Alpha has been quiet for a pretty long time now, but that doesn't mean that they have been sleeping. Come join Darthtanion as he takes a look at their newest offering; namely the Alpha PAL8045 Heatsink. We'll take a look at it in its native habitat and let you know whether or not it's worth the hefty price tag that it carries.
IntroductionAlpha has long been recognized as one of the pioneers of the high quality heatsinks. When the high-speed processors were just starting to hit the markets, Alpha was there with sinks that were designed to go above and beyond the call of duty. They were considered the King of the Hill as far as heatsinks went.But then they were quiet for a long while. Many thought that they had just dried up and blew away, but they were still busily designing more quality cooling items for those whose desire is to push their systems to the utter limits.Enter the newest of their line, the PAL8045 heatsink. You can get it in two versions; one with a fan and one without. I received the one without a fan for review, so I've added a nice little 68-CFM Delta and will let you know shortly just how it performs.So let's get it on...
Even without a fan, there are a number of items that come with this heatsink. Let's see what we have here...You'll get the heatsink itself (of course), which is similar in design to the very expensive Swiftech units. It consists of pins all over the sink that creates a huge amount of surface area. Next up is the white hood that will help protect the pins, and allow for a means of securing the fan to the unit. Two small baggies contain all the screws, washers, nuts, springs and such that will be required when it comes time to assemble this monster.Also included is an instruction pamphlet. It is written in an easy to understand format and has numerous illustrations. This is very handy since this sink doesn't install like your common breed, and the last thing we want to do is to damage our precious processor.The Heatsink
We've seen a lot of tricks for getting an 80mm fan mounted onto a heatsink, but Alpha has taken a new approach to this theory. Instead of making some sort of converter, they just enlarged the entire heatsink.That's right, this beast measures in at 80mm x 80mm x 45mm and weighs in at a very hefty 520 grams (without fan). What all this means is that you have one huge sink on your hands that also has a large amount of mass to help dissipate the heat built up by the processor core.But it also means that you'll be able to use those 80mm fans that run considerably quieter than the faster 60mm screamers. For those who are looking for something that is easier on the ears, then this may be just the ticket.The Base
The PAL8045 is an aluminum sink, but the majority of the base has a hunk of copper embedded to help out with the cooling chores. There were small swirls seen in the base of the sink from the machining of the insert, but the feel was very smooth. There weren't any noticeable ridges or anything to be felt on the base.While we're here on the base, let me point out that there are two sets of holes bored into it. The small holes on the outside corners of the unit are the threaded holes that will be used to install the fan. The larger holes around the edge of the copper insert, however, are what we'll be using to mount the heatsink to the motherboard. We'll go through the installation a bit later, but if you've ever noticed those holes that surround your socket, then you'll have an idea as to how this thing will be mounted.So now that we can see what makes this thing tick, let's get into the installation...
As I stated before, this heatsink won't be installed like a normal HSF would. The sheer mass of it would be too great for a simple clipping mechanism to be able to hold it in place without movement, so a different plan of attack had to be developed.Notice the four holes that surround the socket in the photo above. These are going to be what anchors this monstrosity firmly to the motherboard. How? Actually, it will be relatively simple, but you will HAVE to remove the motherboard from the case to install this sink. There is just no way around it.
Here is what we have after we have installed the standoffs into the holes. Since motherboard manufacturers have two different sizes for these hole (depending on the model of the board), Alpha has included plastic washers that can be used for whichever one you happen to have.But how are these standoffs secured?
This is a picture of the backside of the socket. After you place the proper size washer in the hole, you insert the aluminum standoffs and then secure them with small plastic hex nuts. A lot of torque is not necessary for these; just enough to allow you to make sure that they won't loosen up on you later on.Now that the standoffs are in place, it's time to install the sink itself.
A long screw with a spring is what is needed for the installation of the sink to the standoffs. The screws are tightened all the way into the standoffs, and this will apply the proper torque to the processor core. The springs will allow for a bit of flexibility in case your motherboard is just a bit out of spec.I liked the fact that you couldn't tighten the sink too far down and hurt your processor. While the prices of the Thunderbirds have dropped dramatically over the past year, that still doesn't mean that I want to go out and buy a new one after breaking it. Fortunately, that won't be a problem here.So now all that's left is to add the shroud and the fan.
