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Build It Yourself: A Mini-ITX Gaming System For Just Over $500

Cooling: Third-Party Or Intel's Bundled Heat Sink?

Inexpensive Cooling Without A Whisper

The noise generated by Intel's bundled heat sink and fan combination is a matter of personal taste. Some folks can live with it, while others can't. Count me, personally, in that second group. I just had to buy a third-party cooling solution. The $30 Xigmatek Praeton presents an inexpensive step up from Intel's stock hardware.

Praeton LD964 Technical Specifications
Dimensions104 x 93 x 30 mm (Width x Depth x Height, without Fan)
Heat SinkAluminium
HeatpipesDiameter6 mm
Number and TypeFour / Copper
FanDimensions90 x 90 x 15 mm (Width x Depth x Height)
Voltage12 V
Start-up Voltage6 V
RPM Range1200-2800 RPM
Fan Capacity45.5 CFM (Max.)
Lifespan40,000 hours
Noise Level<22 dBA
ConnectorFour-pin with PWM
Weight180 g (without Fan)

Almost all mini-ITX motherboards have their audio connectors along the bottom. The corresponding cable in Chieftec’s case is so short that it wouldn't have reached if Xigmatek's cooler were any taller. An addition quarter-inch of cable length would have helped, but a significantly longer cable is what this form factor really needs. 

In the picture above, the you can see the HD Audio header cable stretched diagonally across the CPU fan. It doesn’t actually touch the blades, so it never becomes a functional problem. It's just ugly.