passive cooling

As with most motherboards, this one comes with a CPU fan pre-installed. It's a small fan, but I can assure you it makes a most irritating noise, revving at 5000 to 6000 rpm. So, let's get rid of it and replace it with a passive cooler. 

Mine is a Zalman Northbridge Cooler (about €3.50), shown here. A nice example of modern "micro forgery" To install the passive cooler, we also have to remove the heatsink that sits on top of the CPU, under the fan. Now this is probably the most delicate part of the project, in two ways: 1. removing the heatsink will more than likely destroy the mobo's guaranty, 2. it is absolutely necessary to be relaxed and careful during this operation, to avoid damage to the CPU or the surrounding electronics.

step by step

  • 1. Unplug the machine
  • 2. Remove the fan. ( 2 screws usually) and its powercable
  • 3.  Power up the motherboard and let it run for  5 to 10 minutes. The idea here is to heat up the CPU, to soften the thermal paste under the heatsink.
  • 4.  Unplug the box again. Carefully cut the little plastic "bolts" that hold the heatsink to the motherboard, using small  cutting pliers. Best to try to cut off  -near- their heads. Cutting at the bottom of the mobo, looked like too big a risk of damaging the circuitry to me.
  • 5.  Now gently try to remove the heatsink by twisting it sideways. The thermal paste will probably still be too adhesive, so take  a small screwdriver  and carefully try to lift the heatsink, using the screwdriver as a small crawbar. Take care not to touch the cpu! After a couple of attempts at different point on the heatsink perimeter, it will suddenly loosen.
  • 6. You can now remove what's left of the thermal paste on top of the processor. I used a small piece of fine sanding paper, grit 1000, to do this. You can sand away the logo and text printed on the CPU, but no more!
  • 7. Remove any debris  on and under the board. Degrease the CPU surface, with a clean cloth moistured with white spirit. Let the white spirit dry/evaporate.
  • 8. Apply a thin layer of thermal paste from the small tube that comes with the passive cooler.
  • 9. Install the cooler.There's an install guide included in its package and it uses the same mounting system as the old heatsink. Make sure the flat cooling fins are positioned vertically, not horizontally, to allow the cooling air to rise freely through the cooler.
  • 10. That's all!  ( For steps 4 to 9, it really helps to make your fingers as thin as possible  :-)  )


the box


passive cooling

power supply

ide compact flash


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