One of the problems with old motherboard chipset heatsinks, apart from their small size, is the little fans almost always seize up. Constant use, time, and dust bunnies conspire to stop impeller blades from spinning. If the fan stops on a postage size heatsink, there's a good chance the chipset will overheat - there's just not enough surface area to adequately release the heat from the chipset into the surrounding air.
For this problem Zalman have introduced the ZM-NBF47 fan-style chipset heatsink.
The Zalman ZM-NBF47 is a compact passively cooled aluminum chipset cooler that harkens back to Zalman's first CPU heatsink design. The cooler measures 37x80mm in size, and is compatible with mounting hole and loop-style attachment methods. The base on the solid aluminum heatsink is a mere 30x23mm in area, and machined razor flat.
The ZM-NBF47 heatsink comes with two different brackets that fit into channels in the side of the cooler. Each steel bracket swivels around in just about any direction so the little northbridge heatsink can accommodate different motherboards, and mounting points in any orientation.
The versatility of this system allows the Zalman ZM-NBF47 to fit on a wide variety of motherboards with a minimum of fuss. After assembly, the ZM-NBF47 is installed without the use of any tools.
One of the stubby metal brackets works with soldered-in loops, the other with through-hole mounts in the motherboard PCB. Most Intel motherboards of old used simple wire loops soldered onto the motherboard, and there are very few after market chipset heatsinks that support this, so kudo's to Zalman.
Unlike our normal CPU heatsink reviews we won't be doing any temperature measurements. Here's a quick look at the Zalman ZM-NBF47 from all sides.
The Zalman ZM-NBF47 heatsink is made of 20 aluminum fins, measuring 0.5mm thick. The fins are pinched together at the base, and bolted together. Zalman's technique is to use the edge of the aluminum fins to conduct heat from the northbridge chipset right through to the fins, where air currents inside the case disperse the heat. For any passive heatsink such as this, it's understood that the user will have some airflow directed towards the heatsink - a case fan, the CPU heatsink fan exhaust, whatever.
There's not much else to the Zalman ZM-NBF47 really, and in that respect it makes a useful replacement for expired northbridge chipset heatsinks. There is no fan to break with time, and its' surface area should ensure adequate cooling with a moderate breeze moving over the aluminum fins.
The installation clips work with two of the most commen means of affixing a chipset cooler, which is a plus. The only shortcoming we can see with the Zalman ZM-NBF47 is that it won't be of much use for any recent Intel chipset - the 975X, P35, X48 are all far too hot for a small aluminum heatsink such as this. It's hard to imagine a motherboard with a massive copper and heatpipe chipset cooling system being replaced by a cooler as compact as the Zalman ZM-NBF47, so don't try. As a general rule of thumb, we suggest you only replace failed chipset heatsinks of about the same size as the ZM-NBF47.
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