A heatsink is a device that is attached to a microprocessor chip to keep it from overheating by absorbing its heat and dissipating it into the air. Generally, a microprocessor\’s temperature should not run in excess of 50-55 degrees Celsius while under a full load. In Intel computers, the heatsink is positioned either on top of the microprocessor (in computers with a ZIF socket) or on the side of it (in later
s in which the microprocessor fits into a interface). The heatsink may be held in place on the microprocessor by a clip.
To ensure that the heatsink can absorb as much heat as possible, is used to create a seal between the two devices. When you buy a computer or a separate microprocessor, the heatsink comes with it. Most heatsinks are aluminum and have fins that extend from the base. An active heatsink is one that comes with a fan, sometimes called a heatsink/fan combo (HSF). A passive heatsink is one that comes without a fan. A heat sink and fan is often used in modern computer systems to keep the processor cool.
Without it, the processor could easily overheat and become damaged. Therefore, this combination is often found in most low- to mid-range computer systems, and even in high-end notebooks. However, for PCs and computer systems that boast a more powerful processor, a more powerful cooling solution is required, such as liquid cooling. The heat sink is a thermal conductive material that quickly carries heat away from the processor. It is designed to have the greatest amount of surface area in a small volume of space, so aside from the flat contact surface the heat sink has many thin fins that facilitate heat dissipation through thermal convection, which means the heat is further carried away from the heat sink itself by air.
Often the normal flow of air is not enough to allow for quick cooling, so a fan has to be added. Together, the HSF is the least expensive cooling solution available, with efficiency varying according to the heat sink design and fan power.