The "Copperfoot" Blorb

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The chipset fan on my new Asus A7V133 board got noisy and hot. It didn’t take much for this newbie to see that the little HSF was a cheap, bad design. I began lurking around the forums for solutions, and soon found Blue Orbs everywhere! They’re loved because they’re cute, small, cute, have good air output, and they’re cute.

They’re hated because they’re poorly made, have awful thermal transfers, require lapping, their bases don’t cover the whole chip, and besides that, they’re cute – yet the boards are full of ‘if onlys’. We want to love these little guys! Here’s what worked for me:

Finished

You need a blue orb with its accessories, a few simple tools, some thermal goo and adhesive, and a 2″ (or just slightly larger) square of heavy gauge copper sheet. I got a “sample” from a roofing contractor. It’s a little less than 1/16″ thick.

Align

Cut a piece of paper exactly the same size as your copper square. Locate the mounting holes of the board or card you’re using by marking the hole locations on the paper. Punch out the mounting holes in the paper, lay it over the chip, and verify that the holes line up exactly. You can also see from the paper square if you’ll need to trim it to miss a nearby component on the board or card.

When everything lines up nicely, transfer the hole locations to the copper square, and drill holes approximately the same size as the mounting holes on the blorb. This will be the new heatsink, which will mount on the chip using the two spring clips that came with the blorb.

Pry it Off

Remove the fan from the blorb and set it aside, (3 screws on top). Bending the mounting tabs down just slightly, use a flat tip screwdriver to carefully pry the circular base out from under the fins, a tiny bit at a time.

When you get it apart, you’ll see why the thermal conductivity through the base is so harshly criticized, why it needed to be lapped, and why lapping really wouldn’t have helped much even if you did it. It also appears to me that heat would only ‘cook’ the bottom of the fan, and the only heat that actually reaches the fins to be dissipated transfers through the thin metal ring, which is an uneven force fit at best.

Apart

Test fit everything. Push the mounting pins through the holes in the copper to verify the fit. You may find that, for the blorb to clear the mounting pins, you need to grind off a little of the ‘missing’ fins.

Trim

If you want to get creative, you could now cut or grind the copper square into a circle to match the blorb’s shape (you may need to anyway, as I said before), but don’t forget to leave those mounting holes! Now, clean and polish the copper for better conductivity. Lots of options here – an SOS pad under running water, even a pencil eraser! Try not to touch the polished contact areas with bare fingers again as the copper will begin to tarnish immediately.

Bottom

I found the bottom of the blorb’s fins to be as uneven as the old base, so I lapped it for better contact with the copper (sigh).

Lapping

Using your favorite thermal goo/glue, carefully glue the bottom of the blorb’s fins and inner ring to the copper base, aligning the mounting holes with the missing fins. You can use a toothpick to ‘tool’ the goo around the individual fins.

Glue the fan onto the fin ring. This is not a thermal connection – I used superglue. Drop the fan mounting screws in the holes first (don’t glue them). This will help center the fan in the circle as you locate it on the ring. Remove the screws when everything is in place. Voilá, the Copperfoot Blorb!

Mount to board or card with goo and spring clips. The copper base is probably thicker than the original base, which will make the mount a little more secure.

Finished

Using the ‘Copperfoot’, heat will now exit the entire top of the chip and spread throughout the copper, some transferring directly into the fins. The fan cools the whole thing now much more effectively for heat transfer and removal than before, and the fan’s bearing stays cooler up in the air than it did when it was mounted directly on the heatsink.

$17 materials + $200 labor = a workable playpretty!

This can’t be a gigantic improvement because it’s a 2 dollar fix on a 15 dollar part, but it may make a few degrees difference, and if you’re overclocking, you know how all these little things add up. Sure, you could have watercooled it, but hey – some of you people live for this kind of stuff; just look at all these forum posts!

Danny Knox


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