Pentium 4 HSF Roundup

Dec 24th, 2004 | By

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Pentium 4 HSF Roundup


Date
: 12/24/04 – 06:59:36 AM

Author
:

Category
: Cooling


Page 1 : Introduction

It has been forever since our last cooler roundup. In this latest edition we look into a few new Pentium 4 coolers for sockets 478 and 775. Our comparisons will include coolers from SilverStone, Zalman, Spire, and Intel. We hope to expand our comparisons in the future, but for now these air coolers are a good start and are able to cater for those seeking silence and those seeking performance.

Without further ado, lets move on to what you've all come for…


Page 2 : Zalman CNPS7700-AlCu

Manufacturer: Zalman
Price: NA

Certainly not a new player in the cooling market, Zalman always brings with it quality and their attention to silent computing. The CNPS7700-AlCu (and Cu for that matter) are no exception and continue Zalman's tradition. What is truely striking about these two new models are their sheer size.

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The retail package exploits the size and displays compatible sockets.
Designed to use a low-rpm 120mm fan, the CNPS7700s are so large that they are also able to provide airflow over many other components in the system including the video card, RAM, northbridge, and FETs (field effect transistors).

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Included are everything needed to install across the supported platforms.
With the included FAN MATE 2, users are able to throttle the speed of the fan between 1000 and 2000rpms to adjust performance/noise according to their needs. While not required for use, the inclusion of this controller adds a lot of value for those looking to put together quieter PCs.

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Aside from the heatsink, fan, and the included controller, what sets Zalman products apart from many others are their continued support for a wide range of sockets. The CNPS7700s support AMD's 754, 939, and 940 sockets as well as Intel's 478 and 775 sockets. While socket 462 and 423 aren't among that list (Socket A and the original Pentium 4 socket respectively) the compatibility Zalman offers is still great and up with the times.

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The base has a good and flat finish. Zalman had the smoothest and most polished surface out of all the contenders.
Specifications:

Zalman CNPS7700-AlCu

Dimensions: 136(L) x 136(W) x 67(H) mm
Weight: 600g
Base Materials: Pure Aluminum & Pure Copper
Dissipation Area: 3,268 cm²
Bearing Type: 2-Ball
Speed: 1,000 ~ 2,000rpm ± 10%
Thermal Resistance: 0.21 ~ 0.28 °C/W
Noise Level: 20 ~ 32dB ± 10%

FAN Speed Controller (FAN MATE 2)

Dimensions: 70(L) x 26(W) x 26(H) mm
Weight: 20g
Output Voltage: 5V ~ 11V ± 2%
Allowable Power: 6W or lower
Connector: 3-pin

Installing the CNPS7700-AlCu proved simple on both the socket 775 and 478 platforms. Users installing onto Intel's socket 775 will be required to remove the motherboard from the case in order to install the required mounting pieces, however this practice has been common among multiple cooling products on the new socket.

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Bottom mounting bracket in place.
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Top mounting bracket in place and thermal paste applied. Each cooler was tested with their supplied thermal paste.
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Finally the installation is complete on the socket 775 platform.


Page 3 : Spire SP503B0 CoolWave II

Manufacturer: Spire
Price: NA

Not new to the cooling market, Spire has been in the game of making cooling solutions since the early 90's. What we have today is their latest entry into the socket 775 realm that on the surface closely mimics Intel's retail solution in form.

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Small and simple packaging; the CoolWave II's retail package is a no-thrills deal.
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Next to the heatsink and fan this is all you get.
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The design of the CoolWave II is that of an orb with a shielded 90mm temperature controlled fan, sleeved power cable, and copper core. Both the shielded fan and sleeved power cable are welcome improvements over Intel's retail solution can easily catch loose wires. The cooler arrives with only the bare necessities: HSF, tube of thermal paste, mounting piece, and a short install guide on the lid of the package.

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A view from the top of the CoolWave II.
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Another view from the top, but this time with the fan removed.
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The bottom of the fan after it was removed.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to owning this heatsink is its incompatibility with any socket other than 775.

