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 Post subject: Field Report: MSI NX6600GT TD128 w/Zalman ZM-80D-HP
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 6:51 am 
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Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
After going through a series of steps to quiet my system (new Zalman 7700Cu HS, Panaflo 120mm L1A on Fan Mate, HDD in Luxurae enclosure), I found that the loudest component remaining was the fan on my MSI NX6600GT TD128 graphics card.

Which isn't to say that it's loud - it's actually a relatively quiet fan compared to some graphics cards - it's just that you can definitely hear it when everything else is quiet.

I received the Zalman ZM-80D-HP from quietpc.ca on Saturday after ordering it mid-afternoon on Thursday (what a great recommendation from this site's FAQs).

Installation

It has the usual environmentally terrible blister pack packaging. The install manual is extensive, and the parts were all in order. Zalman even gives you a small ziplock bag of spare parts in case you lose some of the smaller bits during the installation (some of the bits are really tiny, and not common).

Removing the stock heatsink from the MSI card, I noted that the RAM chips seemed to have a token daub of thermal grease (and I mean daub - couldn't have been more than 2mm in diameter) on each chip. Hopefully that hadn't resulted in any damage in the week I had been using the stock cooler.

After cleaning the RAM chips, I stuck on the feather-light aluminium RAM heatsinks with the provided thermal tape. They seemed to hold well.

I cleaned the GPU with isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs, as well as the heatsink base, and applied Arctic Ceramique instead of the provided Zalman thermal grease. I used the smaller, square heatsink base recommended by the manual, but when I checked the span of the retention arms, I found that they barely stayed in their slots when extented to reach the mounting holes. I switched to the rectangular heatsink base and found this resulted in a much safer hold on the card. The square base fit, but the hold was tenuous, and I was worried about slippage with a heatsink/heat-pipe assembly this large, so I switched to the alternate rectangle base.

Installation from this point was a simple matter of following the instructions. The step-by-step process was very well illustrated - there's even a very clear Flash walk-through at the Zalman site. Although it's a multi-step process, it's not a complicated one. Mostly it involved a lot of careful alignment and application of thermal grease (note to self - buy more thermal grease).

I was worried about the weight of the assembly once inside the case, but it seemed to hold well. Although I bought the optional ZM-OP1 fan at the same time as the card, I decided that since I was going for a silent system, I'd hold off on installing that until I had seen how the heatsink performed without it.

Performance

I switched on the computer with a little trepidation. Although I had seen quite a few reviews of completely fanless cooling, I was worried about the potential of damage to a graphics card that cost almost as much as the CPU.

Everything seemed to be working perfectly. I checked the GPU temp through nVidia, and saw that the temp was a slightly higher than usual: 49C. With the stock cooler, it usually hovered between 44 and 47C. I remembered from reading elsewhere in this forum that heat-pipe based cooling performs best at load rather than idle (due to the heat exchange process) so a slightly higher idle temperature didn't bother me.

I booted up 3D Mark 5 and ran it through the paces. No problems, no artifacts. Checking the temp afterwards got me 55C. This seemed a little high, so I watched the temps for a while until it cooled down to 49C again. Well, at least I knew that it wasn't going to "run away" on me.

Satisfied, I tried HL2 for 15 minutes or so. Once again, temperatures got up to around 55-56, but they cooled afterwards.

My wife wanted to play Diablo II for a longer, so I figured that would be a good test of prolonged, low-level operation. Three hours later, GPU temps were around 51C.

All seemed to be well, so I thought I'd try CS: Source online. I got caught up in it, and 2 hours later I remembered I was supposed to be checking temps. Not a single artifact or missed poly anywhere.

I checked the GPU temp. 57C, but falling.

Conclusion

With the Panaflo 120mm case fan exhausting at 12V (yes, I know, I should get a Nexus...) the ZM-80D-HP worked well, only somewhat hotter (2-3C) than the stock cooler at idle. I haven't tried it with the Panaflo at 5V, though I suspect the temps would be correspondingly higher.

At load, the temp profile looked about identical (1-2C variance) to the stock cooler. Several hours of pretty intense action in Counterstrike got me temperatures which I understand are only a few degrees off from what are expected temps for a fairly intensive game, and still well below "yellow-line" 70C.

I'll do some more testing over the next few days - maybe some shader tests or other "burns".

The product quality itself was exceptional, with all parts looking and fitting very well. Performance was about what I expected, and considering I've cut case noise by one (apparently 28-30 dBA) fan, I'm very happy with the result. The price of $41 CDN at quietpc.ca seemed well worth it.

Pictures

The interior of the FK-333 case. I know the cables look horrible. I'm waiting on some more split loom and some new IDE round cable. I'm a newbie - be gentle...

Image

Angle on the ZM-80D-HP in relation to the CPU and 7700 heatsink. Contrary to appearances, the 7700 flower is NOT touching the underside of the PSU - there is a 1 mm clearance.

Image

Clearance above and below the card. As you can see, the small slot above and the PCI slot below are blocked by the dissipation plates:

Image

Other Notes

Per the input of some other installers below, the install process can take some time - it's easy and step by step, but takes some care. Allow 45-60 minutes for an install if you consider yourself of average manual dexterity, 20-45 if you're nimble, and over an hour if you're a real butterfingers. I think I fall into the middle category, and it took me about 45 minutes, not including pre-reading the manual and install guide (2 minutes)

If you're in a tight vertical clearance computer, the card requires about 15-17mm (5/8") over the top of the card mounting for the heatsinks. As mentioned, the vid card covers up the adjacent PCI-E slot, if you have one, and an adjacent PCI card slot as well, in some situations, depending on the configuration of your board.


