Saturday, December 24, 2011

Requiem for a processor – F550EXR

My 6 core 1100T is no more. I share some of the blame, but a huge portion of the blame goes to Zalman and a little bit to the vendor … it was not NewEgg (although I had thought so) as it does not appear in the order history. NCIX no longer tracks order history (what, no computers in a computer sales shop?) so I cannot pin it on them. But they have great sales now and again and I would go to them right after NewEgg.

Anyway … someone did not warn me that I was getting a sale price because the REV 1 version of the Zalman CNPS10x EXTREME was inappropriate for AMD users. The crappy spring clip is simply not strong enough to control this behemoth …

All the shots except for one were made with the F550EXR.

Its heavy and it sticks out from the board so far that it touches the sides of the case. Worse, it interferes with tall memory like the Vengeance series, so you need to get memory with smaller heat sinks. I had to swap my memory around to get it all to fit.

And then came the crashes. At first, you had to really smack the case to get a blue screen. But by last week, you only had to breathe near the case to trigger a blue screen … it was happening several times per day. Unacceptable.

REV 3, by the way, has a proper clip that replaces the top half of the bracket and screw the whole thing down nice and tight. No wiggle. This is obviously a well known issue and I am really pissed that they would not insist that a warning be posted to discourage AMD users from buying the REV 1.

So I still had the stock fan available and I thought I would swap them out to prevent further blue screens. Feeling poorly that day, I took a short cut (here is where I take some of the blame) and tried to release the clip while the main board was still in the case. And that did not go well. I eventually twisted the Zalman a bit to get at the clip, which released on the wrong side, tilting the whole mess back against the pressure.

So I wiggled the unit until the closest side released and finally lifted out the Zalman. And then I saw that the chip was no longer in the socket. And that is never a good thing.

I doubt that this needs much explaining …

Yikes … hundreds of pins mangled.

That’s just not a pretty sight. This is soft metal, so bending them back is pretty risky. Needless to say, it took me 45 minutes to get them fairly evenly straightened in rows and columns again. But first, you have to clean off the old interface material. I used the excellent stuff that came with the Zalman, but it is thick and gross so I used 99% pure Isopropyl Alcohol to clean it …

And when it was all said and done, I had managed to bust a pin. And that was that. Thank you Zalman.

Here’s a very small crop from the Fuji X10 in super macro mode … you can see that I actually broke two pins …

So I went to my favorite local computer store – PCCyber – and they have just gone out of business. They expanded like mad last year and the whole thing came tumbling down. Bummer.

So I called around to the few remaining stores that have not yet been wiped out by NewEgg, NCIX and TigerDirect and the only one that even stocks AMD CPUs was Everbest. I went down and they had the 1055T, which is a 6 core that is much slower than the 1100T. Oh well … that’s my long term penance for not taking the motherboard out of the case.

The chip went in with the stock cooler in 10 minutes. I checked the 1100T cooler against the 1055T cooler and the difference was curved blades on the latter versus straight blades. Turns out that straight blades are more effective but much louder, so I went for the curved blades. I want quiet.

I hit the CMOS during the first boot and ran the auto overclocker and it returned 3263mhz, which is not bad for a 2.8ghz chip. That’s on all 6 cores. The 1100T was running above 3800mhz though, so this is a definite downgrade … *sigh* …

The temperatures tell the tale …



The Zalman keeps the CPU 10 degrees cooler than the stock cooler does while running at half the speed.

So … if you get the newer revisions, it’s a great cooler, assuming it fits your case. But if you get snaked into buying the older revision, you will get screwed.

Merry Christmas to me from Zalman … not only did I have to throw away the cooler, but I had to replace the CPU with a downgrade. It’s just raining pain :-)