The cooling system of Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme mainboard is if more sophisticated design. The heatsinks on the processor voltage regulator circuitry transistors and chipset South Bridge are the same as on Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 mainboard. The North Bridge, however, has a complex hybrid cooler that can also become part of a liquid-cooling solution.
The water block on the chipset North Bridge can be included into a liquid-cooling contour:
The plate that serves as a water block base has special seats and retention holes for an additional heatsink.
We have already seen something like that when we reviewed Gigabyte GA-EP45T-Extreme mainboard. However, the additional heatsink used on this mainboard is even more complex. It consists of two arrays: the first one is connected to the chipset North Bridge heatsink with two heatpipes, while the second one is combined with the first one by another two heatpipes and is located on the mainboard back panel:
At this point we will not yet discuss the efficiency of these modifications made to the additional heatsink. Let’s just take a look at what it looks like when put together:
And this is the view from the other side:
The additional heatsink takes away one of the PCI Express x1 slots. Moreover, the pin-connector for the audio ports appears right beneath this heatsink, so it is pretty hard to reach. These seem like rather insignificant losses, don’t they? But in return you get an exclusively unique looking system that will please your eye on a daily basis and surprise your colleagues and friends. But that’s about it. This extremely interesting and, obviously, expensive solution has no practical value of any kind.
I will not deny the data provided by Gigabyte themselves stating that this system offers 30% more efficient cooling. We will not try to find out against what system and in what conditions they compared their solution. Instead, let’s try to understand why we might need a cooling system like that in the first place. Of course, it serves to ensure more efficient cooling of the chipset North Bridge. And when do we usually need better North Bridge cooling? Of course, when we overclock processors by raising the voltages. However, here is the tricky part: we needed to increase the chipset North Bridge voltage to ensure stability during overclocking of the previous two CPU generations. Successful overclocking of the new Intel Core i7 CPUs doesn’t require any NB voltage increase and it can stay at the low nominal setting of 1.1V. In other words, any cooling system will do just fine here, even a small heatsink like the base one on Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme. I checked.
I could come up with another use for this advanced chipset cooler. Any other mainboard employing additional PCI Express bus controllers could use this add-on heatsink. These controllers run very hot and are usually included into the chipset cooling system, because they heat it up seriously. However, I have never seen any heatsinks like that on the boards that could really use them. Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme is not one of them, because it uses no additional PCI Express bus controllers. So, what does Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme need an enhanced chipset North Bridge cooling system?
One of the possible explanations here is that the developers were just doing their job by inertia. They have first come up with a system like that not that long ago when they designed GA-EP45T-Extreme mainboard. Of course, the engineers continued their work trying to make the cooler even more efficient. How could they have known beforehand that it wouldn’t be necessary anymore? Another possible explanation is the reckoning of the marketing team betting on the users’ psychology. Every customer understands that a mainboard with an advanced chipset cooling system is better than a board with an ordinary one. It is evident to each and every one, isn’t it? The truth, however, is available only to those of you who have read our article called “Intel Core i7-920 Overclocking Guide”, but, I guess, it is too late anyway: you have already purchased Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme, although you could have gone with a much more affordable Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 that is just as good.