PSA: AMD Socket C-32 CPU Coolers

I’ve started to build what I’ve dubbed “medium iron” virtualization servers: 12-24 cores, up to 128GB RAM, etc etc. For this particular task, AMD is the bang-for-the-buck king; they can’t touch Intel right now on per-core performance, but if what you want are tons and tons of cores and lots of memory address capability for cheap, they can’t be beat.

big iron is dead.  long live "medium iron"
big iron is dead. long live "medium iron"

One problem: the new Socket C32 CPUs, such as the Opteron 4180/4184/418x, don’t come with a cooler… and there are only two coolers AT ALL on the market that specifically state they support Socket C32 – the Noctua NH-12DO, which is a fine, quiet, lotsa-air-flow cooler but very pricey at typically $80 or so (and rather hard to find), and some Dynatron that everybody and their brother warns sounds like a drill press even at idle (and isn’t cheap either). Making matters worse, the Noctua is an unusually large, super-tall design that just plain won’t work in a lot of cases.

If you dig further, you’ll find some hardware enthusiasts mentioning that the Socket C32 “should accept most Socket F coolers”, going further to mention that they’ll need to be a certain “pitch” – which usually isn’t specified on the cooler’s details page.

Well, as a public service announcement, here’s your specific inexpensive alternative for Socket C32 cooling: the Thermaltake A4022 (sometimes aka the “TR2-R1”). At under $20 retail, it’s somewhere south of 1/4 the price of the Noctua cooler; it’s also much easier to find, and it’s a standard low-profile design that fits in a lot more places.

With two of the A4022 coolers installed, my dual Opteron 4180 system idles at about 40C and runs about 65C when running 12 instances of K7Burn to maximize thermal output. Better yet, this was a deliberately low precision installation: I put a small dab of generic thermal grease on top of each CPU, and did not remove the thermal tape stripe from the bottom of each cooler (which generally will give you lower temps, if you properly grease the CPU/cooler interface). So, no “overclocker tricks” required – these coolers, in my testing, “just work” perfectly well.