October '97 System Cooling Comparisonby Anand Lal Shimpi on October 7, 1997 3:05 PM EST
- Posted in
Is your CPU running too hot? Is your heatsink just not doing the job? Sounds like you'll have to bring in the big-guns for this one, but is the mighty peltier too good to be true?
Peltier coolers are basically refrigeration units for your CPU. They consist of a Peltier Junction, a Heatsink, and a Fan, and if used properly can provide great cooling for a hefty price, that is IF used properly.
There are many Peltier coolers in the market today and choosing one is often a difficult task. Here are some considerations to take into account when looking for a Peltier cooler:
- Temperature Sensors - these enable the Peltier Junction (the thing that cools) to power up/down according to the heat level of the CPU, this prevents condensation from forming on the face of the Peltier (the cool side)...and well, water and computer peripherals really don't mix well. A must have for any Peltier cooler, refuse to buy one without a Temperature Sensor.
- Temperature Alarm - this is the perfect addition to any Peltier cooler, it allows the user to know, via a nice audible alarm, if the temperature of the Peltier is getting too high or if the Peltier fails. Although they are kind of bulky, they can rest perfectly at the bottom of any case.
- Ball Bearing Fan + Heatsink - there are two sides to everything, including peltier coolers, literally! The peltier junction (the thing that cools) has two faces, one which is pressed against the CPU that is ultra-cool and another facing upwards that is ultra-hot. In order to benefit from the Peltier you need a good heatsink/ball bearing fan on top of the peltier junction. Make sure that the one shipped with your unit is adequate to dissipate the enormous amounts of heat generated by the peltier junction.
I Really, Really, Want One...
Now that we've taken care of the basics when looking for a Peltier lets go back and answer the big question, how do I know if a peltier is right for me?
By all means, if you don't have a hot CPU, don't buy a Peltier. I would recommend using a Peltier cooler on AMD K5/6's, Cyrix 6x86/MX's, and Intel Pentium MMX's (when overclocking). If you don't plan on overclocking, why use a Peltier? No CPU out today (although the Pentium II comes pretty #$@% close) REQUIRES a Peltier cooler so if you're not going to overclock there is no point in adding more heat to your system by buying a peltier. I mentioned earlier that Peltier coolers generate mucho heat. If you decide to use one you must have a large or well ventilated case, otherwise the heat generated by the Peltier junction will cancel out the cooling advantages of it. You should always make sure that nothing is obstructing the fan mounted on the Peltier and it is always best to have another fan blowing above the Peltier for added security.
A World of Choices...
There are many Peltiers out on the market today but you can only trust a small percentage of them. Specifically, the Megatrend's Active Peltier Cooler, and the Computernerd Peltier Cooler. I personally use the Megatrends Active Peltier unit, but I have been informed that Sage Computer Solution carries the real mother of all peltier coolers equipped with a 1" heatsink!!! I would recommend all three of them for anyone interested in a Peltier cooler for your system. If you really want to do some serious overclocking you may want to try that super peltier from Sage.
Now that you've decided on using a Peltier lets try and get the best out of it. A little word of advice, I know most of you should realize this but there are some that don't. When using a Peltier, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, use thermal compound between the Peltier Junction and the CPU. Peltiers are designed for use without the addition of any third party components, such as thermal compound. When attaching your Peltier be sure to make the surface of the Peltier flush with CPU, and try to center it perfectly if possible so all parts of the CPU get cooled.
But what if a Peltier isn't right for you....