Aftermarket coolers and video adapter warranties - some questions



[, alt.comp.periphs.videocards.ati,

Apologies for cross-posting; there is no single newsgroup for discussing
video adapters without reference to brand (ATI, nVidia, etc) or system
(PC, Mac).

Some questions for those of you who use aftermarket coolers to extend
the lives of your expensive video adapters:

There seems to be two types of coolers on the market: "drop-in"
replacements for the OEM heat sink/fan combo that mounts on the GPU (and
which MAY provide slightly better cooling and fan longevity than the OEM
units they replace), and cooling kits designed to provide significantly
more heat dissipation capacity than the OEM coolers they replace.

If you use an extra capacity cooling kit, do you wait for the warranty
on your video adapter to expire before you install it? If not, how long
do you usually wait (if at all)? Do you run a burn-in test while your
video adapter is still in warranty before you replace the OEM cooler? Do
you find that replacing the OEM cooler early on with a higher capacity
one offsets the risk of voiding your warranty by significantly extending
the life of your video adapter?

If you wait for the warranty to expire, or for the OEM GPU fan to wear
out, do you wait for that to happen before you shop for an aftermarket
cooler, or do you buy one around the same time you buy your new video
adapter (and then put the cooler away for later)? If you put the cooler
away for later, do you have some way to check it out to see if it will
fit your video adapter as advertised?

Is there a GPU monitoring utility (freeware preferred) that runs under
Windows XP and in the background, which will provide an audible or
visual alarm if the GPU fan stops, or if the GPU goes over a set
temperature limit?

Many thanks to anyone who can answer any or all of these questions!


Some background:

Dell Precision 360 workstation, 2.8 GHz P4, 2 GB RAM, 8x AGP slot, WiFi
PCI network adapter, Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card, Windows XP SP3.

There's just nothing like learning the hard way, is there? :S This
configuration was entirely stable with a Radeon 9600PRO video adapter,
until the GPU cooling fan failed, followed by the GPU. From my
experience with P5 CPU cooling fans, I thought I would hear the squeal
of worn sleeve bearings, but this fan died silently. I also did not know
that GPU's have embedded temperature sensors that can be monitored by
3rd party utilities (since the ATI drivers obviously did not). Oh well...

I replaced it with a PNY GeForce 6200 (which uses a passive heat sink
with no fan to wear out), installed the latest drivers from the website,
and immediately started experiencing random lockps and BSOD errors
pointing at nv4_disp (the basic nVidia driver). There is an article on
random lockups in the nVidia knowledgebase, which was written from the
viewpoint that "your problem is somewhere else in your computer." I
tried their suggestions; none of them helped. Following the suggestions
in another article on GPU overheating, I checked temperatures with the
utility they recommended, and found them to be about 49C at idle, and
62C while viewing a video file full screen. High, but within tolerance.

I recalled that one of the features listed for the Radeon was that the
drivers can automatically reset the GPU if it stops responding to
instructions, without requiring a system reboot (IIRC, that feature is
part of the SmartGART autoconfig utility). A Google search turned up
dozens of posts in developer forums asking if there is a utility to
reset nVidia GPU's "on the fly" without need of a system reboot;
apparently, nVidia GPU's do not have that capability.

So, I'm back to looking at ATI, but that means dealing with short-lived
GPU fans. My research lead me to two online vendors that offer
aftermarket VGA coolers

....and a company called Sunon, which manufactures long-life fans with
"MagLev" frictionless magnetic suspension bearings.

I've also come to understand from various comments I've read that OEM
installed video adapter coolers are barely adequate, and allow
components to run at temperatures that will shorten their lifespans.
This is why I want to know if people install high capacity coolers
before their video adapter warranties run out, in order to minimize heat

Thanks for listening, and for helping out.


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