I am including the retention mechanism and the installation of this heatsink as a single item since they are so closely related. With so much mass, it would be a very bad idea to just throw on a standard clipping device to secure this monster to your processor. The first time it got banged up a bit it would most likely destroy your poor processor. I realize that we are always looking for reasons to upgrade, but this might be a little crazy even by my standards.
So we will take a peek at one of the few coolers on the market that require you to use those four holes that are situated around your processor socket. Here's a quick shot of what I am talking about (and no, it is not a picture of the board that this unit will be tested on):
Now that we have a clear picture about what I'm talking about, it is important to mention two pieces of information:
Not all motherboards are happy when you install the standoffs required for mounting this sink. I have worked with it successfully on both EPoX and Abit motherboards and I have a good friend who uses it successfully on a Soyo board. This list is not inclusive by any means, but you should do some asking around before taking it for granted that you'll be in cooling heaven.
The new VIA KT400 standard no longer requires the placement of the four holes around the socket. I have seen some MSI brand motherboards that no longer have these holes, so check this out before spending your money on ANY cooler requiring the use of these holes.
Now that we have that out of the way, I think it is time to see just how this monstrosity mounts to the mainboard and processor.
Included with the heatsink is a bag with standoffs and fiber grommets. Also included are some plastic washers and a small tube of Arctic Alumina. As I stated at the beginning of this review, there seems to be nothing included here that isn't top notch. Even the included TIM beats the crappy old silicone stuff hands down.
The installation of the standoffs is a matter of simplicity. Just put a fiber grommet on both sides of the holes surrounding the socket, put the standoff in so that it is on the same side of the mainboard as the socket and then secure them in place with the nuts. If you happen to have a board with larger holes around the socket, then just place the plastic washer so that it sits in the hole and works as a spacer. This is the same principle used for the majority of heatsinks using the holes so there is nothing out of the ordinary here.
Once the standoffs have been installed, install the processor (with thermal compound, of course) and then line up these screws with the standoffs. The only thing you'll have to watch out for here is that the sink doesn't get installed backwards. Look at the base and make sure that the widest flat area goes over the gear cover of the socket. Pretty simple stuff so far.
Once it is lined up properly, just tighten the screws with the springs under them. The springs are there to make sure that the cooler has just the right amount of pressure to ensure optimal cooling, so don't be afraid of tightening them all the way down. And speaking of this, you can't over-tighten the screws anyway. They are designed to bottom out in the base of the standoff when they have the proper torque. When the screws can't be tightened any more, then you've got it right.
Here is what we'll have once the assembly has been installed to your motherboard:
It does tend to look rather large once it is in place, but rest assured that you should have no problems mounting it on even the tightest of motherboards. To test this theory, I mounted it onto a pair of EPoX mainboards since these tend to have some of the closest mounted capacitors of any boards made. The models tried were the 8KHA+ and the 8K9A2. Both had no problems at all fitting within the area designated and there was no need to try to gently push any of the capacitors aside to make room for this larger than normal cooler. That is certainly good news for those who are concerned about the fit of a big heatsink.
Though the test board used is an Abit, we'll still take a peek at the top-down view to show you that the fit is not an issue to concern yourself with.
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