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 Post subject: DFI Chipset fan noise and failure
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2007 2:39 pm 
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If you feel this is inappropriate in any way feel free to delete the thread at will. I'll understand.


I got a DFI Nforce4 DAGF board with the standard 40mm DFI chipset fan. You'll see the same fan on the vast majority of DFI motherboards in the midrange price brackets. The fan in question is on a square heatsink not the round one found on more expensive models (thought both have described as noisy). You can see some good pictures of it on this page http://www.madshrimps.be/?action=getarticle&articID=318

The fans lubricant had dried up / evaporated and it was getting noisier than any other fan I have. I wanted to put a replacement 40mm fan on the chipset but the screw holes on the DFI heatsink are way too small for me to put any other fan on it.

I temporarily put a 80mm fan within a few inches of the heatsink and I was able to add lubricant to quiet the fan down but there is a big gotcha on this fan. If you aren't careful the fan wires will get caught up in the fan blades and stop the fan. I knew this and tried to keep the wires out of the way but over time the fan stopped one too many times and it was finally enough to overheat the chipset and now the PC will not boot.

If anybody wants to repair the board that is close enough to get it I'd give it away at this point.

Anyway, I have tons of motherboards and have had others with chipset fans, but none were as cheap, flimsy, and prone to fail as this one. It's enough to make me go passive on all my motherboard purchases going forward.

I still don't understand why anybody would design a fan that routes the bare fan wires under the fan blades with little to no clearance. If you disturb the wiring at all the fan will stop. It's literally the worst fan design I've ever seen.

Maybe this is not news to the old timers around here but it sure changes my opinion of cheap motherboards.

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 Post subject: I've moved this to a more appropriate forum
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2007 7:29 pm 
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Hello,

I think that you should buy a passive northbridge heatsink and put it on there! They cost about $10, and they work much better than the puny little stock HSF -- and best of all, they are silent.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2007 10:52 pm 
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At least ASUS's crappy little fan used a little piece of plastic to hold down the wire. :P (Not sure about the first revision fan tho.)
That said the Zalman ZM-NBF47 chipset heatsink works fine on my ASUS A8N-SLI board. And both ASUS and DFI boards use the same chipset mounting arrangement, where the push pin holes are closer together then other manufactures Nforce 4 boards.
Also the Zalman does a far better job as keeping my chipset cool then the original fan did.


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 Post subject: Re: I've moved this to a more appropriate forum
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:06 am 
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NeilBlanchard wrote:
Hello,

I think that you should buy a passive northbridge heatsink and put it on there! They cost about $10, and they work much better than the puny little stock HSF -- and best of all, they are silent.


What I'd rather see is DFI and Asus selling their midrange boards with the passive HS preinstalled.

Unfortunately RMA repair for an out of warranty DFI board is $30 + S&H and then you get a new cheapo chipset fan and get to start the cycle all over again.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2007 6:46 pm 
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Hello,

The hardest part of changing out the NB heatsink is pulling the motherboard out of the case. Once you got that done, you just push out the pins from the back, and then pinch the barbs together and push them through. Clean off the lousy TIM goop, put on something better, and install the new Zalman/Enzotech or whatever you choose.

It really is pretty easy, and as you say, you get to do w/o the crappy stock fan.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2007 8:43 pm 
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You telling me how much a heat sink costs still doesn't address the fact that I have a dead board on my hands will cost me $40 to repair. The hardest part about it is traveling back in time to avoid the current situation in the first place.

I wouldn't have bought the board at all if I'd known how cheap/unreliable the chipset fan was.

As is, its a better value for me to buy a new motherboard from another company than to pay DFI to do a repair on a board that would put me back in the spot of having to deal with another cheap chipset fan.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 5:00 am 
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dhanson865 wrote:
As is, its a better value for me to buy a new motherboard from another company than to pay DFI to do a repair on a board that would put me back in the spot of having to deal with another cheap chipset fan.


Well, I don't think I understand you. It's simply uneconomical to throw out a good working motherboard just because the fan broke. The board in itself isn't dead, it's only the fan, right? If that's the case then it's really simple to CHANGE the cooler with whatever cooler you like, be it Thermalright HR-05, or one of Zalman's aluminium little bricks. Coolers ARE changeable and these ones are effective enough to run FANLESS. If the whole board is dead (meaning chips, capacitors, etc. not working) then ignore my post. Here are pics for you to illustrate my point.

First is Thermalright HR-05:

Image

And this is Zalman ZM-NB47J:

Image

Hope I helped making it clear..

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 7:42 am 
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kernel32 wrote:
dhanson865 wrote:
As is, its a better value for me to buy a new motherboard from another company than to pay DFI to do a repair on a board that would put me back in the spot of having to deal with another cheap chipset fan.


