Cooler Master GeminII S524 & Hyper 612 PWM Review

Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Monday, August 15th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/s/Cooler_Master_Gemini_Hyper/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

When it comes to keeping the processor cool, there are a few enthusiasts that opt for extreme methods such as liquid nitrogen, dry-ice and the more widely used water cooling. However, only one of the three options is viable in a system used on a daily basis, and that method is still fairly expensive and complicated to set up. This gives most users only one real option; traditional air cooling. Since air cooled heatsinks are the most widely used cooling method, companies continue to improve their designs and release new products with more advanced thermal performance.

Today we are going to be looking at two of the latest air cooling heatsinks to hit the market, and though they are both designed by Cooler Master and set to launch within a few weeks of each other, they both use vastly different designs.

The first of the two heatsinks is the Hyper 612 PWM, which an beefier version of the Hyper 212 Plus. The biggest differences between the two models is that the new Hyper 612 is much larger, giving it a substantial surface area and ample room to accommodate more heatpipes. The heatpipes on the 612 PWM have also been rotated 90°, which extends the six pipes through the front and back of the array as opposed to the sides. With its larger size and updated heatpipe placement, the Hyper 612 PWM could be a solid performer that gives even top-tier heatsinks a run for their money.

The second heatsink we are examining today is the GeminII, which is also an updated version of an older Cooler Master design. Unlike the Hyper 612 PWM, the GeminII is a top-flow heatsink that positions the cooling array and fan lengthwise across the motherboard. This directs the airflow downward, allowing the fan to not only cool the heatsink, but the surrounding on-board motherboard components as well. Top-flow heatsinks have replaced for the most part been by tower style coolers, but their low-profile still makes them a perfect fit for small cases and home theater PCs.

Both the Cooler Master Hyper 612 PWM and Gemin II S524 are designed to offer excellent thermal performance without breaking the bank. At launch the Hyper 612 will have an MSRP of $49.99, which is inexpensive these days for a large tower cooler. The GeminII we assume is going to be slightly less expensive, but the exact retail pricing is still TBA. However, we assume the final MSRP will be around $39.99.

Specifications: Cooler Master GeminII S524
CPU Socket

Intel Socket LGA 1366/1156/1155/775 - AMD AM3/AM2+/AM2

Dimensions
144 x 144 x 105 mm (5.7 x 5.7 x 4.1 inches)
Heatsink Dimensions
144 x 144 x 78 mm (5.7 x 5.7 x 3.1 inches)
Heatsink Material
Copper Base/Aluminum fins/ 5 heatpipes
Heatsink Weight
490g (1.08lbs)
Fan Speed
800 - 1800 RPM
Fan Airflow
34.2 - 77 CFM
Fan Air Pressure 0.43 - 2.46 mm H2O
Fan Life Expectancy
40,000 hours
Bearing Type
Long Life Sleeve Bearing
Connector
4-pin
Noise Level
15.1 - 31.6 dBA
Rated Voltage
12 VDC
Operating Voltage
6.0 - 13.2V
Rated Current 0.21A
Input Power
2.53W
Fan Weight
104g (0.23lbs)
Specifications: Cooler Master Hyper 612 PWM
CPU Socket

Intel Socket LGA 1366/1156/1155/775 - AMD AM3/AM2+/AM2

Dimensions
140 x 100 x 163 mm (5.5 x 5 x 6.4 inches)
Heatsink Dimensions
136 x 100 x 163 mm (5.4 x 3.9 x 6.4 inches)
Heatsink Material
Copper Base/Aluminum fins/ 6 heatpipes
Heatsink Weight
806g (1.78lbs)
Fan Speed
600- 2000 RPM
Fan Airflow
24.9 - 82.9CFM
Fan Air Pressure 0.3 - 2.7 mm H2O
Fan Life Expectancy
40,000 hours
Bearing Type
Long Life Sleeve Bearing
Connector
4-pin
Noise Level
9 - 36 dBA
Rated Voltage
12 VDC
Operating Voltage
6.0 - 13.2V
Rated Current 0.22A
Input Power
2.64W
Fan Weight
104g (0.23lbs)

The GeminII S524 comes packaged in a relatively small box that lists the specifications and features on the side panels. The front of the packaging uses a while background with a photo of the GeminII on it. The rest of the packaging uses a predominantly white color scheme, but two of the sides are purple with lettering.

