Many GPUs consume a prodigious amount of power which is dissipated as heat. Fortunately, there is quite a number of good third-party GPU coolers in the market. For example, Zalman's ZM80D-HP and Arctic Cooling's NV5 Silencer GPU coolers. These third-party coolers are usually good enough for casual overclockers.
However, if you intend to voltage-mod your graphics card to achieve even higher clock speeds, you should consider alternatives. Voltage-modding your graphics card will significantly increase the power consumption and heat dissipation of your graphics card. These coolers may not be able to handle the increased heat dissipated by the voltage-modded graphics card.
Therefore, a much better cooling solution is recommended, if you are voltage-modding. Many hardcore overclockers swear by watercooling for their voltage-modded graphics card. However, watercooling is not something that many of us can afford, me especially!
So, I decided to mod my own GPU cooler for my voltage-modded graphics card. Now, I could just add a more powerful fan to a standard GPU cooler but I don't think that will cut it.
IMHO, if you are going to cool something that hot, look for something else that's as hot, if not hotter! Since the two main producers of heat in any system is the GPU and the processor, it makes sense to look at a CPU cooler for this mod!
Finally, I set my eyes on a very good Socket A CPU cooler - the Thermalright SI-97 heatsink!
The Thermalright SI-97
Courtesy of Thermalright
Why Thermalright SI-97?
You might be wondering why I chose the Thermalright SI-97, instead of so many other CPU coolers out there.
The very first reason is performance. The Thermalright SI-97 is one of the best Socket A heatsinks in the market today. Remember, we need to cool a very HOT GPU. We will need all the help we can get.
My second reason is "compatibility". Unlike most CPU heatsinks which have a large base, the SI-97 has a very small base. This prevents the heatsink from interfering with the various surface-mounted components on the graphics card.
In addition, Thermalright designed SI-97 in such a way that there's a large space between its heatsink base and the radiator fins. That's a great place to attach a fan to save space!
Finally, while the Thermalright SI-97 may look big, it is actually light. In fact, it's much lighter than the Zalman heatpipe coolers! So, modding it will give me a GPU cooler that's not only better but also lighter.
Incidentally, you might be wondering if the SI-97 will work properly with its heatpipes positioned upside down? Well, wonder no more. Here's an excerpt from Thermalright's FAQ :
Our heating pipe system is designed to work both ways. Having the heating pipes facing up or down depends on how they fit your motherboard best.
So, will the Thermalright SI-97 serve as a great GPU cooler? There's only way to find out!
Later in this article, we will pit the modded SI-97 GPU cooler versus the Jetart JACSH1 GPU cooler, a cooler that's very close in performance to the Zalman ZM80D-HP. That will give us a good idea of just how good the modded SI-97 GPU cooler is, compared to the third-party coolers out there.
But first, let's take a look at the mod itself!