GELID Icy Vision Graphics Card Cooler
Yes I know I skipped the specifications of the cooler. They can be found here if you want to take a look. I am also going to move right on past the product images and right into the hardware where GELID went wrong.
The base of the GELID Icy Vision accepts a mounting plate. This plate surrounds the copper base of the cooler, and in my two samples, the base rises 0.5mm taller than the surrounding part when screwed into place.
Along with the NVIDIA heatsink and the VRM heatsink part C, there is the mounting plate that gets screwed to the four holes surrounding the core.
The important parts here, for later reference, are the bag of mounting hardware next to the tube of TIM and the sheet with the eighteen black, 0.1mm thick, self adhesive spacers.
The top of the ATI installation guide has a very easy to follow included parts list and clearly calls those parts out during the assembly.
On both sides, ATI and NVIDIA, there is a little chart that shows which supported cards use parts B or C in the standoffs. In the case of the GTX 470, GELID instructs us to use part B; the thicker of the two standoffs. This chart can barely be seen at the bottom.
With the appropriate standoffs mounted to the plate and the plate mounted to the cooler I should be ready to go ahead and install my cooler. To aid in my dismay, if you look at the leading edge of the copper base it is visually unlevel and nowhere near level in reality.
Doing a dry run of the cooler, I tightened all the hardware and noticed the cooler felt loose. I held it up to the sun and saw light between the GPU and the cooler. I believe GELID saw this as not being an issue when I reported it to them, but if you zoom in on that image there is a visible gap at the right and left edges; the flashlight didn't reflect the full width.
At this point I grabbed a set of feeler gauges and started probing. In the center of the cooler I could slide in 0.15mm of gauge into the gap. If you remember back to the image of the coolers base, in this image I am testing the high side of the cooler base for contact. That is a 0.1mm gauge in there, and the hardware is mounted as tight as possible. The top spring screws actually stop tightening and lock into place as it bottoms out on the provided threads of the standoff. This image was shown to GELID as well. The advice they gave me was to remove the 0.1mm spacers, and fill the gap with TIM.
Never once have I thought it was or is a good idea to mount a cooler that doesn't make contact. Even if I remove the spacers, I only get the one edge to touch, and there is no way to apply pressure across the entire IHS. Thermal compound is for filling minute imperfections in the contact area; not to act as a weather-proofer to keep air from oxidizing the untouched core.