Ever ship a PC with a tower heatsink?

Got a shopping cart of parts that you want opinions on? Get advice from members on your planned or existing system (or upgrade).

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

Post Reply
DAWbuilder
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat May 08, 2010 11:30 am
Location: USA

Ever ship a PC with a tower heatsink?

Post by DAWbuilder » Sat May 08, 2010 12:00 pm

Greetings SPCR forum members,

I often design/build Digital Audio Workstations (DAW), which are custom PCs designed for digital audio applications. Musicians, recording engineers, sound designers, etc., use these type of systems for recording and editing of digital audio.

High performance, very low noise, and long-term reliability under extreme conditions are minimum requirement for a great DAW.

SPCR has been a tremendous resource over the years for research on the top performing CPU heatsinks (and power supplies) with the lowest noise -- THANK YOU, and you have my utmost respect for the service you provide.

Clearly, the best performing CPU heatsinks have been the hi-rise or tower variety. I've generally avoided them for 2 reasons: (1) lack of VRM cooling, (2) excessive weight/stress on a motherboard.

However, VRM cooling is less of an issue these days with higher-end motherboards. Motherboard manufacturers have caught on that many enthusiasts will employ an after-market tower heatsink or water cooling systems, and VRMs more often have their own heatsinks.

Still, the weight and stress a tower heatsink places on a motherboard is of major concern if the PC needs to be shipped across country. I had one a few years back that was INCREDIBLY well packed (double-boxed, etc.), in which UPS mishandled so bad the heatsink (Zalman CNPS9500) broke off and bounced around, ruining the motherboard. Took UPS two months to pay the claim.

Warning: UPS uses an automated conveyor belt system in its main distribution centers, and not uncommon for a package to take a 4-foot drop. This confirmed by close friends in the packaging-design industry.

As a result, I typically only accept DAW clients in which I can personally deliver/install the computer myself, but I now have more and more calls from clients out of state.

Finally, to my question. Are there any forum members here (system builders, perhaps?) that have had good success building systems with tower heatsinks and shipping them (UPS, FedEx, etc.) across several states without damage? If so, how do you prevent shipping damage due to a tall/heavy heatsink? Or, am i being too paranoid and is there no trouble at all?

Any comments and/or advice appreciated. Thanks!

danimal
Posts: 734
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:41 pm
Location: the ether

Post by danimal » Sat May 08, 2010 12:18 pm

i have wondered about this myself.

you need to mount a heatsink in order to test the motherboard, but having to take the sink off for shipping, and then re-mounting it on the receiving end, is a hassle for both parties.

maybe the best way is to test the assembled unit with the stock heatsink, remove it for shipping, and let the buyer mount the big heatsink later... even if they have to pay a shop to do it.

Michael Sandstrom
Posts: 606
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2004 4:03 pm
Location: Albany, GA USA

Post by Michael Sandstrom » Sat May 08, 2010 3:25 pm

You might be able to tether the HS in a manner similar to cables used to stabilize tall TV antennas. The customer would need to remove any tethering material after setting up.

psiu
Posts: 1201
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2005 1:53 pm
Location: Plymouth, MI
Contact:

Post by psiu » Sat May 08, 2010 7:17 pm

There was the article on here where MikeC shipped one overseas, filled the case with some padding I believe (air bags?). Should be fairly effective I would imagine, just have to make sure they take them out on arrival.

Or try to find one where the backplate or whatnot can be setup and mounted to the motherboard without the heatsink being attached, put it in case etc and then let them just put a dab of thermal grease on the cpu and screw a heatsink down.

I haven't been keeping up with attachment systems though so don't know if you'll be able to find something like that.
R.I.P. Felger Carbon & cpemma

DAWbuilder
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat May 08, 2010 11:30 am
Location: USA

Post by DAWbuilder » Sun May 09, 2010 12:24 am

I just noticed that iBuypower systems in some 3rd party review sites have a bag of expanding foam (Instapak Quick RT, it appears to me) placed inside the pc chassis. Seems like a good solution.

BlackWhizz
Posts: 266
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:19 am
Location: OV, The Netherlands

Post by BlackWhizz » Sun May 09, 2010 12:35 am

I only mount tower heatsinks with bolts. That way they stay secure even when the package is not handled properly.
My quiet P180 Mini PC
Q6600 Xigmatek HDT-S1283 + TR Bolt Thru | MSI R5770 (soon a)Arctic Accelero S1 rev 2 | 4Gb ram | Asus P5Q-VM | 2.6TB storage | OCZ ModXStream Pro 500w

DAWbuilder
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat May 08, 2010 11:30 am
Location: USA

Post by DAWbuilder » Sun May 09, 2010 10:09 am

True, tower heatsinks with bolt-on designs will certainly keep the heatsink in place. However, simple physics dictates the farther away (taller) the weight is from the motherboard, the greater the potential for stress to be applied during shipping. If there is enough stress, the motherboard could flex and crack.

