Arctic Cooler Chills Down My Intel Quad-Core Processor

Processor cooling fans are normally as exciting as your average oil filter. So imagine my surprise when the most noteworthy item (after the processor itself) in the latest PC build project I've undertaken turned out to be. . . the cooling fan.

Alexander Wolfe, Contributor

August 15, 2007

5 Min Read

Processor cooling fans are normally as exciting as your average oil filter. So imagine my surprise when the most noteworthy item (after the processor itself) in the latest PC build project I've undertaken turned out to be. . . the cooling fan.In pre-dual-core times, fans were mostly an afterthought. You hooked one up, and forgot about it. Sure, a PC occasionally fried, but if you weren't overclocking, there wasn't much to worry about.

These days, cooling is critical. Here's a widely circulated YouTube which presents vivid pictures of what happens when you try to run your system without the proper heat sink and fan:

(Please note for the record that I'm not endorsing this video or making any sort of judgment on the accuracy of the Intel versus AMD angle, which in any case isn't relevant. I simply want to you to check out how the chips smoke.)

Realizing that modern microprocessors run hotter than ever before, on my new PC build project I paid more attention to my cooling solution than ever before. The typical Socket 775 fan has been this standard model from Intel:

I've never much liked it, because its spring-loaded hold-down clips are difficult to seat properly. Commonly, you'll get two or three of the clips locked down into the motherboard, but the fourth one will fritz out on you. Unfortunately, at that point it's almost impossible to extract the previous three and start over.

Intel's standard fan for socket 775 CPUs attaches to the motherboard via spring-loaded clips, which can be difficult to seat properly.(Click picture to enlarge.)

I remember one project where I basically had to force the final clip through the motherboard, and then use Crazy Glue to keep the fan from coming loose. The kludge worked--indeed, the PC still runs just fine--notwithstanding the fact that the glue ate away some insulation on the bottom of the mobo.

Surprisingly, I had more success with what at first glance seemed like a cheapy aftermarket solution. That would be StarTech's Socket 775 Fan:

On first glance, the StarTech looks like a lower-cost clone of the Intel offering. (You can get the StarTech for about $10 less than its $39 list price.) However, once you cut it out of its annoying plastic blister pack, you see it's got a much better lock-down system than does the Intel fan.

The StarTech has a big plastic "X," with four posts, which you insert from the bottom side of the motherboard. Then you seat the fan on the top site, and attach it to that restraining clip via four spring-loaded screws. It's much more effective than Intel's funky clips.

StarTech's socket 775 fan, which at first glance seems like a cheap third-party solution, is actually nicely designed with spring-loaded screws for easy and solid installation. (Click picture to enlarge.)

An additional bonus is that the fan is salvageable if your system craps out. You can't say that about the clippy cooling solutions; all they're good for afterwards is the garbage.

For my new project, I was also set to go with the bland but effective StarTech. Of course, I realized I'd have to buttress its decent but by no means supercharged cooling power by decorated the PC case with as many 80-mm fans as it could handle. (It's always fun screwing those things in, and then routing their wires hither and yon inside the case.)

Then I hit upon the Freezer 7 Pro from Arctic Cooling. At $27 list, it's no more expensive than plain ol' fans. I don't know how else to put it, but the Freezer Pro has the biggest friggin' heat sink I've ever seen on a CPU fan. (The only comparable solutions are those copper cooling tubes gone wild, used by Asus on many of its mobos.)

At $27, the Freezer Pro 7 from Arctic Cooling is a sensible fan-and-heatsink option for Intel socket 775 dual- and quad-core processors.(Click picture to enlarge.)

While the Freezer Pro has spring-loaded clips, they're better designed than the ones on the Intel 775 fans, so they seat easily. The unit also has a detachable fan, which you remove so you can get at the clips.

I used to make fun of people who were into exotic cooling solutions, such water pumps. (See also Tom's Hardware on water cooling.) Not anymore, now that my fan-on-steroids is keeping my processor and motherboard room-temperature cool. (See the PC Probe II screen-capture below, which shows system temperature parameters. I should add that the CPU temperature is reading so low--at room temperature--that I have to investigate further to make sure the sensor data is being read correctly. I plan to corroborate the data using the Everest PC monitor ing program.)

Asus's PC Probe II utility indicates that the Freezer Pro 7 fan is keeping both my processor and motherboard room-temperature cool. (Click picture to see additional parameters.)

[Update, 7:30 pm : The Everest monitoring program gives a reading that the temperature of each of the cores of my processor is 42 degrees C (108 degrees F). This is much more realistic than the ambient reading shown by PC Probe II, above. Interestingly, Everest shows an overall CPU temperature of 32 degrees C--the same reading obtained by PC Probe II--but then breaks out higher temps for each core.

This must mean that the sensor data provided by the quad processor is formatted differently than it is in single- and dual-core CPUs. That is, PC Probe isn't looking in the correct place for the individual core data, which provides the "real" reading, and also that the "overall" temperature data word is possibly useless.

However, 42 degrees C is still a good indication that the Freezer Pro is working well. My dual-core Pentium D 940 (admittedly a chip with a tendency to run hotter) typically measures in at 49 degrees C.]

About the Author(s)

Alexander Wolfe


Alexander Wolfe is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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