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Ok, I've never really thought much about heatsinks, but now mine is crapping out and I'm looking around seeing these monster copper things, and people warning about compatibility and such.

So, I have an AMD 64 X2 4400+ right now, and I need a new heatsink. Any idea which is the best one for the money? I'd rather get something mid-range - not the cheapy ones they sell you with the chip, and not 100$ or involving water.

Also, this is (I think) an AM2 chip in an AM2+ socket, so I'm thinking about getting a Phenom II AM2+ chip in the future, so is there a good heatsink that will work now AND with the Phenom, or does it only depend on the mobo?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

The Artic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro is very well thought of, and covers you for both now the current and future processors. Best of all it won't break the bank ($28 on NewEgg)!

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thanks,a buddy of mine said this one is decent. – LoveMeSomeCode Sep 10 '09 at 22:05
hey, it looks like this thing comes with a thermal pad on the bottom. does it? and if so, should i use that or should i get some of that silver/diamond grease? – LoveMeSomeCode Sep 11 '09 at 16:00
Arctic Cooling usually use good paste, so I'd just leave it on if it was me. – BenA Sep 11 '09 at 20:47
well i went with the 64 Pro like you suggested, left the paste on. It's running ice cold now, idling in the 30s and gets to upper 40s under heavy load. Thanks for the advice! – LoveMeSomeCode Oct 13 '09 at 20:08
Great, glad to hear it :) – BenA Oct 13 '09 at 21:08

First, if you want to save a few bucks, depending on your current heatsink/fan design (some are combined and not seperated easily), you might be able to just replace the fan. You said it was dying, and I assume you meant the fan on the heatsink is dying. Got any pictures of information about your current setup?

Without actualy recommending an exact heatsink as there are many out there, here are some things to consider:

  • Price range
  • Make sure to use proper thermal paste application
  • Size of case. Make sure to check the dimentions of the heatsink and your case. (some heatsink and fans are really big)
  • Placement of cpu socket on motherboard. You need to remember how your motherboard is laid out. Some heatsinks and fans are meant to direct airflow a certain way and your case may not be designed for it. Some heatsinks are very large and may have fins or pipes that may run into RAM or other motherboard pieces.
  • Fan noise. This is one thing that people overlook sometimes. If you don't care, don't worry about it. If you do, make sure to pay attention to db levels of fans on heatsinks. If you want quiet and performance. Large heatsinks with large fans @ slow rpm's is the way to go.
  • Many of the heatsinks will be made for multiple sockets and come with different socket adapters, so just make sure it supports your socket type. (AM2+)

It would be helpful to know which motherboard you have also.

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+1 This is a pretty good list. – hanleyp Sep 9 '09 at 2:13

I pretty much find the best one is the one that comes with it. When you look up the price of a special or moded fan, you are better off just spending that extra on a better ventilated case or buying a couple of low noise case fans.

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I agree with the fact that the stock heatsinks/fans with retail cpu packages (OEM cpu's do not come with heatsink/fan) are sufficent. However, they can come with some noisy smaller fans sometimes and need different solutions. – – Troggy Sep 8 '09 at 20:12
It really depends on what you are doing. If you are overclocking you can really see the difference in a (good) aftermarket heatsink. For normal use though, the stock one is more than fine. There's a reason it comes stock, but it's definitely not the best. – MDMarra Sep 9 '09 at 2:21

Once you meet the thermal specifications required by your processor and you aren't overclocking, pretty much any of the AM2/AM2+ heatsinks ( link) will work. Some specifications (many are related) to keep in mind are [This list is similar to Troggy's, but I feel it is different enough to post from my point of view]:

  • 3-pin or 4-pin fan header. 4-pin fan headers are newer and have a separate PWM to control the fan, but your motherboard needs to support it.
  • Fan Control. Does your motherboard support fan control? If so, does it recommend any specific type of fan?
  • Fan Speed. Usually the faster the fan speed, the louder the fan. Large fans are slower and smaller fans are faster. Fan control above will adjust the fan speed to meet temperature thresholds.
  • Air Flow Direction. Which direction does the fan's air flow go? You want it to go over the hot spots on the board like the core regulator (look for the 3-5 inductors + bunch of capacitor cans typically lined up near the processor). Your motherboard may give guidance.
  • LFM. The higher the LFM, the better, typically.
  • Mechanical Clearance. Does the fan shape fit the motherboard component placement?
  • Thermal Compound. Many heatsinks today already have the thermal compound on the heatsink ready to be installed. But, if the one you select doesn't, then get some. Shin-Etsu is typically what I've seen specified (before it came on the heatsinks), but there are many products that are acceptable.

A "barebones" processor heatsink manufacturer that I have lots of experience with is Ajigo. Any of their "K8 Coolers" with AM2 designators will work. Also, a lot of heatsink fans from different manufacturers are actually made by Delta.

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You don't mention overclocking anywhere in your post. If you don't want to overclock the chip then the stock fan and heatsink will be perfectly fine.

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