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Good CPU Cooler for an Athlon II x3 440 Overclocked & Unlocked?

Greetings TH forum members :D

I've recently acquired the following items for a new build, and I'm searching for a good, yet inexpensive heatsink/fan/cooler solution that will allow me to overclock and possibly unlock the 4th core on my processor (if it's possible and assuming the 4th core isn't defective). I'm super-new to this stuff and it's my very first custom build, so forgive me if I haven't the slightest clue as to what I'm talking about :lol: It'll come to me eventually, I guess... :)

Mobo: Asus M5A78L-M LX http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/AMD_AM3Plus/M5A78LM_LX/#specifications $47 - New
CPU: Athlon II X3 440 http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/K10/AMD-Athlon%20II%20X3%20440%20-%20ADX440WFK32GI%20%28ADX440WFGIBOX%29.html $44 - Used
PSU: Antec Earthwatts 650W EA-650 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371015 $38 - New
RAM: 8GB (2x4GB sticks) Corsair Dominator CMP8GX3M2B1333C9 DDR3 1333 MHz: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145340 $61 - New

I'm aiming for a really tight budgeted gaming rig; nothing too fancy, perhaps something that will allow me to play games like CoD: Black Ops or even Battlefield: Bad Company 2 in nice detail with at the very least a 1360 x 768 (or as high as it'll go) resolution (haven't decided on a graphics card yet, but that will probably be the most expensive thing I will purchase for this build. I'm thinking an Nvidia GTX260 will be perfect to start out with for now). The trouble is, I don't know the first thing about what to look for in a CPU cooler.

Here are some options I've spotted on ebay for relatively cheap prices, but what I'm hoping to be able to do is unlock the 4th core on the Athlon II x3 (if it's available), and perhaps overclock from the stock 3 GHz frequency to at least 3.4 or 3.5 GHz (stop me here if this is not even possible); while keeping things nice and frosty under the hood. To anyone's knowledge, will any of these suit my needs?

AMD: http://cgi.ebay.com/AMD-ATHLON-II-PROCESSOR-HEATSINK-FAN-X3-4XX-SKT-AM3-/130422790736?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1e5dcdda50

Deep Cool: http://cgi.ebay.com/AMD-PHENOM-II-X4-X6-AM2-AM3-HEATSINK-Fan-Cooler-copper-/290566420973?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item43a71bb9ed

AVC: http://cgi.ebay.com/AMD-PHENOM-II-X4-X6-HEATSINK-Fan-Cooler-AM2-AM3-New-/390192066195?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5ad9426e93

Zalman CNPS9500 (for AM2): http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=200631064810&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT

Zalman CH-90A-06: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=270744615309&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT

Thermaltake: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=230558115313&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT

ASUS (for AM2+): http://cgi.ebay.com/ASUS-K8A9-8SB3-Socket-AM2-1207-939-940-754-Heat-Sink-/250815680266?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a65c78f0a

Arctic Cooling: http://cgi.ebay.com/ARCTIC-COOLING-Freezer-7-Pro-Rev-2-CPU-Fan-AMD-AM3-AM2-/260650609665?_trksid=p4340.m8&_trkparms=algo%3DMW%26its%3DC%26itu%3DUCC%26otn%3D5%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D1479999982244788308

Will any of these do the trick? Also, I was wondering if there is a need to look at whether it is a 3-pin or 4-pin connector and what exactly this will affect and which someone might recommend for a novice (I read somewhere that the 3-pin requires adjusting voltages for different fan speeds... I have no idea how to even begin doing something like that)? Anyhow, just thought someone may be kind enough to shed a little light on the subject and maybe recommend something that'll work in the event that the choices I've looked at are dead ends. Thanks in advance and take care! :)
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  1. Hi.

    What budget do you have?

    1- The mobo is very new, but if you still want something new, I'd go with CH line, Gigabyte or MSI.
    2- If you want a good CPU, move on to a real quad core. Phenom II X4 955 is a good option for a good price.
    3- Why 8GB? The specs aren't the best and the price is a little high. 4GB are enough for games, 2x2GB are a good option. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231430 more cheap with better specs.
    4- GTX 260 WAS a very good GPU, but doesn't support DX11 and is old for this time. A 5770 or something a little more high can give you good performance and 1920x1080 with mid settings

    Why ask for budget? Because with SB the price difference isn't big but the performance is much better.
  2. Hi Saint! Thank you for your prompt, informative and helpful response... I truly do appreciate all the help I can get with this seeing as I am completely new to actually building a system from the ground up. I actually had a thread opened up in the CPU section of TH's forum (found here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/308037-28-advice-choosing-athlon-intel-e6700#t2326885 ), and I was able to get a lot of great help from the members here who were able to share their knowledge. It's a pretty lengthy thread (I have a bad habit of typing too much, as you will see -=laughing=-), so I wouldn't expect you to comb through all the wording in there, but I'll do my best to include the most relevant aspects of what was covered in there. Here goes:

    saint19 said:
    Hi.

    What budget do you have?


