Articles: Mainboards

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PCB Design and Functionality

Foxconn have been working on their BlackOps mainboard for a long time and did a very thorough job. Therefore, no wonder its layout looks very well thought-through and convenient.

Let’s start with the chipset cooling system. It all starts at the South Bridge that is topped with a common heatsink. There is a heatpipe leading from the South Bridge heatsink to the base o the North Bridge heatsink. The second heatpipes starts there and ends at the heatsink covering the transistors in the processor voltage regulator circuitry.

The most interesting part is the chipset North Bridge cooling system. It can work in four different modes that is why they called it “4 in 1 Quantum Cooler”.

The mainboard is shipped with a copper water block on the chipset North Bridge.

The water block lid can be easily unscrewed. There is also a set of additional retention screws, a rubber ring-pad and larger connecting pipes:

If you don’t overclock your system, this heatsink can run in passive mode, i.e. without any additional cooling.

If you overclock your system and increase the CPU Vcore, it will not be enough any more, so you can install a 50-mm fan on top of the heatsink. The air-cooling mode looks the least stylish of all four, because the heatsink is rectangular and you can only use two screws to fasten a square fan on it.

Moreover, a thick 25-mm fan wouldn’t let us install Zalman CNPS9700 LED processor cooler that we normally use for our tests. Theoretically, you can push the fan a little farther away and fasten it using only one screw, but it is easier to replace it with a standard 50-mm fan that is 10mm tall.

Finally, extreme users may install a small plastic container on top of the heatsink that allows using dry ice or liquid nitrogen for chipset North Bridge cooling.

The cooling system is pretty heavy, because tubes filled with liquid may cause additional pressure that is why all three heatsinks are attached very reliably with screws and the heatsink on processor voltage regulator transistors I also equipped with a special plate for even heat distribution.

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