Search for Truth: SP-94 or Zalman 7000

Cooling Processors quietly

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Wintermute
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Search for Truth: SP-94 or Zalman 7000

Post by Wintermute » Tue Mar 02, 2004 11:40 pm

I have been a little frustrated by the lack of valid information regarding the Thermalright SP-94's performance in a quiet machine. Discussions in the forums at overclocking sites, where the popularity of the SP-94/Tornado combo reigns supreme, generally lack the pragmatic and reasoned style of discussion here. People there seem to very quick to form opinions based on little else than guesswork and misinformation. Their typical treatment of the whole More Power = Better PSU argument has been discussed here already. I spent WAY too much time lurking around OC forums trying to see if there was any information about the performance of the SP-94 on OC'd 3.2C or 3.4C machine with a relatively quiet fan. I have read the excellent review of the SP-94 here

http://silentpcreview.com/Sections+inde ... d-132.html

What I was most interested in though, was trying to find out how the SP-94 with a quiet 92mm fan would perform in comparison with the Zalman, particularly on one of the hotter CPU's out now. I believe that MikeC ended his review at about the point that this discussion could begin. I hope to try and steer clear of predictions and focus more on empirical evidence. I think the crew of people here are much better suited to a rational discussion of this topic than the hotheads in OC forums. I would have tried out something myself, but I lack any of the necessary hardware, i.e. the CPU, the heatsinks, etc. My motivation for finding out the results are that I am planning on buying a completely new setup and would like to know what I'm getting into. I intend on getting a 3.4C and trying to OC it a little bit while keeping it quiet in a dampened Sonata. I am definately impressed thus far with the Zalman's track record, I'm just a little intrigued by the potential that the SP-94 may possess when used with the right fan. Once again, the Search for the Holy Fan for a particular application has reared it's ugly head :) I have searched these forums to see if I could find an answer that would convince me which HSU I should get once and for all, but I haven't found anything that has convinced me 100%. I keep flopping back and forth. Maybe I'm missing something. Anyway, if someone could set me straight or offer any additional information I would be most gracious.

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Post by MikeC » Wed Mar 03, 2004 1:03 am

Tsubo,

After such a complimentary post, how could I move on to another post? :)

You're right that testing with the 92mm Panaflo L would have been ideal. Unfortunately, I found myself in the unfortunate situation of not having one... and maybe running out of steam with that review.

I have not done an A/B comparison between the Z7000 cu or cu/al against a Panaflo 92L equipped SP94. I suspect they would be close, perhaps close enough to call it even. Hard to tell exactly w/o trying it. But there is a review which might give you a pretty good idea of how the SP94 would do in a hotter system: The ARM System Powerhouse StealthPC review features a P4-3.2 cooled by a SP94 + Panaflo 92L. The fan volatge was set to ~6V; page 4 of that review documents the temps. Keep in mind that the ambient temps in that case were >~20C higher than on the test bench where the SP94 was formally tested earlier.

Hope that helps.

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Post by dasman » Wed Mar 03, 2004 2:14 pm

Just a thought -- maybe Roy or Stevo from ARM could jump in on this one?

Presumably, they tested both HSU's when designing their Stealth system and chose the SP-94 for a reason.

When I originally read Mike's excellent 8) (as usual) article on ARM's system, I thought the SP-94 was a somewhat surprising choice since they've already got so much Zalman stuff in the box.

Since that the 7000a is a couple bucks less expensive to start and both the PSU and VGA cooler in ARM's system are zalman, I'd have to imagine they'd get a deal to use the HSU as well.

So, (limited deductive reasoning kicking it) :roll: , this leads me to believe that the SP-94 performs better for ARM (different case/airflows would probably change things). Roy/Steve -- care to comment?? :wink:

Currently, I have a 7000A on a P4 3.06 that I think is running a little hot. I'm going to try changing from the zalman grease to AS Ceramique since it appears that's worth a couple of degrees. If I'm still unhappy, I may try the SP-94 to see what happens.

Dave

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Post by MikeC » Wed Mar 03, 2004 3:20 pm

dasman --

I know for a fact that it's the more secure through-the-board mounting that made the SP-94 ARM's choice. They are really big on mechanical strength & security.

