Spire Gemini Rev. 2 £35
29th Mar 2012 | 11:49
Adequate in a crowded market is just not good enough
Introduction and benchmarks
The Spire name is one that's going to be familiar to enthusiast PC folk, so the Spire Gemini Rev. 2 ought to have some serious cooling chops to back up its not inconsiderable girth.
We've seen a lot of CPU coolers sitting in the £40 bracket recently. All of them claim superior cooling performance across a wide range of stupidly powerful (and hot) processors and finger-shredding socket configurations.
One of the best we've seen in the last few months was Enermax's first try at CPU cooling with its catchily-titled ETS-T40-TA.
We're still not entirely sure what the marketing team was doing while the engineers were coming up with one of the finest, most bargainous coolers we've tested.
So Spire has a lot of work to do with the Spire Gemini Rev. 2 and a lot of competition to keep in check.
With a dual-fan, push-me-pull-you setup, manual fan-speed controller and six copper heatpipes it certainly seems like it means business.
But how does it stand up to the serious competition?
Heatpipes - 6x 6mm copper pipes
Material - Aluminium, copper
Compatibility - AMD, Intel
CPU TDP design - 130W
Dimensions - 131x71x153mm
Spire's Gemini Rev. 2 provides some decent cooling performance considering it's got one of the most powerful CPUs warming up beneath it in our test bench.
That said the similarly-priced Enermax cooler has it beat hands down, especially in the peak to idle temperature test, where the ETS-T40-TA posts the quickest time for an air-cooler we've seen.
CPU cooling performance
Peak to idle performance
The last two active CPU coolers we've tested, the DeepCool Fiend Shark and the excellent Enermax ETS-T40-TA, put in impressive showings in both the important cooling tests and how quickly they were able to return to their idle temperatures.
Against those two the Spire Gemini Rev. 2 was on a hiding to nothing.
Using the same Z68/2600K combo both the other coolers had the Gemini Rev. 2 beat hands down. The Enermax cooler - with only a single fan and two fewer heatpipes, remember - manages to consistently sit around 7degrees cooler than the Spire.
That's both at idle and 100% CPU loads.
The Gemini Rev. 2 is also much slower to return to the idle temperatures. The Enermax cooler drops back from its height of 50degrees back down to 20degrees in less than two minutes. The Gemini Rev. 2 though took around five minutes to get back from 57degrees down to 28degrees.
In its defence it did manage to get close after around three minutes, but still took another couple of minutes to chill out those last few degrees.
That's not to say the cooling the Gemini Rev. 2 offers is not adequate for a high-performance CPU, it absolutely is.
In fact compared with the Corsair H100 liquid cooler that generally sits atop our test bench it wasn't far short of that chiller's chops. It was only one degree hotter at 100% load and had the same idle performance.
The Corsair H100 though zips back to its idle temperatures faster than any other cooler we've seen, dropping back to idle in 99 seconds flat.
But it's not all about straight performance; there's little more annoying than fitting a new cooler with bleeding fingers.
The Gemini Rev. 2 though is beautifully machined so there's no sharp edges to slice through your delicate epidermis, but that doesn't mean it's not an awkward bast to fit.
It may have attachments for all sockets, but that universal approach makes for fiddly fitting. With the twin fan setup you're also cutting out the closest DIMM slots to the CPU socket.
So while it's an effective cooler, the Spire Gemini Rev. 2 is off the pace in both ease of use and straight line cooling performance.
It's still the Enermax ETS-T40-TA all the way.
The Spire Gemini Rev. 2 gives decent cooling performance for an average air-cooler and it's also universally able to fit on any desktop CPU socket you want to throw it at.
Unfortunately that doesn't make it particularly easy to actually fit onto your chosen socket.
The average performance too means that against the much better competition this cooler is off the pace at the top. And the top air-cooler is around the same price too.
A decent contender, but the average performance doesn't cut it in the crowded chiller marketplace.