~ cool screensaversBy Water Screensaver

Motherboard OEM Northbridge Fan Replacement



The northbridge chip cooling fan of the Asus A8n SLI Deluxe motherboard has always been problematic, noisy and prone to early failure. I had two fail in the first month of use in a new computer. Frustrated I replaced the motherboard with the Premium version with a passive cooling solution. Other than the fan problem the board was highly rated and performed well for me. Not wanting the board to go to waste and adding to my clutter I decided to build a decent computer for my kids. This is what I did to solve the fan problem.

The culprit. A noisy, early failure prone Asus OEM northbdge chip fan on the A8n SLI Deluxe motherboard. The only major drawback to an otherwise great board. The board must be taken out of the case, to snip the fan mount push pin tips off on the underside, to remove the fan unit.

Asus A8n Deluxe Northbridge Fan


The main concern with replacement fans and heat sink is size. In this case the footprint was fine and the mounting holes matched but the height was a concern. Most OEM solutions are designed low enough for the PCI-E video card to go over the top. For this Asus board as far as I can tell there were only two good options, this Enzo Tech SNB-R1 Rev A and the Swiftech MCX159-CU. The Swiftech came with a fan and had a slightly smaller footprint but cost quite a bit more. With the Enzo Tech plus a fan, I saved about $10.00 . The advantage with these units is that the fan can be replaced easily by unscrewing two screws instead of having to take the motherboard out from the case. It also appears that the two units can be used without the fan, with adequate case ventilation, the copper heat sink of both models being quite substantial.

The plastic heat sink mount slides on between the pins from the top.

Enzo  Tech  Copper Heatsink

Enzo Tech Heat Sink

Enzo Tech Heat Sink

The heat sink with its fan mount.

Enzo Tech Heat Sink with Fan Mount

The replacement 40 mm Scythe fan.

40 mm Scythe Fan

Heat Sink on Motherboard
Heat Sink on  Asus Motherboard

The PCI-E video card I used was the Chaintech Gefore 8600 GT 256 MB DDR3. I picked it because it's short (about 7") and cheap ($79.00 plus $30 rebate). Not a card for gaming enthusiasts but fine for most everyone else.
Chaintech Geforce 8600 gt Video Card

As you can see, the 8600gt at 7" just fits. The newer Ati 4670 should also fit and is a much better performer. Higher performance cards being longer and fatter will not fit with this heat sink fan. The Geforce 8800 and 9600 series are 8.5" - 9" long.

I've found that it's tricky to be cost/performance effective rebuilding old systems with the shadow of diminishing returns looming over the project with every new component. Savy buyers may find Ebay and Craigslist helpful.

I ended up paying more than I had wanted ($400+) even with the socket 939 Athlon 4000 cpu at $43 and Geforce 8600 GT $49.00 (after rebate) but I did salvage my 939 board and more importantly my kids are happy with it, listening to music, visiting myface, watching youtube or playing online games.

It's even possible for one more upgrade if I can find a used socket 939 dual core cpu like a Opteron 185 at a bargain price. I'd also modify the chipset cooler I have or get a low profile cooler so a card like a 8800gt would fit.

Heat Sink Video Card Layout
Motherboard Video Card Layout


Prices in May 2008 at Amazon and Newegg

Antec 4480 case + EarthWatt 380 watt power supply $58
AMD Athlon64 4000+ 2.4G 939 $43
Chaintech Geforce 8600 GT 256 MB DDR3 $49.00 (after rebate)
Arctic Cooling Alphine64 cpu fan $9.99
Corsair 2x1GB DDR400 memory module $68
Enzo Tech Heat Sink $16.50
Scythe 40 mm fan $3.99
Masscool 80 mm case fan $1.99
LG DVD Burner $26.99
Seagate 250 GB SATA2 hard drive $59.99
Windows XP Home OEM $79.99

Of course I already had the motherboard and I didn't include shipping (I always look for free shipping within my parameters).

Total $417.44


Almost all newer motherboards have passive chipset coolers but there are still a few replacement heat sink and fan coolers available. The main concerns are whether the mounting holes will match up to the ones on your motherboard and the price. It's possible to modify one to fit or fabricate a mounting system for a heat sink and stick a fan on it or have a case fan blowing air on the heat sink from the side. Frustrating for me was trying to get extra push pins, the little plastic securing devices. No one had any and was told nuts and bolts with rubber washers would work.

Enzotech Pure Copper Low Profile Heat Sink with Fan SLF-1
Multiple push pin locations for universal mounting on various board assembly. (hole to hole distance 54.6mm and 59m). Pure copper heat sink. Comes with fan and thermal compound.
Enzotech Pure Copper Low Profile Heat Sink with Fan





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