And there you have it. The shroud is placed onto the heatsink, and then the fan is screwed down onto the unit. And remember, even when you get the unit without a fan, all necessary hardware is included for mounting it.Now for an important tidbit of knowledge...A lot of folks are going to be concerned about the large size of the sink. I was too, especially since I have the Abit KT7A motherboard. This series of motherboard is notorious for the closeness of the capacitors to the socket. As a matter of fact, there are a number of heatsinks that just won't fit onto this board because of this.
As you can see above, there isn't much room left between the sink and the capacitors, but it fit without any problems at all. I didn't have to bend any of them away to allow for the fitting; it just snugged right in and mounted like it was designed to.So unless you have a motherboard that is even more compact than the KT7A model (unlikely), then you can be assured that it will fit nicely onto the processor.So now that we have seen what the sink is all about, and also checked out the installation of it, let's see what it can do...
TestingSince most of the heatsinks coming out are designed for higher spec systems, I have forgone the 1000MHz and 1100MHz tests. This will allow us to concentrate on whether or not the sink can perform up to today's standard levels. After all, with the budget systems coming in at 1.2GHz and higher, it's time to set the mark just a bit higher in our heatsink comparisons.That said, here is the test system that we are working with:Antec SX1030 Tower Case w/ 170-CFM AirflowAbit KT7A-RAIDAMD Thunderbird 1000 @ 1333 (AVIA)256MB Crucial PC133 SDRAMIBM GXP60 40GB Hard DriveProlink XX-Player GeForce3Arctic Silver IIThe core voltage of the processor is set to 1.8v, and memory is set to the standard 3.3v. Ambient air temperature was sitting at 21C and didn't fluctuate during testing. Processor speed was firmly at 1333MHz, which puts out about 73.6 watts of heat.Testing will consist of measuring the temperatures at idle, after a Quake III Arena Deathmatch, and after a continuous looping of 3dMark2001. These are the main types of stresses that today's systems face, so we'll concentrate on them.So how did the Alpha perform under pressure? Let's find out...
OK, let's see what we have here. A heatsink that performs at nearly the same level as the Gladiator, but doesn't knock the paint off the walls because of the high noise levels. I think that may be a satisfactory tradeoff for having to remove the motherboard to install it.
ConclusionWell, I'm reasonably impressed here. I was really expecting to see the mighty Gladiator fall into the #2 position, but the results were less than a single degree off. And considering that the low-pitched drone of a high output 80mm fan is so much easier on the ears, I feel pretty confident in recommending the Alpha. Though it is a bit pricey (approx US$40), the combination of cooling and quiet make it worth it.I am always hearing people ask for some sort of HSF that can cool well but remain quiet. This has always been a very tough order to fill since the good coolers always had the 38-CFM Deltas blowing. Anyone who has heard these small airplane motors running will be able to attest to the fact that they really are annoying. Well now there is another alternative. The Alpha PAL8045 HSF provides a high level of cooling without the high level of noise.Actual cooling potential will depend on the fan that you use. If you're willing to accept a bit lower level of cooling, then you can get a near silent 80mm fan for the task. If, on the other hand, you want to try to push your system to the limits, then you can go for a fan like the 68-CFM Delta, or the new 80-CFM Delta that is just now beginning to hit the streets (if you can find one that is). There are just a world of choices available for you, and with the ability to get fans with Rheostats built in, you can even adjust the levels of noise and power to fit the current needs of your system.There are just too many alternatives to be able to list them all off here, but it's nice to see that a company has stepped up to the plate and provided a cooler that fits the needs of the "Power User".Bottom line...If you want cooling that is both outstanding and quiet, then get yourself one of these coolers. You will be very pleased with the results...PERIOD!- ProsOutstanding cooling capabilitiesCopper insert in baseDesigned to fit boards with capacitors close to socketMounting screws can't be over-tightened- ConsHave to remove motherboard to installPriceyRating - 9.5/10 and TweakTown's Editors Choice Award
Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:25 pm CDT
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca
Deutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de
We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.