What is the function of a heat sink in computer components?
The processor is very hot and may cause malfunction. The heat sink is used to dissipate the thermal energy generated by the loaded CPU and its dissipation in the air. For this purpose, efficient aluminium heat sinks are used, due to the high ability of this material to spontaneously exchange heat energy with air. Modern heat sinks are equipped with a fan that improves air exchange around the processor and significantly increases cooling efficiency. Thanks to the use of fans, it has become possible to significantly reduce the size of the heat sink. Until the mid-90s, the so-called passive cooling systems for processors, consisting of the heat sink itself. The development of technology and the increase in the efficiency of integrated circuits made it necessary to use active cooling systems.
Basic design of the heat sinks used in computer
Currently, the most commonly used solution is the active processor cooling. It may come in several versions, differing in solutions used to reduce the temperature of the processor and performance. The active heat sink is usually made of aluminium and its geometry is in the form of thin fins. The task of the heat sink is to absorb heat from the processor and exchange it with the environment. This process is supported by a fan which significantly improves the efficiency of air exchange around the heat sink. In the case of an active heat sink with heat pipes, the design is based on aluminium fins through which the so-called heat pipes, whose task is to collect heat energy from the processor and disperse it on the aluminium fins. The process of air exchange around is assisted by a fan. The size and speed of a fan translate into the airflow it can generate, and is a fundamental measure of the component's performance. Fan connector - typically a 3 or 4 pin plug that allows easy connection of the fan power supply. 3-pin plugs are used to control the fan speed by voltage, 4-pin - pulse method (PWM). A helpful component is also an insulating pad, which allows easy mounting of the heat sink in the processor socket. Standardized washers are used that allow the installation of new cooling on motherboards equipped with processors from different manufacturers. On the other hand, heat dissipation is also helped by thermal grease - it is applied to the contact surface of the processor with the heat sink. Responsible for optimal heat conduction between components. Water cooling systems are an extension of the active cooling system of the processor. They consist of a water radiator, a pump, an expansion tank and cables connecting these elements. The liquid dissipates heat and a fan or fans help cool the heatsink.
What should you consider when buying a heat sink?
Choosing a new efficient heat sink is a rather simple task. It requires determining the parameters that should be met by the new CPU cooler and selecting a component with the correct dimensions. It is worth checking parameters such as the size of the mounting socket and stands - before buying, it is worth making sure that the spacing of the heat sink mounting holes matches the processor socket. This can be checked in the technical specification of the new cooling. The dimensions of the heat sink are also important - it is better to choose a heat sink that will fit under the housing of the central unit. For this purpose, it is worth making sure that the overall dimensions of the new component allow for easy assembly. On the other hand, from the functional point of view, the fan efficiency is important, i.e. the airflow provided by the fan, which determines its efficiency and the cooling efficiency of the heat sink.