As for all my reviews, I use whatever thermal paste comes with the product rather than my preferred pastes for personal use. In this case the Spire TherMax came packaged with a tube of Spire Bluefrost, which is indeed blue. I applied a minute amount to the base of the cooler and used a credit card to fill in all the gaps between the heatpipes and the aluminum base. Then I squeezed out about two rice grains worth onto the center of the CPU. This was slightly more than I would normally use, but I wanted to be sure and compensate for the textured surface on the base of the cooler. The AM2/AM3 mount was a simple install, and I hooked the fan up to the included fan speed controller which I will be leaving at 100%.
For testing this cooler, I have set up a test bench using an Asus M2N SLI board with 4gb of DDR2 800 Kingston Hyper X and an AMD Athlon 64 5200x2 processor which will be running at a 5% overclock of 2835.6 MHz. First we will run idle and load temperature tests using the stock AMD cooler and the OCCT benchmark utilizing the Linpack test to maximize heat in under five minutes. Afterward we will run the same tests using the Spire TherMax Pro.
Our stock cooler shows core one and two idling at between 10 and 14.5 degrees Celsius with the fan at maximum. When running at 100% load the temperatures jump up to 38-39 degrees Celsius. Not a blistering heat, but enough to compare with.
Using the same method of testing as with the stock cooler, we find a modest drop in idle temperatures to 9-10.5 degrees Celsius, about a four degree drop, which I expected. The Spire TherMax Pro really showed a marked improvement when the CPU was stressed under 100% load. The Athlon only reached 26.5 degrees maximum temperature compared to the 38-39 degrees Celsius that the stock cooler benched at. That is about a 12 degree drop which would definitely allow for some more headroom to overclock. Also worth mentioning is the decrease in decibels. The Spire's fan at 100% was near-silent compared to the blaring AMD stock cooler at the same speed.