Question Cooling an FX-6300... diagnosing a liquid cooler, and, is there an effective but cheap air cooling option?


So, I have some old parts that a friend gave me from a dead system. But, I figure that the system can't be "all dead" (cue in Miracle Max), so I decided to take what I was given, throw in some stuff I had, and see if the system would fire up.

Thus, I a have:
  • FX-6300
  • ASRock 970 Extreme4 ATX
  • Corsair H60 54 CFM Liquid cooler
I have never worked with a liquid cooler before, and had no real way to tell if this one was any good. I don't have a case, and don't have any fans. But, hey, the liquid cooler should cool enough for just idling, right? I shook the radiator a bit . . I didn't know what to expect, but it felt very light, and I heard a tiny bit of splashing. Didn't know if it meant there was almost no liquid, or if it meant there was just a tiny air bubble in it. I saw no signs of leaking, and a very cursory glance didn't indicate any service ports or way to check coolant level.

So, I lay the MB on a large padded envelope, cleaned all the remaining thermal paste off the CPU and H60, got a cheap AM3 cooler bracket, slapped in some DDR3 RAM, a generic keyboard, and a GT730 GPU, along with an old Dell 460W PSU (stock from an XPS 8700), and fired it up.

Well, it worked! The CPU and motherboard, that is - not sure about the H60. Now, I guess ideally, I'd run the fan on the HVAC for my house, and have the radiator laying on the floor vent, but I was in a hurry and it was late. The cooler was plugged into the CPU_FAN2 header, and I could hear a slight whirring from the cooler's pump.

Went into the BIOS, and really did nothing except for glance at menu options, etc. Also, looked at the hardware monitor. Saw the CPU temp slowly climb, and around 48C, I shut it down. I didn't know how effective liquid cooling was going to be with no airflow ambient room air of about 68F (20C).

So, my questions (I am in the US)
  • How can I confirm that the H60 is working properly/still properly filled with coolant?
  • The H60 is a 3-pin connector, but, if I continue to use it, should I have this plugged into the 4-pin CPU_FAN1 header instead, or is having it on the 3-pin CPU_FAN2 ok? (not sure if the BIOS/HW monitor has any particular expectations.
  • Is there a reasonably effective, yet inexpensive air cooler readily available for the AM3+ socket? (I don't want to spend more for a cooler than this collection of parts is worth - also, the following note on ASRock's site: "For cooling the CPU and its surrounding components, please install a CPU cooler with a top-down blowing design.")
I might hang onto this thing as a test bed for video cards. Might get a cheap case and make something of it. No idea. Right now, though, I would like to be able to safely do some testing on it. I do have a spare HDD or two, and some SATA cables.

Any thoughts/suggestions would be appreciated, and thanks.

EDIT: While a suggestion for an air cooler would still be useful, the urgency is gone. I've been able to confirm that the H60 still works just fine by temporarily running the house HVAC fan on "continuously on" while the radiator of the H60 was lying on top of a vent. The temperature monitor in the BIOS showed the CPU temp slowly decreasing, and I could feel a slight movement or vibration in both coolant tubes.
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The only way I've been able to test AIO's is to put my hand on the pump and if there's a (even slight) vibration it usually means it's working but you should keep an eye on temps. That being said the only truly accurate software for the AMD FX CPU's was AMD Overdrive and they were measured via thermal margin which is a bit different then other software but unfortunately the software has been discontinued by AMD although you may be able to find it somewhere. At the very least if the CPU does get too hot the system should shut down to prevent damage but as long as the AIO works then there should be no issues.

Leaving the H60 on the 3-pin connection is fine to use so no worries there. As for replacing it I wouldn't bother unless you think it's going to leak or the pump isn't going to work anytime soon but a budget air cooler such as the EVO 212 or Gammmax 400 would work fine.

Edit: There's a possibility that the BIOS wasn't reading the temp correctly. From what I've read 63C is pretty much the max for the FX CPU's but like I stated above most 3rd party software doesn't read it correctly so you really need to utilize AMD Overdrive.


Yeah, once I get an OS on here, I'll definitely be grabbing AMD Overdrive. I think I read from one of the regulars (Darkbreeze, maybe?) that it was available at guru3d.

While the exact temperatures may not be accurate - at least I was able to determine the temperature would keep rising while staring at the Hardware Monitor on the BIOS screen. The last time, I let it get to the high-50s, then ran the fan for the HVAC, with the H60s radiator over the vent. Then it gradually lowered, eventually getting to about 41 before I shut down. Might've gone lower still, but I was impatient.