Hate Sink

A few moons ago, I acquired a Thermaltake PIPE101 heat sink, a sexy little skived-copper-fin-and-heat-pipe affair. Well, okay, sexy, but not exactly “little”. It has mounting holes for a 92-mm fan, which makes it a mite larger than the typical heatsink.

This was originally a selling point, as I am a student of the big-slow-fan school of quiet cooling, but it turns out that the motherboard of the Athlon XP machine I was planning to put it into places the processor socket near the very upper edge of the motherboard, where it practically abuts the power supply. The PIPE101 won’t fit there. Oops.

So I put it aside, thinking that since it could also be used as a Socket 939 heatsink, I’d have occasion to use it whenever I got around to building an Athlon 64 machine, something I knew I’d do eventually.

Or maybe not. Because, in order to do triple duty as a Socket A/Socket 478/Socket 939 heat sink, the PIPE101 eschews most of the benefits of the AMD-designed retention bracket in favor of its own screw-in metallic clip. This clip has two possible orientations, and it’s hard to tell from the indistinct pictures in Thermaltake’s documentation which one you’re supposed to use, but in a sense it doesn’t matter: they both would have required exerting an amount of pressure upon the whole assembly that, frankly, terrified me.

Screw that, I decided. I am not jepoardizing my $350 processor-plus-motherboard investment just to save my pride and a $30 heat sink. I wound up using the AMD heat sink instead; said sink seems reasonable, is designed to clip into the AMD-designed retention bracket, and uses an elegant lever-arm mechanism to ensure adequate tension without dangerously heroic effort.

Memo to self:

  • Think long and hard before buying anything from Thermaltake ever again. Thermalright and Arctic Cooling both make nice gear whose installation requirements seem considerably saner.
  • Try to buy a heat sink that is designed for your particular processor, rather than a jack-of-all-trades design, unless you’re sure that the latter is sufficiently well-engineered to work cleanly with your hardware.
  • Check the fit on any prospective heat sink before you spend the better part of an hour lapping it. Idiot.

Memo to would-be vendors of aftermarket coolers:

  • With Socket 478 and Socket 939, Intel and AMD both went to the trouble of designing retention brackets that could realistically support the kind of large, heavy heat sinks needed to dispose of the thermal waste their processors produced. These brackets, while differing from one another, were both created with thought and care, and, when properly used, allow the installation of heat sinks without requring excessive force or pressure.

    Use them, you wankers. The next time I open a heat-sink package and find some bullshit little stamped-sheet-metal “adapter” that I have to screw into some part of my motherboard before I can get down to business, I’m going to hurt someone. That goes double if I have to remove part of the existing mounting hardware first.

Uh, anybody want to buy a barely-used heat sink? It’s been lapped and everything, and should work very nicely on any Socket A motherboard with enough room. Act now, and I’ll even throw in a 92-mm fan for free.

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