|Zalman VF900-Cu Ultra Quiet Heatpipe VGA Cooler|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling|
|Written by Bruce Normann - Edited by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 18 June 2008|
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Closer Look: Zalman VF900-Cu
The rest of this article goes into a fair amount of detail about the installation of the cooler. I noticed that there isn't much information available about how to replace stock GPU coolers. People are much more familiar with installing CPU coolers and many of the same principles apply, but there are some differences. So let's see what's involved.
Here is the stock 8600GT video card, with its cooler attached.
The stock cooler is a low profile type with a single fan exhausting through a shrouded heatsink. The fan features a backwards-curved impeller wheel which no doubt contributes to its low noise. The heatsink assembly covers the GPU and the RAM chips and features a large copper insert for the GPU. The first step is to remove the stock cooler, by taking out the four spring-loaded screws on the back of the card.
Once the screws are out, and the power cable for the fan is disconnected from the header on the card, you can easily lift the cooler away from the chips mounted on the top face of the card. Some coolers, like the one on my 7300GT use plastic inserts, which you have to compress with a pair of pliers and push them back out at the same time.
Looking at the card now, without its cooler, we can see what we have to work with. There's lots of room around the GPU, with no high profile components in the vicinity to interfere with a new cooler. The GPU is mounted inside a plastic socket of sorts and is firmly glued in place. The four RAM chips are located in pairs, equidistant from the GPU; not so close that they will interfere with the new cooler, but close enough to benefit from the airflow coming from it. There were no RAM chips on the reverse side.
Now we can also see the business end of the stock cooling solution. The GPU contacts the large copper back plate of the heatsink near the exit of the fan. The RAM chips dump their heat into the shroud, which is an aluminum casting, through slightly over-sized thermal interface pads covering rectangular bosses that make up the height difference between the GPU chip and the four RAM chips.