An essential part of a properly-installed computer cooling system, a heatsink bracket is the hardware to which the heatsink assembly and clip fastens when a heatsink is installed. The heatsink bracket is usually plastic, attached to the motherboard around the computer chip that needs to be cooled. It is designed to allow a heatsink to have contact with the device that needs cooling while holding the heatsink in place. Because heatsinks vary in size and features, different types of heatsinks may use different heatsink bracket systems.
Since they often contain high-end processors that require cooling, almost all newer computers use a heatsink in some way. A heatsink is a unit used to cool hardware in the computer, usually the computer processing unit (CPU). The CPU is located on the motherboard. It is the main chip in the computer, through which most computer commands are processed. The heatsink bracket is usually attached to the motherboard with small electronic screws.
Though the designs of heatsinks vary, a heatsink often looks like a metal sponge, with many nooks, crannies, and coils designed to move the heat away from delicate computer parts. Near the base where it makes contact with the CPU, a heatsink will have a clip that connects the heatsink to a bracket on the motherboard. Heatsink brackets and clips are not uniform in their design; some are more difficult to install and remove than others.
A heatsink is a passive cooling unit, which mean that it removes heat from hardware without the use of a fan. Passive-only cooling systems rely on large, heat-conductive heatsinks to move heat away from the computer hardware. These heatsinks are sometimes so large that they do not fit in a standard computer case.
Because they are often hefty beasts, these heatsinks also tend to be too heavy for standard heatsink bracket assemblies. Consequences of installing a heatsink that is too heavy for the heatsink bracket include motherboard breakage and damage when the heatsink falls from the bracket onto other hardware. Manufacturers of large heatsinks often include a redesigned heatsink bracket assembly made to hold the heavier heatsink.
Sometimes, heatsinks are combined with fans to increase cooling capacity. When a fan is added to a cooling unit, it becomes an active cooling unit. Fan-driven cooling units are noisier than passive cooling, but they are sometimes they only option for a small computer case in which a low-profile heatsink is a necessity.