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Post by Magic » Wed Mar 03, 2004 5:04 pm

MikeC wrote:
I have not done an A/B comparison between the Z7000 cu or cu/al against a Panaflo 92L equipped SP94. I suspect they would be close, perhaps close enough to call it even. Hard to tell exactly w/o trying it. But there is a review which might give you a pretty good idea of how the SP94 would do in a hotter system: The ARM System Powerhouse StealthPC review features a P4-3.2 cooled by a SP94 + Panaflo 92L. The fan volatge was set to ~6V; page 4 of that review documents the temps. Keep in mind that the ambient temps in that case were >~20C higher than on the test bench where the SP94 was formally tested earlier.

Hope that helps.
Maybe we can hope someday for a follow up review?

I too would love to see this.

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Post by PiSan » Wed Mar 03, 2004 5:11 pm

Well my overclocked rig is at 46°C load according the the motherboard. The Zalman can handle plenty of heat, although I'm fairly certain that the Sp-94 is a better performer. It will only be as loud as the fan you put on it, and a panaflo or a papst with a shroud should push enough air and stay relatively quiet.

My $0.02

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Post by dasman » Wed Mar 03, 2004 8:12 pm

MikeC wrote:dasman --

I know for a fact that it's the more secure through-the-board mounting that made the SP-94 ARM's choice. They are really big on mechanical strength & security.
Makes sense -- since they've got to ship the thing, they're not going to want repairs due to a heatsink damaging the CPU. Never thought of that. :oops:

Still curious as to whether ARM did any head to head testing -- if anyone has the data, I'd think they would...

Dave

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Post by MikeC » Wed Mar 03, 2004 8:38 pm

dasman wrote:Makes sense -- since they've got to ship the thing, they're not going to want repairs due to a heatsink damaging the CPU. Never thought of that. :oops:

Still curious as to whether ARM did any head to head testing -- if anyone has the data, I'd think they would...
Steve at ARM told me about one big HS they used for a while -- until it fell off the clips (or maybe the lugs on the socket broke) in transit. The thng basically became an untethered wrecking ball in the PC, and by the time it reached its desitination, the guts were totally shattered. They had only a couple of experiences like this before they decided to only trust bolt-through mounting for heavier/larger coolers.

Steve might jump in here and correct me, but my guess is they would not even consider the Z7000 for the P4 because the mounting system depends on the existing plastic frame. I've broken a couple of those in the lab, so...

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Post by Stevo@ARM » Wed Mar 03, 2004 8:46 pm

dasman wrote:
MikeC wrote:dasman --

I know for a fact that it's the more secure through-the-board mounting that made the SP-94 ARM's choice. They are really big on mechanical strength & security.
Makes sense -- since they've got to ship the thing, they're not going to want repairs due to a heatsink damaging the CPU. Never thought of that. :oops:

Still curious as to whether ARM did any head to head testing -- if anyone has the data, I'd think they would...

Dave
MikeC hit it right on the head, the plastic CPU Cooler mount on a P4 is rated by Intel to handle a maximum of 450 Grams in weight, and we simply cannot risk damaging a customer's computer because of an over energetic UPS delivery person, or a nasty pothole their truck happends to run over :wink: Hence the rock-solid 4-Bolt through the mobo with backplate design of the SP94 was the right choice at this time for us.

Also, there are a couple of other factors we had to consider. As far as I know, the Zalman 7000cu set's holds the record for cubic volume of current generation coolers. In our chassis, it does fit, but barely, in fact it almost touches the power supply and we were concerned about radient heat affecting the PSU.

From our initial testing both coolers ( and even the 7000ALCU hybrid) do an excellent job and are a tribute to their respective design engineers. But once we took all of our factors into consideration and decided on the SP94 we really didn't spend a lot more time doing exhaustive head to head comparisons. As for the 7000al the all aluminum design gives us concern because the aluminum has a slower reaction time to 'flash' temps (very rapid thermal spikes). Most users would be amazed at how quickly a 3.20 or 3.40GHz cpu can go from stone-cold to blistering hot under load. It's nearly instantaneous in human terms, and only takes a fraction of a second actually. So the all copper design helps keep those high wattage cpu's from overloading when they 'flash' up.

