Sunday, 4 April 2010

HAL9000: An addendum.

Just a quick little note with regards to the solution to problem I've been having. I have an MSI 770-C45 motherboard in my main pc and it's a fantastic bit of kit. But one of the things that has always annoyed me is that it, like most other AM3 boards, only allows the far two memory slots because the near two are blocked by any kind of third-party cooler. This was especially annoying for me as I have Corsair Dominator memory which stands a full 50mm proud of the DIMM sockets.

I found the Zalman Flex cooler which is around as deep (front to back) as the cpu itself, measuring only 74mm. For around £30 you get just the cooler, but even an awesome 120mm PWM (I chose the Sharkoon Silent Eagle SE as I already have 2 in my pc) is around £10-15. Any 120mm will do. What attracted me to the Zalman was that, unlike any other high-end cooler I could find, it allows but doesn't require, a fan on either the front, back, or both.

Zalman recommend that if you're only using 1 fan it should go on the front, but I thought I'd try my luck mounting just a fan on the back pulling air through the heatsink. This means that there is no overhang on the memory side allowing you to use any memory in any of the sockets. There are a couple of reviews out there already so I'll spare you installation (painless) and the noise (depends on fan) issues but I will share my results using only one fan in the 'wrong' place because I can't find anyone else doing it.

 Mounted Zalman and Sharkoon with the 
standard Antec fans in the back and roof.

My case is an Antec 300 with 2 Sharkoon Silent Eagles SE in the front two fan spaces, both of these are set to 'ridiculously slow' airflow using the blue (4V??) cable. There are also the standard Antec Tricools in the back (120mm) and top (140mm) both set to slow. Processor is a stock speed AMD Phenom 955 and there is that third Sharkoon fan on the back of the heatsink pulling air through the fins and exhausting out to the rear Tricool. Nothing else in the case puts out much heat, there is a passive 9500GT, an SSD and a Green Drive. Basically, my PC likely creates less heat than yours, bear this in mind.

Having said that, ambient room temp is currently 21C. The cpu is idling at 34C and a 100% load stress test on all four cores for an hour leveled out at 54C, I did see 55C for few seconds in the middle too. Considering how quiet it is, and that it isn't really set up properly, I think a delta T of 13C (idle) and 34C (load) isn't that bad. These figures put it a degree or two better than the Titan Fenrir at idle (not that I've ever used one, I'm nicking those bit-tech's review on the overclocked AM2 cpu) and the Fenrir blocks half the memory sockets.

Not a wonderfully in-depth review but I thought a few people must be in the same boat as me and I thought I'd share my experiences and a very successful experiment, this is an awesome piece of hardware, even when used incorrectly! I think a low-profile fan might fit on the front if anyone is interested.

As a result, guess who now has 8GB of RAM? :D

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