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Cooler Master GeminII S524 CPU Heatsink E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling
Written by David Ramsey   
Monday, 22 August 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Cooler Master GeminII S524 CPU Heatsink
Closer Look: Cooler Master GeminII
GeminII S524 Detailed Features
Heat Sink Test Methodology
Testing and Results
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

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.

cooler_master_gemin_ii_s524_coolers.jpg

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

Heat Sink

Thermal Difference
(degrees Celsius)
Difference
from GeminII S524
Intel Retail Cooler 60.1 +11.2
Intel DBX-B low fan 51.6 +2.7
Cooler Master GeminII S524 48.9 +0.0
Intel DBX-B high fan 46.0 -2.9

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

Heat Sink

Thermal Difference
(degrees Celsius)
Difference
from GeminII S524
Intel Retail Cooler FAIL FAIL
Cooler Master GeminII S524 stock fan 67.6 +0.0
Intel DBX-B low fan 65.8 -1.8
Cooler Master GeminII S524 Delta fan 59.7 -7.9
Intel DBX-B high fan 58.1 -9.5

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.



 

Comments 

 
# uATX PCIE overlap?Considering purchase 2012-05-26 08:35
I've seen a report of this cooler overlapping the first PCIE slot on uATX mobos... Anyone able to confirm?
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# RE: uATX PCIE overlap?David Ramsey 2012-05-26 08:53
I don't think this would be a problem. The spacing between the CPU socket and the first slot is pretty much the same on an mATX mono as on a standard mono.
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# RE: RE: uATX PCIE overlap?David Ramsey 2012-05-26 09:10
That should be "mobo" above. Sorry. Typing with one hand here...
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# RE: uATX PCIE overlap?Considering purchase 2012-05-26 09:52
If it were an issue do you think the bottom edge that allows for the 140mm fan could be ground off with a dremel or something?

I guess the key question is whether the extended fan mount bezel is flush with the RAM mounting tabs, as on every Z77 uATX board I've seen the RAM tabs' bottom is the exact point where the first PCIE slot starts. Since RAM slot + tabs is probably ~exactly 140MM (RAM I think is about 132MM, but not 100% sure), it seems like a perfectly center-mounted 140MM wide sink (which the GeminII looks like it is because of the extended lip for a 140MM fan) would be exactly flush with the top of PCIE slot 1, and since PCIE graphics cards usually have width to both sides, I'm kind of inclined to think the report I saw was accurate, but I'm also kind of inclined to think that removing the 140MM fan mount bezel/lip would fix it without altering thermals much.

Anyway, if you have any other recs for CPU sinks that would work well uATX and are under 130MM height and closer to 120MM in the top-to-bottom direction, I'm all ears.

I guess there's the Noctua NH-L12 (128MM, rather than 144), but I haven't been thrilled about it. Maybe I should reconsider.

Ironically enough my initial concern was sinks bumping interfering with the first RAM slot.
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# RE: RE: uATX PCIE overlap?David Ramsey 2012-05-26 10:02
I'm not sure why you think that "PCIE graphics cards usually have width to both sides". Aside from the perhaps 1mm-2mm height of components or cooler mounting brackets on the back side of the board, the only PCIE cards I've ever seen with width on the back are passively cooled cards with fins that wrap around the card.

Still, I concede the possibility of interference. You probably could Dremel away some of the unused 140mm fan flange, but I think a simpler solution would be one of the single-120mm radiator water cooling setups like the Corsair H80. That should remove all your fitment concerns and provide better cooling to boot.
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# RE: RE: RE: uATX PCIE overlap?Considering purchase 2012-05-26 10:25
My current GPU has an x-shaped heatsink mounting bracket on the backside about 5 - 10 MM deep and the frontside heatsink extends beyond the bcb and wraps about 3mm to the backside on the the top edge.

Anyway, thanks for replying, it's probably kind of onerous for you to have an extended comment discussion like this.

I've been looking at the H60 very seriously, actually. My major concern is that I feel that despite the 5 year warranty, the longevity and performance degradation over time aren't clear.

I know that every sink/fan based cooler I've used is still working and could probably keep on going for far longer than the useful life of my PCs and worse case probably need a fan replaced or reapplication of thermal grease, but with water cooling there are horror stories of pump seizures and coolant leaks that make me a little a ambivalent. Likewise, I've heard there's a constant, but minuscule, rate of coolant evaporation -- not sure how much it matters. Maybe I should just take the plunge. I've heard Corsair will replace your whole PC if things really go south, but it'd still be a hassle.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: uATX PCIE overlap?Considering purchase 2012-05-26 10:33
*meant pcb, not bcb.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: uATX PCIE overlap?David Ramsey 2012-05-26 10:43
It's true: a good air cooler will last forever (with possible fan replacement), while a water cooler will not. That said, I have not even heard of an all-in-one water cooler failure yet. The Asetek OEM cooler in my HP Blackbird case is going on 5 years old and is running fine. Originally designed for a Socket 775 system, it's been through a succession of LGA 1366/1155 motherboards with no problems so far.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: uATX PCIE overlap?Considering purchase 2012-05-26 12:18
Thanks for all the replies. It's been helpful.

:)
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# RE: RE: uATX PCIE overlap?Considering purchase 2012-05-26 10:04
Actually, I think I've got 150 MM height available, not 130MM. Just double checked.
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