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The heatsink itself is about as simple as they come: An octagonal
block of extruded aluminum topped by a fan. The fan is the most complex (and
probably the most expensive) part of the package. It's not just a stock OEM
fan pulled off a shelf somewhere either; Arctic Cooling has adapted one of their
soft-mounted, frameless fans by adding simple plastic clips that hold it securely
against the heatsink fins.
A simple extruded aluminum fin based topped by a frameless 92mm fan.
The fin block is slightly smaller than the original Alpine 7 because of the
need to make space on the corners for the four pushpins. Thus, the block has
been trimmed down to size and the overhanging fins that prevented pushpins in
the original have been removed. A few fins have been added on either side so
that the fan blades no longer hang over the sides, but this doesn't fully compensate
for the surface area lost elsewhere.
The fins alternate between two slightly different lengths so that the fan's
frame only makes contact with about half of the fins. This is probably to allow better airflow in between the fins. At the interface closest to the fan blades, the apparent fin spacing is double the width of the actual fin spacing further below, which might mean less impedance and less air turbulence (due to back pressure). We've seen alternating fins on other heatsinks, such as the Scythe Infinity and some older heatsinks, too, so the feature must be relatively effective.
Fins alternate between two different lengths.
The mounting system requires no assembly, but it can be disassembled for repairs
or by the curious. It consists of two steel bars that screw into the bottom
of the fin block. Each bar holds two of Intel's plastic pushpins. Installing
the heatsink in a system is tool-free, and fairly easy to do. (Unlike many of the massive heatsinks we've tested, this heatsink stays inside the boundary of the four pins, so that that access to the pins from the top is unrestricted. This is critical for ease of use with the Intel push pins.) First time users may struggle a bit
with knowing which way to keep the pins twisted (Intel's arrow markings can
be a bit counterintuitive), but this is an issue with Intel's design, not Arctic
Standard Intel pushpins.
The base of the heatsink comes with a thick layer of thermal compound pre-applied.
Arctic Cooling boasts of using their own high performance MX-2 thermal compound,
but so long as there is something between the heatsink and the CPU, the
exact thermal compound used is more or less irrelevant. For testing purposes,
we cleaned off the MX-2 compound and replaced it with Arctic Silver Lumière
as per our standard testing methodology.
The base is not especially smooth or polished; there are machining marks on
the bottom of our sample that run with the grain of the aluminum in the base.
As with the choice of thermal compound, the actual difference in
thermal performance is pretty minimal.
A large square of pre-applied MX-2 thermal compound.
The fan is the most unusual part of the Alpine 7 Pro. It's a frameless 92mm
model adapted from Arctic
Cooling's Arctic Fan 9 PWM. The current rating is slightly higher at 0.15A
vs. 0.13A, and the frame is adapted to fit on the fin block, but the fans are
otherwise pretty similar. We've examined a
120mm version of the same fan and been somewhat unimpressed by the
real-use effectiveness of all the low-noise design features. However, we thought
better of the fan on the original
For those who haven't seen them before, Arctic Cooling's fan have two features
designed to reduce noise: A "frameless" design, and a mounting system
that incorporates four soft rubber grommets to prevent vibration from causing
resonance. It's a good system in theory, but in practice the whine of the motor
is still the main source of noise at high speeds. At low speeds, turbulence
and resonance are greatly reduced, so the anti-vibration measures tend to be unnecessary.
Nonetheless, the fans on Arctic Cooling coolers
have been some of the quietest stock fans around, especially at low speeds. We expect the same excellent performance out of the Alpine 7
The fan is mounted on a heatsink-specific frame.
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