Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 45nm
Asus Maximus II Gene mATX motherboard
OCZ ReaperX DDR2-800 4GB kit
Sparkle Calibre P980X+ geForce 9800GTX+ video card
Thermaltake Toughpower Cable Management 850 watt ESA power supply
Cooler Master Ammo 533 midtower
Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
Recently I reviewed the Asus Maximus II Gene, their upper-end LGA 775 mATX motherboard. Though I still don’t have a suitable mATX case for it, the rig will eventually find its way into a small form factor case, and the Falcon II fits the bill.
Before I get started, I’d like to mention the use of the Falcon II with LGA 1366. The baseplate included with the cooler is for LGA 775. An LGA 1366 baseplate is not included, though the instruction manual mentions the availability of an “optional LGA 1366 backplate” for applications requiring more rigidity. The Falcon II is very light, much lighter than some coolers I’ve owned that use Intel push pins, and I’d feel ok using it without a backplate, but I think I’d feel more comfortable with one, especially on a LAN rig. The backplate serves as a spring, and I think I’d like the extra tension on the cooler if the rig was to be moved around much.
Due to the low profile of the Falcon II, it must be mounted from the rear of the motherboard. Yeah, it is kind of a pain, but in a small case, the alternative will likely be a stock Intel cooler, so mounting from the rear really isn’t as painful as it sounds.
Before mounting the cooler, you really need to check to see what direction you should mount it in. With everything in the case that may conflict with the cooler, and memory installed on the motherboard, place the motherboard in the case in position, then place the cooler on top. In this particular installation, I had to mount the cooler with the heatpipes pointed towards the PSU. Also at this time determine if you will need the ATX12v extension. I didn’t, the mobo connector was free and clear.
Probably the easiest thing to do next is peel the mylar washers off of the backing and place them over the CPU mounting holes on top of the motherboard.
Secure the baseplate, peel off the adhesive backing, and mount the baseplate on the rear of the motherboard. I usually don’t like to use the adhesive, but this isn’t your typical installation.
Next, install the mounting clips onto the cooler base. Partially unscrew the screws holding the upper and lower parts of the base together. DO NOT TAKE THE SCREWS ALL THE WAY OUT! Slide the clips between the base halves, thumbscrews facing down, the screws fit into the notches in the clips. Retighten the screws securely.
Prepare CPU and cooler base by cleaning with isopropyl alcohol and a lint free cloth. Apply thermal compound per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Now comes the hard part, it is kind of a balancing act trying to hold the motherboard, cooler, screw, and screwdriver.all at the same time. It was difficult enough that I couldn’t take a photo too. Place a screw into the baseplate, position the cooler in the proper configuration, and start the screw into the thumbscrew. Don’t tighten it yet. Repeat with the other screws. Tighten the screws diagonally from each other.
If you haven’t yet, install the memory onto the motherboard. You probably want to connect the ATX12v at this time too. Install the motherboard into the case. Depending on the direction you mounted the cooler and the configuration of the motherboard, you may have to leave an offset screw out. Don’t worry about it, I occasionally have to. This cooler is so light that it definitely isn’t a big deal.
Wire up the motherboard and that’s it. The profile of the cooler is so low that it barely is taller than my (rather tall) memory. The upper edge of the fan comes to about midway point of the video card.
The cooler just barely clears the NB cooler. Everything fit perfect.