Cooler Master CoolViva Pro Vga Cooler

Admin - 2007-04-12 16:37:07 in VGA Cooling
Category: VGA Cooling
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: April 17, 2007
Cooler Master
Cooler Master
Price: $30.99

Introduction:

Whack! “Thank you ma’am, may I have another?” Whack! “Thank you ma’am, may I have another?” Whack!

Yes, it goes something like that. You are punished for your actions, and then you continue onward with your project only to be punished again and again. Believe me, it was a struggle to maintain my composure throughout this task. By now, you must be wondering what in the world I am talking about.

I am talking about my experience with the CoolViva Pro which is a replacement cooler/fan combo for your graphics card. This cooler replacement is made by Cooler Master. It uses a pure copper base and heat pipe technology to pass the heat generated by your graphics chip to an array of aluminum fins which has air blowing over them by the included fan.

Who is Cooler Master? Over the many years I have had playing with computers, I have heard of Cooler Master many times. They are the manufacturer of many different types of cooling solutions. Let’s see what they have to say about themselves.

” Cooler Master was founded with the mission of providing the industry’s best thermal solutions. Cooler Master’s current business encompasses a comprehensive lineup of thermal solutions for a full range of applications. Its products range from heat sinks and fans to component housing, chassis, and ducting for computers, industrial machinery, telecommunications equipment, and many other devices. The three cornerstones of Cooler Master’s business philosophy are innovation, speed, and customer satisfaction. Cooler Master has built up elite R&D teams composed of outstanding engineers, many with advanced degrees, and including thermal, mechanical and materials engineers to provide specialized expertise in each of these fields. These superb teams take advantage of a sophisticated design process workflow that ensures efficiency and provides scope for innovations that are reflected in real-world enhancements. Strict process controls ensure maximum efficiency and quality at each step, beginning with thermal simulations, and proceeding to mechanical design, evaluation of mock-up samples, and on to experimental production runs, process testing, thermal and reliability testing, and finally pilot runs and mass production.”

Well, someone must of had the day off, because what I experienced doesn’t seem to be what they had in mind. Mind you, the end result was great; it’s just that the journey there was not.


Closer Look:

It looks innocent enough in the package, tucked into the plastic shell with its sleek lines and unique fan just crying out to be released and it's paper insert showcasing its name and manufacturer. Even on the reverse side, where you find the list of features and specifications, there seems to be nothing menacing about it. Oh, but wait!

 


Inside the package, we have a whole assortment of goodies. The cooler itself which has a pure copper base with 3 heat pipes with aluminum-finned heat sink, two extra mounting brackets (clips), four studs, four spring nuts, four insulating cushions, eight memory heat sinks, one power adapter, one vented-PCI bracket, one tube of thermal grease, one foam insulating pad, and the worthless instruction manual.

The design of the cooler is quite interesting as it is covered with a plastic shroud that acts as a duct for directing the air flow into and out of the cooler. This draws cool air into the cooler over the MOSFETS and memory chips on the card and directs the hot air out the back of the chassis through the included vented PCI bracket which you mount in your case beside the video card.

 

Installation:

Before the installation, I ran a series of tests with my stock cooler on my card at stock settings and overclocked by playing a game for a half an hour at each clock configuration. I recorded the temperatures by right clicking on the desktop, clicking “Properties”, then selecting the “Settings” tab, then clicking on the “Advanced” button, and finally, selecting the tab that corresponds with my graphics card. A slide-out box will appear and you just click on the “Temperature Settings” selection to show the temperature of your card.


I then proceeded to try to install this cooler onto my card. This is where I took my beatings. I began by opening the instructions (big mistake) and following them. The first thing you see is a product overview with a chart of the different cards this cooler works on. In this chart, I find my card, a GeForce 7600 series, which according to the chart, uses the “B” clips. So, I removed the already installed “A” clips and put on the “B” clips and screw the studs into them.

 
 
Clip B

Nvidia GeForce 6200 series (Except GeForce 6200 AGP series)

Nvidia GeForce 6600 series (Except GeForce 6600 AGP series)

Nvidia GeForce 7600 series
Nvidia GeForce 7600 series

Proceeding onto step 1, I guess I was done! Basically it said to remove original cooler, erase glue, and fix on the new cooler. What more is there? Well, being a logical person, I figured they made a boo boo so I continued by removing my original heat sink/fan combo.

 


Step 2 requires you to peel off the protective cover of the adhesive tape from the memory heat sinks and stick them to your memory chips on your card. So far, so good.


Step 3 wants the new thermal paste applied to the vga processing chip. Before I can do this step, I need to clean the old thermal compound from my processing chip. I have found that Q-tips and a cleaner called ArctiClean work wonderfully together. This cleaner will not leave any residue behind after you are finished cleaning. So after the cleaning is done, I apply a thin layer of the included thermal compound onto the chip. This thin layer is to be just enough to fill in the small imperfections in the surfaces of the cooler and the vga processing chip to help make a more precise contact. Next, you are required to apply a small square cutout of foam insulating tape around the vga chip. This foam tape is to help balance the load of the coolers pressure that will be applied to the vga chip so you don’t have too much pressure on one corner of the chip and crack it, rendering it useless.