The GeminII is low-profile top flow heatsink that features five 6mm heatpipes extending out of the base at a 90° angle. From the base, the heatsinks run along the back side of the cooler and re-enter the heatsink at the top portion of the array. With the heatsink siting at a 90° angle, the airflow is directed downward to provide cooling to the motherboard components as well as the array.

On top of the GeminII is a pre-installed 120mm 4-pin PWM fan that operates between 800 and 1800 RPM. At top speed, the fan will generate up to 77.7 CFM, and according to Cooler Master the maximum noise output should only be around 32dBA. If the fan lives up to these specifications, the Gemini should yield good results while remaining extremely quiet. Cooler Master has used a long-life sleeve bearing design for fan to gives it an operational lifetime of 40,000 hours.

At the bottom of the cooler is a nickel-plated copper base that is connected to both the heatpipes and aluminum array. The base of heatsink has a smooth surface, but like most coolers in this price range it is not buffed to a mirror finish.The opposite end includes the top portion of the array, which is surrounded by a metal bracket that can accommodate either a standard 120mm fan or 140mm fan.

The Cooler Master Hyper 612 comes in a package similar to the GeminII, albeit larger to accommodate the size of the heatsink. As you can see, the packaging uses a simple and clean layout that includes an image of the cooler on the front, with the specifications and features listed on the sides. All the components are kept secure inside the box with styrofoam.

The Hyper 612 is a tower style cooler with a standard symmetrical design measuring 140 x 128 x 163 mm. This makes it considerably larger than the Hyper 212 it was based on,  but the size also allows the heatsink to accommodate a larger surface area consisting of 45 aluminum fins. Additionally, the 612 utilizes six copper heatpipes, and the array features a wide gap design and has resistance reduction cut-offs. Essentially, these features facilitate more efficient ventilation throughout the array, which will improve the fan's exhaust rate at lower RPM.

The fan that comes with the Hyper 612 is attached to a quick-snap fan bracket and is mounted to the heasink out-of-the-box. A second bracket is included with the accessories, so the heatsink supports dual 120mm fans in a push/pull configuration. The included fan has an operational range between 600RPM to 2000rpm and a maximum airflow rating 82CFM. Even while the fan has a high airflow rating, the maximum noise output is only 36dBA, and when idle the noise level is further reduced to an extremely low 9dBA.

The bottom of the cooler uses a solid copper base plate that has six integrated heatpipes below a separate smaller metal array. Each heatpipe has a circumference of 6mm, and Cooler Master designed each pipe to extend into the CPU "hot zone" for optimal thermal absorption.

The base plate of the heatsink doesn't quite have a mirror finish, but the sample we were sent had a smooth surface with only slightly visible machine marks. This means the Hyper 612 should make even contact with the surface of the processor, which improves the thermal performance.

To optimize the thermal conductivity, Cooler Master has rotated the heatpipes 90°, which will extend the pipes through the front and back of the array as opposed to the sides. Rotating the heatpipes works as a two part solution. First, the pipes have a greater degree of separation, which will allow the heat to be more widely distributed throughout the array. The heatpipes will also have direct contact with the airflow, thus improving the heat dissipation.

Both the Cooler Master GeminII and Hyper 612 come with a universal mounting kit that makes both heatsinks compatible with AMD and Intel based motherboards. Below is a full list of the supported sockets.

Intel:
Socket LGA 1366, 1156, 1155, 775


AMD:
Socket AM3, AM2+, AM2

The method in which the two heatsinks are installed is similar, so instead of showing the process for both heatsinks we will instead showcase the installation of the Hyper 612 PWM and then the finished results for both.

The first step in the installation process is to secure the appropriate mounting bracket to the base of the heatsink via four screws. This is very simple to do, however make sure you have a small screwdriver handy because the screws included with the GeminII are too small to be fastened with a standard Phillips-head screwdriver.

After the bracket is tightly secured to the motherboard, you can alter the position of the spring-loaded screws to fit the appropriate socket type. This is done by sliding the screws either inward toward the base plate or away from it. The bracket we used fits Intel based motherboards and requited us to slide the screws as far outward as possible to fit our LGA-1366 socket.

