Heat can do a lot for a processor; it can reduce its life, damage transistors, burn up parts, and/or even kill it. So you know heat is a processor's worst enemy and you want to know what you can do about it. There are many things you can do to reduce heat, the best way being to not overclock your processor; but what fun is making a computer unless you push it to it's limits? Not overclocking is out of the question so the only viable alternative is to put a damn good cooler on the sucker. Fortunately over the past 2 years, processor fabrication has become more advanced in terms of manufacturing techniques to improve speed and size. The small die, L2 cache, etc… all that good stuff can lead to more heat than ever before. Remember the old days when you didn't even need active cooling on the old Pentium? Well, that day is gone and will never come back because processors are much more advanced than they used to be. That means from now on, there will be more heat and better coolers to dissipate it. Phew, enough with the rant.
As heat concerns grow with processor advancement, cooling methods advance alongside it. If I open up a Pentium 200 machine, I see a .5-inch high heatsink with maybe a small fan, I open up a 486 and that shrimp doesn't even need a cooler! Then I open my 550E @ 733 and see the monstrosity that is the S370 Alpha. The Pentium IIIE's will not run period with a puny .5" heatsink... you NEED a huge HSF. The HSF business has grown because of the need for better HSF's on our processors. Remember a couple of years back when you could go to your local Radioshack and pick up any old generic heatsink and slap it on? No one cared who made the heatsink and no one cared if it was generic becuase they all performed and looked the same. The point I'm trying to make here is that at this age of speed and overclocking, brand matters. New companies come out with dazzling products that are then matched by old companies with their new products, then the new company released another one, then the old beats that too.
It's all competition and if you remember the equation, competition = better and cheaper products (the Intel/AMD theory). Today, people ask for specific heatsinks, they even know the model numbers, size, etc… HSF's can either be a launch point of your overclocking adventure or your endpoint. If yours isn't good enough, you wont go anywhere. If it is good enough, you will… easy as that. HSF's are now more than just a piece of steel you get at Radioshack for $10, it's an industry by itself, larger than ever that is making quality coolers which weren't even dreamt of a couple years back. The next generation coolers almost have a cult following similar to that of Intel and AMD processors, people swear to one brand and detest it's competitors. There is a lot of money in this as computer sales skyrocket. Whenever there is money to be made, we see a giant and it's competitor dueling for the championship and today we will review a product from the giant known as Alpha Novatech.