Review: Zalman 7000-Cu / AlCu CPU Heatsink

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Aside from the obvious fact of an integrated fan and round shape, the 7000 has a number of commonalities with previous Zalmans:

  • Many thin copper pieces are clamped together very tightly at the center with 2 hefty bolts and nuts, then the extremities spread out to become fins.
  • For the 7000, a total of 65 roughly butterfly-shaped pieces/fins were used. In the Cu version, all the fins are copper; in the AlCu version, 20 fins in the center are copper, the rest are aluminum.
  • The base is the center "bottom" of those copper pieces, polished to an extremely high level of finish.

An unusual aspect of the 7000 is the use of screws and machined aluminum pieces to act as mounting clamps. In previous models, either spring-tension metal or plastic clips were used. Some variants were found to be too soft to work to retain the appropriate pressure needed over the long term.

The photo above shows part of the clip mechanism -- the 2 lugs, one on either side, each with 2 holes in them are actually the ends of a more-or-less standard steel tension clip that is held captive in the HS.

The photo above shows the large clamping nuts (+ bolts) that hold the fins together -- do NOT loosen these! The smaller center screw holds the fan and center steel tension mounting clip in place. The photo below shows the HS with the fan & clip removed.

Below is the fan and captive clip assembly. Two small screws hold the fan in place. (Those who wish to swap the stock fan with an alternative will have to start with a 92mm fan and cut its frame away, then find a way to affix it to the metal frame of the fan / clip.)

The steel tension clip feels much stronger and stiffer than the ones used for the Zalman's 6000 series HS. The photos below shows how it combines with screws and machined aluminum pieces to hold the HS pressed tightly against the CPU.

Once each aluminum "yoke" shaped piece is in place, a screw on either side of the clip pulls the ends of the aluminuim piece up against the corner tabs of the retention mechanism, pressing the HS and CPU tightly together. This is a very positive and secure system, and its weakest link is probably Intel's plastic retention frame itself, which has never been reported to break, loosen or cause any trouble.

Full details of the installation details are nicely shown in Zalman's How to Install Flash animation on their product page.

Several other unique aspects of the 7000 design deserve mention:

  • The diameter of the HS tapers down from 109mm at the maximum around the fan blades, to just half that dimension at the base. The base is only marginally larger than the P4 heatspreader or cooling contact surface.

    One result is that through the bottom half of its height, the 7000 is quite narrow and can clear large capacitors, northbridge chipset heatsinks, RAM strips and any other motherboard components that can interfere with large heatsinks. Still, the 7000 HS can't be used with all P4 motherboards, and Zalman maintains a list of incompatible motherboards (13 at this time).

    Another result is that because of the small base circumference, cooling air from the fan can reach much closer to the CPU itself, rather than being blocked by the massive base that normally blocks such airflow. As the Thermalright SLK800 design has shown, this can have a positive cooling impact.

  • The "frameless" 92mm ball-bearing integrated fan maximizes airflow use. Because the HS fins extend even to the blade tips, even the blade tip turbulence that is simply lost in standard fans plays a part in providing some cooling.

All in all, the 7000 design shows excellent mechanics and geometry.

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