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The Evolution of CPU Coolers


     Today with all the changes going on in technology we are going to take a look back on how a specific portion of technology or should I say PC products have changed in the past 10 to 15 years. We will be focusing on CPU cooling specifically AMD side of the world. What I will try and illustrate is how and why the changes where made to the basic design and along the way the different stages of development..

     I guess we will start back in the early 90’s when there where three main competitors on the market for CPU manufacturers on Home PC products. You had Cyrix, Intel, & AMD. At this time your top of the line CPU maxed out at around 233mgz there was talk of a new chipset attaining up to 450mghz but it was purely roomer. No one other then hardcore geeks and PC nuts ever opened there cases to even attempt to repair them, and PC’s where purchased at the local department store the choices where pretty slim HP, Packard Bell, Compaq  & IBM to name the main manufacturers. AOL was just starting out and the Internet was basically Dial Up. Now that we have the time frame setup take a look at the photo below of a standard cooler for an AMD 166 or 233 with the illustrious 3Dnow technology that made them famous. When compared to the size of today’s cooling devices this cooler is roughly the size of a standard Chipset cooler. Lets be honest none every really even thought about heat it was assumed that it would just work and so what if it gets hot. Until the end of this era there wasn’t even fans all the majority of these CPU used passive coolers.


     Shortly after this time there was a series of flip flops in the industry where Intel used a Slot 1 and then AMD went to a Slot A then AMD went back to a Socket 237 (AMD Thunderbird) style then Intel did similar. During this maybe two-year period is when what I call the birth of mods happened. Websites where popping up everywhere Cable and DSL where in there infancy. Little knows websites like where just begging and back then the focus of PC’s was purely performance, style was never even placed in the mix. This is also when information (Due to the Internet) was in abundance, some good some bad. This change intrigued a small subset of the population to tweak and increase performance of their base CPU and make that video game run a little bit better. This is also during the first video craze. Cards where now converting from onboard to PCI slot pre AGP folks and these cards actually had memory on them. If you could afford it. A good card would run with 8 or even 16 Meg of ram no onboard CPU your PC still did the graphical rendering or work. This was when the Coolers finally started coming with fans and even a few really innovative types added a little flare with colored aluminum. All these factors add together changed people’s focus on the computer and what the intended us was for. It was for entertainment not just work,


     Hence the introduction of the gamming community, This is when Unreal tournament and games of this nature first hit the market and people where not as interested in buying a new PC every year to keep up with there games. Instead weekend expos and magazine where any part could be bought and sold where made available so as people started learning, they started building there own PC’s and replacing parts as needed. At this time in the evolution of the CPU cooling started to take a twist they got bigger there where fans. All where still aluminum copper was yet to come. But with these cooler came over clocking. SOYO in my mind started the epidemic by having an easy to use set of jumpers  to rearrange the BIO’s getting the extra bit of push topping the CPU at 450 mgz from 333 or 233. Or something like that. The problem coolers had during this time frame was that little was put into the design of the cooling devices and the BIO’s of yester year where not designed to shut off or protect your CPU. I personally remember frying a bunch of CPU’s playing around with them pesky jumpers.


     Now we are cooking people are thinking about the PC and how it works why parts are important. Also people are also trying to make the PC a representation of some sort of feeling or persona. “Looks are starting to Mater”. The post 2000 PC enthusiast (Moders) go wild, windows are cut out of there PC’s people are really getting into there creations. During this time frame cooling has changed as well. Different materials are being used to try and help with the cooling. Copper and Nickel plates appear.  Fans and coolers are getting bigger and better. The CPU’s of this time frame where the first generation of socket 468’s this is the Duron 900 mghz on threw to the 1900 and so on this is the era I feel speed and throughput vs mghz had there battle. You start seeing AMD change the CPU’s names from mghz to classes or numeric speed values. The reason for this is simple the performance of a PC can not just be measured by the CPU frequency you must take in account speed of data transfer speed of caching and many other factors. The PC’s where all pretty stable between 1ghz and 2ghz and these puppies where getting hot cooling became more important then ever. Thermaltake Coolmaster FrozenCPU companies of this type where constantly changing and introducing products for looks and performance.


     The next step for or the CPU’s came about when the manufacturers the socket almost doubling the pin’s on the sockets Intel went to 775 AMD went to 754 both where much faster and hotter. AMD really made a supper hot chip the 754 really helped define the market due to the high heat output requiring better coolers. AMD did expand this CPU and transformed the 64bit chipset into a 939 pin that is much cooler with even better performance but cooling was still a major factor in the overall performance of these 64bit processors.

     And now you have today where to be honest you can get anything from water cooled to passive cooled and anywhere in between for VGA cards and Chipsets.. You name it they make it.. It is very important to keep a few things in mind when purchasing any cooling device for your PC. Make sure you know what you are looking for do you want it more for looks or for performance or maybe you want something with low noise yet a decent cooler. Hmm maybe low profile is needed. What I am trying to say is basically you can purchase any cooler you desire but make sure it is what you need and want. In terms of performance I see the market like this there are a few really inferior products out in the market but they never last long. Then you have the exceptional cooling products that are generally a bit pricier and as they say you get what you pay for. Then you have the majority of everything else. Somewhere in the middle is all the nitch stuff low noise supper huge. Supper small and so on.  I could probably elaborate more but then this article would be to long so if you have any questions or comments good or bad feel free to contact me preitschky @ 





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