Here it is again, the most atrocious part of this summer, non-stop heat waves for which you have to adjust your work tools again. Today it’s the turn of the extra fans on the board.
SUNON EF35101S2-Q010-G99, that’s the make and model of the two support fans fitted on the ASUS Sabertooth Z77 board in 2012 and also fitted on its successor in 2013, the Z87 and other versions.
This version was from the series they called TUF(The Ultimate Force) and its logo is displayed when the machine boots up.
The board is fitted with an injected plastic Thermal Armor with components manufactured to military standards that promised to keep the board well cooled and protect it from dirt build-up. It does the job quite well, but it does have its drawbacks.
At the time, ASUS defined its Thermal Armor as follows:
Total heat dissipation through airflow
The new generation Thermal Armor boosts cooling with two turbo fans that improve on the original TUF thermal design and help move hot air away from components and the motherboard through intelligent channelling. It covers the entire board with more powerful airflow and uses special heat pipes to accelerate thermal removal and ensure temperatures are kept low. The dedicated fan on the I/O cover draws in additional cool air and exhausts even more heat to improve stability, and the new Thermal Armor comes with special convection holes on the PCB to facilitate airflow at the bottom.
The two 35mm x 35mm x 10mm auxiliary or assist fans do double duty. They are responsible for pulling air into and moving air around inside the PCB and, at the same time as cooling vital components on the board such as the VRM, they blow dust through various ducts to prevent excessive dust build-up.
Although they were included as an option and many opted not to install them, it is worth putting up with the excess noise they release at maximum power because with them the internal temperature is considerably lowered, according to the manufacturer by up to 10º.
The problem with these small 0.48W turbo fans is that they started to get a bit louder after the first year of use and even louder when they had to perform at their best. Now they were even louder at low revolutions, so the best thing to do is to replace them.
In addition, the plate has a function whereby they stay spinning for a minute after switching off as a protective measure and that’s when you notice that the bearings are quite worn.
Greasing them was only a temporary solution. So I decided to look for a replacement. Although they had lost the label due to the heat, being a high end board that was very popular in its time, finding the part number was very easy. Buying them at a good price and that they were original and new was not so easy. They sell for 20-30 euros or more per unit, which I think is an outrage for a 35mm fan.
The one on the top goes into a slot, the cover is removed. It attaches to the fan and goes into its slot.
I first consulted ASUS, then the official SUNON distributor for Spain and even the manufacturer, which has its headquarters in Taiwan and some 120 distributors around the world. In both cases without success. They are discontinued.
The first problem with one of these fans was that sponge mentioned in the manual. I remember seeing it but it doesn’t appear when I take mine out. I understand that it has come off the heat and has gone to live in the bottom of the box.
This is one of the first drawbacks of this thermal “armour”. If you drop a screw or, as in this case, the damn foam sponge, foam rubber or whatever it’s called, you have to disassemble half the computer to access it.
The same problem arises when you have to change the battery that powers the configuration memory (CMOS). What on other boards takes two minutes, on this one can take a whole afternoon.
Now I discover that the fan was not as bad as I thought. Much of the noise was caused by vibrations due to the lack of that gasket, but it is still excessive.
The upper fan can be seen from the rear.
The first thing I thought of was to look for the reference to that pad, necessary to avoid vibrations, and the only thing that appears in the manual is that it is 3M brand. Another option is to put a 40mm pad in that hole, so the sponge is not necessary, but I didn’t want to take the risk and I decided to try to rescue it by tipping the tower over.
I was lucky. After turning it a few times it appeared together with a couple of screws and a small plastic piece that I have no idea what it was used for.
The sponge has lost all property of its adhesive layer and is deformed.
After trying to tame it a bit and measuring it, I opted to replace it with one of similar properties and replaced it. Two metres of adhesive sponge (the least I could find) cost 1,46€ and I already have to replace it 66 times.
To replace the bottom fan, the one that made the most noise, there is no difficulty at all, just screw it in and plug it in.
There you have the old one in its place.
The fans arrive
Although there are quite a few sellers who have them used on Ebay, because this exact model is no longer manufactured, I kept looking in shops around until I found some new ones at 10,84€ per unit plus shipping. For 26€ I was able to get a pair in a Chinese shop.
I ordered them on the 1st of July and they arrived on the 18th. The seller(Cmyhub.com) deserves a positive review because he always answered the different questions I asked him through the chat on his AliExpress shop and sent the requested photos to compare and verify that it was the exact model.
They arrived in the correct packaging and well protected.
In addition to the foam covering them, each fan is in its sealed plastic packaging.
They are new and smell new. All markings and legends exactly match the old originals to be replaced.
Even the TUF (The Ultimate Force) logo stickers are covered by their protective plastic wrap.
With them came silence
Once the fans are mounted, the first thing you notice is the almost absolute silence. Now the machine has the same noise level as when I first used it, almost zero.
The top one went in without any problems.
In the end, the one that seemed the easiest to mount was the most complicated, as it was necessary to remove some screws from the frame and lift it by forcing it up in order to pass the cable underneath, so I opted to fix it from above as neatly as possible.
The CPU temperature hasn’t dropped much, just 3 or 4 not negligible degrees, although I still have to compare with different workloads. At idle, the CPU maxed out at 40 degrees with about 31 degrees in the room.
In a performance test of a demanding game and playing on high, the CPU did not go above 60 degrees. It is confirmed that the fans remain quiet running at maximum performance and only a slight vibration can be heard if the case lid is removed.
Let’s see those heat waves, let them come if they dare. I’m waiting for them. Two shotguns I have.
This post does NOT contain any affiliate links or anything similar. Any products or accessories quoted here have been purchased from places with which I have no links whatsoever.