Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about building a new PC. My current PC is fine, but that it part of the problem. It is running too fine. I am afraid if I do anything to it I might mess it up. That and the fact it cost me a fair bit sees me resisting the urge to do anything like modifying it. I decided the best way to get into PC modding was to build a cheap PC, that I could do anything to without worrying about loosing a lot a of money on it. The specs of that system are as follows:
Celeron D 336 – 2.8Ghz – $59 (I’ve had some good fun with this :))
512MB DDR2 667Mhz – $49
AsRock 775Dual-VSTA Motherboard $77
250GB 7.2k HDD – $92
Case – $27
400W PSU – $15
Radeon 9600XT – 2nd hand, $50
DVD Burner – 2 year old one I already had
Total: AU$369 (about US$290)
I went as cheap as I possibly could, sparing every expense 😀 These specs are actually good enough to play Call of Duty 2 quite nicely.
Basically the only issue I had with the PC is the graphics card. It is a few years old, and the fan on it is a piece of junk. It rattles like crazy when running (which is all the time) so I knew I would have to replace it immediately.
JetArt asked Judie if she would be interested in testing any of their PC cooling components, and with my new PC, I was more that happy to take some of their gear for a spin. I was particularly interested in their GPU cooling solutions, but also took on one of their CPU and HDD coolers to see how cool I could make this PC run. They also threw in a stick of their CK4800 thermal paste.
The GPU cooler I was sent is the, a full copper model with a quiet low speed fan and blue LED light for that extra bit of pizzazz. The cooler comes in a clear plastic package showing off the cooler and other parts included.
I was very much looking forward to the arrival of the VC2600, as I have been wanting to tear off the original cooler on the 9600XT since the first time I booted the computer up 😛
In the box you get the GPU cooler, 8 RAM chip heatsinks, two metal rails (for different graphics cards) and some thermal paste.
The heatsink is quite large, and looks really nice. This would be a great cooler for a case with a side window, with its nice design and blue LED.
The back of the cooler is extremely shinny. The surface that will be in contact with the graphics processor is covered with a piece of blue film.
I decided that I should forgo my usual ?I?ll figure it out? attitude and actually read the instructions. They are on the inside of the cardboard inside the package. They are relatively simple, but worthwhile reading to make sure you get it right. You will see a list of graphics cards and which mounting holes (and bracket) you need to use.
First step is to remove the original cooler from the graphics card. The one on my 9600XT was held on by two simple plastic clips. Squeezing them together on the reverse side of the card will release the cooler. Gently twist it back and forth to release it from the card, as it will be stuck down with thermal paste.
Now you will be able to see the graphics processor. I had never actually seen one before, and was surprised how small the die was. Clean off the remainder of the thermal grease.
Before installing the cooler, you need to attach the small rubber washers to the card around the mounting holes. These keep the screws from digging into the PCB. There are two to be attached, two on the front and two on the back.
The next step is the apply the thermal paste to the die. Squeeze a small amount of thermal paste on the die, and spread it out roughly evenly. As the photo shows I put just a little too much on. I did have to take a photo at the same time!! If you put to much just scoop some of it off.
Remove the blue film off the cooler, and sit it on the die.
Here comes to tricky part: keeping the cooler aligned on the die and with the mounting holes, while trying to screw it in. I found it easiest to sit the cooler upside-down on the bench and then place the card on top of it. It makes it easier (but still not easy) to get the screens in. After a fair bit of fumbling I manage to screw it down.
It feels like you are going to snap the card or something with the amount of pressure you have to apply to screw both sides of the bracket down. One thing to be very careful of is slipping with the screwdriver. You have to press quite hard on the screws to screw them in, and I slipping and my screwdriver went straight into one of the smaller chips, making a nice dent about 0.8mm in diameter in it. Fortunately the card still works *phew*.
Also included with the cooler are 8 small square heatsinks for attaching to the RAM chips. I left these till last just in case I messed up the cooler install and broke my graphics card. Although the instructions say to install these first, I did it last and while it was a little more difficult, you will get the same outcome.
There are 8 double sides sticky strips that you attach to each heatsink. It’s a simple matter of peaking off each side, and attaching it to the RAM chip.
The heatsinks look very snazzy, and go well with the red PCB of my graphics card. Make sure you line them all up straight, as they would look odd if they were crooked.
If everything went well, you will be looking at one great looking graphics card 😀
Installing the card is just like normal, just slide it into the PCIe/AGP slot. It will obstruct the adjacent slot, so be prepared to lose a PCI or PCIe x1 slot.
The fan on the new cooler does not connect to the original power connector on the graphics card, but to a 3 pin fan connector either on your motherboard or using a molex adaptor. I had a free fan connector on my motherboard.
Unfortunately the 9600XT I have doesn?t have the Overdrive chip which allows for temperature monitoring so I can?t compare temps with the original cooler, but I can say that the card is perfectly stable even under maximum load, and the fan is lovely and quiet. The blue LED shines quite nicely out of the grill on the side panel of my case too 😀
Yes that is Vista with full smooth Aero running on the Celeron/512MB RAM/9600XT
Coming up very soon will be Part 2 of the JetArt Cooling review featuring the HDD cooler, which I was similarly impressed with.