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Heatsinks next to CPU socket?

Super User Asked on January 5, 2022

While researching the motherboards market, I’ve noticed that some have what seem like passive heatsinks to the top and left of the CPU socket (sometimes only on the top or on the left). For an example, see the design for Gigabyte’s H170-Gaming 3.

Excluding assumptions, my question is: what are these parts, and what is their purpose?

One Answer

They're usually heatsinks for the voltage regulator modules (VRM) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltage_regulator_module

A VRM lowers the voltage from +12V supply rail to whatever the CPU needs, typically around 0.5-1.5v.

As mentioned in the comments the southbridge and northbridge can also covered by a heatsink. These are however usually below the CPU socket and further away. Depending on the motherboard and the chips used a heatsink may be required or it could just be added for visual effect.

Most modern CPU's no longer have a seperate northbridge, this is now completely integrated in the CPU die, here's an example diagram where items 3(b,c) are the CPU VRMs and item 8 is the southbridge/IOH/PCH heatsink:

enter image description here

Answered by HoD on January 5, 2022

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