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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | The Processor | Processor Physical Characteristics | Processor Cooling ]

Processor Cooling Requirements

With 80386 and earlier processors running at slow speeds and with relatively few transistors, there was no need for specialized cooling, because the chips just did not get that hot. The power supply fan kept the flow of air running through the whole PC box, and this was sufficient to cool the processor much as it cooled all of the other components. Most 386 and earlier PCs do not use any form of special cooling for the processor.

The first processor that really needed some sort of specialized cooling was the 80486, and in particular the clock-doubled 80486DX2/66, which gets very hot under normal operating conditions. Most newer processors require some form of specialized cooling, although how much is required and how it should be done depends to a great extent on the processor, the system it is being used in, and on the quality of the cooling device used.

Some processors are much more sensitive to proper cooling than others. For example, the Cyrix 6x86 processor is a Pentium alternative and goes in the same socket, but it runs hotter. In fact, there are special active heat sinks that are designed for the 6x86, which cool better than those designed for Pentium chips.

Next: Processor Cooling Problems

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