Though I suspect that the Phenom II X3 720 isn't a terribly hot processor compared to the latest Phenom II X4 CPUs, and definitely cooler than Intel's i7, I'll take a 50C load temp from a modern processor any day. Back in the day, 50C was the number to shoot for. Actually, it has been quite a while since I've seen a 50C load temp from a CPU overclocked more than 15-20%.
I like the Spire TherMax Pro. As I mentioned before, a 90-92mm cooler is a nice compact size. Hopefully in the future, this CPU/motherboard will find their way into a smaller footprint case. It's pretty unlikely that a cooler larger than this one is going to fit in an mATX case, if this one does I'd be very pleased.
As I didn't use the included fan controller, I depended on the BIOS to adjust the fan speed. I had it set to the default high speed at 50C. I could hear the fan when it was at full speed and the side panel off.it was about the same noise level as my 120mm fans running at full speed. It didn't whine or roar like other 90-92mm fans at full speed. When I replaced the side panel, I couldn't hear the fan inside of my highly ventilated case so it is definitely quiet enough. I could not hear it at all when running at lower speeds.
I have used I think seven coolers prior to this one with heatpipes directly touching the CPU heatspreader. I have said in the past that I feel the main benefit for this technology is to be able to use an aluminum base and still utilize copper for heat dissipation. Generally these coolers work equally as well as a cooler with solid copper base but are lighter and usually cheaper.
So, what is the ideal application for the Spire TherMax Pro? I would easily recommend it as a replacement for any (every) stock CPU cooler in a stock clock or mild overclock situation. It worked great with the Phenom II X3 at a healthy overclock, but I wouldn't expect it to cool an Intel i7 at a 20% overclock or better. For more extreme overclocking, I'd highly recommend a high-end 120mm cooler or liquid cooling. Spire also makes a 120mm version, the TherMax II, and I think I'd be more inclined to use it for the ridiculously hot overclocked i7.
As far as the type of rig.gamer, workstation, whatever, it would work great. With its small footprint, I think it would be excellent for an HTPC rig.
The TherMax Pro wasn't at my favorite online retailer, but I found it at specialty shops for $35. Not a bad price, it would likely be $5 less at a large online retailer. There are 120mm coolers for that price and less, so maybe it would be the better buy if a smaller footprint cooler is needed. ThinkComputers.org gives the Spire TherMax Pro CPU Cooler a 9 out of 10 score.
- Quiet 90mm cooler
- Excellent for applications needing a small footprint cooler
- Kept the overclocked Phenom II X3 720 at 50C
- Limited availability-a little pricy at smaller online retailers that carry it