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    Categories: Coolers

Cooler Master Gemin II SF524

Introduction

So it’s time for my next review. What have we got?

Today it’s the Cooler Master Gemin II SF524. A mixture of high performance and top down cooler. We’ve seen quite a few companies try this style of cooler and they have some real advantages such as being able to cool RAM modules or the VRM area. The disadvantage is that the heat has further to travel along the heatpipes compared to a tower style cooler. Will that affect the results? Only one way to find out.

Specifications

CPU Socket support: Intel LGA 1366 / 1156 / 1155 / 775, AMDFM1 / AM3+ / AM3 / AM2+ / AM2
Dimension (W / H / D): 144 x 144 x 105 mm (5.7 x 5.7 x 4.1 inch)
Fan Dimension (W / H / D): 120 x 120 x 25 mm (4.7 x 4.7 x 1 inch)
Fan Speed: 1,300 RPM ± 10% (900RPM with silent mode adapter)
Fan Airflow: 52.6 CFM ± 10% (36.4 @ 900RPM)
Fan Life Expectancy: 40,000 hours
Fan Noise Level (dB-A): 22.5 dBA
Bearing Type: Long Life Sleeve Bearing
Connector: 3-Pin

 

Unboxing

Again we see great box design from Cooler master. It clearly displays the information you need to decide if this cooler is correct for you.

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The back has information in multiple languages and some technical drawings of the cooler.

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The bundled items include: a manual, AMD and Intel mounting parts, thermal compound and nuts, rubber rings, nut setter and the silent mode adapter.

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The provided mounting system is another variant of Cooler Master’s mounting solutions. It is the simplest and easiest of theirs that I’ve used so far. The four included rubber rings needed to be stuck to the motherboard to ensure there is no metal contact.

The mounting solution for a cooler is becoming more and more important as part of a bundle like this. It’s good to see Cooler Master trying lots of different systems.

The thermal paste is the same standard thermal paste Cooler Master provides with all of their coolers. It’s of a high quality and has a good viscosity for a thermal compound, making sure it spreads well when you mount it.

The Cooler

At the top of the cooler, we see the 1300RPM 120MM fan. It’s got this great looking translucent black colour scheme that offsets the aluminium fins really nicely.

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I do think Cooler Master tightened the fan a little too much from the factory and wasn’t very evenly tightened either. However, some quick work with a screwdriver soon fixes this.

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“Please peel off label before you use it” Keeps the base shiny in shipping.

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The base, slightly different to the normal heatpipe direct touch style we’re used too from Coolermaster. Although it’s not been polished to a mirror finish, the base is both flat and smooth which is what’s important.

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Five 6mm heatpipes laid out through the base. You can also see how thick it is before reaching the heatpipes, this is definitely going to help spread the heat between them.

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At the fin array with five heatpipes going through it, we see mounting holes for both 120MM fans and 140mm fans.

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So I attached a 140mm fan. Quite nicely it fits too. [Yoda? Ed.]

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The fins directly above the base are attached to help cool it further. After that the fins are all shorter to allow space for tall memory heat spreaders.

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The AMD stock cooler is designed the way is it is for a reason and that is so air expelled from the cooler is blown over system components such as the VRM area and RAM to help keep them cool. The problem with tower coolers is that very little air tends to reache either of those areas. This is where the Gemin II SF524 comes in.

Testing and Overclocking

Test Rig

CPU: AMD Phenom II 1090T
GPU: ASUS Reference 5870
Memory: 16GB Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz 9-9-9-24 DDR3
Storage: Crucial C300 128GB
PSU: Cooler Master Silent Pro 850W
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Case: Corsair 700D equipped with many fans

Methodology

To ensure the results were consistent, the heatsink was mounted three times and idle and load tests run each time. An average of the results is shown below.

For idle testing, Windows 7 was allowed to run with no programs for 10 minutes.

For load testing I used Prime 95 Small FFTs and temperatures were taken after 20 minutes.

The standard thermal paste, provided with the cooler, was used.

