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Beginners Guides: Assembling Your Own PC
Beginners Guides: Assembling Your Own PC - PCSTATS
Assembling your own PC is not hard. Modern computer systems are designed to be easy to fit together, and they are.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Jul 28 2007   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Attaching the Heatsink

Step 4: Installing the heat sink and cooling fan (socket 478)

Cute little guy, ain't it? German Engineering, so I'm told... Make sure the 2 levers on the top of the heat sink are in their default unlocked position. Since Intel processors come with a heatsink, installation is pretty straight forward. Even things like thermal interface materials (pastes, pads, or goo's) are already pre-applied for you.


Lower the heat sink gently into the plastic frame around the processor so that the heatsink metal sits evenly on all sides. Push down on the plastic top of the heatsink until the hooks on each side lock into the heatsink retention mechanism frame on the motherboard. This will require some force. Holding one side of the heat sink securely, pull the lever on the other side over until it locks. Again, this will require some force.

PCSTATSRepeat the procedure for the other lever. Consult your motherboard manual for the locations of the three-pin fan headers. There should be one close to the CPU socket. Plug the fan power cord into that header.

Don't choose a fan header at random, make sure the heatsinks' fan is being powered by the correct header for this purpose. If you get the wrong one, the is a chance the fan may shut off when the computer is in suspended mode - meaning the processor will overheat.

There are many different types of after-market heatsinks for both the Intel Pentium 4 and AMD Athlon processors. We're only covering the installation of the stock Intel heatsink, but the basic principle for installing after-market coolers is the same. Some heatsinks may come with a small package of white silicon-based thermal compound which needs to be applied before the heatsink is installed. If this is the case, only use a very small amount, and spread it over the processor's core only. The thermal compound is only used as an interface between the bottom of the heatsink, and the portion of the processor which it comes in contact with.

Some thermal compounds are made with conductive metals to achieve better thermal conductivity between the heatsink and processor. If you decide to try these types of Thermal Interface Materials (TIM) out, be sure you clean the surface of the processor and base of the heatsink with a soft cloth and Methyl alcohol gently before applying a small amount of the material. Silver-based TIMs are conductive, so do not get them on any electrical components!

Installing LGA 775 (socket 775) heatsinks

Intel’s new heatsink design for the LGA 775 socket is actually less cumbersome and easier to install than the previous designs. In place of the somewhat complex locking mechanism is a simple set of four holes which correspond to four pillar-like fasteners mounted around the body of the heatsink.

Simply lower the heatsink down onto the processor and line each of the fasteners up with the corresponding hole in the motherboard. A hard press on the top of each fastener, four satisfying clicks, and the heatsink is mounted. Attach the 4-pin power cable to the CPU fan header and you are ready to go.

Installing a ‘socket A’ AMD heatsink, or a socket 362/ ocket 7 processor heatsink

The above listed socket types all use essentially the same heatsink fastening mechanism, differing only in the relative fragility of the processors involved. A word to the wise… AMD Athlon, Duron and Athlon XP chips are quite fragile and easily damaged by clumsy heatsink installation. Do yourself a favour and be careful. Any computer shop is going to spot a processor that has been mangled by a careless install and will refuse you warranty service.

These instructions cover the AMD Athlon, Duron and Athlon XP+ Socket A processors, as well as socket-based Intel Pentium 3 processors and older Socket 7 chips by many manufacturers.

The socket has 2 main retention clips, one on each end. Note the raised area at the ‘top’ of the socket, with the socket number written on it. This corresponds to a hollowed-out area on the surface of the heatsink, allowing you to correctly align the heatsink on the socket. If your heatsink does not have this area, the long side of the clip attached to the heatsink should face the raised area. Remember that the heatsink should sit flat and parallel with the surface of the processor when installed correctly.

With the heatsink sitting flat on the processor, hook the short side of the clip to the retention clip on the ‘bottom’ of the socket (the side without the raised area). It should go on easily, as there is no tension on the clip yet. Make sure not to apply any pressure to the heatsink during this operation. Once the clip is attached at one end, push the other end of the clip down gently and examine the way the heatsink sits on the processor. It should be almost exactly parallel and not overlapping the socket. If all looks well, gently but firmly press down on the other end of the clip, so that it attaches to the other retention mechanism. Depending on the heatsink, you may have to use a flathead screwdriver to apply the necessary force to attach the clip. Just be careful not to slip… Once the other retention mechanism is attached, you’re ready to go. Just remember to attach the power cable for the fan!

Installing an Athlon 64/FX heatsink

AMD’s new 64-bit chips have had quite a varied array of sockets so far in their young life. Sockets 754, 939, 940 and AM2 to be specific. Thankfully, the actual installation methods have not changed that much between each of the three designs. Athlon 64 heatsinks clip directly to the plastic retention bracket surrounding the socket. They have a lever on one side of the cooler which also attaches to the bracket and provides extra pressure so the heatsink sits firmly on the processor. The heatsinks are symmetrical so they can fit either way into the retention bracket. Fasten both sides of the heatsink to the clips on the bracket, ensuring that the heatsink stays straight and that you do not put excess pressure on it. Once the ends of the heatsink are fastened, push the lever down firmly so that it grabs onto the clip provided for it.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Assembling Your Own PC
 Pg 2.  Where to begin, and ESD worries
 Pg 3.  Handling Components Correctly
 Pg 4.  Building the computer, first steps
 Pg 5.  Installing the Motherboard, CPU
 Pg 6.  — Attaching the Heatsink
 Pg 7.  Installing RAM Memory
 Pg 8.  Mounting the Motherboard
 Pg 9.  Installing a Floppy Drive
 Pg 10.  Adding a Hard Drive
 Pg 11.  Hard Drives and Cables
 Pg 12.  Adding a CDROM
 Pg 13.  Getting Sound from a CDROM
 Pg 14.  Adding an Expansion Card
 Pg 15.  Troubleshooting

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