One of the major problems during system overclocking is ensuring proper cooling of all its components – not just the CPU, but also the mainboard chipset, which works at higher frequency and voltage settings. And since overclocked systems are often equipped with liquid-cooling solutions, overclockers are especially interested in mainboards that are designed to become part of liquid-cooling system or are equipped with hybrid chipset coolers that can work as both: liquid and air solutions. Although mainboards like that are not very widely spread for understandable reasons, we managed to get our hands on them quite a few times already. The most memorable platform so far was Foxconn BlackOps mainboard:
The chipset North Bridge heatsink can function as a regular air-cooled heatsink topped with a small fan for extra efficiency. However, if you use a liquid-cooling system in your computer, you can turn this heatsink into a liquid-cooled unit by using the enclosed lid with connecting pipes in it. Moreover, the mainboard is also bundled with a special plastic stack that allows cooling the chipset North Bridge with dry ice or even liquid nitrogen. Of course, you will not need to go so extreme for everyday tasks, but extreme overclockers will definitely appreciate this thoughtfulness on Foxconn’s part. “4-in-1” cooling system of Foxconn BlackOps mainboard is truly unique; it is more of an exception than a typical example. At this point liquid-cooling is still the most reliable and efficient cooling method for overclocker systems working in extreme conditions for significant periods of time.
The hybrid cooling solution implemented on Asus Maximus Extreme mainboard could be a perfect example:
Asus Maximus Extreme
The water block on the chipset North Bridge can become part of an existing liquid-cooling contour. However, even without it the chipset will stay perfectly cooled: several heatpipes distribute the heat over a set of heatsinks with large combined effective surface. One of these heatsinks even leads to the rear of the system case.
The cooling system of Gigabyte GA-EP45T-Extreme mainboard that we are going to talk about today, looks very similar to the previous example. At first glance it seems to include just a regular air cooler, several heatsinks and connecting heatpipes. The chipset North Bridge heatsink can also become part of a liquid-cooling system if necessary:
Our today's hero: Gigabyte GA-EP45T-Extreme
In reality, the cooling system on Gigabyte GA-EP45T-Extreme mainboard is far from ordinary, as you may have thought from the photo above. The truth is that the picture shows only the base configuration… Our today’s review is going to reveal all the details about the board’s cooling solution, its functionality, numerous BIOS settings and overclocking success.