Overclocking

The settings we used for our stock and overclocked tests are:

Stock – CPU 3200MHz Auto voltage (1.325v)
Overclocked – CPU 4000MHz 1.456v

 

Results

NB. Due to the thermal probe built into the Phenom II CPUs being incorrectly calibrated, the temperatures displayed are 5C cooler than the actual temperature of the CPU. The temperatures are all taken from the same CPU so are all on the same scale.
With and without the silent mode adaptor, the cooler easily handed the load. For running a stock CPU you could link the silent mode adaptor very easily and just leave it cooling very quietly and never have an issue.

[easychart type=”horizbar” title=”Temperature – Stock” groupnames=”CM Gemini II SF542, CM Gemini II SF542 (Silent), CM Hyper 212 EVO, CM Hyper TX3 EVO, CM Hyper 412S, Prolimatech Panthar, Prolimatech Lynx, Antec 620, Antec 920 Silent, Antec 920 Extreme” valuenames=”Idle, Load” group1values=”22,37″ group2values=”22,45″ group3values=”22,36″ group4values=”22,42″ group5values=”14,31″ group6values=”20,32″ group7values=”20,38″ group8values=”14,31″ group9values=”21,38″ group10values=”15,26″ ]

Reaching 67C without the silent mode adaptor is okay. The noise of the cooler is still reasonably quiet. Linking up the silent mode adaptor allowed the temperature to rise to 74C, 3C away from thermal shut down. It passed but only just.

[easychart type=”horizbar” title=”Temperature – Overclocked” groupnames=”CM Gemini II SF542, CM Gemini II SF542 (Silent), CM Hyper 212 EVO, CM Hyper TX3 EVO, CM Hyper 412S, Prolimatech Panthar, Prolimatech Lynx, Antec 620, Antec 920 Silent, Antec 920 Extreme” valuenames=”Idle, Load” group1values=”23,67″ group2values=”26,74″ group3values=”27,52″ group4values=”32,77″ group5values=”19,49″ group6values=”24,48″ group7values=”25,55″ group8values=”25,46″ group9values=”21,46″ group10values=”16,36″ ]

As the cooler has holes for a 140mm fan, I thought I’d put one on. The Prolimatech Vortex 140 comes with two voltage adaptors, one to slow the fan to 1200RPM and one for 900RPM, both near the RPM the stock fan does.

[easychart type=”horizbar” title=”Temperature – Variable fan configurations – Overclocked” groupnames=”CM SF542 (W/ Prolimatech Vortex 140),CM SF542 (W/ Prolimatech Vortex 140 900RPM), CM SF542 (W/ Prolimatech Vortex 140 1200RPM, CM 412S (W/ Scythe Typhoon), CM 412S (W/ 2 x Scythe Typhoon), CM 412S (W/ Noctua NF-F12)” valuenames=”Idle, Load” group1values=”20,60″ group2values=”22,66″ group3values=”21,64″ group4values=”18,47″ group5values=”18,45″ group6values=”19,50″ ]

Installing the 140 fan really helps. This cooler sees really good decreases in temperature from the extra performance. Even running at 900RPM the fan out performs the stock fan at 1300RPM. A very worthwhile upgrade if you’re planning to overclock with a Gemin II SF524.

Conclusion

Well now we know upgrading to a 140mm fan ca really improve the performance. I feel the design of the top down cooler does have useful advantages as well, especially with the resent stories of overheating and catching fire VRMs and hot running memory.

The quality of the SF524 is excellent though and it’s really well put together. The tightness of the fan screws could do with looking at but it’s easily fixed.

I see the cooler retailing for between £35 and £40. That seems like a good price for the solid build that you get here. I’d be happy to recommend it, though there are a couple of improvements that could be made.

Pros

Performed well at stock frequency
Quiet for most purposes
High quality thermal paste
Overall quality of the product is excellent
Mounting system works very well

Cons

Could not provide sufficient cooling when used in the overclocked test
Only just managed to pass overclocked test

William Hemmens:

View Comments

  • I really liked this review. But I think that you had notice about existing Cooler Master Gemini II S524 (not SF524). Many people could make a mistake with that.

    And it would be very interesting for me to see a such test for CM Gemini II S524.

    And you have to check, that in testing screens you wrote "CM Gemini II S542", when it is "524". Yeah, that is a small mistake, but it also can cause some misunderstanding.

  • yeah the s 542 has a pmw fan and spins up to 1700rpm and coolermaster rates it up to 72cfm versus the cfm of the sf version which is 56 or close to it would be nice to see diference between them