Many computer motherboards still cool their chipsets with a standard aluminum heatsink and a small fan. While these may work fine at first, the fans tend to break down or become noisy, or just aren’t sufficient when overclocking. Motherboard chipsets are running hot, especially since more northbridge chipsets are taking on additional tasks like audio and video processing. There are several third party chipset coolers, all with varying degrees of pros and cons. Some are just as bad as the OEM heatsinks, while others offer extreme cooling while remaining virtually or completely silent.
Noctua is aiming to deliver high quality computer products and proudly proclaim their products are “Designed in Austria”. Their answer to the chipset cooling problem is the Noctua NC-U6 chipset cooler, which is a high-rising copper and aluminum heatsink with heatpipe technology that looks rather impressive.
How do heatpipes work?
A heat pipe is a heat transfer mechanism that can transport large quantities of heat with a very small difference in temperature between the hot and cold interfaces.
Heat pipes use evaporation and condensation to move heat quickly from one place to another. A typical heat pipe is a sealed tube containing a liquid and a wick. The wick extends from one end of the tube to the other and is made of a material that attracts the liquid–the liquid “wets” the wick. The liquid is called the “working fluid” and is chosen so that it tends to be a liquid the temperature of the colder end of the pipe and tends to be a gas at the temperature of the hotter end of the pipe. Air is removed from the pipe so the only gas it contains is the gaseous form of the working fluid.
The pipe functions by evaporating the liquid working fluid into gas at its hotter end and allowing that gaseous working fluid to condense back into a liquid at its colder end. Since it takes thermal energy to convert a liquid to a gas, heat is absorbed at the hotter end. And because a gas gives up thermal energy when it converts from a gas to a liquid, heat is released at the colder end.
You can read more about how heatpipes work (including how they are constructed) from this link.
These specifications are taken directly from the Noctua website. The NC-U6 measures 3.4″ high by 2.75″ wide and is 0.93″ thick and has a 1.3″ square base. It has a total combined surface area of 77.5 square inches and weighs in at 4.6 onces (rather beefy for a chipset heatsink). Since this cooler has flexible mounting hardware and a robust six-year warranty, it’s sure to last through several upgrades.