Operation Shut the NUC Up!

I’ve got a NUC in my office that I like, and it does good compute for various BOINC tasks at a decent efficiency, but it has a major problem. And that problem is that the fan on it is exceedingly loud when spooled up. It’s a little laptop fan, trying to cool a near-desktop grade part (burning close to 50W under full load), and it just doesn’t work very well. CPUs throttle, everything’s hot, it’s loud…

I’ve seen some proof of concept cooling systems for this floating around the internet that pop a hole in the case, and stick a heatsink on top. The main system cooling is a heatpipe out to the little radiator, like a laptop, but apparently there are gains to be had if you just toss a heatsink on top of the heatpipe - it pulls out enough heat to be of some value.

Tired of listening to this thing howl away, I got bored and decided to try it. I grabbed a random heat pipe tower from my office, pulled the NUC out of the case, slapped a bit of Arctic Silver 5 on it, stuck the tower on the heatpipe, and… heyo! Major difference. Temps down, clocks up.

Toss a fan on it, 5V the fan, it turns, and after some tweaking, I discovered that a hair of base airflow on the stock fan (1000-1500 RPM) moves enough air through the heatsink on the heatpipe that the combination keeps the CPU cool, at full rated turbo clocks. Mostly.

A touch of undervolt later, and it’s rock solid at 3.2Ghz on all 4C/8T. And looks, well… Kerbal.


Next steps: Cutting a halfway neat hole in the top of the case so that I can stick this through an actual case, and securing the heatsink down with something more than just “slap it on top and leave it.”

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Did you… just stick a giant tower HSF on a NUC board? I can’t even :stuck_out_tongue:

Yes. Yes, I did.

It’s not like this is the first time I’ve done something crazy like this!


What does it look like without the added cooler? Is there original heat pipe assembly still under it?

Yeah, it still has the original heatpipe. I debated pulling it entirely, but I’m not sure I can fit a normal heatsink down there without a lot of metal work I don’t feel like doing, and this works well enough to make a big difference. I’ll get some better photos as I do the more permanent modifications. This is part of a set of projects to make better use of the solar in my office for BOINC & other compute tasks this summer - I have a lot of energy available to me on a sunny day, and want to make good use of it to do F@H/BOINC/etc with the surplus.