|Cooler Master GeminII S524 CPU Heatsink|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Tuesday, 23 August 2011|
Page 5 of 6
Testing and Results
Most of the other heat sinks I've tested for Benchmark Reviews have been large, high performance coolers that could handle the extreme overclock of my test system: a Core i7 950 running at just over 4GHz at 1.35 volts. But the GeminII isn't designed for this type of load, and indeed cannot keep the processor from throttling (cutting back clock speed as core temperatures exceed 100 degrees Celsius). The GeminII is designed for quiet running, milder overclocks, and space efficiency in a small desktop or HTPC chassis.
Instead of testing it against coolers it wasn't designed to compete with, I tested it against the Core i7 950's retail box cooler as well as Intel's optional DBX-B "high performance thermal solution." Although not widely available, the DBX-B offers substantially better performance than the retail cooler. A small switch on top of the cooler sets the fan to either "Quiet" or "Performance" modes.
I tested each cooler with the processor running at its stock speed of 3.06GHz as well as a mild overclock to 3.52GHz, still at its stock voltage. The integrated fans of the Intel heat sinks cannot be replaced, but I tested the GeminII with my standard high-performance fan, the Delta AFC1212D, which is rated at 113CFM at 46.5dBa, in addition to its stock fan. The Delta moves a lot of air, but it's very loud.
First let's look at these heat sinks' performance at the i7 950's stock clock speed:
Stock Load Tests
The Intel DBX-B with its fan set to "Performance" wins here, albeit not by much. However, the win comes at a substantial acoustic cost: the DBX-B's fan on "high", running at full speed, is much louder than the GeminII S524's fan. The stock Intel retail cooler is just barely able to handle this load.
Now, let's crank thinks up a bit with a mild overclock to 3.52GHz at stock voltage:
Overclock Load Tests
The stock cooler can't handle even this mild, no-extra-voltage overclock, with CPU temperatures quickly shooting to over 100 degrees, resulting in substantial throttling. The DBX-B turns in a much better performance, narrowly edging out the GeminII with its stock fan. Replacing the GeminII's fan with the Delta high speed fan drops CPU temperatures almost 8 degrees, but nobody building a system and choosing this cooler would want to listen to the Delta's shriek. The Intel DBX-B cooler with its fan set on high squeaks past the Delta-equipped Cooler Master heat sink with a temperature 1.6 degrees lower...and this time it's quieter as well.
I'll summarize my opinions on this cooler in the next section.