Heatsink Guide: Don’t Get the Wrong Heatsink

When deciding how to choose a heatsink, one thing you will notice is that there are many top heatsinks to choose from and new heatsinks being developed every day. You can read customer reviews, perform a heatsink comparison on different models and see how different heatsinks will work with your computer case fans. Of course, if you have questions about the compatibility of things like computers, CPU fans and heatsinks, the following information should help provide you with answers about how to choose a heatsink. It can help you be confident that you will select a model that's compatible with all of your computer components which will help the heatsink function to keep your computer at the right temperature. Ultimately, the best heatsink is one that gets you the results you need. Consider the following points to help you decide how to choose a heatsink.

>> Do you want an active or passive heatsink?

Consider whether to choose an active or passive heatsink function when learning how to choose heatsinks. Active heatsinks have moving parts that use power to remove heat from the computer. They usually have a fan that you can hear moving in your device and come installed on most computers. Passive heatsinks, on the other hand, have aluminum fins that help remove heat from the machine with convection. If you choose to install a passive heatsink, make sure the computer will be positioned in such a way that the heatsink function can work properly, which is to say that enough air is being exchanged between the heatsink and the space outside the computer. Any type of heatsink will protect your computer and computer accessories, and multiple types of heatsinks can be combined to cool one computer. Knowing the difference between active and passive heatsinks will help you figure out how to choose a heatsink that is best for you.
>> What is the heatsink going to be used for?
One thing to consider when mulling over how to buy heatsinks is the reason for which you're purchasing the equipment. There are many types of heatsinks that serve different purposes. Therefore, a thorough heatsink comparison can help you figure out which is the best heatsink for your computer.

For example, if you're planning to rebuild a CPU, determine what the goal of the project is. If the computer will be used for low-intensity activities like word processing and checking email, you may be able to use a passive heatsink. If you want to do activities that require more power, like streaming videos or editing photos, combine an active and a passive heatsink. For the most CPU and GPU-intense activities, like gaming, designing electronics and video editing, look for a heatsink that uses advanced cooling technology. Determining the specific activity for which you'll be buying the heatsink will allow you to select the best heatsink for you.

>> What types of advanced heatsink technology are available?

The best heatsink function includes heat pipe technology, wherein a pipe is filled with a liquid that absorbs heat as it runs through the heatsink. This removes heat and turns the liquid to gas in the process. When the gas is moved to the other side of the heatsink, it is cooled and returns to its liquid state. At that point, it can flow back to remove more heat from the computer. A similar technology is water-cooling technology. For this process, coolant runs though tubes in the computer, picks up heat and returns to be cooled again. One benefit of water-cooling is that it can be applied to every part of a machine, not just the heatsink. The tubes or pipes can be routed around hotspots like the GPU. Look into how to choose heatsinks that work with water-cooling setups to provide the best possible protection to all your computer components.

>> Is the heatsink compatible with your computer?

Knowing how to choose heatsinks requires that you know the size of the heatsink and the size of your computer. Laptop heatsinks, for example, are much smaller than desktop computer heatsinks. If you're looking for a heatsink for a full tower case, you may need a larger type of heatsink than if you're using a mid tower case. Check the size of the heatsink ports on your laptop or in your computer tower and look at the heatsink size listed in its specifications to determine whether it's the right part for your computer.

The type of processor you use, too, must be considered when purchasing even top-rated heatsinks. When shopping, the best heatsink to buy is one that is rated for specific processor types. Each top heatsink is able to provide adequate cooling for a system using that processor. Perform a heatsink comparison to ensure that the heatsink will work with your CPU. Each type of heatsink cools more or less, depending on the power output of the processor.

>> Comparison of heatsink features

Some types of heatsinks are more durable than others, so sometimes the best heatsink choice comes down to its ability to endure constant use. Look for ones made from high-quality metal with a thermal resistance that is lower than the thermal resistance needed by your computer processor. As long as the thermal resistance is lower, it will help remove heat from your machine. The lower the thermal resistance in relation to that of the processor, the more durable the heatsink will be for your purposes. Active heatsinks are less durable than passive heatsinks, because they contain moving parts which can be damaged, but they can also provide better cooling and more protection for your computer.
Another consideration when deciding how to choose a heatsink is the sound the heatsinks produce. Passive heatsinks are completely quiet, while active heatsinks can create audible noise. Ultimately, higher-powered CPUs and GPUs require active cooling to stay in top form. Computers with low-power processors used in low-heat environments may be able to function silently with only a passive heatsink.

A consideration of these features and uses will help you perform a reliable heatsink comparison and will help you decide on the best heatsink for your needs.

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