While putting together my GigaPC a friend of mine obliterated the heatsink/fan while attempting to snap it in place. No prob. Get another one right? Problem. I'm having a hard time finding the correct one (or maybe I'm just paranoid that I'll buy the wrong thing and once I get my PC up and running my processor will burn itself out).
My MOBO is an ASUS P4C800-E DELUXE
Processor is a P4, 3.2
Will I be alright as long as I get a new heatsink/fan that's for socket 478?
Yes you can get a replacement fan no problem. Do the research and find one that's compatible with your CPU. Also, spring the extra few dollars and get some Arctic Silver thermal paste and apply it to the bottom of the heatsink instead of the stock stuff that you will be sent. It will save you at least a few degrees of heat.
I think that's the one I have for my P4. It's a large flower type heatsink with a fan that attaches to the PCI slot screws right?
I like it in that it is very cool but the design is a bit big and a little cumbersome to install compared to one where the fan sits on the heatsink. For overclocking (higher CPU voltage especially) I think this is good, but for normal use a more normal stock heatsink/fan setup might be very adequate. In fact, I've heard the stock P4 heatsinks are excellent and I still have the one that came with my CPU in case the Zalman pukes.
If you do a lot of work inside your PC and/or move PCI cards around a lot (not sure why) I would go with a more standard design. The fan that came with my Zalman also has a variable speed control which can bring the noise (and fan speed) down some, but again, I've never had any issues with CPU heating. I do overclock but haven't had to increase the voltage on my CPU - only on the RAM to get it where I want it, which does bring it's temperature up a bit.
There are probably lots of people with stock Intel heatsinks in their closets and garages. They're loud and don't cool as well as the better aftermarket stuff. Maybe somebody will sell you one for the cost of shipping. Sorry, I only have stock AMD heatsinks in my closets.
But if you want something sooner, I think Frys carries the Zalmans these days. The CNPS7000 (A or B), (AlCu or Cu) both fit your motherboard. I recommend the AlCu, since it's about half as heavy as the pure copper heatsink, so it's less likely to damage the motherboard/cpu. And it's cooling is almost identical to the pure copper version.
Here's a page that shows incompatible boards. Note that your board is not listed as problematic. Check out the "Installation Movie" to see how it's mounted. It uses screws, so you don't have to wrestle any spring clips to get it in.
And, no, I don't own stock in Zalman. In fact, my most recent purchase was a Thermalright XP-120. It performs better than the Zalman, but is more expensive and needs an additional, quiet 120mm fan. The Thermalright is tops, but the Zalman is a better value.