Alpha Novatech S-PAL8952 Pentium4 Heatsink Review
In the world of consumer electronics there are a bewildering array of brand names to choose from, but if you want the best, it's a Sony... typically. The heatsink industry is no different; but if we're talking pure brand power here, "it's an Alpha." There simply isn't another heatsink company which commands as much respect from consumers, so consistently. Alpha heatsinks are made in Japan, and they have a preciseness about them which stands out against the sea of superficial lights, colours, and materials used in so many of today's fly-by-night heatsinks.
When Alpha Novatech produce a heatsink, the expectations for a flatly machined base, precise cold forged heatsink body, and better than average thermal performance are always met. Some Alpha heatsinks perform better than others, and top of the line performance is obviously not a given, but there is a certain quality standard which provides reliability in their products. With most other heatsink manufacturers, there is much more variation from one heatsink model to the next.
It has been nearly two years since FrostyTech last reviewed an Alpha heatsink. That heatsink was the PAL 8942, the predecessor to the S-PAL8952 we are testing in this review. There have been significant advancements in Pentium 4 heatsinks, and the industry has seen the emergence of low noise coolers, more exotic technologies like Heatlane and traditional heatpipes, chemically assisted Heat Columns, and several major advances in fan technology.
As we begin our look at the latest Alpha Novatech heatsink to be released, the question will be whether or not Alpha still have what it takes to design and build a high performance heatsink... to find out, we'll be comparing the Alpha S-PAL8952 against the best Socket 478 heatsinks on the planet! The Alpha S-PAL8952 is currently available through NewEgg.com for about $40USD with the fan used in this review.
The S-PAL8952 has been refined from the PAL8942 on a couple of fronts - the most obvious of which is the adoption of two different styles of aluminum pins.
The heatsink is primarily composed of square 2.5 x 2.5mm pins, but in the center of the heatsink the square pins have been replaced with (80) 2.5mm diameter hexagonal pins. Each pin on the S-PAL8952, of which there are (344) measures 43mm in height.
According to Alpha, this makes the S-PAL8952 better suited to cooling Intel's new Prescott, Northwood and Extreme Edition based Pentium 4 processors, since they run hotter than those based on the older Northwood core.
The combination of square and hexagonal pins is apparently intended to take better advantage of airflow currents within the heatsink. Additionally, Alpha have increased the length of the aluminum fan shroud which sits on top of the S-PAL8952 to 19mm, so intake air is forced to move past the warmer portions of the heatsink's pins.
The Alpha S-PAL8952 would have been limited to a footprint of 70mm x 83mm had it opted to make use of the standard Intel Socket 478 Heatsink Retention Mechanism (HSRM). Intend, the footprint for this heatsink is 78mm x 90mm - necessitating its own custom mounting system. For that, the S-PAL8952 uses a couple brass screw posts, some Nylon washers, and metal nuts. In the past we've tested some heatsinks which use Nylon nuts (for electrical shortage protection), but these never hold very firmly, and the threads get stripped easily too.
To install the Alpha S-PAL8952 heatsink on a Pentium 4 processor you will have to remove the motherboard first, but once the mounting hardware is in place, the rest of the installation is pretty simple. The S-PAL8952 uses four metric screws with 1" springs, which fit into spaces cut into the pins.
The screws thread through the base to lock the heatsink down with the correct amount of pressure on all four corners. If all this sounds complicated, there are printed instructions to walk users through the process, and naturally, all the hardware is included. Next, well see what the thermal test results look like, but before we get to that, a closer look at the S-PAL8952 itself!
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