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Unread 07-28-2003, 11:18 AM   #13
Cooling Savant
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Chesterfield Uk
Posts: 459


The holes are not really a problem if you use an M2 screw. This has other drawbacks of course as tapping an M2 thread in copper is asking for trouble. It is extremely easy to snap a tap.

The hardest thing overall though from my point of view is holding on to the piece whilst milling it. The centre section I removed at the final stages helped here. The other problem is levelling the mill table so surface milling across the piece is uniform. The vice was too small and useless for this anyhow. What I did in the end was securely bolt a large thick plate of alu to the mill, set it up with the surfacer and surface the alu plate. I now had a milling surface that was set to the milling head, so as long as the head bolts were not loosened it should remain this way, and drilled holes in the alu and tapped them so a copper plate could be bolted to it securely.

I started with an 8mm thick piece of copper plate, marked the design on it and the hole positions, then milled all the channelling, (that varies in depth slightly from GPU to ram area). I then milled part way through the plate, (about 5mm), around the outline, remounting the plate at 45 degrees where required. when this was done it was turned over and the back side skim surfaced until the plate was about 6mm thick. The Gpu area was then skim surfaced to 1.6mm lower. the shaped part was then cut out with a hacksaw most of the areas holding it to the plate only being 1mm thick.

It was still far from easy to do, and the channel milling / levelling would hopefully be a fairly simple operation on production CNC class equipment. I'm also investigating water-jet cutting as an effective way to cut out odd block shapes.

I just finished the O-ring holes & M2 retention bolt holes so this front part is basically done other than final finishing and lacquering. That will be done after it's used for lining up etc in the making of the backside block.


If you mess around with any hardware, you should accept the risks of possibly killing it.

The sinks are pretty easy to remove, (assuming your card is a reference example like ALL the initial release versions).

Accepting it takes up a PCI slot the reference cooler is actually quite a decent cooler. The GPU and ram sinks on the front side are separate items, and the ram sinks at least well attached. The GPU uses the normal plastic pin retention that just require the barb part to be carefully squeezed. the cooler, (or at least mine), was a little stuck on by the chewing gum Tim but came away with a gentle pry. The Ram sinks are removed simply by undoing the screws. Note that the wet tissue / wax Tim on these is easy to damage and the sinks wont fit back on properly without the Tim's in place, (the backside ram cooler makes contact with other PCB surface mounts before touching the ram chips with no Tims in place.

Depending on the GPU waterblock design you may be able to use the stock ram sinks with a waterblock, (Geforce 4 Ti4600 hole spec), as they are separate units. They may however hit each other so I wouldn't guarantee it. A simple Custom GPU block could be made so the standard ram sinks could be used however. As to how well it works would depend on so many specific factors, (your card, ambient, case airflow etc etc). I know when I tested my card in a fanless but cool environment, the reference cooling did a very good job the card sinks being only warm in 2D and warm / hot in 3D. This compares well to Radeon 9700/9800 pro both of which would not run 3D apps without locking up or artifacts in similar conditions due to finger burningly hot ram chips.

To see the card with sinks removed have a look at this review HERE
Zero Fan Zone

Last edited by BladeRunner; 07-30-2004 at 05:06 AM.
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