TennMax BGA Cooler as a BX Cooler

UPDATE: How to Remove the Greenie

Dumb of me not to include this. If you look at what holds it on, there are usually 2 nylon push-pins with small springs on them. These pins go through the board. If you turn the mobo over, you will see the base of these pins. Ont at a time, squeeze the base of each pin together and then push the pin through with a blunt object, like the base of a screwdriver. Notice that there are wire traces on the back of the board – if you break one, the board will malfunction. Add some grease or replace the greenie and insert. If you click over to TennMax, you can see how they do this for the G200 – pretty much the same idea.

I have been actively cooling the BX chipset for some time, rationalizing that cooler is better. Ars Technica recently posted their positive experience with cooling the BX – it resulted in achieving a higher stable bus speed than without cooling. I have been using coolers from two sources – one from ARX that is not available on a retail basis, and the TennMax Stealth video cooler.

TennMax recently introduced a new series of video coolers for BGA chipsets called the TennMax Lasagna BGA Detonator Cooler (Type A). This fits all TnT2 and TnT2 Ultra video cards and does a damn fine job of cooling them down, resulting in performance increases (Why these don’t come with these boards is beyond me.)

Anyway the Stealth works fine but is not an exact fit – requires a little fussing to get it on the board. But when TennMax told us about the new Lasagna cooler, I asked them about its dimensions and found it to be an EXACT fit to replace the “greenie” that you find on many BX boards.

So TennMax sent me one to test out as a BX cooler. When I received it I confirmed that it indeed is an exact replacement for the greenie – fits like a charm! Now remember that the Lasagna is higher than the greenie – it is 10 mm high compared to the greenie at about 5 mm. However, I have not found this to be a problem for any heatsinks I have used with it, including the Alpha P125. However, you should check clearances to be safe.

To show the benefits of actively cooling the BX chip, I ran a test to compare BX chip temperatures for three conditions:

One, the BX chip cooled by the “greenie” without grease,
Two, the BX chip cooled by a greased “greenie”, and
Three, the BX chip cooled by the TennMax Lasagna BGA “A” Cooler, with grease and no thermal pad.

The Table below shows temps for these three conditions:

PII 333 Sl2WY   
ConditionSpeedBX TempCPU Temp
Greenie No Grease33331 C29 C
Greenie No Grease50034 C32 C
Greenie with Grease33329 C29 C
Greenie with Grease50032 C32 C
TennMax Lasagna33328 C29 C
TennMax Lasagna50030 C32 C

Note the most significant improvement at 500 MHz – a 4 C drop in BX Temp from the “greenie” as shipped by motherboard manufacturers and as cooled by the TennMax cooler.

Now you look at this and probably wonder is this worth it? As you push performance beyond 100 MHz, you can expect a continuing rise in BX Temps. Also note that this is for a system temp of 25 C – very cool. This is because I am using my KryoTech Renegade – heat is pumped out the base, not the case. Most other cases will run hotter than this; as the system temp is a floor from which other temps rise, the higher the case temp the hotter the BX will be. And the higher the bus speed, the hotter the BX will become.

Considering these factors, I would not be surprised to see BX temps in the 40-45 C range very quickly in overclocked systems with stock “greenies”, with potentially deleterious effects on achieving stability at high bus speeds. After all, we see the benefits of cooling the CPU, so why not realize the same benfits from actively cooling the BX chip?

At a minimum, it would pay to take the “greenie” off and slap some grease on. The better approach is to actively cool the BX with the TennMax Lasagna. Some may quibble about the cost, but I look at it as a one-time investment amortized over the life of the board.

In short, I have a very simple philosophy: Cooler is Better.

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