With the spring-loaded screws set to the proper position, you can thread them through the mounting holes on the motherboard. At this point, make sure you have a good hold of the heatsink because you have to work it from both sides. While holding on the heatsink and keeping it secure to the processor, you have to attach the dual-sided back-plate and then secure the bolts to each screw. When all four bolts are on they can be tightened to the board via bolt tightener and screwdriver.

The mounting bracket used with the Hyper 612 PWM and GeminII S524 is better than what Cooler Master used for the V6 GT, but overall the process was still somewhat complicated. The bolt-through system does reduce the strain of the heatsink on the motherboard though, so there was only a slight bend after the heatsinsks were installed.

With the heatsink attached to the board, we still had plenty of room for installation and even the large Hyper 612 left clearance for our installed memory modules, though it came pretty close.

In the picture below, we positioned the GeminII with the heatpipes facing upward. This is said to be the best orientation for top-flow heatsinks, but it can be easily rotated 90° in either direction if the upward position isn't convenient for your installation.

To gauge the cooling performance of the Cooler Master heatsinks, I will be using an Intel i7 920 at both stock and overclocked speeds. For the overclocking portion of the test, the processor will be set at 3.6GHz with the voltage level set to 1.3 volts. For the idle temperatures, all programs will be shut down and the results will be recorded after 20 minutes, and for load temp testing I will be using Prime95. The program will run for up to 30 minutes before temperatures are gathered via multiple temperature monitoring software. To ensure proper performance between all models, each cooler was tested within on a few hours of each other.

Testing Setup

The results for the Cooler Master heatsinks were not entirely unexpected, but the Hyper 612 PWM did manage to surprise us. During our testing at stock levels, the Hyper 612 performed more efficiently than all of the other tested coolers. However, after we increased the voltage to the CPU the thermal performance decreased, but it still managed to cool our 920 better than the Corsair H60 and Thermalright Ultra-120.

The GeminII didn't quite perform at the same level as the Hyper 612, but for a top-flow heatsink the performance was still good. As the overclocked graph shows, the GeminII was only slightly less efficient than the Titan Hati, which uses a tower design.Also, the GeminII smashed the thermal performance of the stock Intel cooler, so for what it is the GeminII S524 does an outstanding job.

Cooling a high-end processor is no easy task and the total performance level available to the end-user depends greatly on the internal room afforded in a PC case. For those with a full-sized tower case, the sky is the limit, but for anyone using an HTPC or low-profile chassis the options can be limited. For this group, heatsinks that utilize the top-flow design are possibly the best option available.

The GerminII S524 landed at the bottom of our performance charts, but seeing as how all the other coolers used either H2O or a tower design it is hard to directly compare them. Top-flow heatsinks typically do not enjoy the same thermal performance as tower style coolers, so when the GeminII came within just a few degrees of the Titan Hati we were surprised. For a single fan solution that can fit into virtually any type of chassis, it is nice to see performance that is nearly on par with some of the more mainstream tower style coolers.

Another excellent aspect of the GeminII is the acoustics. During our testing the GeminII was hardly audible, and from three feet away our decibel reader was maxing out at just under 41dBA. So while this heatsink is not going to match the thermal performance of a tower style cooler, it will come close enough, and remain extremely quiet in the process.

The Hyper 612 PWM was of course the better performing heatsink of the two, but with a tower style design and a massive surface area its performance was never really in doubt. On top of the size, the heatsink includes optimized heatpipe positioning that places the pipes in more direct contact with the airflow. In addition, the 612 includes a wide gap design and has resistance reduction cut-offs to improve the performance even further. While testing the Hyper 612, we were surprised that it was able to perform equal to or better than even top-tier coolers such as the Thermalright Ultra-120 and Corsair H60.

Like the GerminII, the Hyper 612 PWM was extremely quiet during use, and again our decibel reader was averaging out in the 40dBA range

Both the Cooler Maser GerminII S524 and Hyper 612 PWM are solid heatsinks that perform well and are priced aggressively. The only real flaw we could find is that Cooler Master installation kit is more cumbersome than what other companies are using. However, it is better than the kit that came with the V6 GT, so it appears Cooler Master is headed in the right direction in that regard.

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