The Cyrix 6x86, upon its release, broke some records and set a few standards in the world of computers. It broke the 66MHz bus speed barrier, it set a new P rating standard, and a new standard for cooling. The 6x86, like many other chips, ran at extremely fast speeds, however unlike most Intel chips the Cyrix 6x86 generated a significant amount of heat (much more than the competition). In order to satisfy the tastes of the consumer as well as the chip itself, the die hard tweakers went out and tried to develop the ULTIMATE cooling configuration. The AMD K5 pushed the limits of most cooling fans even moreso than the 6x86 in some cases, and then came the monstrous Pentium II with its 1LB heatsink!! Some said that running your system with the case off would be the best solution to your heat problems, but then dust collection and component damage risks come into play. Two factors most people aren't willing to live with, so the market demanded an innovation to suit the increasing requirements of the next generation processors. Therefore I compiled this small review of all of your cooling options for different processors to help you in choosing the best cooling combination for your system.

First lets discuss the options you have when cooling your System as a whole and your CPU itself:

  • Heatsink/Ball Bearing Fan Combos - By far the most effective and basic method to cooling your CPU, however be sure you pick up the correct combination otherwise you'll pay

  • Peltier Coolers - The big daddy of cooling, the Peltier cooler can be a very effective solution IF used properly.

  • Pentium II Cooling Solutions - How are we supposed to cool Intel's latest and greatest? Find out...

  • Secondary Case Fans - Excellent methods for adding additional cooling to your system. Secondary case fans are very effective especially when used in the proper location

  • Slot Fans - An effective cooling solution especially if you have any peripherals that get quite hot (i.e. Diamond Monster 3D) placed in the slot above the card.


Heatsink/Ball Bearing Fan Combos

These are your basic, run of the mill, Heatsink/Ball Bearing Fan combos. You find them listed as anything from CPU Fans to Heatsink/Fan combos, they all mean essentially the same thing. However, that's where the similarities end.

Usually when you're ordering a CPU, the vendor will throw in a CPU Heatsink/Fan combo that is decent enough to cool your CPU when running at the recommended clock speed, that is USUALLY. Whenever you are ordering a Heatsink/Fan combo ask questions, and a LOT of them. Here are some things you might want to consider when ordering:

  • Ball Bearings, you want a Ball Bearing fan. They last much longer and usually have more powerful motors than the conventional fans.
  • The bigger the better! You want the largest possible heatsink you can get, just make sure it'll fit in your case. A 1" heatsink is perfect if you can get your hands on one. But remember you are looking for a combo, not just a heatsink.
  • If you wish to use any of your motherboards CPU monitoring options (if they exist) then make sure you get a heatsink/fan that supports this
  • Be sure to get a proper power connector for your fan, depending on whether or not you have a connector on your board for a fan
  • Check to see if your Heatsink/Fan will come with any sort of thermal conductivity compound to increase the heat transfers between the CPU and the heatsink. You'll need some, just a little can go a long way.

In my experience, AAVID has left me with the best impression overall. AAVID makes fans superior to most generic brands which are very reliable and effective. If you happen to have a Cyrix 6x86 fan laying around, by all means, USE IT!!! The recommended 6x86 heatsink/fan is much larger than most other Pentium ones and is very effective. I've used mine on an overclocked K6, Pentium MMX, Pentium classic, and of course the trusty old Cyrix 6x86 without a single problem. If you need ultimate cooling, but aren't ready for the jump to a Peltier yet then a good ball bearing fan + heatsink combo is the perfect solution. There's really nothing more to it, it is the most basic and sometime the most effective cooling solution you have...

But what if you want more?

Peltier Coolers

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