heatsink broke off poweredge 2900 motherboard

Hi Everyone,

I got a dell poweredge 2900 in from UPS today and there was some damage to the box and the server inside. When I opened the PE 2900 chassis one of the motherboard heatsinks was ratting around, as well as the little white thing that it clips into.

The dell hardware owners manual lists just about everything else on the motherboard, but I don't know what the heatsink is for but I think its the southbridge, and how I can go about fixing this - or if the whole motherboard has to be replaced. (See photos) I tried putting the little while thing back in the holes it goes in but it doesn't seat all the way down. I have not tried booting the 2900 yet.

Any ideas on how I can fix this, can it be fixed, or am I looking at replacing the motherboard?

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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
It was damaged in shipment. You should be able to make a claim and get the server repaired professionally.

I would not tamper with it in any way as that would invalidate any claim.

.... Thinkpads_User
Clean the old thermal compound off both the southbridge chip and heat sink using isopropyl alcohol. Then affix the heat sink to the chip using thermal adhesive (different from normal thermal compound). Heat sink will be permanently attached to chip. Follow directions carefully. Here's one source: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835100013
I do agree that the best approach is to contact Dell and file a claim with UPS if necessary. What I described will work, but I don't recommend doing so for a system under warranty. However, can't imagine how that heat sink broke its mounting clips during shipment and nothing else was damaged.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You would have to bang a box VERY hard to knock a heat sink off that has mounting clips. UPS needs to be held accountable somehow. .... Thinkpads_User
While I am not specifically familiar with the 2900, I think your pictures make the situation clear and you are correct in your assessment of how things should go together.

I would presume that the wire loop does go into the holes you notated, but was originally soldered in place.  If you really want to try to fix this VERY careful use of a soldering iron and desoldering tools to clean the holes and to reattach the part would be in order.

As thinkpads_user suggested, a shipping claim is probably the best route.  If that is not possible or practical, I'd try soldering.

As with most heat dissipators, make sure that you use a small amount of heat-conductive (usually silicone) grease between the dissipator and the chip it is cooling.  Without that, cooling efficiency can be far less.
"You would have to bang a box VERY hard to knock a heat sink off that has mounting clips."

Unless the mounting loop was never soldered in well in the first place.  Difficult to guess without seeing the parts and knowing more of the history.
davewag77Author Commented:
Thanks for the replies. It's no longer under warranty and it was shipped insured, the claim is underway.

There is thermal grease/adhesive residue on there, so I can clean it up and permanently glue it on - I guess this no longer requires te mounting clips then?

I don't know if there are any other issues - the chassis looks a little warped but everything else visually looks okay. Like I said, I didnt try to boot it yet due to the missing heat sink. You think it's ok to see if it boots without the heat sink?

JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
>>> so I can clean it up and permanently glue it on - I guess this no longer requires te mounting clips then?

The CPU gets quite hot, which is why the thermal grease and clips.

I recommend you not tamper, but expedite the claim. The action you are suggesting could easily void the claim.  ... Thinkpads_User
If you want to see if it will boot, clean chip and heat sink, then apply silicon based thermal compound. Leave server on its side and thermal compound will keep heat sink stuck to chip adequately for testing purposes. Use a thin layer of thermal compound but enough to keep heat sink stuck on chip.

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davewag77Author Commented:
Thanks everyone. UPS should be here tomorrow to inspect the box and server and I don't plan on tinkering tonight. It doesn't seem like they are going to take the server - so I figured I could see if I could get it to work. Luckily, the package was insured for enough to replace the entire unit.

Thanks Willcomp - I have thermal grease handy and will give it a try.

Thinkpads_user - its not the CPU, I think its the southbridge chip. The 2x processors and heatsinks are okay, it doesn't look like the processor separated from the heatsink and they are still clipped in.

** Update - the unit boots to bios, everything looks okay. Logged into the drac card which is showing all systems normal. There is no OS installed, but it looks like it will have no problems, once/if I can get that heatsink back on.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Thanks for the update. ... Thinkpads_User
Glad to help. Thermal adhesive works quite well. I've used it on several northbridge heat sinks with broken or missing clips. Don't recommend it for CPUs since it is permanent.
davewag77Author Commented:
UPS came to inspect today, and also had me send in photos. I'll let you know what happens. Thanks again.
davewag77Author Commented:
Just a follow up to those who are curious, check came in the mail from UPS today.
I ran accross this post when I had a 2900 with the exact same problem.  This server was in use for 4 years before the heatsink came off.  In my case it was obvious that the soilder join was poorly done, repeated heating and cooling made it let loose.  This server was no longer under hardware support so I was told to purchase a new motherboard.  I took a 1.5" screw and wired it to the spring on the side without the clip.  If you notice in the picture there is a metal seperator inside of the cabnit.  I secured the screw under that metal seperator and used the existing clip on the other side.  There was enough tension, but not too much, to keep the heatsink in solid contact with the chip.  Simple, easy, inexpensive fix for anyone faced with the same issue.  Sorry I did not take a picture while I had the server open.  It is at one of my clients.
davewag77Author Commented:
Elegant solution, thanks for sharing!
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