New HTPC: Replacing the north-bridge heatsink

Since the nortbridge on the Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H is so powerful with its integrated GPU you would think that Gigabyte had placed a desent heatsink to cool it down. But many owners of this HK are conserned that the temperatures of the northbridge are too high. I tried to put my finger down on the HS but after a second i had to retreat and I saw a clear mark at my finger for where the fins are. And that was when the PC just idled and I looked at the BIOS-menus! So, in advance, I bought a Thermalright HR-05/IFX to help with the cooling..

So here are my tools for the job. It’s the cooler in the brown ugly-but-somewhat-proffesional-looking box. A bunch of cotton-buds and Artic Cooling cleaner kit

The cooler came with good instructions and many bits and pieces:

  • Three types of springs
  • 2 pairs of washers
  • a pair of J-hooks
  • a pair of screws
  • a pair of spring-clips
  • two nuts
  • a syringe with some thermal compound
  • a foam spacer
  • a pair of fasteners to a 80mm fan

First step: Remove the old HS. Just use your fingers or a nose-pliers on the back of the MB to loosen the plugs that hold the HS. Then twist the HS a tiny bit to either side, and lift up.

Second step: Rinse off the old thermal compound.

Third step: Use the pad that was included with the new HS. This was too big for the chipset so I had to cut it to fit. I used the old HS for measurements.

Fourth step: Apply some thermal compund and mount the HS. Sounds easy right? Well, first I had to remove the CPU-cooler – it was to much in the way.. Then I put the screws with the washers in place. The spring that I should have used wasn’t long enough to reach to the holes, so I had to use the tallest, the one that normaly is used for the J-hooks, so the screws was a bit short. They weren’t too short, I just had to use some force to hold the spring down so I could screw the nut on. It wasn’t easy, but doable.. Here are some finishing shots:

As you see the PCI-e 1x slot is useless, and to use a VGA-card with passive cooling on the back could be a challenge.. It’s a shame, but it’s not a problem for me at the present time..

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12 Responses to “New HTPC: Replacing the north-bridge heatsink”

  1. Steve Says:

    Hey – Great post.

    I’ve got exactly the same setup, but was wondering what effect did replacing the northbridge have on temperatures? What temps are you seeing now?

    Cheers

  2. Pawel Says:

    Hi,
    Same question – what effect did replacing the northbridge have on temperatures? What temps are you seeing now?
    Regards,
    Pawel

  3. JrRRr Says:

    Sorry for the late reply, I’m in the process of moving to new place.
    I haven’t recorded any temperature readings. I just know that the Northbridge is quite cool to the touch. Of course that could be because of bad thermal compound assembly but I think I did a good job on that. I guess only time will tell if this was a good mod or not (I have read that there have been several RMA’s because of heat issues)
    Maybe later I’ll try to overclock, but I’m not really in to that kinda thing, since I got the opinion that there’s a reason that the chip is at it’s present speed.. ..kinda like a “don’t fix it if it ain’t broken”-policy.
    If anyone can link me to a program and/or guide that can make me a readout of the temperature in less than five minutes I might try it..

  4. Steve Says:

    Hey,

    Speedfan is quick and easy:
    http://www.almico.com/speedfan435.exe

    I think temp3 shown on the main page is the northbridge. Mine runs at around 80 idle..

    steve

  5. Raanan Says:

    Hi there.
    I was looking for this kind of “review” of this specific combo (motherboard, Mini ninja, TR HR-05) for ages. I accidently came accross your blog and was very glad to find all the pics and details. Thanks alot!
    Thanks to you I know all components can fit inside the Fusion, which was my big worry. Somehow I could’t find a single website that confirmed that they all can live together happily.

    regarding the temps, I use SpeedFan as well. Currently with the original HS fot the NB and original CPU HS\fan, I have a reading of 40 degrees for the CPU (55@max load, e.g. playing HD movies) and 83 for the NB (95-100@max load).

    I will be happy to find out what reading do you get…

  6. JrRRr Says:

    Things are kind of stressful here, as my wife and I, and our to kids, are moving to a new apartment, but I’ll try to test it out in the next week or so.. Any programs I should use for stress-testing the CPU /GPU. I have CPU-burn but don’t know how to test the GPU/NB. Is the “Test Custom Clocks” under “ATI Overdrive” in “Catalyst Control Center” enough for stress-testing purpose?

  7. Steve Says:

    I’m most interested in idle and standard load, eg just watching some tv/dvd, as that’s how mine spends most of its time.

  8. MisterE Says:

    Nice setup!
    I use the same setup with the original fans at the slowest speed. Idle temperature of the NB seems about 80C. Googled a bit but it seems that the mods have not much result, temperature wise.
    Would be great if you can pass us the results.

  9. MisterE Says:

    I now have replaced it with the thermalright. With the stock cooler the idle temperature was 79C and rise rapidly to 81C. Now the temperature is 78C and it stays at this tempearture when idle.
    I never felt the stock cooler but i replaced it because i dont have much airflow (only the 2 12cm fans at the slowest speed)

  10. Daniel Says:

    Hi.

    I accidently knocked my NB chip recently when i was replacing the CPU heatsink. I cleaned the paste off the bottom of the heatsink (except for the square padding) and now im not sure if i should have done that. I have the same mobo as you and was wondering if that paste (on the bottom of the heatsink, same as your pic of the bottom of the heatsink) was thermal paste or something specific to protect the capacitors it sits on.

    Thanks

  11. JrRRr Says:

    Hi Daniel. After my reconing there where two different attachment to the northbridge heatsink. The one in the middle is the thermal compund, and the square around is padding so that the heatsink stands more secure. Just rince of the compund on both the HS and the NB-chip and leave the padding, apply new compund/paste and you shuld be fine..

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