Spire TherMax Eclipse II CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on September 22, 2010


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

We are testing today the Spire TherMax Eclipse II, a big CPU cooler with five heatpipes and two 120 mm fans. This cooler is aparently identical to the first version of the Spire TherMax Eclipse, which we reviewed some time ago, and both are very similar (for not saying identical) to the 3R System iCEAGE Prima Boss II. The first version of the TherMax Eclipse, however, has shown a far worst performance than the Prima Boss II's. Maybe Spire released this second version to address this problem. Let's test it and see if the performance of this CPU cooler got better.

The box that came with our sample was the same one used by the first version, but according to the manufacturer the final product will have "TherMax Eclipse II" on it.

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 1: Packaging

In Figure 2, you can see the accessories that come with the cooler: manual, installation hardware, thermal compound, and a second fan.

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 2: Box contents

In Figure 3, you can see the TherMax Eclipse II heatsink.

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 3: The TherMax Eclipse II

In the next pages, you will see this cooler in detail.

The TherMax Eclipse II

In Figure 4, you see the front of the heatsink, which has a tower design, with heatpipes bringing the heat from the base to the heatsink.

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 4: Front view

In Figure 5, you see the cooler from the side. The edges of the fins are curved, forming a closed surface which creates an "air tunnel" inside the heatsink.

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 5: Side view

In Figure 6, you see the top of the cooler. The tips of the five U-shape heatpipes form a "V" pattern, in order to receive more airflow than if they were in a single row.

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 6: Top view

In Figure 7, you can see the small auxiliary heatsink that is located on top of the cooler base.

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 7: Auxiliary heatsink

The TherMax Eclipse II (Cont’d)

In Figure 8, you can see the base of the cooler. The heatpipes make direct contact with the CPU.

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 8: Base

In Figure 9 you can see the fans that come with the cooler. One of them has a three-pin conector, while the other one has a three-pin connector plus a standard peripheral power connector. None of them have PWM speed control.

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 9: Fans

In Figure 10 you can see the cooler with the fans installed. They are held in place by rubber holders, which is a good thing because they help to absorb vibration. In Figures 10 and 11, you can see the cooler with the two fans installed.

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 10: Cooler with the fans installed

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 11: Cooler with the fans installed

Installation

To install the cooler, the fist step is to prepare the backplate, inserting screws in the available holes according to the socket used by your CPU.

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 12: Backplate

After that, install the backplate on the solder side of the motherboard, put the cooler on the CPU and screw the four thumbnuts. Easy? Not at all. The access to the thumbnuts is so narrow that we had to remove the motherboard from the case in order to install the TherMax Eclipse II, even considering our case has an opening in the motherboard tray, giving access to the solder side of the motherboard. Only after installing the heatsink on the CPU is that you can install the fans.

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 13: Installed on the motherboard

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 14: Cooler with the fans installed

In Figure 15, you can see the TherMax Eclipse II instaled in our case.

Spire TherMax Eclipse II
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Figure 15: Cooler installed in our case

How We Tested

We tested the cooler with a Core i7-860 CPU (quad-core, 2.8 GHz), which is a socket LGA1156 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 3.3 GHz (150 MHz base clock and 22x multiplier), keeping the standard core voltage (Vcore), which was the maximum stable overclock we could make with the stock cooler. Keep in mind that we could have raised the CPU clock more, but to include the stock cooler in our comparison, we needed to use this moderate overclock.

We measured noise and temperature with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all threads, we ran Prime 95 25.11 (in this version, the software uses all available threads) with the "In-place Large FFTs" option.

We compared the tested cooler to the Intel stock cooler with a copper base (included with the CPU), as well as with other coolers. Note that in the past, we tested coolers with a socket LGA775 CPU, and 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 in the next page.

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 left panel of the case was open.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed 4" (10 cm) from the fan. We turned off the case and video board cooler fans so they wouldn't interfere with the results. 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.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2 °C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.

Our Tests

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 idle and 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, we set the fan at the minumum speed on the idle test and at full speed on the full load test.

 

Idle Processor

Processor at Full Load

Cooler Room Temp. Noise Speed Core Temp. Noise Speed Core Temp.
Intel stock (socket LGA1156) 14 °C 44 dBA 1700 rpm 46 °C 54 dBA 2500 rpm 90 °C
Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G1 14 °C 47 dBA 2050 rpm 33 °C 56 dBA 2900 rpm 62 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme 14 °C 45 dBA 1400 rpm 27 °C 53 dBA 1950 rpm 51 °C
Thermaltake Silent 1156 14 °C 44 dBA 1200 rpm 38 °C 49 dBA 1750 rpm 69 °C
Noctua NH-D14 14 °C 49 dBA 1250 rpm 27 °C 49 dBA 1250 rpm 53 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Performa 14 °C 46 dBA 1500 rpm 28 °C 52 dBA 1950 rpm 54 °C
Prolimatech Megahalems 14 °C 40 dBA 750 rpm 27 °C 60 dBA 2550 rpm 50 °C
Thermaltake Frio 14 °C 46 dBA 1450 rpm 27 °C 60 dBA 2500 rpm 50 °C
Prolimatech Samuel 17 14 °C 40 dBA 750 rpm 40 °C 60 dBA 2550 rpm 63 °C
Zalman CNPS8000A 18 °C 43 dBA 1400 rpm 39 °C 54 dBA 2500 rpm 70 °C
Spire TherMax Eclipse II 14 °C 55 dBA 2200 rpm 28 °C 55 dBA 2200 rpm 53 °C

In the graph below, at full load 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.

Spire TherMax Eclipse II

Main Specifications

The main features of the Spire TherMax Eclipse II include:

* Researched at Amazon.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

Spire did a good job improving the TherMax Eclipse CPU cooler. We didn't compare both versions on the same testbed because since our test with the original TherMax Eclipse we've change our testbed, but the comparison we did between the original Spire TherMax Eclipse and top-performance CPU coolers showed that the first version was "weaker" than top-shelf CPU coolers, but now the new TherMax Eclipse II had practically the same performance level of the best CPU coolers we've tested.

The TherMax Eclipse II has no PWM fans, but the ones included are strong yet relatively quiet; if you connect them to a fan controller, you will be able to adjust their speeds to your needs: performance, silence, or finding the right balance between both.

The only issue we had with the TherMax Eclipse II was installing it. Due to the position of the thumbnuts, we had to remove our motherboard from the case to install the product.

The Spire TherMax Eclipse II cooler is a real top-notch CPU cooler, so it gets the Hardware Secrets Golden Award.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Spire-TherMax-Eclipse-II-CPU-Cooler-Review/1085


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