AMD K8 Coolers Preview and Review (Spire KestrelKing II and Thermaltake Venus 12)

Well the AMD K8’s (Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX) have officially arrived and that means more exciting months to come. The K8 provides many benefits such as being a 64-bit processor and more efficient. Today we will preview two new coolers that are released for the K8 series of processors. Welcome to today’s preview of the Spire KestrelKing II and the Thermaltake Venus 12 K8 coolers.


Thermaltake Venus 12 – The Thermaltake Venus 12 is a high-end K8 cooler that comes in packaging such as that of the Silent Boost. The relatively heavy red plastic packaging includes the Venus 12 cooler, a 5.25’ fan rheobus, a PCI slot rheobus, thermal probe automatic fan controller, white grease, installation instruction, some screws and thermal tape. This package contains many things and is a great bundle that gives users best of both worlds of selected cooling. The rheobus is of great quality and has a great functional feel to them. The excellently designed all-copper heatsink with a very nice base weighs in at a hefty 760g and features a 3-prong clip design with a thumb-designed tool free clip. The base has some scratches present from no base protection in the plastic packaging. The Venus 12 contains a 80mm triple blade fan that is surrounded by a metal fan shroud that has a maximum airflow of 72.92CFM’s while producing around 48 dBA’s. There is no simple fan guard on the beast, which raises some concerns. The fan can be controlled via rheobus/automatic thermal probe reading and is quiet when tuned down while pulling nice air. The fan is designed to give the most possible air and that is shown on the bottom of the fan. The Venus 12 however doesn’t come with a backplate and the retention frame as some other companies (Spire do) but motherboard manufactures always supply them with their bundle. The Thermaltake Venus 12 looks very promising combining massive power for people who want absolute cool with no regards to noise (and those who like cool and can turn down the fan speed) a nice bundle, and nice packaging.

Images of Thermaltake Venus 12

Review Update: I have finished the review of the Thermaltake Venus 12 K8 cooler with new real-world temperatures taken off the MSI K8T Neo-FIS2R (will be reviewed later) with our new K8 system featuring the AMD Athlon 64 3000+ processor (review pending). The AMD Athlon 64 3000+ operates at 1.5V and dissipates ~85 watts of heat (Cool'n'Quiet disabled). During installation, I come across one problem that can create problems on different motherboards. The thumb-designed tool free clip that Thermaltake created is not the design that AMD chose to create so in this case it is considered out of "spec". One of the problems you could have with this design is the tool free clip hitting a capacitor near by. In my case, the clip if pushed down fully would have broken/touched a capacitor that was near by. An image is given for you to see the effect. One of the nice features of the new K8 thermal design is the fact that coolers can be installed either way. There is no particular position that is required for heatsink/fan combinations to be installed. The retention frame has the clip lock for the "spec" clip on both sides. With the Thermaltake clip, if you choose to install the heatsink/fan combination opposite from the power supply, you will have to be careful to see if the Thermaltake designed clip will not interfere or hit your chipset heatsink. This clip design creates this possible problem.

Here are the temperature results...Ambient air temperature is around 20-23 degrees...Arctic Silver 5 used and was set in for 72 hours...There is results from the rheobus setting on "High Speed" and one from "low speed".

Thermaltake Venus 12 (K8) Results - High Speed Fan Mode
Idle (30 mins): 35c
Load: Toast 2 (5 minutes): 42c
Thermaltake Venus 12 (K8) Results - Low Speed Fan Mode
Idle (30 mins): 39-40c
Load: Toast 2 (5 minutes): 47c

As you can see the Thermaltake Venus 12 performed pretty good on high fan speed mode. However, there is a problem with the highest fan speed mode; it's real loud! Pushing ~73CFM @ 48dBA's you better bet this thing is loud. It rotates around 5200RPM on the highest fan speed. Low speed provided good but not breathtaking results, but there is an upside; low fan speed produced very little sound providing the user some quiet time. The optimal setting would have to be medium speed but medium speed also is noisy. You pay for the price for performance and sound. The Venus 12's base was making perfect contact with the core. Users who want all out performance, and the ability to have room for silent and loud noise will appreciate the Thermaltake Venus 12. Users, who want quiet with nice performance, look elsewhere.