 


There is also a protective film on the raised surface of the cooler that must be removed before you can attach the cooler to your card.


 

Installation:

In step 5, I am supposed to align the studs in the cooler “B” clips with the holes in my card. What? They don’t line up!! Now, how is that supposed to work? And what’s up with the cooler and the memory heat sinks colliding with each other? There is no way this is going to work!! And then, there’s the foam tape cushion. It's not properly lined up with the raised contact surface on the bottom of the new cooler. Man, oh man. What a disaster! And I still have 4 steps to go!


Well, it’s obvious I can’t go forward from here. I have to go back and try something different. For one, I had to remove the two memory heat sinks that were in the way for sure. That is quite counter-productive, don’t you think? With the heat sinks removed from the memory chips, it will not be possible to overclock the memory as high as if they had coolers on them. Secondly, I took the foam tape off the vga card and applied it to the cooler instead, making sure it was around the raised surface that made contact with my vga chip. And finally, after several trial and errors, I discovered that I had to reinstall the “A” clips with 4 studs to get anything to line up with the holes in my card. Once I had all of that sorted out, it was a matter of placing the insulating washers over the studs as they protruded through my card, and then securing the cooler on with the included spring nuts. Now you see why I said earlier that the instructions were useless. Well, unless you run out of paper in the outhouse.

 


Last but not least, I need to connect the power lead of the coolers fan to my card. Well, guess what? It does not fit either. My cards original fan has a 2 pin connection and the new cooler’s fan uses a 3 pin or 4 pin connection. At least there is a solution included for just such a case in the form of a 4 pin to MOLEX connector which can be connected to the power supply 12 volt lead. This, however, creates another problem in the fact that the fan will now not run at variable speeds. You are stuck at one speed. At least the fan is quiet as advertised.

 


Well, can you tell I did not find this to be an enjoyable experience?


Specifications:

Overall Dimensions
178.5 x 130 x 41mm
Heat sink Material
Aluminum fin and copper base
Heat sink Dimensions
145 x 112 x 38 mm
Weight
320 g
Fan Dimensions
74 x 74 x 22.5 mm
Bearing Type
2 Ball Bearing
Fan Speed
700~1800 ± 10% R.P.M.
Noise
20 dBA
Rated Voltage
12 V
Dimensions
13 x 12 x 8.88 mm
Material
Aluminum


Features:

Testing:

I tested this cooler by letting my computer idle for 15 minutes and recording the temperature from within the Nvidia control panel. I then ran a game (in this case, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.) for 30 minutes to warm things up a bit, and Alt/tabbed my way back to the desktop and rechecked the temperature. I did this at the stock timings for my card of 580 MHz on the core and 1450 MHz on the memory. Then I repeated it with timings of 630 MHz on the core and 1600 MHz on the memory. These temperature readings were then compared to the readings I took earlier with my stock cooler at the same settings. For the record, the ambient temperature was 25° C during these tests.


Testing Setup:

Here you will see the results of my endeavors to see what this cooler can do for my card. The temperature readings will be in degrees Celsius.






Well, well, it looks like a few hard knocks might be good for us after all. This cooler, even with its rough install routine, turned out to be a pretty decent performer.

Conclusion:

While I was rather enthusiastic in getting this cooler installed, I was disappointed at the confusing instructions. With Cooler Master being headquartered in Taiwan, was it a language translation error? I highly doubt it. I seems more likely that there was some confusion somewhere as to which hole pattern matched which card.

In the end, it is quite obvious that this cooler does what it was intended to do, that being to cool your video card so you can overclock it to gain both core and memory speed increases. With the increased cooling, I am sure that my video card will stay overclocked for a long time to come and not suffer any ill effects from it due to additional heat generated.

One thing I have to add here is that I need to elaborate on how quiet this fan is. I have five case fans in my computer, three are drawing air in, and two are expelling air. On top of this, my power supply has two fans in it pushing air out of my case and my CPU cooler has a fan in it. When I started my computer, it made quite a bit of noise with what I thought were all those fans spinning up. Now when I start up, with this CoolViva installed, I find myself looking through the clear side panel of my case to see if it is indeed starting up. It is that much quieter! And, it must have been my graphics card fan making all that noise before and I never gave it a thought. What an amazing job of quieting my computer down. This would be ideal for someone making an HTPC for their living room or bedroom.

Cooler Master has made a great product here. It does an amazing job of keeping my overclocked card cool, and does it with ease. Now if they can just sort out the errors on the instructions, and maybe add a two pin fan connector to the included wiring harness (if for no other reason than to eliminate the long run of wires up to my power supply which are hard to hide in a tidied-up case). Doing this also make the install process a lot easier. Overall, I'm definitely pleased with cooler & would recommend it to anyone looking for a good, quiet cooling solution.


Pros:


Cons: