To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Discussion about old PC hardware.

To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby EdmondDantes » 2018-9-15 @ 18:13

So, my Win98 old gaming PC is fixed and recapped, but it still at times acts wonky. This seems to always coincide with when I turn the air conditioner in my room off. The AC (a window unit) is basically right next to the PC so I feel like the PC is getting cooling benefit from it, but... being next to the PC means its blowing on me when I'm in my PC chair, which this AC (due to age-induced quirks) is either on full force, fan only, or not at all.

Having aching cold hands after an hour of Myst is not fun.

So I'm starting to think this PC needs some serious new heatsinks for its CPU. It's that Epox-8KTA motherboard I've mentioned previously. I'd also like to mod the Voodoo 3 2000 within it because I think its contributing.

But the thing is...

Well, like, do I have to look for a heat sink specifically for this CPU/socket model (not sure what the socket for this mobo would be but I guess I could look it up), or could I just get any heatsink that looks the right size, with a fan to match, and it would do just as well? Like I've seen some Pentium 4 heatsinks which look lovely and look like they would fit but I don't wanna waste money.

I'm also looking in to "ghetto" solutions, like just getting a small, permanently-plugged-in fan that I can sit slightly inside the tower case (the actual case is a Thermaltake V3 Black which seems like it would have plenty of room for this) and blow on both components, but I'm not sure if that would be better or worse.

Any thoughts before I go wasting money?

Thanks in advance.
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby Errius » 2018-9-15 @ 18:47

I have a pair of fingerless gloves for cold days.
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby SW-SSG » 2018-9-15 @ 19:00

Define "wonky".

I'll say right now that P4 s478 HSFs are not at all compatible with socket A processors; the mounting scheme is completely different.
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby EdmondDantes » 2018-9-15 @ 19:37

To define "wonky" = It'll lock up or suddenly return "this has performed an illegal operation" errors for everything (including Explorer) after the strenuous task of... typing articles in Wordpad for a little bit. The last time this happened it somehow corrupted the C drive to the extent that when I plugged said drive into a different PC via a USB adapter, every file and folder on it was labeled with gibberish ASCII. Admittedly, this coincided with when I was doing file transfers (I have the unofficial USB drivers installed so I can transfer stuff with a USB thumb drive) but even then, it feels like that shouldn't have hurt so much.

Just an hour ago, I turned it on with a different hard drive to see if it would work. It worked fine, then I went to restart with a Linux LiveCD in and it for some reason hung (past the BIOS boot screen but before loading any actual OS). I turned it off and let it sit for a bit and then tried again, and it worked fine. No problems after that, and the better functionality coincided with not just turning the AC on but also taking the side off the case.

(By the way to the person who suggested fingerless gloves... my face and eyes also get cold).

(And yeah, this might just be Windows 98SE being wacky but like I said, it seems there's a pattern--I'll go months at a time without any sort of issue then suddenly lots of stuff that makes me fear for the PC's health happens all at once).

Seems like dedicated Socket-A fans are still easy to find aftermarket. I did some googling and there seems to be a bit of a rabbit hole here (Copper vs Aluminum and all that).
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby Cobra42898 » 2018-9-15 @ 22:01

What about a duct directing the AC to the air inlet in the PC? Solves two problems at once.
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby ODwilly » 2018-9-15 @ 23:21

Edit: Sorry ignore my post. I somehow missed the second sentence of your post. Edit #2 I see that motherboard uses a VIA kt-133 chipset. Have you tried different chipset drivers? There is also a issue with the ide and pci busses on these old VIA chipsets caused by the north bridge/sb where using an SB Live! Can cause data corruption, stability issues, and other weird symptoms. If you are using an SB Live! Try removing it, uninstalling the drivers (or a fresh 98 install) and try using an Aureal, C-media, or Yamaha based audio card.
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby EdmondDantes » 2018-9-16 @ 09:06

Cobra42898 wrote:What about a duct directing the AC to the air inlet in the PC? Solves two problems at once.


I actually tried something like that (sticking a vacuum tube with nozzles on either end, one nozzle sticking out of the AC's grate and the other in one of the openings in back). I should do that again, I just started to get worried about whether condensation was building on the hardware and also in general wondering how much it was helping.... well, that and the vacuum tube I had was so short it often just came out. I need a better one.

@ODwilly... the sound card is an SB16 ISA for DOS compatibility. I'll look at chipset drivers.

As an update.... right now the PC seems to be working just fine, so maybe it was just mad I hadn't used it in awhile? I managed to find decent prices on a heat sink meant for Socket-A boards as well, so hopefully that'll help... I still might want to put a heatsink on my Voodoo 3 (it has one but its the stock one and you guys know how hot Voodoo 3s can get).
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby ODwilly » 2018-9-16 @ 21:30

Huh strange. Sometimes old hardware is just tempermental! :)
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby dionb » 2018-9-16 @ 21:59

You've got two things to look for here when it comes to the heatsink:

1) how much heat the heat sink can dissipate. More is generally better.
2) mounting system

Any heat sink with the correct mounting system will work, but for effective cooling it needs to be able to remove enough heat. A Socket A heatsink on an So7 is overkill, but should work fine. An So7 heatsink on a later SoA CPU will probably lead to a fried CPU. SoA is the end of the line for that type of mounting, so you need to focus on the later model SoA heatsinks.

Fans are easier. It's basically the same two variables:
1) airflow generated
2) mounting method

However the mounting is pretty universal (outside of custom designs in Orb-type coolers, for instance). So you can take that old SoA heatsink with loud, ineffective stock fan and replace it with anything newer that moves at least as much air. I personally like to minimize noise, which a nice Arctic Cooling or Noctua fan usually does pretty painlessly while offering the same airflow as the old worn beast - but you can also go for increasing airflow significantly. Either way, it's as easy as finding a suitable fan in the right size and screwing it in (or using whatever other type of rubber thingies the heatsink designer used to attach the original fan).
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby gryffinwings » 2018-9-16 @ 22:50

Which CPU are you running, normally a regular AMD cooling solution fine for some processors and you can find those on eBay. Also, it looks like the Northbridge on that computer is passively cooled, might not hurt to see about finding a better heatsink for it or heatsink and fan.

Also ensure fresh thermal paste is applied correctly, you don't want to be adding too much.

Anyways what are your complete system specs, CPU, RAM amount, Hard Drive, the case, etc. If running Windows 98, it's picky and doesn't like having too much RAM. I think the max is 512MB. Anyways this is just speculation.
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby dionb » 2018-9-16 @ 23:29

AMD's stock HSF worked fine 15 years ago, but highly likely the fan isn't operating anywhere near as well now as then. Just replacing that might do the trick.
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby gdjacobs » 2018-9-17 @ 01:02

IIRC, the stock HSF that came with Athlon XP chips was sleeve bearing (junk), although the heatsink is a nice skived unit. I replaced mine with a ball bearing fan when the original failed and it gave good service from then on.
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby kaputnik » 2018-9-17 @ 02:19

EdmondDantes wrote:<snip>... being next to the PC means its blowing on me when I'm in my PC chair, which this AC (due to age-induced quirks) is either on full force, fan only, or not at all.
<snip>


99% chance it's just a hung/broken thermostat. Should be cheaply available as a spare part :)
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby EdmondDantes » 2018-9-17 @ 18:12

kaputnik wrote:
EdmondDantes wrote:<snip>... being next to the PC means its blowing on me when I'm in my PC chair, which this AC (due to age-induced quirks) is either on full force, fan only, or not at all.
<snip>


99% chance it's just a hung/broken thermostat. Should be cheaply available as a spare part :)


It's not the thermostat... well it kind of is.

[We're talking about a Window AC unit now, peeps. Will return to computer discussion momentarily]

Thing is, I can adjust the thermostat, but for some reason it does this thing where at certain temperatures, the compressor will kick on and kick off repeatedly, which messes with my house and once caused the circuit breaker to trip. So I decided to just always leave it at the top and manually turn it to fan-only if I need to.

It's not even that old, and actually had this quirk since last summer, so yeah [shrug]

@Griffonwings - PC in question is 700mhz AMD-K6 (2?). Epox-8KTA+ motherboard (Recently recapped). RAM isn't the issue as it only has 512mb. Hard drive is 80gb (tho I actually at first had a Laptop hard drive--60gb--in there using an adapter, but that's the one where the C partition got corrupted somehow). The case is a Thermaltake V3 Black.

My reason for thinking its heat is because this comp behaves just fine on cooler days or when the AC has run for awhile... its only when the room is warm (IE comfortable for me) that weird things happen. Altho when I check system health in the BIOS I've never seen it say the CPU is running hotter than 30 degrees celcius.

... Hey, question for the forum: We all know PCs can overheat, but can they also overcool?
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby Errius » 2018-9-17 @ 18:52

In general, the cooler the better.

Check that fans are all functional and spinning at their maximum speeds.

You can put in more powerful case fans. See the amperage of the existing fans and get something stronger (e.g. replace 0.8A with 1.6A). This will mean more noise though.

Check for accumulated dust that might be blocking air flow.

Put in additional fans, like one of those expansion card coolers that attach to the mounting bracket and blow air onto the video card/memory. But again, more noise.

Adding heat sinks to hot chips is a good idea as well.
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby kaputnik » 2018-9-17 @ 19:08

EdmondDantes wrote:
kaputnik wrote:
EdmondDantes wrote:<snip>... being next to the PC means its blowing on me when I'm in my PC chair, which this AC (due to age-induced quirks) is either on full force, fan only, or not at all.
<snip>


99% chance it's just a hung/broken thermostat. Should be cheaply available as a spare part :)


It's not the thermostat... well it kind of is.

[We're talking about a Window AC unit now, peeps. Will return to computer discussion momentarily]

Thing is, I can adjust the thermostat, but for some reason it does this thing where at certain temperatures, the compressor will kick on and kick off repeatedly, which messes with my house and once caused the circuit breaker to trip. So I decided to just always leave it at the top and manually turn it to fan-only if I need to.

It's not even that old, and actually had this quirk since last summer, so yeah [shrug]


Well, my experience comes from larger equipment (I'm a marine engineer), so can't say for sure, but can't imagine anything else than that the on/off hysteresis is a built in functon in the thermostat in those small home units. I'd still try replacing the thermostat.

Yeah, repeated starts and stops will do that, the starting current of the compressor motor is many times higher than the normal working current, and a small unit like that certainly got no soft start circuit.

Oh, and sorry for going OT :)
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby Errius » 2018-9-17 @ 20:16

No, you have the most interesting job of anyone here AFAIK.

Electrics, hydrodynamics and engine design are all very different fields. Are marine engineers supposed to know everything about all of them or do they specialise in specific areas?
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby kaputnik » 2018-9-17 @ 21:03

Errius wrote:No, you have the most interesting job of anyone here AFAIK.

Electrics, hydrodynamics and engine design are all very different fields. Are marine engineers supposed to know everything about all of them or do they specialise in specific areas?


Well, I'd say we're the ultimate generalists. A merchant ship has all the amenities of a modern city; HVAC systems, lighting, black/grey water treatment plants, clean water supply, cooking facilities, pools, and so on, and on top of that we got everything related to the navigation and propulsion; radar systems, electronic charting, radio, automation systems, diesel engines, electric power generation, fuel and lub oil cleaning, steam systems, and so on, it's really too much to list it all here. We have to know enough to maintain everything, and repair it in case of breakdowns, there's noone to call for help on the oceans. Of course we know enough to rectify design misses - every ship is like a beta, you never build more than a few ships according to the same drawings - but we're certainly no design engineers. We don't design any complicated stuff from scratch.

Of course everyone specialises to some extent in the stuff that happens to interest them; I'd say my favourite areas are automation systems and other computer related stuff onboard, oil purifiers, diesel engines, and anything chemistry/metallurgy related.

Electrical engineering is a separate department though. I'm the first engineer on my ship, but I've worked a couple of years as an electrical engineer before, so I've picked up a little bit in that field too. Quite useful for our electrical engineer, he loves having someone to contemplate problems with :)

Best thing with the job is that no day is like the other. It never ever gets boring. Been working with this for over 15 years now, and still can't wait to go back onboard again the last days of my shore leaves :D

And once again sorry, this time for going wildly off topic :>
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby Errius » 2018-9-17 @ 21:18

Yes, little floating cities. In your experience what is the most troublesome system on a ship -- what is it that eventually sends them to the scrapyard?
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Re: To what extent are heatsinks/fans cross-compatible?

Postby kaputnik » 2018-9-17 @ 21:41

Errius wrote:Yes, little floating cities. In your experience what is the most troublesome system on a ship -- what is it that eventually sends them to the scrapyard?


That depends completely on the ship. Here it's definitely the automation system. We had this wonderful old ABB Selma system (which btw was a really cool modular 8086 system (and yes, I kept the CPU and FPU when it was scrapped :D)), but they stopped making spare parts, so we had to retrofit a modern system, that really sucks. On my last ship it was the licence built Wärtsilä 46 main engines, they had quite a lot of material problems.

What sends them to Alang is usually the 25 year classification. Before that, they are classed according to the rules that were in effect when the ship was built. At the 25 year classification, they have to comply to the same rules as a newly built ship. It's usually far too expensive to rebuild/retrofit a ship which doesn't have all that many years of lifetime left anyways according to that.
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