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Advice on cooling options for Supermicro MB for pfSense router


I’m looking for advice/information on my options to cool a Supermicro motherboard that comes with a preinstalled Xeon D-2146NT processor and passive heatsink ( ; fyi this is the motherboard used in a bare bones server offering that LTT is using for their pfSense router:

The setup appears to be designed to be used in a 1U rack with a focused air stream running across the passive heatsink. I want to use the motherboard in a mid-tower case, probably a Define R4. The processor has a TDP of 80W. Would such a setup be sufficient cooling with just case fans? If not, does anyone know of a good active cooling solution? I found this article that describes some options for the previous generation Xeon D processors on a Supermicro MB (x10sdv), but I’m not sure if this information is relevant for the x11svd Supermicro motherboards. (Note: that article lists a Supermicro active heatsink that evidently used to be offered, but I can’t seem to find it on their website anymore). Furthermore, Supermicro has two x11sdv motherboard offerings with actively cooled heatsinks, but they don’t seem to offer just the heatsink itself for sale; which seems like it would be the perfect solution.

The community’s advice would be greatly appreciated as I don’t want to purchase this motherboard without knowing that I can implement it in a mid-tower case. Thanks in advance for the advice.


You’ll need either a really beefy heatsink, or a fan.

So I edited your post to fix the supermicro link since you had a : at the end of it, causing it to 404.

I’m not sure how DIY you’re feeling, but you could ghetto-rig a (probably 90mm) fan onto the heatsink (with zipties or screws) and splice it into a power supply cable’s 12v and ground.


Thanks for the fix on the link! And the advice!

So, I take it you wouldn’t trust the heatsink it comes with?

Based on other comments you have posted in the forum, I get the impression that you might know the answer to the following question: Supermicro sells a BGA2518 socket motherboard—the same socket as the motherboard I’m interested in— with an active cooler (; Do you know of any vendor that might deal in used server parts that possible could sell me that heatsink and fan off of a dead motherboard? Thanks for any help!


Well, my concern with it is that it’s definitely designed to have air forced across it. If you don’t have airflow, it’s probably not enough.

Not really. You could check ebay, but that’s about all I can think of.