CPU cooling

Published on: Author: Mike Hall Leave a comment

Two months into the life of my new build has seen the CPU fan morph from quiet operation to an annoying buzz when under pressure. I noticed it because the case and fans were so quiet compared to what I have had before. There is no doubt that 120 and 140 mm fans are a godsend when having to sit in close proximity to a computer.

Anyway, back to the CPU fan. 

Rather than hop out and buy a 3rd party fan and heat-sink, I elected to contact AMD support for a new fan as it was under warranty. I never overclock, and the stock fan and heat-sink work well enough for my purposes.

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This is a photo of the old one. The replacement is very similar to this, the only real difference being that the aluminium fins of the heat sink are deeper, the fan essentially being recessed into them. there is also a cover over the top which prevents blowback through the top and makes for a very neat looking installation.

The underside is a large copper base serving four copper pipes, and it is kept cool by a high capacity 70mm fan. AMD use 70mm fans because they concentrate airflow better into the centre of the heat sink, bearing in mind that it is only the outer part of a fan which produces the airflow. Power comes off the mainboard via a four cable plug.

The one point I do not like about the use of a 70mm fan is that it is impossible to buy as a spare part if ever it needs to be replaced after the warranty has run its course.

I did look at a 3rd party replacement during one of my excursions to the local TigerDirect store, notably a Cooler Master N520 sitting in the clearance aisle at $20 below list price.

It is a huge beast sporting two 92mm fans, sandwiching an eight tube aluminium heat sink. The blurb warns that it is not suitable for all motherboards and may prohibit use of all memory slots when fitted.

I had four issues with it other than the sheer size . Hyper_N520_12

  1. It has it’s own mounting base which might well require removal of the motherboard for fitting unless you have a case with a suitably positioned cut-out in the baseplate.
  2. The two fans hook up to an adapter which would then fit on the board, going against manufacturer conventions that you should NEVER connect more than one fan to any one fan connection on a motherboard.
  3. The fan size (92mm) can be bought as a case fan, but one of the control pins in the motherboard connection would not be used because the fans and replacements would only be three pin.
  4. I would imagine that it could be quite noisy too.

The photo shows it fitted to a similar board to mine. You can see that it is a handful when mounted. The service panel is going to be very close to the top of the heat sink and replacing the fan on the ‘other’ side is going to be a ‘big’ job.

Whatever you decide to buy, it definitely pays to do research before you make a final choice. TigerDirect has workstations dotted around the store which enables customers to check out reviews on their own website, and this is good because you can get some useful pointers from it. If you ask a member of staff, you will invariably get bland, meaningless statements like ‘awesome fan, we sell lots of them’  or ‘I have one in my own computer’. There is no experience quite like ‘I got it home and OMG it doesn’t fit’.

I have warned you, and you have seen the pictures. They have NOT been photo-shopped. It really is that big.

Happy cooling.. Smile

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