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Thermaltake GeForce4 "Highest Performance Cooler" Review

By: Mike Wright | Video Card Coolers in Cases, Cooling & PSU | Posted: May 26, 2002 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.0%Manufacturer: Thermaltake

What You Get



Since we're talking about keeping the hot new GeForce4 GPU cool, we need to take a little peek at what we can expect to see when we give up our hard-earned money. Included with the kit are the heatsink, a 3-4 pin adapter, and four RAM sinks for the memory modules. Let's look a little closer at some of these components, shall we?


The Heatsink



Yeah, I know it's the same picture as on the first page, but it gets the point across.


The first thing to check out in regards to this cooler is that it is all copper. There is a thin coating over the entire unit, but the base material is copper so we should expect some decent cooling. Most video board manufacturers put aluminum coolers on their video cards because they cost less to purchase. But when you consider that the newer GPU chipsets are getting nearly as hot as system processors, you begin to see the need for some effective cooling.


The fan in this unit is rather small, but still larger than most chipset type coolers have in place. It measures in at 50mm x 50mm x 10mm, spins at roughly 5500RPM and delivers about 10.6-CFM airflow at 29 dBA. What all of these numbers say is that while it's not a monster Delta attached to the copper sink, it is a good bit more than the average video card cooler.


Next, take a look at the layout of the internal portion of the heatsink. The copper pins allow for extra mass for better cooling prowess. It has been shown time and time again with CPU heatsinks that added mass aids in cooling. The concept doesn't change just because we're now cooling a video card. Also take note of the angled fins at the outer edges of the sink. With the airflow going through the pins, these fins allow for the excess to be blown out at all possible angles. This will help dramatically when keeping the memory modules cool. Even if the video board manufacturer steps away from the reference design of the video card, the airflow going in all directions will make sure that the memory gets some airflow no matter where it is.


The clear plastic shield mounted on top also aids in cooling. Instead of the air being forced onto the base and then shooting straight back up, the shield helps keep that airflow in control and sends it outwards toward the angled fins. Everything about this cooler so far seems to be aimed at more efficient cooling. We'll see a bit later if it actually works.


Finally, the pushpins at the outer edges of the cooler are spring loaded. They also mount without any unnecessary effort. It was a simple matter to push down on the pins and have them go right into the mounting holes. I have had a lot of others pins that require a bit of a fight to get them attached properly.


The Base



The base of the cooler gave me a bit of concern when I first saw it. After being accustomed to smooth, shiny bases for processors, the appearance of this one made me pause. It has the same thin coating that the rest of the copper unit has and also three mounting screw holes right in the base. Let me take you a little closer so that you'll see what I mean.



As you'll notice, the base of the heatsink isn't completely smooth. There isn't a rough quality to it by feel, but it's just not the same as CPU coolers that I've grown used to seeing over the years. But since I'll be using a good thermal interface material, I'm not overly concerned about this part. It will be more than sufficient to seal any of these irregularities and give me a good contact patch.


I was more concerned about the screw holes in the bottom of the unit. But after a closer examination, I discovered that a lot of care had been taken to make sure that there weren't any metal fragments above the level of the heatsink base. Placing a flat surface over the holes revealed no gaps. We'll just have to see if it allows for good cooling during our testing.


RAM Sinks



Though the RAM sinks have the appearance of copper, they are in fact aluminum. You'll also notice that they come in two sizes. This is because the taller sinks are for the front while the shorter ones are for the backside of the video card (where four more memory modules reside). Why shorter sinks on the back? Because many of our modern AGP slots sit very close to the processor socket. The shorter RAM sinks makes it certain that you won't have a conflict between the two. Also of note is that the sinks all have adhesive already applied to them. Just peel away the protective covering and apply.


One little problem that I saw was that the fins on the RAM sinks won't allow for the full use of the air blowing from the fan of the heatsink. It will just hit the first fin and not be able to penetrate further. It would have been better to have the slots placed vertically instead of horizontally.


Power Connection



Just a quick note concerning the fan that runs this setup; you'll need to make sure that you plug it into a fan header since it does not fit the power connection of the video board. Or you can use the included 3-4 pin adapter and have it run straight to a spare 4-pin Molex connector from your PSU. More than likely, it is not designed to fit into the video card fan header because of power consumption.


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