Spire Coolwave SP441B0-F HSF review

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The Coolwave heatsink is designed to be mounted using the stock Intel heatsink retention bracket and the hardware that Spire designed makes this a literal and figurative snap. I applied Arctic Silver Ceramique to the CPU and simply dropped the heatsink into the retention bracket. Then I placed the fan and mounting assembly on top of the heatsink. I applied even pressure on the fan and snapped each retainer clip over the retention bracket one at a time. Total time for install was maybe 15 seconds. This was possibly the easiest heatsink I've ever installed.

I plugged the included fan controller inline with the fan and plugged the controller into the motherboard fan header so I could monitor the fan's rpms and I fired it up to burn in the thermal compound. I ran it at 12 volts for 8 hours to cure the Ceramique so I could proceed with testing the performance of this heatsink.

The heatsink drops neatly into the retention bracket and is ready for the fan and clip assembly.

The installed HSF has a pretty low profile, especially for a high performance cooler.


I decided to compare the Coolwave to the popular Zalman 7000AlCu heatsink, as well as the stock Intel P4 heatsink. The processor I used was the same one I've been using to test heatsinks for the past year. It's a P4, 2.4C CPU. Yes, it may not put out as much heat as a new Prescott, but using this processor will allow me to directly compare the performance of the new Coolwave against all the other high performance P4 heatsinks that I've tested during the past year.

The Zalman 7000AlCu has been tested several times by SilentPCReview, once by MikeC as a full review and once in my own review of the Swiftech MCX478-V. I've also tested the stock Intel cooler in the same Swiftech review. Testing the Coolwave alongside these other two coolers will let one directly compare it's cooling ability and noise against many of the other high performance P4 coolers that SPCR has reviewed.


Key Components in P4 HS Test platform

The P4 HS test platform is an open system not enclosed in a case.

Intel P4-2.4C Northwood core - Maximum power is 66.2W.
Intel 875PBZ motherboard - Intel 875P Chipset; on-die CPU thermal diode monitoring
ATI Radeon 7500 passively cooled video card (AGP)
Mushkin PC3200 Level II - 2 x 256MB DDRAM
Seagate 80GB Barracuda IV hard drive
Seasonic SuperSilencer 400W (rev A1) PSU
Arctic Silver Ceramique Thermal Compound
Two-level metal platform with rubber damping feet. Motherboard on top; other components below.
CPUBurn processor stress software
Motherboard Monitor software to track CPU temperature and fan speed

Each heatsink was cleaned and installed on the test system as per the manufacturers' and Arctic Silver's instructions. Prime95 was then run for 8 hours to verify system stability and cure the Ceramique. The system was then shut down and not restarted until the next morning when the actual testing was done. The system was allowed to cool between tests for 30 minutes. Each test was run for 30 minutes even though all temperatures generally stabilized within 15 to 20 minutes.

Each heatsink was retested three times on consecutive mornings to check to the consistency of the results. All results were within 1-2°C of each other and the average readings are included in the charts.

Ambient temperature was measured at 71-72°F (22°C) over the entire series of tests. No tests were run unless the ambient temperature was at that reference level.

* All temperatures in degrees Celsius.
* Diode: Reading from P4-2.4C CPU diode via Motherboard Monitor.
* Temp Rise refers to the difference between ambient temperature and the diode reading. .
* °C/W refers to the °C of temperature rise per watt of heat dissipated by the CPU.

IMPORTANT: TDP, Maximum Power and °C/W

°C/W — °C rise over ambient per watt of CPU heat — is calculated by dividing the temperature rise over ambient by the heat (in watts) of the CPU. The lower this number, the greater the cooling power of the heatsink. It can be used to predict the maximum temperature with CPUs other than the one used to test the heatsink. It's also allows a fair comparison between heatsinks, regardless of ambient temperature or CPU, as long as the same fan/speed is used.

The number used for W, the power dissipated by the CPU, has a major effect on °C/W. For P4 heatsinks in SPCR reviews to date, we have used Intel's Thermal Design Power (TDP) specification. Questions about the P4's actual maximum power dissipation have been floating around ever since Intel first devised their TDP specification.

Processor Electrical Specifications, our favorite CPU power reference, quotes Intel on TDP as being the

"worst case power dissipated by the processor while executing publically available software under normal operating conditions at nominal voltages that meet the load line specifications... The Intel TDP specification is a recommanded design point and is not representative of the absolute maximum power the processor may dissipate under worst case conditions... Processor power dissipation simulations indicate a maximum application power in the range of 75% of the maximum power for a given frequency."

We recently found another website, CPUHeat & CPUMSR Projects, which has calculated the Maximum Power Dissipation of Intel processors:

"Intel hides real power consumption behind Thermal Design Power. TDP is a power consumption of a processor while executing normal software. That is not while executing a stress test software like BurnK7.

"While TDP may be a useful number for CPU cooler manufacturers, it's not useful for end-users. This is because in real world use, there can be application that forces Intel processor to drain more power than TDP."

They have compiled is a list of computed maximum thermal power of Intel processors based on their TDP number.

We believe CPUHeat & CPUMSR Projects' Maximum Power Dissipation (MPD) is a more accurate estimation of P4 CPU power dissipated during SPCR heatsink testing. We will be transitioning to use MPD figures to calculate °C/W numbers for P4 heatsinks. To ensure the data from previous HS reviews can be compared to new ones, two sets of °C/W figures will be presented, one based on the TDP and one on the more realistic MPD.

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