Foxconn 3-Pin CPU Fans & Heatsinks

How to Keep Heat off Your Processor

One of the biggest enemies of any electronic component is heat. The higher the temperature, the shorter life your system will have.

How Do CPU Coolers Work?

A modern microprocessor can run a hundred Watts at several billion cycles per second, and even older CPUs would often run at tens or hundreds of millions of cycles per second. There's no way to do that without producing noticeable amounts of heat, which is why they all require a minimum of a CPU cooling fan and heatsink before installation. It's all about getting that thermal energy away from the die before it kills components. A standard cooler has two primary components:

  • Heatsink:The heatsink assembly conducts thermal energy away from the top of the CPU die and into a series of radiative fins. Some use a solid block, while others rely on heatpipes to transfer the energy. It's attached to the core with a thermal interface material for improved conductivity.
  • Fan:The purpose of the fan is to promote air flow. As it spins it moves air past the radiator fins, cooling them by physically carrying away the heat. 

How Do You Connect the Fan?

There are two areas to consider when installing a Foxconn CPU cooler. The first is connecting the unit to the motherboard. While earlier models attached to the socket, many now bolt directly to the motherboard. It's usually a relatively simple procedure and simply requires that you read the instructions and spend some time making sure everything mounts correctly before firing up the system. The other, and equally important, aspect is plugging in the fan. There are two main types of fan connection:

  • 3-Pin:The 3-pin connector includes one hot wire, one ground wire, and one sensor wire. All you have to do is plug it in and the fan will spin at full power as soon as current is applied.
  • 4-Pin:The 4-pin connector adds a control wire to the preceding design. This extra line provides software fan control for supported systems.

Choosing a CPU Cooler

The most important thing to consider when choosing a Foxconn cooler is whether it fits the motherboard. No heatsink can do its job if you don't mount it properly. Pinout is less important as three and four-pin CPU coolers are interchangeable, although you do lose speed control unless both the board and cooling solution offer four pins. One thing you should remember is that case cooling is equally important. Unless you can get the hot air out of the case the regular cooler will lose efficiency as temperatures rise. It's a system, not just a single component.

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