your old cooler is probably about the most technical part
of the whole process, though even this is pretty straightforward
with most cards. I decided to use an X800 Pro, partly because
it wasn't listed as compatible and I wanted to see if it
actually was, and partly because I know it generates a reasonable
amount of heat. A 9800 would have been my first choice but
I didn't have one to hand.
the old cooler removed it's a simple case of spreading a
thin layer of the supplied thermal grease over the core.
Don't apply too much, you don't want it squishing out all
over the place when you apply the sink.
the new cooler was an absolute breeze. The push pins snap
nicely into place and being spring loaded apply suitable
pins are the splayed type which aren't as secure as the
ones with locking pins but then again they're easier to
Next a fired up a session of 3DMark running at 1600x1200
with everything switched on to heat things up a little.
I', running open case in a fairly low-ish ambient temperature
so don't be too surprised by the less than volcanic temperatures.
Based on the first set of temperatures I figured the cooler
was a complete waste of time or something was wrong so I
took it off again to check how well the back was making
contact with the core. Guess what....it wasn't!
used a steel rule and a credit card across the shim and
could definitely feel it move over the core so clearly this
method doesn't always work accurately, either that or the
cooler base was as concave a a satellite dish, which it
clearly wasn't. ATi have so little faith in the shim and
core being level that they actually lower the contact surface
on their cooler slightly to be safe. This means that just
about all aftermarket coolers run the risk of not quite
making contact, and though the air gap is so small it will
usually conduct away enough heat to not do any damage, it
does kind of defeat the point of fitting a new cooler.
succumb to the temptation of using a super-thick layer of
thermal paste or using a couple of square phase change tabs
on top of each other, it won't work well if it works at
Stock Cooler's Base
the scale of things relatively few graphics cards use shims,
even ATi cards, but certainly the Radeon 9500,9700 and 9800
do too, do and possibly others I've forgotten.
I was faced with no option but to lever off the shim. This
should only be done provided you understand and accept the
risk that you could instantly kill your graphics card and
that the warranty will immediately become void. Forget about
freezing it or heating it first too, I've yet to notice
that making the process any easier. Also press down slightly
on the VPU as you lift the shim to save straining anything.
ATi still use a steel shim rather than a foam one or some
Athlon-like foam rubber support pads beats me but they must
have a reason, probably something to with stacking or shipping
I get to the results, here's how the fan looked doing its
stuff. Here you can see the red and yellow LEDs that sit
behind the clear blades. The red looks a little burnt out
here but it does look much more red in the flesh, not that
you'll see it easily once the card is sat in an AGP slot.
blue and yellow might have been better, red tends to give
the illusion of heat.
Fan In Action