Intel D945GCLF m-ITX: Atom For The Desktop

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FAN CONTROL

SpeedFan is our application of choice for customizable control. If properly supported, it can be configured to raise/lower multiple fan speeds to designated limits when any specified temperature threshold is breached.


SpeedFan correlations.

As Intel does not provide any official hardware monitoring software for the board, it is hard to determine whether any of the temperatures SpeedFan reports are accurate. When the system was put under load, we observed that the "Core 0" and "Core 1" temperatures did not budge. "Ambient," "Remote 1" and "Remote 2" rose in varying degrees, 6°C, 18°C and 9°C respectively compared to idle. When we placed a fan on the northbridge heatsink however, "Remote 1" continued to gradually rise, while the other two temperatures lowered, indicating that "Remote 1" is the CPU temperature. Unfortunately we were unable to isolate the other two readings.

The SYS_FAN header can be controlled using the Speed01 control tab, but for some reason the number entered results in the exact opposite reaction. 0% results in the fan running at maximum speed. The fan speed is equivalent to 9V at approximately 65%, 7V at 80% and 5V at 90%. Setting it to 100% results in the fan turning off, however the board seems to jump-start it back on after a few seconds unless fan control in the BIOS is disabled. It can also be set to a static 50-100% in the BIOS but aside from that there is no fan control to speak of — neither header changes fan speed automatically based on CPU load, temperature, or otherwise.

COOLING

To test the cooling on the board, we lowered the CPU cooling fan's voltage to 7V to reduce the amount of top-down airflow the nearby components received. We then stressed the system with Prime95 and ATITool and whipped our our handy IR thermometer to check the results. After about 15 minutes of load, the southbridge, northbridge, and CPU heatsinks registered 52°C, 40°C and 43°C respectively. All three heatsinks were warm to the touch, but nothing more. The voltage regulation circuitry was not notably hot either. It seems that cooling is not really an issue for this particular board.

NOISE

As the board comes with a fan on the northbridge heatsink, we conducted a brief analysis of its properties.

Intel D945GCLF Stock Fan Measurements
Fan Voltage
Fan Speed
Noise Level
12V
5760 RPM
29 dBA@1m
9V
4660 RPM
22 dBA@1m
7V
3630 RPM
15 dBA@1m
5V
2340 RPM
11 dBA@1m

The chipset fan is a typical ball-bearing 40mm fan with poor noise characteristics (i.e. whiney!). At 12V it is simply unacceptable, registering 29 dBA@1m in our 11 dBA hemi-anechoic chamber. Luckily, it undervolts fairly well and can be done so in the BIOS or with SpeedFan if it is connected to the SYS_FAN header. It is effectively silent in most working environments at 7V, and at that speed, cooling does not seem to be compromised, at least not on our open test bench with ambient temperature around 23°C. Airflow when mounted inside a case will determine the minimum speeds you can set for the northbridge heatsink fan.



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