AOpen i915Ga-HFS ATX Pentium M Motherboard

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Cooling for the i915Ga-HFS is provided by two smallish aluminum heatsinks: One for the northbridge and one for the CPU. AOpen has been faulted in the past for the noise of their heatsink fans and the lack of a standard mounting system for the CPU heatsink. Unfortunately, the nonstandard mounting system is back, but the heatsink appears to be identical to the revised (and much quieter) heatsink that shipped with later versions of the i915GMm-HFS.

Two smallish fans make for double the potential noise levels.

The new northbridge fan introduces yet another source of noise into the system. Neither the fan nor the heatsink itself is very large, but it's probably big enough to cool the basic northbridge. Whether or not it can do it quietly remains to be seen.

The fins on the northbridge heatsink are quite rudimentary.

The CPU heatsink is a simple all-aluminum design, but it is tall enough that it should handle any of the 27W Pentium M chips out there. The fins are not especially tight, which bodes well for low airflow performance.

The fan snaps off easily.

The base of the heatsink is just barely wide enough to cover the CPU socket, which is rotated 45° relative to the rest of the motherboard. Because the socket is not quite square, the CPU is not quite centered under the heatsink. Extra care should be taken during installation to ensure that the base of the heatsink lies flush against the CPU die.

The slightly oblong shape of the CPU socket positions the CPU slightly off-center relative to the base of the heatsink.

Fortunately, there is a square pad on the base of the heatsink that is designed to rest evenly on the surface of the processor PCB and equalize the pressure from all sides.

The mounting system is a simple backplate and four spring-loaded screws. The correct tension (or what we assume is the correct tension) is obtained by gradually tightening all of the screws together until none of them will turn any more. Overtightening, as we learned from experience, can lead to stripping the nut in the backplate, making for a very difficult to remove heatsink (pliers were required).

The mounting system.

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