    Basically, we're talking about a really cheap (even secondhand if that's what you want to call it) build. Since this is my first experience building, I thought it best for me to take baby steps with hardware that wasn't too advanced. This system is looking to replace an almost 10 year old Dell Dimension 4550 Pentium 4-based computer that I've been running (albeit, reliably) for the last several years. I'm looking for something that will get me a little bit more up to date with the times, but not really expecting the latest and greatest because of how tight my budget is (I'm paying for college classes and working part-time as a waiter; while my girlfriend is the one working full time and bringing in most of the money, and therefore, paying the better part of the bills. She's also just fine with the Dell we've got now and doesn't really see the need for a new system; but I'm looking for something inexpensive that will not only allow for some gaming, but will also be able to handle programs like Photoshop and Maya better than the Dell P4 ever could, since I'm studying to become an animator). So far, I've only spent about $33 out of pocket for all the things I've listed in the OP; the rest has come from gift card money and selling a few unused items on ebay I had collecting dust around the house.

    saint19 said:
    1- The mobo is very new, but if you still want something new, I'd go with CH line, Gigabyte or MSI.


    I was trying my best to ensure I got an AM3+ board so that I could have at least a little room to grow into the system if I wanted to in the future. I'm only really expecting to get 2 years tops out of this machine; then, I'll probably start over again once finances improve in the future and I've graduated from school (although, there are those student loans to pay back! :lol: ). I was originally thinking of getting this Gigabyte mobo: GA-M68MT-S2P http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3726#sp . However, it wasn't an AM3+ board and some of the other features paled in comparison to the ASUS one (such as lower RAM speed ratings and HyperTransport 1.0). I really wanted this one: MSI 890GXM-G65 http://www.msi.com/product/mb/890GXM-G65.html#?div=Detail ; but, I couldn't find one for less than $90, which unfortunately is even a bit out of my budget range if I want to get all the parts I need to build this new system (I'd have to sacrifice getting a graphics card or something else major). It has the 890 chipset in it though, which is better than the 760 in the ASUS brand mobo. So, I stuck with the ASUS AM3+ board since I was able to get that one brand new for $47 and it had slightly better features than the Gigabyte board.

    One thing I did notice, however, is that it is tough to come by a 125W or 140W CPU TDP max microATX motherboard for anything less than $90. And the thing is, I'm stuck using an existing mATX case I have from a gutted out eMachines T5026. Will that limit my CPU choices down the line? I see the Phenom II X4 955 is a 95W, so I should be okay there, I suppose... but what about Bulldozer? Another thing I'm beginning to wonder is if I can even unlock the 4th core with this board. It says it has the Core Unlocker feature, but the Athlon II X3 440 is already a 95W CPU. If I attempt to unlock the 4th core or O.C., will this exceed the TDP threshold of 95W, and therefore, not work?

    saint19 said:
    2- If you want a good CPU, move on to a real quad core. Phenom II X4 955 is a good option for a good price.


    This is actually the one I wanted; and if I can swing it, I'll probably try to get one in the very near future (within no more than six months or so). But for now, I can't find one cheaper than $90, so once again, budget is in the way. I was, however, able to get the Athlon II X3 440 for only $45; so I thought I could simply try to squeeze all the performance I could out of that until I could get something better. Plus, I was reading this article on Tom's Hardware about the Athlon II X3 440 versus the Intel Core i7, and even though it doesn't perform as well as an i7, I think it'll suit my needs in the meantime (can't ask for much when you only pay 45 bucks I guess): http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/athlon-ii-x3-440-gaming-performance,2619.html .

    saint19 said:
    3- Why 8GB? The specs aren't the best and the price is a little high. 4GB are enough for games, 2x2GB are a good option. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231430 more cheap with better specs.


    I got this one because I only paid $61 for it, brand new, from a seller on ebay. Seeing as how newegg and other retailers start it off at around $90, I couldn't pass it up. Also, I chose it because it was during the time I thought I would be getting the Gigabyte board, which only supported up to 1333 MHz (O.C.). That one you recommended does look to be a nice choice alternative, however. If I would have seen that one first, I probably would've opted for that instead, but now I've already got this Corsair Dominator set, so hopefully, it isn't too bad (crossing my fingers).

    saint19 said:
    4- GTX 260 WAS a very good GPU, but doesn't support DX11 and is old for this time. A 5770 or something a little more high can give you good performance and 1920x1080 with mid settings


    I so want that card! :lol: (the 5770) Again, it's the budget getting in the way as I can't find one for less than $90 (used, nonetheless). I thought that since I'm really only looking to make a move from the Pentium 4 era once and for all, I'd be happy with a Direct X 10 capable card for my very first experience with a custom build. Because of how old my current P4 system is, I've missed out on a lot of games over the years (unless they came out for the XBOX 360, as well); so it'll give me some time to play catch up on titles from the last couple of years (mostly everything from 2006 to whatever the limit is on whatever recent games my new system can handle). I was at first going to stick with a Geforce 9800GTX+ my brother gave me. Then I decided I should at least go for a Direct X 10 card. I thought the GTX260 would do as an okay upgrade from my current Geforce 7800 GS AGP card in the Dell system. I think even the 9800GTX+ (for Direct X9) or either the HD 4850 or 4870 (1GB) might keep me happy for a little while, since I'll probably just be blown away by the fact that I can now play more than just Doom 3 or Half-Life 2 at nice settings or Call of Duty 4 at medium to low settings :lol: .


