Spire Gemini SP986B1-V2-P Universal Intel/AMD CPU Cooler Review
Today’s review feels like a special one for me because it marks 6-years since our last Spire product review on ModSynergy.com. Spire was one of the first companies that gave us the opportunity to review products and get our name out there. Today I re-visit an old friend and see how far they have come over the years by reviewing their latest offering in the CPU cooling segment; introducing the Spire Gemini SP986B1-V2-P Universal CPU Cooler.
“Spire-Powered by Innovation: Founded in 1998, Spire is a leading premier brand for computer thermal solutions, power supplies and pc cases. In order to meet the needs and demands of the global market, we have established our production facilities in Shenzhen, China. Our incorporated branch offices are located in the USA and The Netherlands with sales offices in Germany, Japan and Brazil. All locations are located strategically to better work with the customers we serve.
Spire ideals, to which our employees give full recognition, are (1) constantly striving to become stronger, (2) being sincere and active and (3) seeking the latest innovative technology. After years of hard work and dedication in running its business, Spire today is a major presence in three major business fields: computer thermal solutions, power supplies and pc cases. It has received full recognition in its products as well as its services. The purpose built Spire factory and all of the products were approved by CE, UR, CSA, and TUV in 1998. We gained AMD and VIA approvals along with recognition by International Standard Commission for Quality Assurance in 1999 against ISO-9002 & ISO-9001. Spire is also proud of shipping all its products compliant to the standards of The European Union ROHS and WEEE.
Spire Products are dedicated to bringing you the latest technology in computer cooling as it becomes available and to offer a variety of solutions to combat the growing concern of overheating. With today's high-speed processors functioning at an unprecedented speed and output, the demand for better and more reliable cooling solutions has become one of the most important issues in the computer industry today. As a premier manufacturer of high quality cooling solutions, we are able to meet the demands of the computer industry by providing competitively priced products, next day delivery and lifetime warranty. With reliability of products having such high precedence in the business, Spire has earned the loyalty of many well known manufacturers and distributors throughout the world. We have maintained close business ties with international names in the computer industry.”
Spire Gemini SP986B1-V2-P Product Overview
‘Gemini is the Zodiac sign for the twins. We have codenamed our newest high-end thermal solution due to the two towering dimpled fin heat-sinks. Gemini is the ultimate evolution of the hugely successful TherMax CPU cooler series. The increased number of heat-pipes combined with a higher number and density of dimpled fins and crowned with two (2) high airflow fans for extreme cooling performance. Six (6) U-shaped 6mm heat-pipes are in contact through the solid copper base with the CPU, rapid heat transfer to the 52 aluminum dimpled fins providing a larger surface area for optimum heat dissipation. The Gemini is supplied with two (2) 12cm balanced DC fans providing high airflow and sufficient cooling. Compatibility is guaranteed with multi-platform mounting for all current Intel and AMD micro-processors. The Gemini is pure cooling power that takes performance to the level. Spire – Powered by Innovation.’
Spire Gemini SP986B1-V2-P Product Features
Compatibility: The Gemini CPU Cooler is compatible with the latest ATX boards based on the Intel and AMD Micro-processors sockets 775/1155/1156/1366 for Intel and AM2/AM3/940/939 for AMD (not G34 compatible).
Spire allowed me to review the Gemini and sent a sample through one of its unnamed US distributor. It was sent in a regular corrugated box the size of the actual product package and without any form of added protection. The Spire Gemini box had appeared unscathed during shipping.
Going over the product box design, it looks very nice in a red and black color scheme and comes in a relatively compact packaging wasting no extra space; everything fit snugly inside the box. It also has a nifty plastic handle for making carrying after purchase an easy experience. The box has two circular clear security seals on each top end to prevent any modification of the package and its contents. The side of the box contains product specifications but has not been updated to reflect that it supports the new Sandy Bridge LGA1155 platform.
Purchasing the Spire Gemini SP986B1-V2-P, which has an MSRP of $58.99USD, you will receive the following items inside the box…
As I opened the box, the first thing presented is the user installation manual and warranty card that is placed on top of the white accessories box which you can remove by the circular indent. Once I removed the accessories box, I went to remove the Gemini CPU cooler that is covered in a clear plastic outer shell casing. As I removed it, I noticed the whole plastic casing was not even shut properly in its four corners, and it felt unusually fragile and crunchy. They used some very cheap and thin plastic. I remove it and uncover that the outer shell is ruined and ripped on both ends. Either it did not survive shipping, came like this from the factory, or possibly was tampered with, I don’t know. All I know is that this ‘protective’ plastic casing failed big time. The ‘do not eat salt bag’ fell out one of these ripped openings.
