Review: Thermalright SP94, SP97 & other heavyweights

Cooling
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SOCKET-A HEATSINK TESTING PLATFORM

  • AMD XP2500+ Barton core (1.83GHz, 1.65V, 68.3W, 90? C maximum core temp). This is an upgrade from the XP1600+ Palamonio core CPU used earlier. The power increase is just 5W more. According to MBM5, the motherboard delivers 1.71V for the 1.65 setting (typical of Asus, which uses this mild overvolting or overclocking for improved comparative performance) so the actual power is probably a watt or 2 higher.
  • Asus A7V8X-X VIA KT-400 chipset motherboard
  • Panaflo FBA08A12L1A 80mm - Our reference fan
  • Any VGA card (AGP)
  • 256 MB DDR SDRAM
  • Any hard drive (in Smart Drive from Silicon Acoustics) - The noise is not big a deal, but as the test platforms use noisy IBM and WD drives displaced from working PCs by Barracudas, the SD helps prevent insanity cause by whining.
  • DigiDoc5 w/ thermal sensors
  • Any Good PSU
  • Zalman Multi-Connector (ZM-MC1) and Fanmate1 voltage controller
  • Arctic Silver Ceramique Thermal Compound
  • Two-level plywood platform with foam damping feet. Motherboard on top; most other components below. Eases heatsink changes and setup.
  • CPUBurn processor stress software
  • Motherboard Monitor software to show CPU temperature
  • Plywood board with foam damping feet. All the components are mounted or place on this board for easy access and portability between two work areas. The PSU is held down with a bungie cord; the motherboard is held down with screws and insulated spacers to minimize damage during multiple HS changes.

Four holes around CPU socket populated with screw inserts which thread into the steel reinforcing plate on the other side of the motherboard.

 


From a different angle: SP97 mounted with Panaflo fan perched on top.


SLK900 shown here mounted with through-board bolts and springs. It is examined here on the Socket-A platform.

Mounting the Zalman 7000A on Socket-A

The photo below shows the bits used to mount the Zalman 7000 HS to a Socket-A motherboard. There are 2 aluminum brackets. The blue one goes on the side of CPU socket with the locking lever; the silver one goes on the other side. Two screws hold each bracket in place. The brown perforated thing is a small sheet of paper with cutouts that are used as grommets or gaskets!


Shown below is the Z7000CU mounted on the Socket-A motherboard/CPU. A potential weakness is that unlike the Thermalright SP94, SP97 and SLK900, the Z7000s do not use a back reinforcing plate on the other side of the motherboard. Especially for the copper version, which weighs 773 grams, this lack seems unwise. It may be prudent for 7000CU users to obtain a CPU/HS reinforcement plate (perhaps even from Thermalright?!). It would be easy to adapt a P4 reinforcement plate for this purpose. Just drill out four new holes in the correct pattern for the AMD HS mounting holes. But do be careful of shorting anything against metal on the trace side of the board.

PERFORMANCE: SP97

The ambient temperature for this test was also 20°C, and the CPU power (heat) is 68.3W.

Table 8: SP97 on XP2500+
Panaflo 80L
Diode
Temp rise
° C/W
12V
41°C
21°C
0.31
9V
46°C
26°C
0.38
7V
56°C
36°C
0.53

The results are good in comparison with results from previous HS reviews, but how does the SP97 compare with its immediate competitors?

5. COMPARISON: SP97 vs Others

Table 9: Just the Thermalrights
Panaflo fan
SP97
SLK900U
Temp
° C/W
Temp
° C/W
12V
41°C
0.31
45°C
0.37
9V
46°C
0.38
51°C
0.46
7V
56°C
0.53
58°C
0.56

The SP97 enjoys a big 4~5°C cooling performance margin with the Panaflo fan at 12~9V, and the advantage remains at 2°C down to 7V.

Table 10: Just the Zalmans
Fan Voltage
Z7000alcu
Z7000cu
Temp
° C/W
Temp
° C/W
12V
36°C
0.24
37°C
0.25
9V
39°C
0.28
39°C
0.28
7V
41°C
0.31
42°C
0.32
5V
43°C
0.34
45°C
0.37

I reiterate my earlier comment: The 7000ALCU sample probably has a slightly more efficient fan than the one on the 7000CU sample. No other explanation really makes sense. Sure, they could have the same cooling performance if the heat source does not cause thermal overload on either, but to have the hybrid outperform the all-copper? The difference must be in the fan; in the materials, the copper one has the clear theoretical superiority.

Table 11: SP97, SLK900, 7000A(alcu), 7000A(cu)
Panaflo
SP97
SLK900U
Z7000alcu
Z7000cu
12V
41°C
45°C
(fan at 5V)
9V
46°C
51°C
43°C
45°C
7V
56°C
58°C
-
-

As with the earlier comparison (tables 5, 6, 7), the Zalman 7000s were compared with the Thermalrights and Panaflo at 9V. The SP97 and Zalman 7000CU tie for second place, with the Zalman 7000 hybrid taking the lead again. The SLK900U is clearly in last place, falling behind by a big margin in the 9V category.



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