Microcool NorthPole XE Whisper heatsink/fan

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Compared to the monstrosities that have become the norm for aftermarket desktop heatsinks, the NorthPole XE looks decidedly pedestrian. It's a small, skived copper heatsink with an aluminum shroud and a thermally controlled 40 mm fan. Ordinarily, the 40 mm fan would set off alarm bells, but with the low power output of the Pentium M, perhaps it won't need to run so noisily.

The two samples are identical except for the mounting brackets.
The Pentium M bracket is on the right, the Northbridge on the left; we'd suggest using what fits best.

Smooth copper base.

Compared to the mainstream heatsinks on the market, the NorthPole XE looks hopelessly puny and inefficient, but the question is whether it it is good enough for a Pentium M? The only competitor to the NorthPole XE is the stock AOpen heatsink. So, let's take a look at the competition.

The test board is an AOpen i915GA-HFS. In its stock form, it comes with two heatsink/fan units: A tiny, screaming northbridge heatsink, and a larger (but by no means large) CPU heatsink. The CPU heatsink is identical to the revised heatsink that AOpen released for their i915GMm-HFS Micro-ATX board after users complained that the original heatsink was too loud.

Two heatsink are included on the AOpen i915GA-HFS.

AOpen's stock heatsink is actually a little larger than Microcool's alternative...

...but the stock northbridge heatsink is puny by comparison.

The NorthPole XE is somewhere between the two AOpen heatsinks in size. Size isn't always a good indicator of performance, but it does serve as a rough guide. Of course, that doesn't take into account differences in material or fan quality.

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