As I find out the Spire Gemini CPU cooler is placed on its own inside this cheap plastic outer shell with zero protection to protect anything on this cooler. Even the base of the cooler has no plastic seal for protection and had easily been scratched because of the friction of touching the plastic during shipment. The base had bits of broken plastic around it. The first time I saw this I said “you have got to be kidding me…” because I was shocked how one could call this protective packaging. A better solution would have been taking a page out of ZEROtherm’s book and covering the entire cooler in a foam solution.
If I were in the shoes of someone shelling out their hard earned money and opening the box to see this level of protection, I would feel like I bought something that was second hand or someone had ripped me off. It’s a slap to the face to the customer. If I had to review this product based on packaging alone, this would have been an epic fail on many levels because it was basically useless.
Spire Gemini SP986B1-V2-P Heatsink Overview
The Gemini (named after the Zodiac sign for the twins) first of all is one heck of an interesting looking heatpipe tower CPU cooler because it introduces new design changes to ones currently seen on the market. I personally think it looks fantastic looking at it being covered in an all black-Nickel coated surface to prevent oxidation; however it still is a fingerprint magnet for oily fingers. Overall heatsink construction and quality is first-rate.
This cooler is a combination of aluminum (52 fins) and copper throughout. The heatsink alone measures in at 131x71x153mm (LxWxH) and the two included fans measure 120x120x25mm. The first change you will notice with the Gemini is that the fins have now been closed on both side profiles so that air can flow better to each side, and not out of the side profile. The fins are also dimpled so that airflow can be sent at varying angles and in theory provide better heat transfer between surfaces. The six U-shaped 6mm heatpipes are in contact with the solid copper base and the top of the base is connected to another mini flower heatsink that sits above the base of the cooler. The base however does not have the heatpipes directly touching the CPU, which in theory is better. The Gemini weighs in at a hefty 0.842KG or 1.86lbs without any fans mounted and when you do mount both 120mm fans onto the Gemini, it’ll tip it at around 2.87lbs.
Two ball-bearing Spire BlackStar 120mm PWM controlled fans are included with the Gemini packaged bundle. These support Pulse-Width Modulation so they are ones where you will connect them to your 4-pin motherboard fan header, not the usual 3-pin fan header. If you connect them with only 3-pins they will run at full speed and won’t be capable of throttling up or down automatically. Spire rates a maximum airflow rating of 71.12 CFM and noise can vary between 19 to 25dBA for one of these units On the backside of the fans, Spire have placed rubber foam inserts to help prevent vibration from the fan unit and the heatsink unit when mounted with the clip system.
All in all this is an interesting cooler design and makes enhancements to an already tried and true heatpipe tower design. The Gemini is rated to handle a thermal design power of up to 150W so if you recently purchased a new Sandy Bridge based 2nd Generation Core i7-2600K that has a Thermal Design Power of 95W, this should handle it no problem. Or if you have the LGA1366 Bloomfield or Gulftown, which has a TDP of 130W, the Gemini will be able to handle it without much trouble, at least on paper.
Show me the results and how it performs…
The Spire Gemini SP986B1-V2-P will be tested on an Intel LGA775 setup that consists of the 105W TDP (stock) Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 that will be overclocked even more to exhaust more heat than normal. The Q6600 is overclocked to 3.33GHz @ 1.26-1.27v to give you a better indication if the Spire Gemini can handle more heat. This I think this will give a better indication on how well it can handle the hottest of Intel's chips and the new Sandy Bridge based 2nd Generation Intel Core i7-2600K (maximum TDP of 95W).
Arctic Silver 5 was the thermal interface solution of choice in this test and was allowed to settle in for one week. Ambient air temperature was around 22 degrees Celsius at the time of testing. OCCT was the program of choice for this test and was run at idle for 15 minutes and load for 15 minutes.
Well I have to say that these temperatures are fantastic! They sure help lessen the sour taste of poor packaging. The Spire Gemini easily cools down a 39.1% overclock of the Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 and makes it seem like nothing. Nothing goes over 50 degrees. These results are with 2 fans running in push/pull configuration.
Noise coming from the 2-fans of the CPU cooler are moderately loud when they need to be. After all they are rated for 25dBA for a single fan and can push up to 71.12CFM if need be. Double the dBA if you are running a push/pull configuration and well, it's not totally silent anymore but tolerable.
Aside from the poor packaging I had experienced, I am very happy with the performance aspect of the Spire Gemini SP986B1-V2-P. The heatsink quality is top-notch and everything just feels good. Given the results, it would be safe to say that the Gemini can handle just about everything thrown at it and this should be on your shortlist of CPU cooler considerations, even at its high-end $58.99USD MSRP price. Easily recommended.