Zalman ZM-NB32 Northbridge Heatsink Review

zalman-nb32

Introduction

Most of you are probably familiar now with Zalman, they are a company which strive to provide excellent products which are very quiet and of the highest quality. The have CPU heatsinks for both Intel and AMD, VGA coolers for your video card, very quiet power supplies and northbridge heatsinks. The ZM-NB32 northbridge heatsink will work on any northbridge, it is made of pure aluminum which is anodized black. Its dimensions are 37W X 37L X 32H mm and it weighs 42g.

If you are trying to get your computer to be the quietest that it can be you know that a lot of noise comes from the video card and northbridge coolers in your computer. Because they are small and the fan usually spins pretty fast it puts out a high pitched sound which can get quiet irritating.

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The ZM-NB32 northbridge heatsink comes in a pretty plain box, it just has the model number and Zalman logo on it. The ZM-NB32 northbridge heatsink comes with thermal compound which is in the white syringe and thermal epoxy which is in the pink and green syringe. The thermal compound can be used if your motherboards stock heatsink uses pins to attach it to the motherboard and if your motherboard does not have any holes you can use the thermal epoxy.

The heatsink is made of pure aluminum which is anodized black, the base has very minimal scratches to it which will not really matter because this is going on a northbridge not a CPU. The heatsink is actually a lot taller than I thought it would be which is good because it will cool better.

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I will be installing this heatsink to the northbridge of my AOpen AK77-333 motherboard. The stock heatsink on this motherboard is pretty loud because like I mentioned before its a high pitch sound that comes out. It is held on by thermal tape which is not good for cooling at all, I just twisted the heatsink off and removed the thermal tape. There you can see the KT333 chipset.

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This motherboard does not have the 2 holes to attach the Zalman heatsink so I will have to use the thermal epoxy to do it. The thermal epoxy is provided in a 1 to 1 ratio so there is no guesswork involved; just squirt all of it out of both tubes. You will then need to mix the 2 together, you can use one of the syringes that you just emptied to do it.

When you have the 2 mixed together it does not look very appetizing, but then again you shouldn’t be eating it in the first place. I don’t like the way that this epoxy smells because it smells like nail polish remover and hobby glue mixed together and stinks. I would suggest you mix and apply this heatsink to your motherboard outside or in the garage.

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After you have it all mixed up you should apply it to the northbridge of your motherboard, you should not have to use it all and it doesn’t have to be very thick.

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After you have the thermal epoxy applied to the northbridge just take the heatsink and press it firmly onto the northbridge. Then center it correctly on the northbridge. The epoxy took about 15 minutes to cure and after it was totally cured the bad smell was no longer present. Here is picture of the northbridge heatsink installed from two angles.

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To test this product I put a probe on the northbridge so that I could get an accurate reading of its temperature. To get the idle temperature of both the stock and Zalman heatsinks I booted the computer and let it sit for about 20 minutes. To get the load temperatures I ran Prime95 for about 15 minutes and took the results.

Test Bed

  • AOpen AK77-333
  • AMD Thunderbird 1.2Ghz
  • Corsair 512MB XMS2700
  • 3DPower Geforce 3
  • Antec 300w PSU
  • OCZ Gladiator

As you can see at idle the stock heatsink was at 33 degrees Celsius and the Zalman heatsink was 35 degrees. The higher temperature with the Zalman heatsink was very expected because it is a passive solution and has no air running over it to dissipate the heat like the stock one does. The difference in temperatures was only 2 degrees which for a northbridge does not matter because it is not as sensitive as a CPU. I was really able to tell a difference in sound from the stock heatsink to the Zalman one.

The load temperatures turned out like those of the idle, the Zalman heatsink was 2 degrees higher than the stock one for the lack of a fan. but like I said 2 degrees is not going to make any difference what so ever with a northbridge and the silence you get with this heatsink is awesome.

 

Conclusion

I really like this product because I am a big fan of quiet systems, there was a noticeable difference in sound from the stock heatsink to the Zalman one. Installation is simple, it doesn’t cost a lot, everything you need is included, and the performance is great.

I had no case fans on so no air was moving inside of the system, if you have some side blow holes or even a front intake you will have air moving over this Zalman heatsink and your results will probably be better than the stock heatsink.

The only bad thing about this product is that the thermal epoxy smells really bad but it goes away once the epoxy has cured. Overall I am giving this product a 9.5/10 and award it the OCmodshop Seal of Approval. I would like to thank Zalman USA for giving me this product to review and you can buy this and every other Zalman product from Sharka Corporation.

Pros

  • Silent
  • Simple to install
  • Good performance
  • Low price ($9.95)
  • Thermal compound & adhesive included
  • Instructions includedCons:
  • Thermal epoxy smells really bad before drying
Brandon Turnbull is a technology enthusiast living in southern California. He has written numerous articles and tutorials about PC overclocking and modification.