There must be good reasons for Intel to specify heatsinks not over a 450g limit, but most tower heatsinks are 50% heavier than that or more.

psyopper
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 336
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:15 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon

Post by psyopper » Sun May 09, 2010 11:56 am

DAWbuilder wrote: There must be good reasons for Intel to specify heatsinks not over a 450g limit, but most tower heatsinks are 50% heavier than that or more.
I would suspect it's a combination of stresses on the motherboard and also the security of their reference pushpin design.

BlackWhizz
Posts: 266
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:19 am
Location: OV, The Netherlands

Post by BlackWhizz » Sun May 09, 2010 12:41 pm

DAWbuilder wrote:True, tower heatsinks with bolt-on designs will certainly keep the heatsink in place. However, simple physics dictates the farther away (taller) the weight is from the motherboard, the greater the potential for stress to be applied during shipping. If there is enough stress, the motherboard could flex and crack.

There must be good reasons for Intel to specify heatsinks not over a 450g limit, but most tower heatsinks are 50% heavier than that or more.
A motherboard is secured with 6 to 9 screws. So im not worried about that. Just make shure you tighten everything down.

For the rest, its a feeling of mine that its really hard to bend or crack a motherboard (i experimented with a old motherboard). So i think you just do this when shipping a PC:

When mounting standoffs, tighten them with a pliers or so. Then mount the motherboard and tighten those down too. Always mount your large tower heatsinks with bolt thru kits.

Toolless systems? make shure all cards stay secure in there. Check if everything is fixed.
My quiet P180 Mini PC
Q6600 Xigmatek HDT-S1283 + TR Bolt Thru | MSI R5770 (soon a)Arctic Accelero S1 rev 2 | 4Gb ram | Asus P5Q-VM | 2.6TB storage | OCZ ModXStream Pro 500w

DAWbuilder
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat May 08, 2010 11:30 am
Location: USA

Post by DAWbuilder » Wed May 12, 2010 7:48 pm

It appears (according to their online video) that Digital Storm is also using the expanding foam bags for protecting tower heatsinks during shipping -- must be a viable solution.

MikeC
Site Admin
Posts: 12283
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Contact:

Post by MikeC » Thu May 13, 2010 1:19 am

The best solution is...
1) stuff the pink (antistatic) bubblepack inside the PC case so that nothing can bounce around if it gets loose.
2) Use spring loaded bolt through mount heatsinks only
3) Lots of shock damping in the shipping box

I've received and shipped systems this way for years. Hardly ever (if ever) a problem even with massive heatsinks.
Mike Chin, SPCR Editor/Publisher
Support SPCR by buying your gear through this link: Amazon

DAWbuilder
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat May 08, 2010 11:30 am
Location: USA

Post by DAWbuilder » Thu May 13, 2010 9:17 am

Thanks, Mike, I really appreciate your feedback. I never considered the pink anti-static bubble wrap, but it does make sense.

Just curious if you have ever received a system using the expanding foam bags, and if so your opinion of its effectiveness.

By lots of shock dampening, I assume you mean some sort of dense foam?

nomoon
Posts: 201
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 8:35 pm
Location: Allen, TX US
Contact:

Post by nomoon » Thu May 13, 2010 10:30 am

I've encountered two machines that were damaged during shipment when they were shipped with Zalman flower-style coolers. There was no visible signs of damage, but neither would boot. They both worked after the motherboards were replaced.

Jason

MikeC
Site Admin
Posts: 12283
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Contact:

Post by MikeC » Thu May 13, 2010 10:34 am

expanding foam bags do seem to work... but not necessarily better than other kinds of damping.

By lots of shock damping, I meant don't just leave air gaps. With most cases, for example, there are top and bottom end caps of foam or whatever, but the rest is often left w/o any covering, just a couple of inches of air between the box and the case skin -- this to me is assurance of damage if UPS does its usual drop-kick handling.
Mike Chin, SPCR Editor/Publisher
Support SPCR by buying your gear through this link: Amazon

Jay_S
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 713
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2006 2:50 pm
Location: Milwaukee, WI

Post by Jay_S » Thu May 13, 2010 10:52 am

MikeC wrote:damage if UPS does its usual drop-kick handling.
On top of the drop-kicking, freight carriers use automated package conveyance systems in their regional routing centers. UPS's machines shred a few of our packages a year, resulting in damaged or missing contents. The expanding foam systems fully encapsulate the package contents. This is the true advantage of the expanding foam - complete encapsulation - for the contents to be damaged or lost, stuff has to go really wrong.

A PC is a delicate instrument. Look at how electrical test & measurement equipment is packaged: expanding foam all the way.

[EDIT] Check this system out:
http://www.uline.com/BL_7701/Instapak-Q ... apak-Quick
it's the only jib I got, baby

capecodbackup
Posts: 152
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:06 am
Location: Cape Cod

Post by capecodbackup » Wed May 19, 2010 2:04 pm

I am a nut. I would manage to have someone install the heatsink onsite af5ter shipping :)

Post Reply