Often ignored - perfect cooling of the CPU
Hundreds of emails from readers are proof enough. Successful overclocking will fail if you have an unsuitable CPU cooler. This small but important part is often overseen when you want to tune up and overclock your PC system. Especially the new AMD Athlon processors are very delicate when it comes to heat. They do not have an integrated thermal protection such as Intel Pentium III CPUs.
Another problem that many PCs off the peg represent is a low budget cooler. Often these coolers are optimized for low cost instead of giving a good thermal solution. We took this fact as reason to test 17 coolers designed for socket-based processors. All coolers tested are suitable for socket462 (AMD Athlon and Duron) and Socket370 (Intel Pentium III and Celeron) as well as for the older but nonetheless still popular Socket7 (AMD K6-2 and K6-III).
The minimum requirement for the performance of a processor cooler is everything else but trivial: The cooler shall provide the best cooling effect possible. That means it has to conduct the heat off the CPU core. This has to happen very quickly. Otherwise excessive heat is building up, leading to the destruction of the processor. In addition to that, there is another requirement. The noise of the cooler should not disturb you in any case.
Therefore, it is not surprising that cheap coolers, which can be found everywhere in the shops, turn out to be of rather poor design. These cheap products can easily be identified. The heat sink of the cooler is made of cast iron instead of aluminum or copper and the fan comes without a acceptable bearing. Already after very short time the cooler quits its job and ends where it should - in the rubbish possibly taking the CPU with it.