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Heat and Cooling Problems

Heat can be a problem in any high-performance system. The higher-speed processors consume more power and therefore generate more heat. The processor is usually the single most power-hungry chip in a system, and in most situations, the fan inside your computer case is incapable of handling the load without some help.

To ensure a constant flow of air and more consistent performance, most processors include some form of heatsink, which is designed to draw heat away from the processor. Additionally, most heatsinks incorporate fans so they don't have to rely on the airflow within the system. Heatsinks with fans are referred to as active heatsinks (see Figure 3.34). Active heatsinks have a power connection. Older ones often used a spare disk drive power connector, but most recent heatsinks plug in to dedicated heatsink power connections found on the newer motherboards. Heatsink power connections also provide a connection used to monitor fan performance through the BIOS Hardware Monitor or PC Health screen. Fan performance can also be displayed within the operating system by using a monitoring program.


Figure 3.34 Active heatsink suitable for a Pentium 4 processor using Socket 478.

Processor cooling, including heatsinks, is covered in detail in Chapter 21.

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