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The bottom of the CoolWave II could be improved with larger contact with the processor, and the base has a flat machined finish.
Specifications:

Spire SP503B0 CoolWave II

Dimensions (heatsink): 90(L) x 90(W) x 32(H) mm
Dimensions (fan): 90(L) x 90(W) x 25(H) mm
Materials: Aluminum & Copper core
Bearing Type: Ball bearing
Life Hours: Ball: 50,000
Speed: 2,500 ~ 3,500rpm ± 10%
Thermal Resistance: @3400rpm 0.299 °C/W
Noise Level: 35 ~ 45dB
Air Flow: 41.15 ~ 58.21 CFM
Rated Power: 2.4 ~ 4.8 W
Current: 0.2 ~ 0.40 A
Connector: 4-pin w/ PWM function (3-pin MB compatible)
Thermal Paste type: Stars-420 white grease (injection tube)

Installation of the CoolWave II requires motherboard removal like the Zalman CNPS7700-AlCu. The install went smoothly and without a hitch. Some users will find the motherboard removal an inconvenience, but on Intel's new platform it seems like we'll just have to get use to it.

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This is all the documentation Spire provides, however it is ample. Reading it is hilarious, so bonus points for that.
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The bottom mounting piece in place.
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The CoolWave II in place and screwed down.


Page 4 : SilverStone Nitrogon NT01

Manufacturer: SilverStone
Price: NA

SilverStone is a young company which started in the beginning of 2003 making high-end cases, power supplies, and accesories. In almost two years we've seen a lot of innovation and quality come from SilverStone, particularly in case and power supply design. Right now we look at SilverStone's entry into the CPU cooling market with their NT01 socket 478 cooler.

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SilverStone's small, but informative packaging.
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A quick install guide, screws for mounting fans, clips for installation, and thermal paste make up the bundle.
Designed for passive operation assisted by case and/or power supply exhaust, the NT01 makes use of three powder heat pipes. Those seeking performance and not silence can choose to mount one or two 60mm fans with the included mounting screws.

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The aluminum fan shroud is really sharp looking. SilverStone protects their work with protecting plastic that peels off.
Heat pipes, made up of three basic components: a container, working fluid, and wick/capillary structure are also referred to as superconductors for their ability to move heat with minimal loss. The materials that make up the heat pipe are chosen based on the desired use.

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SilverStone has chosen copper containers, water, and powder metal for the wick. Most designs typically feature copper containers and water, but the advantages of the powder metal wick are that it can move more heat, has a high reliability, can be used at any angle, and has a low thermal resistance. The downside to using powder metal is that it has a higher cost than mesh and groove wicks.

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With the protecting plastic off the shroud really shines.
Another victim of incompatibility, the NT01 can only be installed onto socket 478 Pentium 4s. This unfortunately decreases the value and longterm use of SilverStone's first CPU cooler.

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Three powder heat pipes pressure bonded to the base make for an effective means to spread the heat to the copper fins.
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The other side.
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The top of the base.
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The base features a polished, and flat machined surface.
Specifications:

SilverStone Nitrogon NT01

Dimensions (heatsink): 95(L) x 130(W) x 108(H) mm
Weight: 587.67g
Materials: Copper base, fins, and heat pipes; Aluminum shroud
Heat Pipe Type: Powder

The simplest of the bunch to install, the NT01 requires no screws or motherboard removal. Attaching the NT01 is as simple as fastening two clips that SilverStone includes. The only problem that occured during installation was the need to remove the case fan as it was in the way. For testing purposes, this heatsink was tested passively using only the power supplies single 120mm fan due to the orientation of the socket (more information on orientation can be viewed here).

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The 120mm case exhaust had to be removed to make room for the NT01.
For those interested in pure performance the SilverStone Nitrogon NT01 was also tested with dual 60mm Delta fans strapped to it. That just sounds sexy now, doesn't it?


Page 5 : Testing

Benchmarking analysis was limited to temperature of the CPU. To gain the results, the system was first put under heavy load by running Folding@Home and RC5-72 clients for a period of one hour and then the peak temperature recorded. The processor would then be allowed another hour to cool to an idle temperature with no user interference.

This method was followed in the same order for each cooler and proved to be a consistent way to stress and compare the coolers abilities. Room for error could then be primarily traced back to environment variables such as room temperature and any possible human error in taking the readings.

Measurements were taken using Hmonitor 4.1.4.5. A RadioShack digital indoor/outdoor thermometer for monitoring the room temperature. The indoor temperature throughout testing was between 75°F and 80°F.

