The Prometeia Cooling System.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Introduction

Overclocking enthusiasts have a number of tools at their disposal through which to practice their chosen art without overheating their CPUs.

In fact, even user's for whom Overclocking isn't a consideration often find such cooling systems to have compelling advantages over the stock heatsink and fan units that come with most processors.

Proper cooling not only improves overall system stability, but also long term reliability; keeping components, such as microprocessor's, from suffering undue stress due to excessive heating can often improve their life spans.

Among the types of cooling technologies we have available to us today, we can include the following:



Passive cooling

As its name indicates, this solution relies on passively radiating heat away from the CPU with the help of a heatsink.

While passive cooling was enough to prevent overheating back in the days of the original Intel Pentium, it proved insufficient by the time the Pentium 133MHz hit the scene.

   


Forced air cooling

This cooling method essentially consists of mounting a fan on top of a heatsink, which is in turn mounted on top of the CPU, with the goal of circulating large amounts of air around the heatsink to carry heat away faster.

While ingenious in its own right, this solution also benefits from being inexpensive to implement, and is thus accessible to everyone.

That said, even forced air cooling is beginning to show signs of obsolescence.

In effect, the size of the fan involved is becoming a more and more important concern as CPUs become more powerful. Large fans can cause many headaches for users, simply because they are not always easy, or possible to install in all motherboards. The larger the fan, the greater the chance there won't be enough free space to fit it in.

Another problem is noise. While CPU fans are still relatively small, the speed at which they rotate their blades is getting faster and faster, resulting in a corresponding increase in the amount of noise they generate. Already, some heavy-duty CPU fans are so noisy as to make that working with the PC in the same room becomes distracting. One can only imagine the headaches -- real and metaphorical -- that can be had by a vacuum sweeper that spins over 20 000 rotation per minute, and generates enough pressure to suck in large amounts of dust.

Dust you say? Yes, I mean dust, and -- indeed -- it is a very unwelcome inhabitant on any heatsink, since it forms a layer of insulation, and thus reduces the efficiency with which the metal contraption can dispose of heat. And, of course, the faster the fan, the more dust, as well as air, is circulated towards the device. Certain users who have gone as far as adding additional fans to their computer casings to increase air circulation have noted that one unwelcome side-effect has been a build-up of an entire layer of dust inside of their computers as a result.

Next: Convection and Phase change coolers.

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