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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

CPU Cooler Final Thoughts

In previous reviews, I've said the only reason to choose a third party cooler is for overclocking performance. But this is really too simplistic a view: while the boxed retail cooler will suffice for most non-overclocked applications, the tight confines of a micro-ATX or HTPC case can benefit from a larger cooler with a blow-down cooler design, where the extra airflow can help cool other motherboard components. In this scenario the fact that it's a lot better at CPU cooling is just a bonus.

cooler_master_gemin_ii_s524_rear_34.jpg

Obviously, you should pay attention to your case airflow with a cooler like this, since warm air from the cooler isn't directed out the back or top of the case. A good rear exhaust fan and even a front intake fan can help keep things moving in the right direction, and these need only be very quiet, low airflow fans. The performance of this cooler will vary more with air flow than will a cooler whose air is more directly exhausted from the case.

The Cooler Master GeminII S524 substantially outperforms the boxed retail Intel cooler, and is very close to the performance of the Intel DBX-B cooler. However, the latter is significantly louder under load than the GeminII S524, and doesn't have the advantage of cooling motherboard components as well as the CPU. Add in the fact that the Cooler Master heat sink retails for about $10 less (the DBX-B isn't widely available at retail, but when it is, generally sells for about $50), and it's the cooler I would choose in most cases.

While this cooler will have a limited market, its design and performance make it a very good choice if your situation warrants it.

Cooler Master GeminII Conclusion

Please remember that these test results reflect our experience with each cooler on a specific motherboard, with a specific processor, BIOS revision, BCLK and voltage settings, and test programs. The results of this test cannot be directly compared to other tests since many factors will have changed.

The GeminII S524's design isn't often seen any more, but performs well in cases where space is at a premium. Appearance-wise, it's a pretty plain cooler, but most of the time it won't be in a windowed case anyway.

The construction quality is excellent. The fins are straight and the heat pipe curves are so smooth they seem mandrel-bent. I've seen some pretty lumpy heat pipes recently and it's nice to see the smooth, perfect curves of the Cooler Master product. The base has a good finish, too.

The accessories are standard fare: mounting kits that will accommodate all current AMD and Intel platforms, a tube of thermal interface material, and a nice little nut driver for securing the heat sink to its mounting plate.

The performance of this cooler is excellent, considering its design and intended use. The stock Intel cooler isn't even in the same class, and while the Intel DBX-B cooler beats it, it's only by a narrow margin and at a sonic cost. Also, the DBX-B isn't designed for the use that the S524 is. The GeminII's included PWM fan is almost silent except under high load conditions.

If you're looking for a cooler for a small form factor machine, the Cooler Master GeminII S524 deserves your consideration. As of February 2012 the GeminII S524 sold for $39.99 (Newegg), so it offers good value.

Pros:

Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award

+ Small, low profile design
+ Quiet fan
+ Cools motherboard components as well as CPU

Cons:

- Fan shroud blocks extra air from 140mm fans
- Does not exhaust hot air out of the case
- Requires extra attention to case airflow for maximum effectiveness

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.0
  • Appearance: 7.5
  • Construction: 9.0
  • Functionality: 9.25
  • Value: 9.5

Final Score: 8.85 out of 10.

Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.

Questions? Comments? Benchmark Reviews really wants your feedback. We invite you to leave your remarks in our Discussion Forum.

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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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