However, something to keep in mind regarding heat-pipes. Depending upon what fluid mixture they are filled with, the boiling points (and rate of phase change back and forth) inside those sealed heat pipes actually differs. Based upon that, it is my gut feeling from our experience with the SP94 that it's true potential begins to reveal itself when used with much more powerful ultra-high wattage CPU's which are able to get the 'circulatory system' inside its heatpipes really running well compared to a lower end cooler running processor.

We do purchase the SP94 and it's related cousins in significant volumes and for what it's worth, we are going to be making that CPU cooler available for the DIY folks along with a tube of Arctic Silver 5 compound, a Panaflo 92mm fan, and a Zalman Fanmate RPM regulator as a high performance kit to go along with our expanding line of DIY StealthPC components.

Feel free to provide feedback and/or confirmation to this question:

'If we were to offer them, is there any interest in purchasing ready made and validated ARM StealthPC DIY Quiet CPU Cooling Kits based upon our R&D?'

Stevo

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Post by ColdFlame » Wed Mar 03, 2004 9:07 pm

To answer your question: I personally would get it if it were cheaper than 7000AlCu ($30 I think). 7000AlCu includes a heatsink, a fan and a fanmate. If you can package SP94 with a equally quiet fan and with a fanmate for less than $30 then I might consider it. Does this sound just to you?

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Post by Stevo@ARM » Wed Mar 03, 2004 9:21 pm

ColdFlame wrote:To answer your question: I personally would get it if it were cheaper than 7000AlCu ($30 I think). 7000AlCu includes a heatsink, a fan and a fanmate. If you can package SP94 with a equally quiet fan and with a fanmate for less than $30 then I might consider it. Does this sound just to you?
I think it's the all Aluminum one at that price. Maybe I'm wrong, but the Aluminum Copper one seems to be going for $39.95 in most places. Plus the CPU thermal compound is not as high grade and some have complained about noise on the stock Zalman bundled fan. The Arctic Silver 5 does come at a premium price I'll agree, but we have found it was worth it in our experience.

As for the Thermalright SP-94, the list price on that bad boy on their website is $59.95 stripped bare - without a fan, fanmate, or Artic Silver 5 compound.

It was my goal to offer the ARM kit with all of those extra's bundled in at that same price, which I reasoned would be a good and fair value compared to the SP-94 on it's own.

Again, it all depends on what speed CPU you are running, how much you want to OC it, and the cooling characteristics of your chassis, plus the fit between the CPU cooler and the rest of the items inside the case and lastly if you plan on shipping your system or toting it around to LAN parties.

Sound reasonable to you guys?

Stevo

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Post by tay » Wed Mar 03, 2004 10:47 pm

Stevo@ARM wrote:
From our initial testing both coolers ( and even the 7000ALCU hybrid) do an excellent job and are a tribute to their respective design engineers. But once we took all of our factors into consideration and decided on the SP94 we really didn't spend a lot more time doing exhaustive head to head comparisons. As for the 7000al the all aluminum design gives us concern because the aluminum has a slower reaction time to 'flash' temps (very rapid thermal spikes). Most users would be amazed at how quickly a 3.20 or 3.40GHz cpu can go from stone-cold to blistering hot under load. It's nearly instantaneous in human terms, and only takes a fraction of a second actually. So the all copper design helps keep those high wattage cpu's from overloading when they 'flash' up.

Stevo
This flash up scenario doesnt really exist. A cpu switching from cool > hot has the same dissipation as hot always. Thus a heatsink (al or cu) that can cool it running prime95 should be more than adequate for short bursts of activity. This is why we use prime95 etc in the first place.

Having said that, if i had more money id consider getting a prebuilt system from you guys. From all accounts your systems are top notch and I'm sad that I cant afford one :(

Since I'm so cheap I know the cheapest prices. :shock: The 7000 AlCu can be had for 30 and the 7000 Cu for under 40. The 7000A versions of each are only a few dollars more.

I would say 59.95 for fan fanmate as5 or ceramique sounds like a good deal but 54.05 would make it a killer bundle. Maybe a loss leader for publicity *shrug*.