Well, I don't think I understand you. It's simply uneconomical to throw out a good working motherboard just because the fan broke. The board in itself isn't dead, it's only the fan, right?


How clear can I make this? The board is unusable. Currently it's bios has been cleared and on first power up it will let you enter the BIOS. If you do you can change any parameters you want but it won't POST again until you clear the BIOS again.

No fan or heatsink change is going to make this board work again.

If it would work, I'd still be using it. I don't enjoy buying new motherboards for no good reason.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 8:06 am 
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Hey man, go check out the DFI club forum.

http://csd.dficlub.org/forum/index.php

DFI can have all kinds of funky boot issues, but the admin over at the forum are really supportive.

If you can get into the bios after powering up, you can fix the board. At worst you might get a new bios chip and fan. RMA if you can't do it.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 10:00 am 
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The BIOS and fan are both OK, the "southbridge" is however thermally damaged. Nothing short of desoldering the chip and replacing it with a new one is going to fix this motherboard.

If you think I'm wrong you are more than welcome to take the motherboard off my hands and get it working again. Myself I'm not going to pay the $40 it would take to get it done...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 10:29 am 
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So this thread is just a statement about the board quality then? That's cool.

I've bought boards and wished someone had warned me about the issues.

I still think it would be good to post this at DFI club if you want relevant feedback.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 12:21 pm 
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Active chipset cooling -- just don't.

Chipsets can be cooled passively, very effectively. My Zalman ZM-NB32K does a fine job on my nForce4 board, Asus A8N-E to be precise. I hear the later "Coolpipe" version of the same board manages just fine. The original Asus fan was noisy(a loud whirring and 'whoosh' sound) and eventually croaked, probably because the element was a joke. It felt like plastic when I pried its dead remains off the chipset.

Now with the Zalman my idle is 36'C(Sonata II intake Blacksilent XL1 Rev.2 at 5V). Haven't taken readings under load lately, should be around the 40'C mark.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 4:22 pm 
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Yeah, laugh at me if you will but I don't know if I'll ever buy another DFI product after this experience.

I've bought motherboards over the years made by MSI, IWILL, ASUS, PC CHIPS, and others I've probably forgotten and while I have had boards fail before I've never had a manufacturer not stand behind their product and offer a replacement for an unusable motherboard before this.

At the least I'll do my best to avoid buying another motherboard with active cooling on the chipset.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 8:08 pm 
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dhanson865 wrote:
I've bought motherboards over the years made by MSI, IWILL, ASUS, PC CHIPS, and others I've probably forgotten and while I have had boards fail before I've never had a manufacturer not stand behind their product and offer a replacement for an unusable motherboard before this.


These replacements you got, were they for boards that were out of warranty like your DFI? If so, please tell me your secret.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 8:56 pm 
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A lot of stock cooling is just plunked on with thermal tape. I like to replace or reseat them always. When you ditch the old boards it's not a bad idea to pop off and keep the sinks. You can dice them up and use them on mosfets etc..

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 6:01 pm 
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Amourek wrote:
dhanson865 wrote:
I've bought motherboards over the years made by MSI, IWILL, ASUS, PC CHIPS, and others I've probably forgotten and while I have had boards fail before I've never had a manufacturer not stand behind their product and offer a replacement for an unusable motherboard before this.


These replacements you got, were they for boards that were out of warranty like your DFI? If so, please tell me your secret.


I'll not go into the details here but I've had board replaced as cheaply as free shipping both ways or as cheap as return shipping cost only, even when no longer under warranty. Not every motherboard issue is expensive to repair and a company may be willing to do so at or near cost to satisfy a customer.

My experience with DFI was less than helpful and amounted to them quickly offering me the chance to spend $40+ to get a board refurbished that isn't worth any more than $50. At that point I'm better off putting that money into a new motherboard. If they had offered to repair it at a more reasonable cost I wouldn't have blinked at paying for the repair. More importantly if they would have addressed the issue on newer designs or offered me a chance to upgrade to a less troublesome design at a reasonable cost I would have given them the benefit of the doubt as a company that may be trying to improve product quality.

As it is, I see the fan design on these boards as limiting the useful life of a product unnecessarily. I have studied the chipset fans on every motherboard I've come into contact with since and I've realized this fan/heatsink setup is below average quality for the PC motherboards I come into contact with on a regular basis.

If DFI paid a few cents more for a thicker heatsink on the chipset and a few cents more on a better fan I'd still have a working motherboard instead of a paperweight that would cost more than $40 for me to get refurbished.

Thus to me, they have designed themselves into a reputation for poor quality on the low end boards that have this specific chipset fan/heatsink.

Maybe you think that I shouldn't share the lesson that I learned. But maybe it'll save someone else $40 down the road and they'll be glad I didn't keep this experience to myself.

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