Are you fed up with the noise from the fan on your graphics card? You know the one I mean- it sounds like a mini vacuum cleaner all the time. Well, be troubled no more! This is the silent cooling solution for medium-age graphics cards. I say medium since I am talking about graphics cards after GeForce 4 but probably not the latest ones. Now down to the explanation...
I recently bought a computer from a friend and it had a Radeon 9800 in it. Ah, I thought, I know I will put my spare Zalman ZM80C-HP on that. However, I found out that the Radeon 9800 produces just a little more heat than that particular Zalman can handle. In other words it is not compatible. So I looked on eBay and found this one, I think I got it for about £7 including postage. This was unopened old stock and I believe it usually retails for around £15. The compatibility for this one listed the Radeon 9800 at its LOWEST end of capability. Arctic Cooling is a brand I was already familiar with and am continuously impressed with due to their low price, low noise and great performance.
Well I am very impressed. It is a lot lighter than the ZM80C-HP and has two heat-pipes coming directly off the block that is mounted onto the GPU. It also comes with lots of little RAM heat-sinks with self adhesive on for sticking all over the RAM chips on your graphics card. More than enough of these were supplied. It also comes with a PCI slot cover to put below your graphics card slot so that there is more air flow for the GPU cooler. Of course it also comes with all the necessary mounting fixtures.
Installation is quite fiddly but no more so than the Zalman style. They don't give you a free screwdriver with this like Zalman do- they assume if you're going to fit one of these you probably have a decent set! I actually found that the spacer feet between the GPU block and the graphics card PCB lifted up a little when I tightened mine but this doesn't seem to matter at all. I think they are there in case you are using the two diagonal mounting holes, as I was, rather than 4 corner mounting holes. It comes with a good pad of pre-applied thermal grease so no need for messing about with that. The instructions are good but not great for two-hole fixing as it's ever so slightly different. Remember you are going to have to remove the factory fitted cooler/fan too before you start which means there is plenty of scope for damaging the graphcis card so you have to be very careful!
The fact that it is of a lightweight construction offers a lot of reassurance that you won't be physically stressing your graphics card. The Zalman ones are sturdy but quite heavy. This cooler does take up quite a lot of space in the PC so you might have to re-arrange some cables to fit it in.
This computer is only used for playing back video files so I cannot say exactly how it performs under intense gaming use but for a general use PC or HTPC it is perfect. The computer has not crashed once and I have been using this for several months now with minimal air flow through the PC case (just one ultra-quiet low RPM exhaust fan). During use the non-GPU ends of the heat-pipes get nice and warm indicating they are working well. The fins do eventually warm up a bit too.
NEED MORE POWER?
This product has now been superseded by newer versions which include up to 4 heat pipes. If I had a very modern graphics card I would not hesitate to get one of these newer versions to keep it quiet!
Always check your graphics card is compatible first by checking the manufacturer's website.
If you feel the installation might be beyond your skill then the best advice, which may well save you a lot of stress, is to buy a graphics card that has silent cooling already on it- far more expensive, and not as fun but definitely a LOT easier.