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Post by Edward Ng » Wed Mar 03, 2004 10:52 pm

I'm running a system with a P4 2.0A and an SP-94; I've no fan at all attached to the SP-94. My idle temps drop as low as 32C so far and my max heat peak (ran Prime 95 Max. Heat Torture for 3 hours straight) was 50C. Not a single error. No undervolting (1.65volts core).

I've also a P4 2.6C system doing 3.12GHz with an SP-94 combined with an AcoustiFan AF92CT and it can do Prime 95 Max. Heat Torture all day long without a single error.

-Ed

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Post by ColdFlame » Wed Mar 03, 2004 10:54 pm

Stevo@ARM wrote:As for the Thermalright SP-94, the list price on that bad boy on their website is $59.95 stripped bare - without a fan, fanmate, or Artic Silver 5 compound.
This was exactly my point. Why would I pay more for SP-94 while I can get 7000 for less with fan and fanmate in the kit? I think it was shown in reviews here that cooling performance of 7000Cu, 7000AlCu and SP-94 is very similar. So why would I pick a more expensive product that performs the same?

Prices on Newegg:
7000AlCu - $36
7000Cu - $43
SP-94 - $49

If you add a Panaflo 92mm to SP-94 and a fanmate you are over $60 easily, right? So you can spend $36 on 7000AlCu or $60+ on SP-94. They cool the same. Which one would you choose?

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Post by Edward Ng » Wed Mar 03, 2004 10:56 pm

For some people, whichever one is not likely to snap off during transportation.

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Post by roym@arm » Wed Mar 03, 2004 11:15 pm

tay wrote: This flash up scenario doesnt really exist. A cpu switching from cool > hot has the same dissipation as hot always. Thus a heatsink (al or cu) that can cool it running prime95 should be more than adequate for short bursts of activity. This is why we use prime95 etc in the first place.
The flash up scenario really does exist, especially with the faster processors (i.e. P4 3.2, 3.4 and now the 3.4 EE) You're right if the heatsink (al or cu ) can cool it running prime95, then it should be more than adequate for short bursts of activity. However you need more al mass to absorb and dissipate the same amount of heat than cu. The faster the processor, the more mass you need for the HSU. This is the reason why even stock CPU HSU from manufacturers like Intel uses copper core on their faster CPU's because they can only make the HSU so big! This is the reason why the Zalman 7000 is sooo big!

Having said that, if i had more money id consider getting a prebuilt system from you guys. From all accounts your systems are top notch and I'm sad that I cant afford one :(
Don't despair... Have you visited our on-line configurator lately? There has been a big improvement in prices recently. Also, you can start with a DYI kit and build up from there if you want to source out some parts you can get cheaper. Where there is a will, there is a deal! :wink:

RoyM

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Post by silvervarg » Wed Mar 03, 2004 11:27 pm

Well, considering that many people in this forum has complained about the fan in the Zalman 7000 cooler. There are some examples of how you decouple that fan and a few people have even replaced the fan with a Panaflo L1A (quite a lot of work).

Considering this it seems that the SP-94 with AS5+panaflo92 L1A+fanmate is a good kit out of the box ordered from a single place. I think quite a lot of readers in this forum will be interested, so the deal is a good one.
It really comes down to how you value time and DIY things compared to money.

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Post by roym@arm » Wed Mar 03, 2004 11:29 pm

ColdFlame wrote:
Stevo@ARM wrote:As for the Thermalright SP-94, the list price on that bad boy on their website is $59.95 stripped bare - without a fan, fanmate, or Artic Silver 5 compound.
This was exactly my point. Why would I pay more for SP-94 while I can get 7000 for less with fan and fanmate in the kit? I think it was shown in reviews here that cooling performance of 7000Cu, 7000AlCu and SP-94 is very similar. So why would I pick a more expensive product that performs the same?

