Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Stock Intel CPU Cooler Mod

With this newer version of the HTPC, size is key.

The CPU cooler and power supply are the main areas of improvement.

From what I can see on the web, typically the lowest profile CPU cooler out there is around 45mm high. See Frostytech for details. The stock Intel CPU heatsink is quite good, at around 53mm in height. The thing with the stock Intel heatsink is the size of the fan - it takes up around 25mm of the overall height - which seems a bit of a waste when space is tight.


Which got me thinking...
Scythe has nice thin fans - around 12 mm height. If I chopped off the fan from the stock Intel CPU cooler (around 30 mm height), attached a Scythe fan (12 mm), I would have a respectable 42mm solution.
Well so the theory goes...

Firstly I attacked the stock CPU cooler with a hacksaw. Sawed off easily and cleanly - the black plastic is strong, but easy to saw.

After removing the fan however, the rigidity of the remaining cage was a little less than before... hmmm... maybe not a problem, but will have to see later.
Ideally if the attaching of the new fan could help with the rigidity, that would be good.

A test lay of the fan gives me some confidence that the 42mm overall is achievable - just need to work out a simple way of attaching the fan to the cooler cage... and how to position it to not interfere with other things on the motherboard, and the cooler attaching clips...

(Note that fan in the photos is an old broken Scythe PWM version of the 12 mm fan - will use a non PWM fan for the actual board. Unfortunately Scythe dont actually sell a stand-alone 12mm PWM fan :-( )

Method 1 for attatching was to create some clips out of metal - the idea would be to bolt them onto the fan through the normal mounting holes. There were four clips, and they were bent so that they would help hold the fan tightly, and rigidly against the round 4 legged bit holding the heat sink.

With the clips in place, the fan should sit nicely on top, with the little hooks just clearing the heatsink when in place.

While this attachment method would have worked OK - I didnt like the idea that the fan would not be squarely aligned with the four legs - it was twisted say 30 odd degrees off square. So I went back to thinking of another method...

All I could come up with was to use some elastic band loops - two of them - to hook the fan onto the top of the clips holding the framework to the motherboard. i.e.

Note that the image here is shown with one elastic loop, plus one of wire - just for testing. Generally this gives an OK method of attaching...
It seems to be firm enough, it doesnt put much sideways pressure on the legs, and it doesnt have a huge dependency on the overall shape of the Intel heatsink contraption - there seems to be variability between different versions of the stock heatsink.

On to the attaching to the board.
The clips had no problem attaching to the motherboard - and there didnt seem to be much impact on the rigidity of the bracket when the heatsink was inserted.

So now with two nicely measured elastic loops - time to attach.

And when measured - it comes out at around 43mm in height !!

Post Script...

All this work is great in that it gets the cooler down to around 43 mm in height. However when you then consider that the actual external HTPC case needs to be around 1cm away from the top of the fan - to give a bit of room for the air to flow in...  then the effective height of this cooler arrangement is around 53mm.
Going back to the original Intel cooler - the overall height is around 53mm - the gap between the top of their fan and the 53mm high point is around 10mm...
Nett effect - same as basically what I have ended up with :-)

So maybe - best option is to just go with the stock Intel cooler...
However I do still like the Scythe for some strange reason :-)


  1. Wow nice mod! Gotta make it fit somehow... kek

  2. Wow nice mod! Gotta make it fit somehow... kek