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Xigmatek Porter N881: Just What the Doctor Ordered?
George Ross, December 27, 2008

Chipset cooling has become just as important as CPU cooling if you are into reaching the maximum overclock for you CPU. Nowadays motherboard vendors are offering some really nice chipset cooling a lot of times using copper and heat-pipes, but what if your motherboard chipset cooling solution just doesn't cut the mustard? This is where the Xigmatek Porter N881 comes in. With its H.D.T. (Heat-pipe Direct Touch) and 80mm fan attachment option (fan not included) the Porter N881 could be just what you are looking for.

Packaging & Contents

The packaging of the Porter N881 is adequate and is easy to open. It comes with all the hardware needed to get the cooler installed, the necessary Allen wrench, leveling foam pad, white thermal grease, and anti-vibration rubber inserts to install the optional 80mm fan. There are no extras at all so you will have to be very careful not lose any of the pieces depending on what motherboard you install it on.

Installing the N881
The Porter N881 installation could be considered easy if you were comparing it to under water welding, brain surgery, or rocket science. It is not an insurmountable task it is just not as 'easy' as Xigmatek would have you believe. Although the instructions were well written and had decent illustrations.

When it came time to peel off the protective plastic from the base of the heatsink it left a sticky residue which had to be scrubbed off. After the heatsink base was thoroughly cleaned off then came biggest problem which is that in being compatible with so many different configurations getting the waisted shanks (the arms that attach the heatsink base to the mounting screws) to line up with the mounting holes on the motherboard is a bit of a problem and complicates the installation. After the waisted shanks are properly aligned the remaining installation is not too difficult.

This cooler is huge so special consideration should be given to the fact that it will most likely prevent you from using a PCI express slot or using a multiple GPU setup depending on your motherboards layout. Do to the layout of the Gigabyte GA-EP45C-DS3R and Zalman CNPS9700 LED that were used in testing this chipset cooler it was impossible to use a fan in conjunction with the heatsink to get any active cooling temperatures.

Test Hardware
The Porter N881 does not officially support the Intel P45 chipset as it is a somewhat older chipset cooling solution. The thermal grease provided by Xigmatek was not used instead I opted to go with artic silver 5.

Processor Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 @ 3.33GHz
Motherboards GIGABYTE GA-EP45C-DS3R
Memory G.SKILL 4GB DDR3 1333 (PC2 10666) @ 667 MHz (DDR 1333) 9-9-9-24 Dual Channel Mode
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda ES.2 ST3250310NS 250GB 7200 RPM 32MB cache SATA 3.0Gb/s
Video Card POWERCOLOR Radeon HD 4870
Catalyst 8.12
Optical Disk Drive Pioneer DVR-112DBK
Power Supply Rosewill Xtreme RX750-S-B 750W
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1

Cooling Performance
The Porter N881 actually has a higher temperature at an idling state than the aluminum heatsink that came with the GA-EP45C-DS3R and only offers the same cooling when under load. So the only way to improve cooling performance over the aluminum heatsink provided with the GA-EP45C-DS3R is to go with active cooling which in this case would mean having to go with a smaller CPU cooler defeating the purpose of overclocking the CPU.

Overall I would have to say that the Xigmatek Porter N881 is not one of the best choices out there for chipset cooling do to its lackluster passive cooling performance and an installation that is not as easy as Xigmatek would have you to believe. The Porter N881 does get the job done, but I feel it could be done better.

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