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Microcool Northpole Chipset Cooling Kit

Page: 1/1
Manufacturer: Microcool
Product Name: Northpole Chipset Cooling Kit
Review Date: 05.05.04
Reviewer: Tony

Thanks to

For Providing Us With This FINE Product to Review

Cooling is always an issue with high-performance computing, especially when you?re overclocking. For those of us that overclock our computers, the stock northbridge cooler is not adequate. Overclocked computers produce more heat, so vital parts on the motherboard need some extra cooling to keep everything running well. Raising the Front Side Bus speed usually means scorching hot motherboard chipsets, which in turn can result in a system bottleneck. Passive cooling where there was so previous cooling, and active cooling where passive heatsinks once were, will help to lower temperatures significantly. Microcool, an Italian company, has produced a new northbridge cooler along with passive southbridge, MOSFET, and PLL heatsinks. Today, TwistedMods we will be looking at the Microcool Northpole Chipset Cooling Kit. We?ll look for quality, performance, and the price vs. performance aspect.

The kit comes in a compact, black and white cardboard box with the company's name, Microcool, written across the top. Once opened, I found everything was very tightly and neatly packed, with no signs of damage from shipping. Included in the box is: a user?s manual, the northbridge cooler, thermal paste and mounting bolts, and several other small heatsinks for cooling the MOSFET (Metal-Oxide Semiconductor Filed-Effect Transistor) and PLL (Phase-Locked Loop) chips. For those who don?t like to read instructions, a quick-install guide composed of several easy to follow pictures is included in the instruction manual. It?s obvious that Microcool has confidence in their product because it is backed by an impressive three year warrantee.


The cooler itself feels solid and highly constructed. The heatsink is solid copper enclosed with the fan by a black anodized aluminum casing. It can be attached to any motherboard with mounting holes for the cooler. The wide slots and ability to rotate make the brackets fit every mounting position available. The total weight of the cooler is 195 grams and its dimensions are 46x43x51mm.


Aside from a small smudge the bottom of the cooler is fairly smooth, but there is definite room for improvement. We noticed that machining marks are still visible on the bottom, so lapping the heatsink would provide an ideal surface for heat transfer. Once the four screws are removed the shroud can be pulled off, exposing the bottom of the fan which shows its specifications. The fan is a 40mm 12VDC Sunon with 10.8 CFM at it?s top speed of 8500 rpm. Running at 12v it is quite loud at 27.5 dBA, but when the voltage is lowered it sounds just like a normal 80mm fan.


The northbridge heatsink is solid copper. For better cooling, it uses a 5mm think base along with skiving to create 27 thin copper fins. The southbridge and other small heatsinks for MOSFET and PLL chips are all black anodized aluminum with thermal tape pre applied on the base. The southbridge heatsink is rather large for the low amount of heat it creates. Making it smaller definitely would have saved space and weight from the computer, but that?s just being picky. MOSFET and PLL stands for Metal-Oxide Semiconductor Filed-Effect Transistor and Phase-Locked Loop. MOSFET chips regulate the power which is provided to the motherboard and is usually one of the hottest spots on a motherboard. They usually do not come with any type of cooling from the factory so anything is helpful especially when overclocking.


Installation was not very difficult. First the stock northbridge cooler must be removed. If the cooler is held with clips the motherboard will need to be removed. Next, install the new standoffs with washers against the motherboard. The edges of the washers had to be clipped to fit because the mounting holes were so close to the northbridge. After that, simply clean both surfaces and apply the thermal compound. To complete the installation, I set the cooler on the northbridge and evenly tightened down the mounting screws. With the springs on the screws they were almost too small to be able to attach to the standoffs. It was a bit tricky to get the screws attached. Once installed, the Microcool Northpole looks right at home on the ASUS A7N8X Deluxe motherboard. I did eventually connect the fan to a manual fan controller because at 12v it is very audible above all the other fans in the case. With the help of the controller I ran the fan at 7v to keep noise down and it blended in with the other fan noises.


Attaching the other small heatsinks was a piece of cake. Just peel off the protective backing and stick the heatsink to the chip and viola. I attached them to the southbridge, MOSFETS, PLL chips, and other various spots on the motherboard that were running hot. The northbridge temperature dropped about 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The stock cooler was running around 104 degrees while the Northpole keeps it at a cool 93 degrees. This is a definite improvement from the stock cooling. Although it is not as cool or quiet as watercooling, this heatsink does an excellent job of keeping the northbridge cool.

The Northpole Chipset Cooling Kit from Microcool is very innovative, new product in the cooling enthusiast market. The construction and materials are all top-notch quality, the manual is easy to follow, and installation is a breeze. Overall the Microcool Northpole Chipset Cooling Kit is a very good investment for anyone who wants to keep their system running at cool temperatures if overclocking or not. The quality is great, and it performs very well. At $29.95 I would recommend this to anyone looking to cool their system without spending large amounts of money on a watercooling setup for their chipsets.

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