Alpha S-PAL8952 P4 Heatsink

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The 8952 continues the tradition we've come to expect from Alpha: A precision, cold forged aluminum base; an integral, well machined copper heatspreader; and an aluminum shroud for use with a fan oriented to suck air away from the heatsink, instead of blowing down onto it.

It departs from Alpha's previous designs in that not all the fins have the same shape. On the 8952 the fins directly over the CPU are round or slightly hexagonal whereas the rest are square. The fins are also 10mm taller than the fins on the 8942. Alpha claims that these changes have improved the airflow and thermal performance. Alpha also increased the length of the 8952's aluminum fan shroud to force more air past the lower warmer portions of the pins. Whatever improved cooling the 8952 offers, it has to come from the redesigned pins and fan shroud because the footprint of the new 8952 is the same as the earlier 8942 at 90mm x 79mm.

The cooling fins of the 8952. Note the round pins in the center section, right over the CPU's heatspreader.

The base of the 8952 is the same design as the earlier Alphas, a big chunk of copper inserted into the aluminum base during the cold forging operation for the best possible copper to aluminum contact. The base is very flat although some slight machine marks are visible. The four corners are CNC machined so they sit down on top of the brass risers when the heatsink is fully tightened.

The beautiful base: Copper and aluminum are essentially one piece due to cold-forging operation.

The aluminum shroud is designed to force the air to be sucked into the heatsink near the base of the pin where they are the hottest. This shroud is one of the main reasons the 8952 (and all Alphas) work better in the "blow up" mode rather than the "blow down" orientation. The shroud also lifts the fan up a bit off the heatsink fins to act as a plenum and prevent a "dead air spot" in the fan hub area.

The included fan is an 80 x 15mm Sanyo Denki "Petit Ace". This fan is rated at 20cfm at 21dBA. This fan is the quiet version Alpha offers with the 8952. The standard version is a 46cfm, 40dBA Delta fan. (And that's definitely something we don't even want to consider here at SPCR!) The Petit Ace has a reputation as a high quality fan, but I've never seen them talked about as particularly quiet, so it will be interesting to give this one a listen. This fan comes terminated with a standard 3-pin fan connector. This will easily allow it to connect direct to a motherboard fan header or something like a Zalman FanMate. For this test I plugged it into a 4-pin Molex adapter and ran it at a fixed 12V, 7V and 5V.

Included 80mm Sanyo Denki low profile fan. Look at all those blades.

The 8952 mounts in the standard Alpha method, bolted onto brass standoffs that the user attaches to the motherboard after removing the stock Intel retention bracket. While not nearly as easy as using the stock Intel heatsink mounting bracket, it's certainly a much sturdier attachment for this heavy heatsink. This type of mounting method requires that the motherboard be removed from the case to install the mounting hardware. You'll need access to the underside of the motherboard to screw on the supplied brass nuts. Fortunately this is a one-time procedure. Once the standoffs are attached to the motherboard you can remove or install the heatsink while the board remains installed in the case.

Alpha includes a complete set of hardware that includes the brass standoffs(4), brass nuts with built-in lock washers(4), nylon flat washers(8), heatsink mounting screws and springs(4), and fan mounting screws (2 sets, one for 15mm thick fans, the other for standard 25mm thick fans).

Standoffs and heatsink mounting hardware.

Fan mounting bolts. Includes two different sizes for mounting 15mm and 25mm thick fans.

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