Question : What’s the difference between an active heatsink and a passive one?

An active heat sink has a fan attached to it, to actively pull heat away from the heat sink and chip that lies underneath it.

A passive heat sink is just a heat sink, a piece of flat metal with fins on top that directs heat away from the chip set it is installed on.

An example of an active heat sink would be the heat sinks installed on top of today’s processors, Intel and AMD. They are big heat sinks with fans attached to them.

Another example would be a video card. Today’s modern video cards GPUs (Graphic Processor Unit) have heat sinks and fans installed on them because of their required workload.

An example of a passive heat sink would be a north bridge or math co processor chip set heat sink. These don’t tend to have fans on top of them because their work load doesn’t require it (yet).

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