I recently ordered a Zalman VF900 VGA cooler for my NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT. As I previously mentioned, the temperatures I've been seeing on this card have been incredibly hot. It would probably be safe to say that this was the primary factor in my frequent system crashes, but only time will prove that theory. Well, yesterday the cooler arrived and I installed it. Read on for my thoughts on the card, the results I've seen so far, and more.
A photo set detailing the install process is now available. Much to my delight, I encountered no problems during the whole process. Removing the stock cooler took some time, mostly due to the number of screws that were holding it down to the card. After removing the stock cooler, I cleaned the memory chips and the CPU with a dry paper towel. I probably could have done better during this step, but it seemed to do the job.
Next up was the application of the Arctic Silver 5 thermal grease that I purchased along with the cooler. This was the step that I was most worried about, mostly because I had never done it before. It turned out to be quite easy, although spreading the stuff over the chip definitely required a steady hand and some patience. I then attached the cooler to the card, and plugged it in to my motherboard. It was time to test!
For a reference point, here are two screenshots of the stock cooler:
As can be seen from the first screenshot, the idle temperature is 71°, with an ambient temperature of 45° (all temperatures are in degrees Celsius). The second screenshot shows the card after a high load (specifically the Lost Coast level from Half-Life 2). Under load, the card reached 81° and the ambient temperature shot up to 54°. These temperatures were quite ridiculous. Let's see if the VF900 can correct this problem:
Wow, what a difference! The idle temperature has dropped down to 56° while the ambient temperature is now only 36°. Under load (the same test as before), the temperature only reaches 64° while the ambient temperature is 45°, which happens to be the same temperature as the idle ambient reading using the stock cooler! So we've come down a total of 15° on idle and 17° under load. Although the load temperature is still a tad warm, we've improved greatly. My next system will be even better in the cooling department, thanks to a lower power CPU and graphics card.
As one can therefore conclude, this VGA cooler works wonders. I'm very pleased with this product and will most likely purchase another one in the future (when I finally upgrade my system). Or I might reuse this one (I would just have to buy some new thermal tape for the RAM heat sinks). If you're machine runs hot, I highly recommend the Zalman VF900 (be sure to snag some Arctic Silver 5 as well). Again, we'll see if this corrects the crashing issues I've been seeing lately. In a few weeks time, I'll report back with the results.