Akom's Tech Ruminations

Various tech outbursts - code and solutions to practical problems
Hardware Hacks

D945GCLF fan issues and alternatives

Posted by Admin • Saturday, December 12. 2009 • Category: Hardware Hacks

I've had my D945GCLF (the Intel Atom 230 board) up for 440 days. That's an impressive uptime until you realize that it's a Gentoo box running asterisk, mpd, and not much else. As anyone familiar with D945GCLF or D945GCLF2 knows, the northbridge has an aluminum heatsink with a 40mm fan. Most people have had theirs fail right away, but I was lucky enough to have mine last over a year before starting to vibrate and slow down. Once I started getting Nagios alerts about high temps, it was time to do something.

I never liked the idea of small fans. A 40mm sleeve bearing wonder is certainly no exception. When it comes to cooling, I always look for big and slow - and that in my book means 120mm running at 7V speeds. I looked for a replacement fanless heatsink but couldn't find one that was reported to fit. Here is what I did:

So I took the heatsink off, polished the bottom a bit (up to 800 grit sandpaper), added some nanotherm and put it back on without a fan. I then suspended a 120mm Enloball Marathon fan (love those things) above, blowing lightly in its general direction. The result? about 5F cooler this way than it was originally. (48C in my case). More importantly, I am not concerned about fan failure in my lifetime.

Of course, my case has enough room (if you're creative) for such a fan. But the upside is that now I have respectable (though silent) airflow over all 3 chips, and even RAM. The Marathon fans run very slowly (about 900 RPM) at 12V, so no hacking is required to slow it down.

Fan's slow demise

Improvement with new fan

The graphs were done with dtgraph. (Yes I wrote it).

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