Cool My Jets
February 21, 2011 3:22 AM   Subscribe

I have a system with a Microstar K8N Neo4 Platinum motherboard. It's got an NForce4 Ultra chip on it. This has a fan on top of it which has become annoyingly noisy (and so I'm worried it's going to fail altogether) . What can I use as a replacement ?

The NForce 4 looks like this .

I'd be interested to hear of devices which would serve as a replacement for the fan and which could be easily fitted

BTW It's been suggested to me that I could use one of these a Zalman ZM-NB47J. What concerns is whether the Zalman (or any other device that might be suggested) is able to cool the device as well as the original fan. Without knowing the cooling capacity of the original fan I'm not sure how to know what might serve as a replacment !
posted by southof40 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Northbridge and Southbridge cooling at Newegg. You're looking at ones that are compatible with the Northbridge slot, and either the fans or the heatsink coolers should work for you. As far as cooling capacity, a replacement cooler of either sort should be able to move the heat off about the same.
posted by deezil at 5:23 AM on February 21, 2011

Ugh, I hate those little fans. They are almost worthless. Chip cooling depends on surface area and airflow. But also *heat* flow to the surface area. Those little fans have very thin hunks of aluminum between the top of the chip and the fins where the air blows over. In order for the heat to effectively flow across that small area, you have to have a pretty high temperature gradient. Meaning the chip isn't getting cooled very well.

(To visualize the process, think of the heat as a fluid under pressure, running inside of the heat sink, and escaping through invisible holes all over the heat sink. Like those soaker hoses you get to water the garden. The smaller the "channel" the heat has to flow through, the greater the pressure and the lower the flow.)

The Zalman will be fine. Install it, make sure it has good contact with the chipset. Make sure nothing on the heatsink makes contact with any other components on the board. Run it for a while, with the cover closed, so your airflow is like it normally is. Open the cover, feel the heatsink. It should be warm. If it is burn your hand hot, find a way to direct some airflow over it. A large heatsink only needs a very small amount of airflow to make a big difference.

This shouldn't be too hard to get right, the chipset probably only needs to dissipate 10 or 20 watts of power.

I've worked on some commercial HP workstation-like things, and they have those Pentium 4 processors with 100w tdp. The cooling is practically passive: GIANT heatsink, with a shrowd, and a standard 60mm case fan blowing across it at the lowest possible speed. Cool to the touch.
posted by gjc at 5:52 AM on February 21, 2011

What I've always done in (many) such cases is to peel back the sticker on top of the fan, add a single drop of oil to relubricate it (non-conductive oil, if you're worried), and replace the sticker. If it's noisy solely due to lack of lubrication, this usually gives an extra month with the fan, if not an extra year or two.

I've also had good luck with that passive heatsink on a northbridge--motherboard ran for a couple more years. I think as long as you have decent airflow through the case, you'll be fine.
posted by astrochimp at 9:01 AM on February 21, 2011

Yeah, if your case is big enough, a big ol' heatsink.
posted by rhizome at 11:56 AM on February 21, 2011

the fan is likely a 40mm x 10mm fan, it's a standard size. as the post above says you can buy the coolers separately for newegg. it'll be held in with two small spiral shaped screws. very easy to replace!
posted by thewalrus at 12:53 PM on February 21, 2011

I've strapped / epoxyed / suguru'd (is that a word) all matter of fans to all matter of heatsinks. As long as there is airflow over the heatsink, you'll be fine. Chipsets don't have huge TDPs. I would do the same as gjc suggested, install the zalman and run it without a fan, if it's hot to the touch, then add some airflow.
posted by defcom1 at 6:03 PM on February 21, 2011

Thanks to all for the replies - much appreciated.

I'll give the lubrication thing a go with a view to doing the heatsink in the medium term.

Just a bit of clarification. If it becomes necessary to add some airflow how do you this ? Are there power sockets on the board that would allow me to just add a new fan into the box ? And what about mounting it somewhere within the box ?

I appreciate the consensus is this probably won't be needed but I'm just wondering in case.
posted by southof40 at 9:03 PM on February 21, 2011

Yes, there should be a few three-pronged-with-white-flap fan headers sticking up out of the motherboard. Go nuts, you can get splitters if you want to add more fans than you have headers (or one won't reach). Rule of thumb: large and slow is quieter than small and fast. You also don't necessarily need to put a fan right on the heat sink if it's not convenient or too difficult or whatever, fans at the front and back of the case pointed so the air flows through are often enough.
posted by rhizome at 9:28 PM on February 21, 2011

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