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ChipCoolers HTS421B-SB Athlon CPU Fan
Review and Installation
Last Updated: 10/30/99

The ChipCoolers HTS421B-SB is a large heat-sink fan which cools the outside of a 650 Mhz Athlon to almost body temperature.  The CPU is slightly warm  to the touch at the back and even cooler all around the heat sink (about 95 F).  The fan sucks air in from the front and blows it out through slots in the large, forged aluminum heat sink.  You can really hear the air moving with the lid off a computer case and your ear few inches away from the CPU.  At first, I thought the fan had a bad bearing.  Nope, it's just the whoosh of a miniature vacuum cleaner sucking in air at a rate which must be very healthy for AMD's small toaster.   In fact, if you move your hand around about an inch from the front of the fan and disrupt some of the air flow you can hear the thing change pitch--somewhat like putting you hand in front of a vacuum cleaner hose.

Back to the toaster...  According to the AMD Athlon Processor Thermal Solution a 650 Mhz Athlon dissipates about half the amount of heat generated by a 100 Watt light bulb.  Add up the rest of the stuff in a average computer and you have at least one 100 Watt light bulb.  That might not sound like much, but if you enclose a light bulb in a computer case and don't blow air through it, the air inside the case will get quite hot.  If you touch a light bulb, it will burn your hand.  If you touch an uncooled CPU, it will burn your hand and then start to melt and possibly damage things near it before dying.  Heat Sinks and fans are important.

If you are building a computer, following a CPU manufacture's guidelines is important in achieving a stable, long-lasting computer.  However, I have found through experience that manufactures almost always error towards the very conservative, as they should.  My experience shows, so far, that the Athlon is no more a thermal problem than the average P3 and probably can be adequately cooled with the equivalent of the average $12.00 P3 fan; however, when I build a computer with a CPU I haven't worked with before, I too error quite conservatively.  Other than using something running a refrigerant through it, I don't think your can "error" more conservatively than with the HTS421B-SB.  I presume that is why AMD has this cooler on it's short list of Thermal Solutions for the Athlon and rates it to handle the 700 Mhz Athlon.  However, you will pay about twice as much for this conservatism--a rather insignificant premium, I would say, to be sure of protecting a processor which presently costs well over $600.00.

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