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  • Microcool NorthPole Northbridge Cooler Review
  • Microcool NorthPole Northbridge Cooler Review



    Northbridge coolers can vary depending on the chipset and motherboard configuration though for the most part this practice follows the "targeted design" of the product. For instance nForce2 Northbridges coolers aimed at the overclocker will often be oversized or come with a small fan to help ensure overclockability and increase stability. This is the desired outcome though there are cases when the abilities of the hardware far exceed the cooling capacity.
    The Microcool NorthPole cooler comes with everything needed to install the cooler on most modern VIA or nVidia enabled motherboards. The cooler includes mounting hardware; thermal paste and 8 medium-sized passive heatsinks dubbed "ChipSinks". The ChipSinks come in 3 basic sizes with the largest being perfect for a Southbridge chip. All of the coolers are anodized black and come with thermal tape preinstalled. Just pull the tab and stick.
    The cooler stands taller than it is wide with the mounting brackets located at the top. The base is machined flat and comes with a slight polish.
    Many high-end heatsinsks are created using a skiving process to create the fins. This method is very affordable and is one of the best ways to ensure a good heat path between the heatsink base and cooling fins. The NorthPole cooler is built using this process and appears to have very good proportions between base thickness and fin count.
    As with most heatsinks a cooling fan helps to increase the efficency. The Northpole comes with a Sunon 40x40x20mm 10.8cfm fan that spins around 8200rpm. The fan isn't terribly loud by cooling fan standards (27.5db) but is enough to cause a minor annoyance if you are watercooling.
    One of the special things about this chipset cooler is the "hook adaptor kit" designed for mounting the NorthPole cooler on Springdale and Canterwood motherboards. The installation process is fairly simple and much more humane than using zipties or spring-loaded aluminum hooks. wink smile The first step is to remove the stock Northbridge cooler and clean away any leftover thermal pad material. This stuff is fairly difficult to remove though I've found that a cotton swab and some rubbing alcohol work just fine.
    Next the hook adaptor is installed, basically the adaptor fits over the loop with the middle screw holding it in place.
    The hook adaptor kit comes with 4 anti-crush pads to help protect the Northbridge core. Personally I would have rather the kit include a shim for a couple of reasons. Anti-crush pads are not very stable and considering the height of the NorthPole cooler this could cause problems during transit. Also once installed the anti-crush pads cannot be easily removed and reused making it more difficult to move the NorthPole cooler from machine to machine.
    The final step is to install the mounting offsets and thread the bolt into the hook adaptor. There is a small spring that helps to regulate pressure though appeared to be rather weak.