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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [10.10.02]
Parts by: Thermaltake, Zalman, Seagate

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UPDATE - Since this article was written 3 years ago, a lot of the information found within is somewhat dated. For information on the latest in Silent PC Hardware, please visit our affiliate site, How To Build a Silent PC.


Zalman ZM17CU

The ZM17CU is actually Zalman's previous generation video chipset cooler.  They have a fancy new one sporting heatpipes and heatsinks on both sides of the card.  As you'll see here though, this cooler suited our needs perfectly well.

As you know with heatsinks, surface area is what it is all about.  The ZM17CU has about as much surface area as you can imagine, using extremely thin copper plates between very highly pressurized aluminum blocks.  I would have preferred an all copper solution, but touching this thing in action shows that heat is being dissipated extremely well.

One problem I have with this cooler is that it is a GLUE ON ONLY application.  You better hope you like it, because once you stick it on with thermal epoxy, that sucker ain't coming off.  That also means you can say bye bye to your warranty, because you won't  be able to get the stock heatsink back on after the video card spontaneously dies due to who knows what ;) I wish Zalman could have figured out a way to make use of the seemingly universal pin holes used by almost every video card on the market.  Thermaltake usually offers this on their video coolers (the option to glue is always there as well).

It's a Ti4200, you HAVE to OC it!

We all know what the Ti4200 was meant for - it is almost as if NVIDIA is giving it to us as a gift.  With some pretty mild OCing, you can get pretty close to the speed of NVIDIA's highest end video cards, for nothing more than $150.  It's just a matter of HOW FAR you can take yours...

I bet you're dying to hear how far I could OC the Ti4200 without a huge noisy fan installed... Well get this; I could OC just as far with the Zalman heatsink as I could with the (rather large) MSI cooler.  That's right, not a single MHz below.  It seems that the GF4 core is limited to a certain speed, regardless of the heat it produces (and we had this thing cooking up a storm!).

We're not talking about a measly OC here either; I ran the card full time at 305 MHz core, with a memory clock speed of 590MHz.  That's up from 250/500.  Think about that for a second; we have a Ti4200 running without a fan at a higher clock speed than a Ti4600.  Unfortunately there's no way you're getting the memory up to 650 MHz on a Ti4200.  Just not gonna happen.


For temperature testing, we only ran it at full OC speed (it's not like anyone with a Ti4200 doesn't have it OC'd to the max after all).  We used the flat Thermistor included with a Thermaltake Hardcano, and placed it right next to the GPU.  A looping Quake 3 demo in 1600x1200 got it cooking fast, and we took the temps after they leveled off.

I can just see you sitting there biting your fingernails while looking at your numbers.  It's totally up to you if you want to run your video card over 70 degrees.  At first I was pretty nervous, especially after touching the heatsink during testing (I still have the scar), but after months of use at this speed on my personal rig, I haven't come across a single problem.  I'm not exactly sure on NVIDIA's thermal specs for the GF4 core, but the maximum operating temperature probably isn't much lower than this anyway.

Of course you know this is likely going to shorten the life of your video card, but I say who cares! Who keeps their video card for longer than a year or two? If the card finally dies after 6 years of this sort of abuse, do you plan on being there when it happens? Just give it to your Mom when you buy your Doom 3 card, so she can play The Sims on in 1600x1200.  The passive heatsink can handle stock speeds no problem.

All in the name of a dead silent PC, baby ;)

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