AMD 6400+ X2 Black Edition
Biostar TForce 570 SLI
2 x 1Gb OCZ Titanium PC6400
The Black Edition AMD processors do not include a factory heatsink/fan as they are marketed for computer enthusiasts and overclockers who would more than likely not use a stock heatsink anyway. The 6400+ runs at 3.2Ghz by default at 1.4v but in these tests I will only be looking at two different scenarios, a minimal overclock of 3.3Ghz at the same 1.4v and a slightly higher overclock of 3.4Ghz at 1.5v. Although higher frequencies can be obtained using more voltage, it is not feasible to generate load conditions with these settings for any extended amount of time as doing so quickly results in temperatures too extreme to handle for most air coolers. CoreTemp was used to log temperatures of each core and the results were averaged together.
The Cooler Master Sphere produced very good idle temps, lower than some other air coolers I have tested. When under load the CPU core temps did get a bit on the high side however the system remained stable despite reaching 60° C. I did have to change the shutdown temp setting in the BIOS from my usual 60 up to 65 to prevent the system from going into alarm, and this is about the limit of where I feel comfortable with a CPU running temperature-wise for continuous use.
As usual, Cooler Master has designed a good product that meets the needs of general users and computer enthusiasts alike. The Sphere is a very solid cooler, with sturdy copper fins firmly attached to the heatpipes and a radial fan mounted in the center. The motherboard bracket securely attaches the cooler to the motherboard, albeit in a somewhat unusual and slightly difficult-to-be-installed manner. Once in place however, the Sphere operates quietly and efficiently, keeping even such a heat generator as the overclocked 6400+ under control. The all-copper construction looks good and the top cap and LED's add that finishing touch.
There really aren't any cons to the Sphere, although it might be nice to have a simpler mounting mechanism, but with the weight of the cooler at nearly 700 grams I certainly wouldn't want to trade ease of install for flimsy attachment. If it were possible to run the fan a bit faster there may be more performance to be obtained there as well. Copper seems to favor high CFM and the relatively low output of the radial fan doesn't provide enough cooling to keep the RAM under control at 2.4v by itself either, so I had to add an extra fan blowing on the DIMMs to supplement it.
Another great selling feature of the Cooler Master Sphere is it can be found for under $40. When most aftermarket air coolers run $50 and up, some not even including fans, the Sphere seems like a steal. Low cost and decent performance add up to a bargain for all but the most demanding of users. The Cooler Master Sphere has been awarded the OCIA.net Seal of Approval.