Pros and Cons

+ Nice packaging
+ Performance oriented
+ Excellent copper design
+ Fit and finish
+ 3 options of cooling (Thermal probe and two rheobus)
- Noise
- Low speed setting wasn’t impressive
- Thermaltake designed clip introduces possible problems
- Still noisy on medium speed
- Base had some scratch marks from unprotected base

Alternative Pricing:

You can visit Thermaltake for more information on this product.


Spire KestrelKing II – The Spire KestrelKing II is a budget cooler yet an alternative to the cooler that is supplied with retail AMD K8 processors. The Spire KestrelKing II arrived in a traditional Spire packaging and included the Spire KestrelKing II, Fanner 420 Thermal compound, mounting screws, a backplate, and the retention frame. The Spire KestrelKing II is aluminum K8 cooler which has a 70mm fan on top of a fan adaptor and that is protected with a simple fan guard that pushes 33.8 CFM at a noise level of 31.8dBA. The fan is a low profile fan and doesn’t sound too loud when in use. This cooler has a thermal resistance of only 0.31 C/W, which shows that the new K8 design is much better than the Athlon XP line. The attention to quality is a trend with Spire products and that is shown through the fan connector being sleeved. The heatsink quality is good and the base is flat with just some machine marks and accidental finger prints on Spire’s part that are present on arrival. Wiping them away clean solves the problem. The heatsink’s fins are spread apart evenly and are of great quality. The Spire KestrelKing II has a single lug clip and a tool-free clip, which helps you install the cooler on a K8 system very easily. It is unknown to us if single-lug clips will be hectic as it was on the Athlon XP line but from the looks of the K8 thermal cooling design; it looks to be just fine. However we will know once we have a K8 system. The Spire KestrelKing II looks like a nice cooler alternative for users that don’t have the big bucks to spend.

Images of Spire KestrelKing II

Review Update: I have finished the review of the Spire KestrelKing II K8 cooler with new real-world temperatures taken off the MSI K8T Neo-FIS2R (will be reviewed later) with our new K8 system featuring the AMD Athlon 64 3000+ processor (review pending). The AMD Athlon 64 3000+ operates at 1.5V and dissipates ~85 watts of heat (Cool'n'Quiet disabled). During installation, the Spire KestrelKing II exhibited no flaws and the tool free clip was within AMD's "spec" design thus making it easy to install without any problems.

Here are the temperature results...Ambient air temperature is around 20-23 degrees...Arctic Silver 5 used and was set in for 72 hours...

Spire KestrelKing II (K8) Results
Idle (30 mins): 37c
Load: Toast 2 (5 minutes): 45c

The Spire KestrelKing II performed beyond my expectations. This is an aluminum cooler folks and the results speak for themselves. Pushing ~33CFM's at a noise level of ~32dBA's, the Spire KestrelKing II is not completely silent as you can hear the fan whine a bit but is completely livable. It isn't a loud sound. It is relatively quiet rotating around 4200RPM's. One of the many things I like about the new Athlon 64 is the fact it has Cool'n'Quiet. With Cool'n'Quiet enabled you can actually hear the Spire KestrelKing II's fan noise level down to about really quiet and it makes it even more livable, not to say it wasn't in the first place.

The Spire KestrelKing II also made perfect contact with the CPU as the Spire KestrelKing II had a very flat base to begin with. The Spire KestrelKing II impressed me. It seems that Spire impresses me every time, and that has got to mean they are doing something right. My hats off to Spire for creating an impressive aluminum cooler for the AMD Athlon 64/FX line. It not only performed great, it did so without the big noise factor such as the Thermaltake Venus 12 and even reached close to the Thermaltake's high fan speed results. For users who are looking for a very nice alternative to other K8 coolers, keep the Spire KestrelKing II in mind. I will be using it for sometime to come :)

Pros and Cons

+ Bundled back plate and retention frame
+ Impressive performance and impressive for a aluminum design
+ Relatively quiet
+ Sleeved fan connector provides neatness
- Not completely silent
- Base had some machine marks

Alternative Pricing:

Please visit the new-look Spire website for more information on this cooler.



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