit into without fouling the chipset heatsink, the RAM sinks fell off. We were really gentle too.
Which just so happens to be the same issue attatched to nigh on every third party GPU cooler on the market today.

And that causes fast death of a GPU. For what they charge for these things you would think that they would get that sorted out. I mean, surely some one some where in testing said "Oi, my ram sinks bloody fell off !".

Thanks again for a wonderfully honest review Mr VB. I shall avoid like the plague.

30-08-2010, 06:32:25

Ari-M.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlienALX View Post

Which just so happens to be the same issue attatched to nigh on every third party GPU cooler on the market today.

And that causes fast death of a GPU. For what they charge for these things you would think that they would get that sorted out. I mean, surely some one some where in testing said "Oi, my ram sinks bloody fell off !".

Thanks again for a wonderfully honest review Mr VB. I shall avoid like the plague.
Actually I have never had that issue with my Zalman stick on heat sinks. I am always sure to clean the chips with denatured first. The heat sinks on my gts250 have been in place through quite a few installs/system builds (gts250 is my test card) and less than gentle handling. Never had one fall off yet.

I have used the same Zalman stick on sinks on a variety of chips (sata controllers. etc etc etc) and have actually never had a single one fall off. I have probably used a few dozen of them over the course of the last year or so (building various systems and outfitting various cards/chips)

As long as you clean the surface you are sticking them to, they seem to work great.

I have certainly heard that others have bad luck with them though. Maybe it's the lack of prep. when putting them on? Or maybe I have just gotten lucky.

As for this VGA cooler in review....why would someone build a product that takes up 4 card slots? Was an intern somehow in charge of product design on this item? I just don't get it. They should have just designed the heatsink itself with an indentation in the middle...and then some clips to mount a fan.....same way as everyone else builds their coolers. Really an odd departure from a company that builds such well though out products.....

Seems like by the time you buy the product and then add 2 fans, you are far beyond the value of some of the cards this item is meant to cool, I mean could you imagine such a cooler on a card like a GTS250? You would have a $200 (US) plus GTS250.

For $20 more you could get a 460 or for about $60 more a pair of 5770's. Neither of which needs aftermarket cooling. *scratches head*

30-08-2010, 08:19:23

silenthill
when you install a third party VGA cooler you void your warranty and the company that makes the cooler doesn't give you a warranty so if anything goes wrong you have nowhere to turn too, doesn't that seem stupid or money just grows on trees these days for some people.

30-08-2010, 09:43:30

Ari-M.
Quote:
Originally Posted by silenthill View Post

when you install a third party VGA cooler you void your warranty and the company that makes the cooler doesn't give you a warranty so if anything goes wrong you have nowhere to turn too, doesn't that seem stupid or money just grows on trees these days for some people.
it makes sense if you have an older card, that you got super cheap. I personally did the upgrade to my gts250 because I couldn't stand the noise that the stock cooler put out....it basically ran 100% all the time, with no option to adjust fan speed (not even building a custom permission in RIVAtuner would allow fan control).....and I got the card for next to nothing. Same with the aftermarket cooler. I think I have less into the combo than the cheapest gts250 sells for on newegg.

So for system building and testing mobo/ram/cpu on builds it's a great solution....this way if I get a faulty PSU or mobo I dont' fry a valuable GPU while burning in other components. Also it's super quiet now and I don't have to hear it screaming on the test bench for a 48 hour burn-in

Would make much less sense if all the items were new, and you were paying MSRP. Then I have to agree with you, it's just silly.

30-08-2010, 09:57:34

hmmblah
Just about every card I have owned since a GeForce 2 Ti has had an aftermarket cooler. (Blorb on the GF2, remember those? lol) Not only do you get better cooling, but you can also clock higher and at lower noise levels than a stock cooler. I still have stock cooling on my GTX470 only because it is actually a good solution.

Worrying about a warranty is silly IMO. If you break the card changing the cooler it's your fault, but if the card happens to die a few months down the road from no fault of your own, just slap the stock cooler back on.

Back in the 9800 pro days, the stock cooling was well past inadequate and caused the cards to die prematurely. Overclocking was out of the question with stock cooling. Attaching an AC silencer (or a 1U copper server heatsink) was the only option.

I usually buy a new cooler WITH the brand new card. I only use stock cooling to test the new card and make sure it's not DOA, then the better third party cooling goes on.

30-08-2010, 10:39:17

AMDFTW
lol fail

03-02-2011, 13:36:20

Navu
It seems you have installed the L-shaped bracket i.e. the fans all wrong: there is a "huge" 2 cm gap between the fans and the outer surface of the MK-13 fins. This gap eliminates the airflow towards the cooler, having installed the L-shaped bracket the other way around and so the fans in direct touch to the cooler would have resulted to much better temps. I'm using the MK-13 to cool my XFX5870 using two rather weak 120mm fans (in "direct-touch mode") rotating at 650-700rpm, the result is I have never seen temps higher than 46 degrees for the GPU (that's 50 for memory and 52 for the VRMs using Thermalright VRM R4). At full throttle of about 1400rpm, CCC/Aida64 Extreme/GPU-Z indicate amazing 38-40 degrees!
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