Please make my computer quieter
June 26, 2008 12:48 PM   Subscribe

How do I know what kind/size of fan/heatsink will fit in my computer?

I'm trying to make my computer run more quietly, and to that end I want to install a new cpu fan. However I am somewhat mystified by the vast range of choices available.

My processor is a Pentium 4 2.4 GHz, installed in an Asus P4P8X motherboard, the manual for which includes the phrase 'socket 478'. I don't really know what this means, although from looking at various fans on the internet it seems that this is important.

The fan/heatsink that I'm currently using is the one that came with the processor. The fan is 70mm, and due to the proximity of something that the motherboard manual is calling the 'north bridge' it doesn't seem like anything much larger will fit.

I don't use my computer for gaming or any other resource-intensive activity, mainly just web surfing, listening to music, watching dvds, and word processing. My current fan is keeping things cool enough (I think - at least I don't have any indication that it's not), I just want something that doesn't sound like a small jet engine next to my desk.

My questions are:
1. How do I know if a given fan/heatsink combo will fit on my motherboard?
2. Any specific recommendations?
posted by number9dream to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Take it in to a computer shop. With your limited techie skills there's a good chance that you'll break the cpu or drive a screwdriver through the motherboard if left to your own devices. Heatsink reinstallation is the brain surgery of computer assembly.
posted by bunnytricks at 12:56 PM on June 26, 2008

Knowing the socket and chip is all you need, but replacing heatsinks is actually pretty difficult and not for the tech faint of heart. It involves using an unsual amount of pressure and is a general pain in the ass. On top of it you need to smear a little thermal grease on there. Seconding having a shop do it. If you do it wrong you'll fry the chip and/or the motherboard.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:14 PM on June 26, 2008

Also the fan will come attached to the heatsink. Zalman sells fancy quiet fans. You should also make sure the other fans in your PC are quiet too.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:15 PM on June 26, 2008

A fan and heatsink unit will tell you if it's for a socket 478 board, and that's about all you need to know, generally, however pulling the old one off/putting the new one on can be a bit tricky (a does require some fierce screwdriver leverage) so, if not careful, you can easily damage the motherboard. Also, you'll either need some thermal goo or a thermal pad to put between the heatsink and the CPU, else you'll find your CPU overheating pretty quickly (fortunately Pentium chips shut down if they're overheating ... some of the AMD chips don't and end up burning themselves out).
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 1:19 PM on June 26, 2008

Another thing you can do to quiet down the fan is to oil it. If you detach the fan from the rest of the heatsink, on the opposite side in the center should be a small, circular plastic panel that can be pried off (usually underneath the manufacturer's sticker). A few drops of oil in there can help quiet down a fan quite a bit.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 1:22 PM on June 26, 2008

Let's assume that the installation itself is not a problem. Basically I'm trying to determine what I should purchase.
posted by number9dream at 1:24 PM on June 26, 2008

posted by damn dirty ape at 1:28 PM on June 26, 2008

Something like this model would work. Newegg lets you filter fans by socket size and then by price. The expensive ones tend to be quieter, but reviews help too and each listing has a decibel amount (volume) that will give you an idea of relative quietness.
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:30 PM on June 26, 2008

ape is right. You want one of the large circular "flower" coolers and Zalman makes good ones. The Zalman ones usually include a manual fan speed control you can install to slow the fan down to silent mode.

But you should heed the warnings too. These things are not fun to install.
posted by chairface at 2:00 PM on June 26, 2008

You could buy the heatsink that is compatible with your motherboard, but it still might not fit. The product itself should have some reference in the installation guide to how much clearance space around the socket is needed.

You'll want to find a reference to how much space is needed, then have a look at your motherboard. Some motherboards have the RAM just a little too close to physically attach these things.
posted by Tixylix at 4:46 PM on June 26, 2008

« Older Diesel woes, help us sort it out!   |   Sounds like Creed, smells like Creed, looks like... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.