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Heat Sink is defined as a metal conductor specially designed to conduct (and radiate) heat.
Metal is often seen on the motherboard, various computer components and cards, etc. This is because the chip underneath the metal gets hot when it is working and needs to be cooled off. The CPU, Northbridge and Southbridge chips commonly have metal heat sinks and sometimes fans on them for cooling purposes. Also, as memory sticks become ever faster, they too are seen to have heat sinks, especially Rambus, DDR2 and DDR3.
Video cards also use a lot of electricity, which is converted into heat that must be dissipated to prevent damage to the card. The cooling devices commonly used to transfer the heat elsewhere are listed below.
- Heat sink: a passive cooling device that uses a heat conductive metal such as aluminum or copper to bring the heat in contact with air.
- Computer fan: an active cooling part that is usually used with a heat sink. Fans require maintenance and possible replacement. The fan speed can be changed for more efficient or quieter cooling.
- Water block: a water block is a heat sink modified to use water instead of air. It is mounted on the graphics processor or other circuit and has a hollow inside. Water is pumped through the water block, transferring the heat into the water, which is then usually cooled in a radiator. This is the most effective cooling solution without extreme modification.