The test systems used were:

Socket 478

Intel Pentium 4C 2.4GHz @ 3.2GHz (Northwood) @ 1.65 V
2*512 MB PDP Systems PC3200LLK DDR RAM
Maxtor 60 GB 7200 RPM 2 MB Hard Drive
Abit IC7-G Motherboard
ATi 9700 Pro Video Card
Coolmax 400 W Power Supply
Nu Tech DDW-082 DVD Burner
M-Audio Revolution 7.1 Sound Card
Cooler Master Cavalier 1 Case
Windows XP Pro SP2 + Latest Drivers, Updates

Socket 775

Intel Pentium 4 520 @ 3.01 GHz (Prescott) @ 1.385 V
2*512 MB PDP Systems PC4000ELK DDR RAM
Maxtor 60GB 7200RPM Hard Drive
Nu Technology DDW-082 DVD Burner
Albatron PX915 Pro Motherboard
Albatron PCX5750 128MB Video Card
Thermaltake PurePower 420 W Power Supply
SilverStone B032FW Case
Windows XP Pro SP2 + Latest Drivers, Updates

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The results show that Zalman's quieter and larger CNPS7700-AlCu cooler outperforms their previous solution which uses a smaller, faster fan on a similar heatsink design. The CNPS7000A-AlCu was tested without the FAN MATE and so was running its fastest. Even in their highest modes of operation both Zalman coolers have their competition beat in the noise department.

Looking at the SilverStone part, when in passive it proves capable to cool even a highly clocked Pentium 4C to acceptable temperatures. Coupled with a pair of Delta fans and this passive solution turns into an active monster besting our coolers from Zalman by more than 10 °C. At 12V the dual Delta fans were simply unbearable and so to compare, 9V operation was able to deliver near equal performance at what I would consider normal noise levels in the range of Intel's retail HSF for socket 775.

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On socket 775 we see the Zalman CNPS7700-AlCu bringing in the worst performance at the cost of being the quietest. Next we see Intel's retail solution bringing in similar numbers with a good 5° advantage, however Intel's solution is quite a bit louder. The loudest, marginally more than Intel's, was the Spire CoolWave II bringing in the best numbers. I was not surprised by any of these results, though none of these temperatures can be considered desirable. The Zalman solution is at the least able to offer a good trade-off of noise for such performance unlike the Intel and Spire solutions. In the end the Prescott, again, is just one hot chip that I have yet to see be tamed.


Page 6 : Conclusions

Taking into consideration price, performance, noise and compatibility, the final judgement is of the consumer which solution best fits your needs. The Zalman products looked at are the most compatible and offer low noise levels, but otherwise have average performance and a high price with the cost of the CNPS7700-AlCu approaching $50. One final benifit to the CNPS7700-AlCu is its ability to cool neighboring components thanks to its large size which is something to consider.

The Spire CoolWave II has demonstrated performance marginally better than Intel's stock heatsink and fan, but at a slightly higher noise level and at a cost that is hard to justify over the benefits of just buying a retail boxed CPU; over $20 for the CoolWave II.

SilverStone's first attempt at CPU cooling is a success in my opinion, but could use improvement in compatibility. The performance is very configurable to what the user seeks, offering one of the quietest solutions available or one of great performance with the help of active cooling. Next to compatibility though, the cost is pretty high at around $46 and even more so with the addition of fans.

Zalman CNPS7700-AlCu

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Justification: The Zalman CNPS7700-AlCu was our Editor's Choice pick because of its versatility and performance.

Although the performance of this Zalman product was lower than what we expected for the LGA775 test, Zalman products are known for a combination of performance and low noise, and with that they deliver improvement and features not seen in the CNPS7000 series compared to today.

Advantages

Quiet
Pushes air over neighboring components
Compatible with many platforms
Adjustable fan speed

Disadvantages

Expensive
Average performance

Spire SP503B0 CoolWave II

Advantages

Relatively inexpensive
Sleeved wiring
Shielded fan

Disadvantage

Small performance advantage over boxed HSF
Louder than boxed HSF
Only compatible with socket 775

All things considered, the boxed Intel CPU is money better spent.

SilverStone Nitrogon NT01

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Justification: As noted, this was Silverstone's first attempt in the HSF market. For a first try, it was a pretty damn good one allowing users to choose their performance by making a passive cooler an active one. If you're looking solely for a socket 478 cooler, don't skip this one. In the near future we look forward to seeing more products like this from Silverstone that support multiple platforms.

Advantages

Passive capable
Good performance in active mode
Low noise solution
Very good looks

Disadvantages

Expensive
No fans included
Only compatible with socket 478

Works Sited:
The Chemical Engineers' Resource
Yeh-Chiang Technology Corp
Enertron Inc.
Noren Products Inc.

…and a thanks to SilverStone for help with obtaining information.

Thanks to our three sponsors, SilverStone, Spire and Zalman for making this review possible.

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