Prices on Newegg:
7000AlCu - $36
7000Cu - $43
SP-94 - $49

If you add a Panaflo 92mm to SP-94 and a fanmate you are over $60 easily, right? So you can spend $36 on 7000AlCu or $60+ on SP-94. They cool the same. Which one would you choose?
I think the Zalman (either AL or CU ) does a great job of cooling even the higher speed cpu's. For DiYourselfers, the Zalman is easier to install because you do not have to remove the MOBO to install a bolt thru bracket. At ARM, it will be obviously advantageous if we can reduce "BOM" (build of materials) cost and offer more competitive prices. Our decision to go with the Thermalright HSU is because of the excellent cooling capability coupled with the secure bolt-thru mounting. The extra $5-$10 seem insignificant given the $$$ and headache we save from potential shipping damage. :lol:


RoyM

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Post by ColdFlame » Thu Mar 04, 2004 12:58 am

I might be mistaken but $60-$36 is nowhere close to $5-10. In fact, it seems that solution based on SP-94 is approx. 2x more money than 700 AlCu. Is it really 2x better? I doubt it.

Anyway, you guys asked for our opinions, I expressed mine. It seems that there are people on this forum who'd like to get your kit, which is good for your business!!! :)

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Post by Wintermute » Thu Mar 04, 2004 1:58 am

If ARM was to offer the SP-94, Arctic Silver 5, a Panaflo 92mm fan, and a Zalman Fanmate for $60 I would definately get it (if I could make up my mind first - see below). I think that $60 is quite a good deal for all of those items. Before I had made my initial post I had tried to find those exact items on pricewatch.com $60 would come in about $10 to $15 cheaper than the sum of the best individual deals for each item that I was able to find. Man...choosing parts has turned into an obsessive chore. Between trying to decide on a PSU, which fans to get, how to control the fans, which dampening solution, etc. I am going to go insane. I have been compulsively reading all the posts I can in these forums and looking up various internet reviews to the point that it has now consumed the majority of my time this past week. Every time I finally think that I have made a decision, someone says something to change my mind. My god, I wanted a semi-quiet computer when I first started lurking here. I haven't even bought anything for my new computer yet and I am fixated on The Silent Machine. This is like heroin. Ahhhh....anyway. When I first posted here I had planned on getting the SP-94 because my initial impression from MikeC's review of the two HSU's and from other reviews on the net lead me to believe that the SP-94's would really step up to the plate at higher temps. I thought I had then changed my mind to the 7000-AlCu after reading some favorable reviews in the forums. Once again I am undecided. My main reservation with the SP-94 is not really a price issue. I don't mind paying for better performance. I would like to see how both the Zalman and Thermalright function mounted on a hot (3.2-3.4) CPU when the fans are adjusted on each so that they both produce the same amount of noise. I realize the choice of fan for the SP-94 is of critical importance to this little experiment. I think trying a couple of different 92mm fans on the SP-94 would be a good idea. The Zalman's fan is for the most part stuck there. I know it is possible to mod it, but I am not too sure how many people are willing to go that far. Who know's with this crowd though.

P.S. This may seem liking going overboard and convuluting an already messy question...but I wonder how one of those ThermalTAKE CPU fan ducts would work with the SP-94?

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Post by dasman » Thu Mar 04, 2004 6:21 am

Tell you what, if ARM is willing to sell me one of their package deals (I'd like a 92 panaflo w/ tach tho :) ), I'd be willing to take the time and H2H my 7000AlCu against the SP-94. This is with a P4 3.06 (82W).

I'd also need enough AS to remount the 7000 with it instead of Zalman's grease -- want to be apples to apples here :)

Dave

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Post by roym@arm » Thu Mar 04, 2004 6:42 am

ColdFlame wrote:I might be mistaken but $60-$36 is nowhere close to $5-10. In fact, it seems that solution based on SP-94 is approx. 2x more money than 700 AlCu. Is it really 2x better? I doubt it.

Anyway, you guys asked for our opinions, I expressed mine. It seems that there are people on this forum who'd like to get your kit, which is good for your business!!! :)
Sorry Coldflame, I only took into consideration the cost of the HSU (SP94). The additional cost of fan, fanmate and as5 does increase the cost more.

Anyway, as STEVO indicated, this is only a survey. We have been asked by many reading SPCR forums if we sell parts only. In order to accommodate such request, we wanted your valueable opinion and yours as well as others are equally valuable. It let us know whether we can be effective in managing such transactions and still provide the utmost in service.

Best Regards,

RoyM

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