How should I cool my three year old processor?
June 18, 2008 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Can someone recommend a good mid level heat sink (I'm overclocking but not crazy case modding or spending more than $50) for my Socket A processor? It's an Athlon 2500XP on a K7N2 Delta2 MSI motherboard. The key is that I have to be able to still buy it, and it needs to be better than the stock one that came with the processor.

Three (and a half) years ago I put together the pc that I'm typing this on. It's got an MSI socket A (aka 462) with an Athlon 2500XP. At the time, I decided not to bother thinking about overclocking since it was adequate to my needs underclocked with the stock heat sink/fan on it.

There's a saying that as Intel giveth Redmond taketh away; though I don't use either of those, the software compensation to Moore's law is getting to me. I'm aware that the 2500XP easily (like, two clicks) clocks to a 3200+, gaining me quite a bit of snap. That requires a more aggressive heat solution (as is, pushing it too hard clocked to a 2800+ creates instability). Looking around, I see lots of reviews of heat sinks, but mostly from 2-3 years ago and products that I can't find on google shopping. Can anyone
a) make an appropriate recommendation?
b) tell me where I can still find it?
posted by a robot made out of meat to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
I don't overclock, but I get great cooling from a Thermaltake heatsink & fan. One for your CPU is $14 from newegg. A larger, quieter heatsink & fan with over twice the airflow is $15 from newegg.

Make sure you read up on the proper way to install a new heatsink, including the right way to apply thermal grease. You may want to buy a little tube of Arctic Silver or similar thermal compound. In general, apply a very thin, even coat of thermal compound. The idea behind the thermal compound is to fill in the microscopic gaps in the metal of the CPU casing and the base of the heat sink. One way to get a good, thin application is to spread it out on the CPU with a razor blade.
posted by jedicus at 8:19 PM on June 18, 2008

Don't may get proper thermal compounds, it is a must, particularly if you plan on overclocking. Without having used either of the linked heatsinks, copper is better for transferring heat from one area to another, so all other things equal, I'd go with an all-copper heatsink
posted by jmd82 at 9:11 AM on June 19, 2008

Zalman makes awesome round heatsinks with big, quiet fans. They're adaptable to tons of different sockets and motherboards (check the compatibility of your mobo on their website). I've bought two and they're quiet and efficient. They do take up a lot of space inside the case though, so Mid-tower ATX cases are a must!
You can usually snag one on newegg for under $54 for an all copper one. It even comes with a little fan controller switch so you can get the perfect balance of cooling/quiet operation.

And arctic silver __ (whatever number they're on now)
posted by ijoyner at 11:45 AM on June 19, 2008

My experience with Socket A lends me to offer this assessment:

1. Find a HSF with good airflow.
2. Avoid really heavy HSF's. Back in those days, I cracked a few CPU cores with heavy duty fans.

When I had an AMD 1400+ T-Bird (quite possibly the hottest AMD chip thermally from that era), I used a Global Win FOP38. While somewhat loud, it kept the chip very frosty.

Hope this helps!
posted by richter_x at 8:14 PM on June 19, 2008

Update: I bought Jedicus's second suggestion, which has not worked out. It came pre-glopped with way too much thermal compound. I thought, "maybe it is ok, why would the manufacturer waste money on too much glop? Besides, if it's too much I can just take it off and remove excess goop." I definitely observed the "blast pattern" on the existing caked compound, suggesting that it smoothed itself out. Then when I went to remove surplus goop after testing, I noticed that the screwdriver notch had bent, making it nearly impossible to remove. My average temp is now significantly higher than it was before. Since I can't remove the fan without getting close to what I think is the die's tolerance; it's stuck this way. A friend of mine who does repairs might be able to undo this mistake.

Lessons for life: don't buy socket A fans with the crappy screwdriver notch. Don't give manufacturer over-glopping a chance.

Real lesson for life: sometimes you shouldn't mess with something that's working.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:30 AM on July 6, 2008

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