Spire TME III CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on July 18, 2012
The Spire TME III is a CPU cooler with a tower heatsink, five 8 mm copper heatpipes and two 120 mm fans. Let’s see if it is a good cooler.
The TME III is a new version of the Spire TherMax Eclipse II, which was an improved version of the original TherMax Eclipse, which performed poorly in our tests. We have no idea why Spire didn’t name this cooler “TherMax Eclipse III,” preferring the abbreviation instead.
The box of the TME III is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: the cooler itself with one fan installed, a second fan, a syringe of thermal compound, manual, and installation hardware.
Figure 3 displays the Spire TME III.
This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.
Figure 4 illustrates the front of the cooler, which is covered by the 120 mm fan. Notice the small auxiliary heatsink over the base, which was also present on older versions of the product.
Figure 5 reveals the side of the cooler. The fins are folded, creating a closed surface.
Figure 6 shows the rear of the cooler, where the second fan goes.
In Figure 7, you can see the top of the cooler, where the tips of the heatpipes are visible. Please notice that the fins are not plain, but have some kind of rugosity.
Figure 8 illustrates the base of the cooler. The heatpipes touch the CPU directly, and there is a gap between them. The surface has no mirrored finishing.
Figure 9 reveals the TME III without the front fan. The fans are held in place by four rubber pieces.
Figure 10 shows the 120 mm PWM fans that come with the TME III. The fans have extremely short wires, but the cooler comes with two extensions to connect them to the motherboard.
Figure 11 shows the backplate of the TME III, with the screws and nuts installed on the adequate holes for socket LGA1155 installation. Four plastic washers prevent the nuts from damaging the motherboard.
In order to install the TME III, you need to put the backplate on the solder side of the motherboard, and then install the cooler in place, securing it with four thumbnuts.
After that, install the fans, as shown in Figure 13.
Removing the cooler and observing the thermal compound “fingerprint,” we could be sure of a problem we noticed: the base of the cooler is far larger than the surface of our CPU, so only the three central heatpipes actually touch the processor. The heatpipes on the edges simply don’t pick up heat directly from the CPU.
We tested the cooler with a Core i5-2500K CPU (quad-core, 3.3 GHz), which is a socket LGA1155 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 4.0 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x40 multiplier), with 1.3 V core voltage (Vcore). This CPU was able to reach 4.8 GHz with its default core voltage, but at this setting, the processor enters thermal throttling when using mainstream coolers, reducing the clock and thus the thermal dissipation. This could interfere with the temperature readings, so we chose to maintain a moderate overclocking.
We measured noise and temperature with the CPU under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all cores, we ran Prime 95 25.11 with the “In-place Large FFTs” option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)
We compared the tested cooler to other coolers we already tested, and to the stock cooler that comes with the Core i5-2500K CPU. Note that the results cannot be compared to measures taken on a different hardware configuration, so we retested some “old” coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read on the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that comes with it.
Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings.
During the tests, the panels of the computer case were closed. The front and rear case fans were spinning at minimum speed in order to simulate the “normal” cooler use on a well-ventilated case. We assume that is the common setup used by a cooling enthusiast or overclocker.
The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed near the top opening of the case. This measurement is only for comparison purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.
Operating System Configuration
We adopted a 2°C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2°C are considered irrelevant.
The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, the fan was set at the full speed.
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Temp. Diff.|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3||18 °C||50 dBA||2850 rpm||69 °C||51 °C|
|Corsair A70||23 °C||51 dBA||2000 rpm||66 °C||43 °C|
|Corsair H100||26 °C||62 dBA||2000 rpm||64 °C||38 °C|
|EVGA Superclock||26 °C||57 dBA||2550 rpm||67 °C||41 °C|
|NZXT HAVIK 140||20 °C||46 dBA||1250 rpm||65 °C||45 °C|
|Thermalright True Spirit 120||26 °C||42 dBA||1500 rpm||82 °C||56 °C|
|Zalman CNPS12X||26 °C||43 dBA||1200 rpm||71 °C||45 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9900 Max||20 °C||51 dBA||1700 rpm||62 °C||42 °C|
|Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition||22 °C||50 dBA||2400 rpm||65 °C||43 °C|
|SilenX EFZ-120HA5||18 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||70 °C||52 °C|
|Noctua NH-L12||20 °C||44 dBA||1450 rpm||70 °C||50 °C|
|Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme||21 °C||53 dBA||2550 rpm||71 °C||50 °C|
|Gamer Storm Assassin||15 °C||48 dBA||1450 rpm||58 °C||43 °C|
|Deepcool Gammaxx 400||15 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||60 °C||45 °C|
|Cooler Master TPC 812||23 °C||51 dBA||2350 rpm||66 °C||43 °C|
|Deepcool Gammaxx 300||18 °C||43 dBA||1650 rpm||74 °C||56 °C|
|Intel stock cooler||18 °C||41 dBA||2000 rpm||97 °C||79 °C|
|Xigmatek Praeton||19 °C||52 dBA||2900 rpm||83 °C||64 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P SE2||18 °C||42 dBA||1300 rpm||69 °C||51 °C|
|Deepcool Frostwin||24 °C||46 dBA||1650 rpm||78 °C||54 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio Advanced||13 °C||56 dBA||2000 rpm||62 °C||49 °C|
|Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition||9 °C||48 dBA||2100 rpm||53 °C||44 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio Extreme||21 °C||53 dBA||1750 rpm||59 °C||38 °C|
|Noctua NH-U9B SE2||12 °C||44 dBA||1700 rpm||64 °C||52 °C|
|Thermaltake WATER2.0 Pro||15 °C||54 dBA||2000 rpm||52 °C||37 °C|
|Deepcool Fiend Shark||18 °C||45 dBA||1500 rpm||74 °C||56 °C|
|Arctic Freezer i30||13 °C||42 dBA||1350 rpm||63 °C||50 °C|
|Spire TME III||8 °C||46 dBA||1700 rpm||70 °C||62 °C|
In the graph below, you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.
In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.
The main specifications for the Spire TME III CPU cooler include:
When we tested the original Spire TherMax Eclipse, we were disappointed by the poor performance of the cooler. Then the manufacturer released the TherMax Eclipse II, which looked exactly like the first one, but showed an excellent cooling performance.
Now we tested the third version of the same cooler. We say it is the same cooler; except for the fans, the TME III looks exactly like the previous versions. In addition, we discovered that the TME III, like the first one, performs poorly for a cooler of this size.
All that remains now is to wait for Spire to launch the TME IV. If the sequence continues, it should be a good cooler.