The normal warranty response from all companies is simple and acceptable; if you change the stock cooling, your warranty will be void. That in itself is fair enough - if you change the cooling, you changed the intended way the graphics card was designed to be used.
However, in an enthusiast computing world where water cooling (and other cooling methods) is becoming more prevalent (nVidia's very own nForce 680i motherboard is designed with water cooling in mind), nVidia should have made 100% sure thermal management was working correctly or at least made the missing feature from Vista much more obvious. As mentioned, both ATI and nVidia should make sure that all graphics cards using their silicon come with thermal control. nVidia are a company who know quite well that their products sell to people who overclock (hence rise temperatures) and we can't help but feel nVidia made a major blunder in their current Vista driver. Personally, I don't care that I ended up with a dead GeForce 7900GS, it was a review sample and we didn't pay for it. It's more important you learn something from our experience and just how and why it happened.
Even if we didn't change the cooler and used the default shipping cooler, there is always a chance that the cooling fan will fail. If the fan/s fails, you will end up seeing a similar aftermath as we had with our failed water cooling pump, just the whole death will take a little longer.
It goes without saying, we hope nVidia bring back their thermal management systems into their upcoming Vista drivers ASAP - it is a must. Both nVidia and ATI drivers do have problems right now and not everything is supported and working as it does in Windows XP but both companies are due to release new drivers to the world next week and are said to be working hard on this.
It would be a fundamental mistake if nVidia release their drivers without thermal management working 100% effectively but we will follow-up on this and will conduct further testing. For the stacks of users out there who change their cooling on their graphics card and overclock (that's reaching 20% of the market, these days), we urge you to take some caution away from this article. If you run into the same problems with us, you will be lucky if you only lose your $500 graphics card and then hope the problems stop there and don't cause any further disaster.
We are waiting for further response from nVidia and will update this article once we hear more from them and other companies on the subject. Please feel free to leave your comments below - have you experienced this problem or anything similar? Do let us know!
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