Alpha S-PAL8952 P4 Heatsink

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Alpha's latest P4 heatsink is a minor revision of its previous top-of-the-line model, the PAL8942. It follows the Alpha design philosophy of cooling the CPU by sucking the hot air off the processor instead of blowing cool air down on top of it. This seems to be just as effective in cooling ? plus it leaves open the tantalizing possibility of ducting the CPU heat right out of the case, instead of just recirculating most of it.

The CPU is generally the hottest component in a modern PC (some of the latest high-end video cards excepted) so evacuating its heat directly out of the case can put much less load of the rest of the cooling system. This means that the user will need less airflow to cool the rest of the system, which of course is a nice bonus for someone looking to run their system as quietly as possible.

So how effective is the 8952 at quietly cooling a P4 CPU? Well, it's sufficient to run nearly silent and cool a 70-80W processor to a perfectly decent level. Once you get up around 100 watts, things start getting marginal. You'd need to run the included fan, or something similar like the L1A Panaflo at 10~12V to get adequate cooling and that's above the limit that I could tolerate, noise-wise.

The S-PAL8952 is a good heatsink, the best performing of this type that I've tested. At low fan speeds it's a better performer than the recently reviewed Scythe Samurai HSF, another "sucking" type of heatsink. It may be marginal with a low airflow fan and the hot Prescott CPUs, but silent PC enthusiasts should give those 100W+ CPUs a pass anyway.


* Fan is quiet at lower speeds
* Good performance, even at slow speed
* Very strong, stable mounting system
* Will fit any Socket 478 motherboard with zero issues
* Good choice for using in a ducted system


* Moderately expensive
* Motherboard needs to be removed from case to mount
* Marginal performance with hot Prescott CPUs

Many thanks to Alpha for the opportunity to review this HSF.

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