In our last Cooler Master CPU cooler article, I began by talking about Cooler Master's ability to think outside of the box and push the envelope. Today's review product is the perfect example to back up that statement.
The Cooler Master Sphere is unlike any other heatsink you have seen before. By placing a squirrel cage fan directly in the middle of a baseball sized copper ball made of cooling fins, Cooler Master has increased the thermal dissipation area while reducing the overall size of the cooler.
The look of the Sphere is top notch, but we are here to evaluate a product on more than looks alone. Now, let us see how the Sphere performs and find out if there is even more than meets the eye with Cooler Master's new heat sink.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Sphere plays with both Intel and AMD processor based motherboards. The cooler is made entirely of copper including the four heatpipes that start at the base and wrap through the globe cooling area. As mentioned before, the cooler is small when compared to most of the coolers we have been writing about over the last few months and it might be a good option for HTPCs as long as the acoustic tests show it to be capable of performing in the theater room.
As with many Cooler Master products, the Sphere is available from many retail locations. PriceGrabber in the US shows the Sphere available for $39.99 which puts it up against the Rosewill Z5 that is leading our testing in this price category.
Cooler Master has given us an attractive package for the Sphere. The front isn't very informative on the product but it does look nice in flat black.
The first side shows some images of the Sphere as well as the processor mounting options.
The rear has a window that allows you to see the base of the cooler and also shows an image that explains how the cooler works.
The other side lists the product features and has the UPS information for retailers.
Once you open up the package you can see that the cooler is encased in plastic that keeps it from being moved around during shipping.
The image pretty much speaks for itself here. You have copper fins, a base and on top is the mount for the fan.
Cooler Master has started the heatpipes at the base and sent them through half of the fin area.
The top of the cooler gives us a good shot of the fan. It is possible to remove the fan for cleaning from the top also.
Here we have the base of the cooler, where it makes contact with the CPU. As you can see the base is not exactly smooth like some of the nickel plated coolers we have been looking at, and with your finger you can feel the machine lines. This should hurt performance by a small amount and you will want to use good thermal interface material to regain some of the lost performance.
Cooler Master used a standard 3-pin power cable on the Sphere. The cable is long enough to fit a header on the bottom of the motherboard if you need to get creative.
Accessories and Documentation
We have seen this same hardware coming with Cooler Master Coolers for years now. Motherboard removal is guaranteed in all situations. This is one area that I would like to see Cooler Master take some inspiration from others and make it so we do not have to remove the motherboard to install a CPU Cooler. That process went out of fashion a couple of years ago.
The documentation and information inside of it is presented well. The instructions were easy to follow along with, and it is a Multilanguage document.
TweakTown uses a different method for testing CPU heatsinks which allows for an even playing field across all product tests. We feel that by using the same ambient temperature and strict lab-like testing procedures we are able to accurately compare one product to another. More information on our testing procedure can be found in the T.E.C.C. article here.
I have to say that I am disappointed in the numbers of the Sphere here. With the large cooling area I was expecting to see numbers in the middle 50s, but here we are seeing low and upper 60 degrees.
There is nothing special on the acoustic level front either, but at least it is not disappointing. The load SPL of 61 takes the Sphere out of the HTPC ring as well.
If you are building a machine with a large window and want one of the best-looking coolers on the market then the Cooler Master Sphere will fill your desires. The Sphere would also work fine for lower power Core 2 or Celeron processors. A standard clocked E6600 would be a good example. Quad Core, overclocked and dual core processors that run on the upper end of the thermal charts are not going to be satisfied with the capabilities of the Sphere.
The mounting system for the Sphere is getting repetitive since so many Cooler Master heat sinks have used it in the past. The first time I ran across it four years ago, I thought it was a pain to install and here I am still talking about it today. So many companies have figured out how to mount a heatsink without needing to remove the motherboard. It is time for Cooler Master to retire this mounting system and turn their gifted engineers loose on coming up with a better solution.
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