Sunday, January 13, 2008

8800...more lanes your friendly neighborhood Spiderman

So, after blabbing about it for months...years it seems... I finally got what I wanted: an 8800 series graphics card (an EVGA 8800GT Superclocked to be precise). Found it for an amazing deal through Dell (yes, I was surprised...Dell), which actually advertised it as the XFX 8800GT Overclocked. Dell then fulfilled the order with the EVGA manufacturer's model. Weird.

For Christmachanukwanzaa I received a lovely Zalman VF1000 cooling device, which I just installed this weekend after having also ordered and received some Thermaltake CL-C0025 copper heatsinks (which I needed for some of the smaller chipsets on the card).

Let me tell was worth the wait. Here's how the install went.

Here's the stock card.

Here's what the card looks like with the stock fan components removed. The white stuff is this interesting feeling thermal tape, which assisted in dissipating heat.

Here's what the card looked like after I put on some of the copper heatsinks. Let me just say that while copper is a wonderful heat conductor these heatsinks had serious issues sticking to the chipsets. One kept falling off, which I ended up having to use thermal compound to attach. I'd also cleaned the original stock thermal compound off the GPU. I can speak honestly when saying that 99% isopropyl alcohol works great when applied to a coffee filter to do the cleaning: no lint or chemical residue.

Here's the card after attaching the Zalman provided heatsinks (blue) and the additional Thermaltakes.

Here's the Zalman fan attached to the card. Installation was a breeze, although a little spooky, as I didn't want to damage the GPU by screwing the unit on too tight, nor did I want a loose contact with the GPU and the copper base, but everything worked out well. The instructions indicated that the mounting holes for an 8800 series card were in the #6 position, but that doesn't apply to the 8800GT: use the #5 position. Additionally, I didn't need to use all the extras that the Zalman package included , and I didn't use their thermal compound. I used Arctic Silver.

Here's the PCI-E slot (blue) on my motherboard where the card went. I thought Zalman's placement of the fan power cord was poor, as it has to move behind the card to attach to the mobo fan 3-pin connector. I thought it'd make more sense to have the line come from the top of the card, but hey...I'm no electrical engineer. I ended up tucking the line under the front of the card (ahead of the portion that plugs into the slot). The device sports a design that allows you to manually control the speed of the fan by using a small controller which mounts to the external chassis.

Was it worth it? Well, Zalman is known for its aftermarket cooling solutions, and given that:
  • the ambient temp in room gets high in the summer,
  • I don't have the best ventilation provided for the machine,
  • the 8800 series runs hot as it is (mine hit 60 degrees C on peak, with RivaTuner managing the stock fan speed), and the stock fan is LOUD (like a small mosquito-piloted plane continually doing a nose-dive)
it made sense to protect my investment, and this device does just that.

How did it perform? With an ambient temperature in the room at about 68-70 F degrees, the card was at 36C on boot after the install. After gaming (COD4 and Crysis) it'll heat up to about 41C at the most. Wow. That's cool. Fer shizzle.

Was it quiet? OMG! Totally quiet. Even with it turned all the way up, I can't hear anything from the card.

Aesthetics? Well even though it's inside the computer and I can't take advantage of my chassis's clear case, the device is gorgeous (as you saw in the earlier picture). The blue LED light on the fan brightens as you turn it up, but the noise never increases, as mentioned. The device is made entirely out of copper (except for the fan itself), so it gleams with a fine shine as cookware on display at Sur La Table.

So what do you do with a a rig like this? You play any game you want and you don't have to worry about melting your graphics card or going deaf from a loud fan. Of course, right now, all I've been playing is the Call of Duty 4 multiplayer. As my brother-in-law intoned: it's what 007: GoldenEye was for the Nintendo64 back in the day, but that's for later.

What's it look like in action? Well, some clever bloke already put out some *not very riveting, but functional* visuals:

Just as a note for those interested in doing the same thing, but aren't yet sure: you do NOT need the Zalman’s RAM Heatsink ZM-RHS88 to install on an 8800GT.


daniel said...

I used your example with my BFG 8800 GTS (g92) OC . Same heat sinks and the Zalman using artic silver 5 . 44 degrees at idle and 57 at load . And quieter too . Thanx alot.

Daniel Hirsch said...

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