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Chipset Cooling System and Its Efficiency

Now that we have successfully removed all the packaging and promo stickers from GA-EP45T-Extreme mainboard, here is what we see:

There are a few things that immediately catch your eye. For example, there are a lot of PCI slots on this board: too many for a contemporary mainboard, especially for one of the top models. However, I would like to encourage you to start discussing the features of this solution with its cooling system. It takes the central spot on the PCB and has a few surprises for us:

Everything starts and finishes quite traditionally. The chipset South Bridge heatsink is a copper plate with a set of fins and a heatpipes coming out of it. The only thing I would like to specifically stress here is its secure screw-retention that replaced the traditional plastic clips.

However, when it comes to the design of the chipset North Bridge heatsink, I can’t figure out Gigabyte’s logic. There is a copper plate at the base with a heatpipe from the chipset South Bridge leading to it – it is the only possibility in this case. It would have been nice if the heatpipes leading to other heatsinks had started here, too. On top there should have been one more plate serving as a base for a water block, however, all we see are thin heatsink fins. Only then there comes a unit with heatpipes, another base plate and a water-cooled block:

I don’t quite understand why Gigabyte engineers separated the main heatsinks on the chipset components and additional heatsinks on the processor voltage regulator transistors? The latter ones work at only half of their potential helping just a little bit to cool the chipset bridges. The situation in our case is yet not so bad because the North Bridge heatsink fins are pretty low, so they transfer the heat well enough… But why did they need them in the first place?

So, the heat that manages to go up the heatsink fins will heat up a massive copper plate and get taken off by the liquid-cooling system. If we are not using one at all, two heatpipes will help transfer this heat to additional heatsinks on the processor voltage regulator components.

The second heatsink looks quite common, and some fins of the first one are a little larger than usual. The heatsink array stands at the rear connector panel and should transfer some of the heat outside the system case.

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