    So, that wall of text is pretty much the gist of it. So far, I've spent $191 altogether on building a nearly complete system; $33 of which came from cash out of pocket. I'll probably end up selling the old Dell on ebay for a few bucks just to kick some more money back into my direction as well. The only thing I have left to purchase is the graphics card, some Arctic Silver, and the CPU cooler, since I've got everything else and I already have a SATA HDD, two disc drives, monitor, keyboard, etc... The thing is, I have no clue as to which cooler/heatsink/fan I should get. If I have to pay a little more than $20 (say $40) for something that will allow me to unlock the 4th core (assuming it's good) and do a little overclocking - safely, while keeping good temps - I don't mind that too much at all. Any ideas for my situation? Thanks so much again for your assistance and for taking the time to help me with this. I know this build ain't much compared to what a lot of other people are doing these days, but I think it'll definitely be a lot nicer than running this old Pentium 4 any longer. I was looking at the results of the Best Configs - Budget AMD-Based Gaming Builds here on TH, and one of the top five selected was this one: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/294017-31-bestconfigs-budget-based-gaming#t2177456 . It's better than what I have, but not by much and is closely comparable; so I was hoping that since this was the top-selected choice, my rig shouldn't do too bad (another difference is that that one costs $463 to build; mine will end up running about $250 - $270). Thanks again and take care! :)
  3. Let me check some things. But I need to know the budget. 400? 500? 600?
  4. saint19 said:
    Let me check some things. But I need to know the budget. 400? 500? 600?


    Well, so far I've already spent $191 on just the CPU ($45), motherboard ($47), ram ($61), and PSU ($38) I've mentioned in the other posts (I already have all of them). I already have most everything else I need such as the mATX case, SATA HDD, 2 DVD-RW DL Drives, 19" LCD flat screen monitor, keyboard, optical mouse, and PCI Wi-Fi adapter card (think that covers most everything). I already have Windows 7 Ultimate, so the OS is covered. The SATA HDD (only 160GB's) is just a temporary placeholder until I can spring for a larger capacity set of two drives (for RAID 0).

    The only things I have remaining to buy are the CPU cooler, some quality thermal paste/grease (thinking Arctic Silver 5 or Arctic Silver Ceramique), and the graphics card. So counting in what I've spent already ($191), I'm thinking no more than $270 to $300 altogether. I'm willing to go with a used/pre-owned GPU that's in good working condition that could be found on ebay or Amazon even; but I'd like a nice quality CPU cooler that may permit me to try overclocking and unlocking the potentially available 4th core on the Athlon II X3 440.

    Thanks again for taking the time out to lend some assistance! :)

    Edit: I like this one: Thermaltake Frio http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=2523 . But it's $50. Not really THAT expensive at all; but if I could go cheaper, I'd like to. I'd also like something with PWM control. Are there any reliable coolers out there that I could trust at $30 and under that allow for a little headroom to overclock and core unlock?
  5. Best answer
    For price/performance the always recommended is the Hyper 212+, but if you can go a little high, the V6GT or Thermalright Venomous X are excellent options too.
  6. saint19 said:
    For price/performance the always recommended is the Hyper 212+, but if you can go a little high, the V6GT or Thermalright Venomous X are excellent options too.


    Excellent! Thank you, Saint. That Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus looks perfect; and according to this review on Guru3D: http://www.guru3d.com/article/cooler-master-hyper-212-plus-review/1 , it'll do the job I'm gunning for. At $35 (or less if I bid right on ebay), for the price and performance, I think that's the one I'll be going with for sure. That V6GT looks absolutely *SICK*, though (-=drool=-).

    I noticed from the pics featured in that review that the fan sits sideways facing the front and back of the tower when installed. The original LGA775 that was in there before had a Cooler Master unit over the CPU that blew toward the left side of the case when it's facing forward. Therefore, there's a ventilation area that's cut out of the side panel. Do you think that even with the fan on the Hyper 212+ blowing front to back, it'll be okay? I only have one other 80mm case fan attached to back and room for probably only one more case fan about that same size.

    Thank you for your help with everything! :) Looks like I'm settled on the Hyper 212 Plus cooler, so the original question is pretty much answered.
  7. Best answer selected by revone.
  8. ^ post your grafix card related topics int he Graphics card section of Tom's.

    for oc'ing interms of game play look up graphics cards under the Overclocking section of the Forum's.
  9. Lutfij said:
    ^ post your grafix card related topics int he Graphics card section of Tom's.

    for oc'ing interms of game play look up graphics cards under the Overclocking section of the Forum's.


    Not a problem :) I'll just edit the post and copy and paste that last tidbit in a new topic in the appropriate section(s). I still have some other lingering questions about video cards, anyhow; so it'll probably be better that way. Thanks!
  10. :) short response :D

    keep it up - hope to see you more on the forums!
  11. This topic has been closed by Saint19
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