Cooling is necessary because high temperatures damage semiconductor components and reduce their speed. This is why most CPUs come with their own integrated fan for cooling.
The type of CPU cooler you use depends on the size of your case and the layout of your motherboard. A large cooler may require a custom retaining bracket for stability.
The fan is a component in the computer that helps circulate air throughout the case and blow hot air out. Computer fans come in many sizes, from the small blower fans used to cool case components to the larger centrifugal or squirrel cage fans found on some high-powered graphics cards.
The CPU’s heatplate has a limited surface area on which thermal transfer can occur; the fan pulls air across this plate, cooling the processor. The fan’s base and heatpipes are often made of copper, which has excellent thermal conductivity.
Generally, the BIOS controls the CPU’s fans via the CPU_FAN header (with a fan splitter or hub if you want to plug more than two fans into this header). The system and power supply fans can also be connected to this header, but they do not throttle depending on the CPU temperature.
Heat sinks are small metal components that absorb and disperse heat from adjacent or underlying electronic components. They are found in most modern-day computers, and are primarily responsible for cooling CPUs (central processing units) and GPUs (graphics processing units).
A heat sink’s effectiveness is directly dependent on its thermal conductivity. Copper and aluminum are the most common materials used to manufacture heat sinks. However, natural graphite composite material is gaining popularity due to its high-efficiency and cost effectiveness.
When installing a heat sink on a PC processor, it’s important to choose the right size. This is determined by a factor known as TDP (thermal dissipation power). While some smaller devices can be passively cooled, higher-power processors require active cooling to prevent overheating. Using a thermal paste between the processor and heat sink helps maximize contact and facilitates more efficient heat conduction. A fan attached over the heat sink helps circulate air, further reducing the processor’s temperature.
Thermal paste is the substance applied between a processor and its heat sink. It minimizes microscopic gaps & irregularities between the two surfaces, allowing for better transfer of heat to the cooler & dispersal. This is a crucial component in CPU cooling as too much heat can destroy the chip.
Various manufacturers offer thermal pastes in different price & performance points. Choosing the right one for your needs requires some research & knowledge. Some even come with a small shovel-like tool called an applicator to make the process easier.
Noctua is a well known name when it comes to system fans & air coolers but they also produce excellent thermal compounds. Their NT-H2 is the latest offering and improves upon its predecessor NT-H1 with an increased thermal conductivity. It is safe to use as it is not electrically conductive and it spreads well enough for the applicator included with the package. It is recommended to apply a thin layer – too much reduces the efficacy and could damage the IHS.
A thermal pad is a type of thermal interface material (TIM) that transfers heat from the CPU to the heat sink. It is a solid mat made of thermally conductive materials such as silicone, acrylic, or graphite. They are usually thicker than thermal paste. A thermal pad can easily conform to a surface, filling microscopic air voids and reducing the thermal resistance of the assembly.
The best thermal pads have a high compressive modulus, meaning that they can deform to the surface texture while still maintaining their structural integrity. They also have high thermal conductivity to enhance heat transfer.
However, they tend to degrade over time and may require replacement. Moreover, they can create new gaps between the CPU and the heatsink as the operating temperature changes. Therefore, it is important to choose the right thermal pad for your PC. A high-quality silver thermal pad like COOL-SILVER PAD has a measurable performance advantage in dropping the semiconductor junction temperature of the CPU, and it will not separate, run, or migrate.