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How can I find out what CPU heatsink and fan will work for my system?

If a system is shutting down after being used extensively for gaming or other intensive activities, I would assume it is over heating. How can I find the proper type of heat sink and fan for my system?

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Step 1: Find CPU on manufacturer's website. Step 2: Read what socket the CPU is. Step 3: Find a heatsink compatible with the socket number you found. I could do the work and use the Google machine for you, but you seem like you're more than capable of that. Before you go further, however, I would make sure your temperatures really are the problem (just get a program to log your temperatures to a file, and when your PC crashes again, look at the log...). –  Breakthrough May 22 '12 at 19:08
    
Step ZERO: clean out the dust from the computer case, heatsink(s), fans, and power supply. Evaluate the air circulation and intake versus extraction within the PC case. Operate the PC in an open area with good air circulation. Then reevaluate if you need a new CPU heatsink/fan. Your gaming probably is causing an overheating issue, but replacing the CPU HSF is only one possible solution, and might not solve the problem(s) at all. IOW you're asking the wrong question for the root problem. –  sawdust May 22 '12 at 22:22
    
This question is on the brink of being closed for being a shopping recommendation, but a good edit could actually make it a very valuable community-faq post. –  nhinkle Jul 10 '12 at 20:56

3 Answers 3

Yeah... good advice. Know your socket. At least it sounds like good advice, until you realize there like a gazillion coolers out there, all that will work on your socket. Hell, without trying to shop FOR you, I can tell you that THIS is your processor, and it is socket LGA775. Heck, you could use the after market cooler I'm using with my AMD Phenom II x6 T1100... since it is a great cooler, and it works with a multitude of sockets. But, then I'm recommending a product, and that is approaching the whole shopping prohibition.

You are afraid that your computer is shutting down due to overheating. Well, first of all, the stock heat sink and fan that comes with a processor when you buy the retail package is nothing to get psyched about, but it is more than adequate to cool the CPU.

So, as has kind of been pointed out to you already, you need to actually examine what your temperatures are. Which means your question should really be...

How do I find out if I need a new heat sink?

First, you start with a program like Speedfan. You see what your temperatures are currently at. Then, if you are actually overheating, you take a close look at your existing heat sink and how it is mounted. For all you know, it might not be seated properly on the processor. There might not be an even, thin layer of thermal paste between the processor and the heat sink. The fan might not be spinning properly, or mounted on the heat sink right. There might even be a ton of dust within the heat sink that is keeping the air from flowing through it.

So, more important than posting the specs for your video card, you should be posting your current temps. Pics of your heat sink. Pics of what your processor looks like immediately after pulling your heat sink off.

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Thanks for the tips everyone. I see people are generally unfriendly to those of us who are more ignorant when it comes to computers. –  Mike Peshka May 22 '12 at 20:44
    
It's not so much a matter of being unfriendly. I just don't want my answer removed if I recommend a product for you. I just really believe you need to examine your existing setup first. You may not need to spend any money on a new heatsink. Your issue could simply be that your current heatsink isn't sitting on your processor correctly. –  Bon Gart May 23 '12 at 2:54

First, get the model of your CPU or your motherboard.

For a CPU model, we will check with AMD or Intel, and search for the CPU.

For a Motherboard model, we will check with the various manufacturer's web sites. Some are listed below for reference:

  1. Intel
  2. Asus
  3. MSI
  4. ASRock
  5. Gigabyte

There may be more, but these are the top 5 I have seen lately. Note that OEM brands (i.e. HP, Dell, etc) usually use other company's motherboards, and this should not affect that choice.

Once we know the model of either or, we can find the socket type for that combination. On the specifications page or PDF for that CPU or motherboard, look for the socket type. For modern AMD sockets, it will be in the form of AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+ or even FM1. For Intels, the modern socket types include LGA775, LGA1156, LGA1155, LGA1366 and LGA2011. Write down this number and take it to the computer shop or site of your choice.

Most 3rd party brand heat sinks support multiple socket types. Check with the product to see if it includes your socket type before you purchase it. As well, many of them will require the motherboards to be removed before installing an aftermarket heat sink/fan assembly. As @MichaelHampton pointed out in the comments though, some cases will allow access under the CPU for this exact reason. Even if it does, you can do whatever is easier to get the backplate in properly

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Whether the motherboard needs to be removed mainly depends on the case design. Some cases allow access to the underside of the motherboard for mounting and unmounting the heatsink, but if in doubt, it's perfectly fine to remove the motherboard anyway. –  Michael Hampton Jul 10 '12 at 21:40
    
@MichaelHampton Good call, I'll edit –  Canadian Luke Jul 10 '12 at 21:41

Welcome to Superuser, Mike. Per the FAQ this is not a place for purchasing recommendations.

But what I can tell you is you need to know is what type of socket the processor uses. Per Intel, your processor is a socket 775. Heatsinks and fans are are very common for this socket style.

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