Intel X38 Chipset: A Porsche with the Handbrake On

New Possibilities For North Bridge Cooling

The North Bridge of the X38 held a complete surprise for us when we removed the heatpipe cooling solution from the Gigabyte board. We discovered that Intel has equipped the North Bridge with a heat spreader like those found on its processors. This opens up a whole new world of cooling options for the overclocking community. It allows enthusiasts to replace the North Bridge cooler with a different solution - a heatpipe or water cooler for example - without the risk of damaging the North Bridge die, which has previously been unprotected.

Now, even less skilled or less experienced modders and tinkerers no longer have to worry about destroying their North Bridge. It stands to reason that the introduction of the X38 will spur the introduction of a number of North Bridge cooling solutions.

When overclocking, one of the largest problems is the heat generated by the North Bridge chip and the instabilities it causes. Until now, only a few overclockers have been brave enough to remove the cooler and attach a clunky heatsink with an intractable water-cooling hose-system to the very delicate silicon die. Happily, this is no longer a problem.

The heat spreader measures 33 x 33 mm, making its area bigger than that of its counterparts found on the Core 2 Duo processors. Because of the large area, it is even possible to attach a North Bridge cooler to the heat spreader with a thermal adhesive compound. Even larger passive heatsinks are now an option.

In the case of our Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6, we had to take off a small heatsink on the back of the board in order to remove the North Bridge cooler.

The heat spreader on the North Bridge is a real gift to the overclocking and modding community. It opens up entirely new overclocking possibilities.

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