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Posted: January 25, 2000
Written by: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
Two of the parts of the overclocking process up the heat produced by the processor - upping the frequency (the actual overclock) and upping the core voltage. Excessive heat within the core creates more of those gaps that I was discussing above for the signal to cross, and too many of these gaps will weaken the signal to the point where it becomes non-existent and creates some more of those wonderful software errors. Here's the lowdown for you physically inclined folks - the extra heat energizes the particles within the silicon wafer. The pathways within the silicon wafer are approaching the size of light rays (read very small), so if the particles move too much, they break their connection with the other particles within the pathway. These temporary breaks do the same thing as the impurities mentioned above. Got it? Good.
Ok, now that you know all about why cooling is so important, here's the skinny on what kind of stuff is available to you hobbyist overclockers out there, and then maybe I'll do a little of the honorable mention thing to the more expensive cooling systems of the world. The simplest way to cool your chip is called passive air-cooling. Passive air-cooling is basically the use of the surrounding, cooler air to cool the chip, using some sort of ball bearing fan. This is the cheapest, easiest, and most common way to cool your processor - all it entails is attaching a fan/heatsink combo to the processor to cool the thing down.
Hard-core hobbyists, however, are never satisfied with simple 'air' cooling, oh no. Heck, I've even seen some guys go so far as immerse their systems into super-cooled glycerin (a non-conductive liquid) to cool their processors. But that, once again, is a subject for another article. There are two 'reasonable' types of active chip cooling. One, a Peltier system, basically uses a heat-transfer plate (called a Peltier) to conduct heat away from the processor, where it is then carried off by a standard fan/heatsink combo. The only extra stuff you need for this type of system is some form of insulation for the exposed portion of the cold side of the Peltier, because otherwise you will get condensation, and even frost (Peltiers are extremely efficient).
The other 'standard' form of active cooling is using some form of water cooling device. These devices are extremely complex, and on top of the mandatory insulation, you also need a pump and some form of condenser... for the average hobbyist, it would be easier to put your computer in the freezer and run the wires out through a self-drilled hole rather than set one of these bad boys up.
Of course, you always have the "professionally" overclocked systems from companies such as Kryotech. Kryotech uses a method of cooling called "liquid phase change cooling." It is extremely efficient but also extremely expensive - the special case alone costs $1000 US all by itself, not including the processor enclosure. Boy, what some people will do for a couple of extra megahertz. Anyhow, if you've got the cash, their systems are something you might want to look into.
To install a cooling device, first you need to remove the old fan/heatsink combo from your processor. This should be a fairly simple operation. Don't be afraid to use a little force to break the seal that was created by the thermal compound. You will then need to use a flat razor to remove the remainder of the thermal compound from the top of the processor. Once this is complete, apply either some more thermal compound or thermal tape (FragTape) to the top of the processor and attach the new heatsink on top of that. Simple enough, huh? Some setups may have other necessary steps to attach the cooling device (thermally insulating silicon caulking compound, etc.) to prevent condensation - but that won't be a problem with a standard fan/heatsink combo.
Well, there you have it - the first part of the overclocking how to guide. In the next part, I will be covering the actual overclocking process, and some other nice little tidbits. It should be posted tomorrow or the day after. And of course, feel free to email me with any comments or questions.
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