Last edited by Kozure on Thu Feb 17, 2005 8:14 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 5:23 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2005 5:18 pm
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How much does the Zalman ZM-80D-HP stick above the top of the graphics card? Above the top of the bracket?

I am building a new HTPC and want to get a quiet 6600GT solution. My case is the Cooler Master 620, so there is limited clearance from above.

Any way you can post a few pics and/or measure how much clearance above the GPU's bracket/screw I would need?

Thanks!
Mofo


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 8:19 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2005 7:19 am
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Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Pictures as requested.

The interior of the FK-333 case. I know the cables look horrible. I'm waiting on some more split loom and some new IDE round cable. I'm a newbie - be gentle...

[img edited duplicate]http://www3.sympatico.ca/czono/Images/case-int.jpg[/img]

Angle on the ZM-80D-HP in relation to the CPU and 7700 heatsink. Contrary to appearances, the 7700 flower is NOT touching the underside of the PSU - there is a 1 mm clearance.

[img edited duplicate]http://www3.sympatico.ca/czono/Images/tightfit1.jpg[/img]

Clearance above and below the card. As you can see, the small slot above and the PCI slot below are blocked by the dissipation plates:

[img edited duplicate]http://www3.sympatico.ca/czono/Images/tightfit2.jpg[/img]

Hope that helps!

Edited by mod, because the pictures were duplicates of the three above.

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Fong Kai FK-333 Case
Seasonic S12 Energy + 550W Power Supply
P4 540 3.2E GHz w/Zalman CNPS 7700-Cu HS on Asus P5GD2 - stock fan swapped for Scythe S-FLEX SFF-21E
Sapphire X1950Pro 256 MB w/stock fan (working on it)
Seagate V 200GB SATA HDD w/Luxurae enclosure
Noctua NF-S12-800 intake and exhaust fans


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 10:18 pm 
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Location: Seattle
Beautiful. Job well done. I'm ordering a ZM80 right now to put on my own 6600 GT (The dual DVI XFX-brand), with you to credit for the inspiration.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 12:27 pm 
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Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
JohnMK wrote:
Beautiful. Job well done. I'm ordering a ZM80 right now to put on my own 6600 GT (The dual DVI XFX-brand), with you to credit for the inspiration.


John... check the alignment of your GPU on your card. Some people have indicated that they're having problems with the ZM80D-HP in combination with the GPUs which are skewed at a 45-degree angle to the card length.

My NX6600GT TD128 model has the GPU and chips all orthogonal to the card. Some 6600-based cards are skewed at 45 degrees, which may or may not work with the ZM80, depending on the locations of your mounting holes.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 2:19 pm 
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Kozure wrote:
My NX6600GT TD128 model has the GPU and chips all orthogonal to the card. Some 6600-based cards are skewed at 45 degrees, which may or may not work with the ZM80, depending on the locations of your mounting holes.


Thanks for your pics. I'm trying to figure out about how much above the mounting bracket. It's tough to describe, but my case is a desktop, not a tower and the lid clearance is pretty tight. From your pics, it looks like the screws may stand up further? I made a quick sketch to help describe what I'm trying to estimate.

Image

Hmmm... Having problems posting the image. The URL is:

http://www.bryanjohnson.net/Zalman.gif

Is this an inch above? Or 1/2 an inch? Or almost level?

Thx.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 2:25 pm 
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Ah, very sorry. I'll measure the distance when I get home tonight.

EDIT: Measured - the clearance you need is 17-18 mm (5/8" or so) above the mounting bracket - that is, the distance you specify in your drawing is about that much. I think you could probably get away without having them - but it would be up to you in that regard.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2005 8:59 am 
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Kozure wrote:
Ah, very sorry. I'll measure the distance when I get home tonight.

EDIT: Measured - the clearance you need is 17-18 mm (5/8" or so) above the mounting bracket - that is, the distance you specify in your drawing is about that much. I think you could probably get away without having them - but it would be up to you in that regard.


Thanks! My case (Cooler Master ATC-620) arrives today so I'll be able to check it out. Worst case, I'll figure out some sort of mod to hold the two plates together in a different manner.

Thanks again.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2005 2:20 pm 
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Hi,

Does your MSI 6600 look like the top one in this pic?

Image

If so, it seems to has the mounting holes at the same place as the lower of the 2, which would make the Zalman fit in 'my' case! (pc for a friend sadly)

The new Zalman VF700 doesn't fit Nvidia PCIE cards according to Zalman.. (although I haven't tried it yet, we do have the luxury of having both coolers at work to try)


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2005 4:03 pm 
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niels007 wrote:
If so, it seems to has the mounting holes at the same place as the lower of the 2, which would make the Zalman fit in 'my' case! (pc for a friend sadly)


Be careful. According to the 6600 GT reviews on anandtech the Gigabyte board has the heatsink attached to the GPU with a thermal GLUE, not a grease. This will make it more difficult to remove/replace the stock cooling solution.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2005 1:20 pm 
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Kozure wrote:
Ah, very sorry. I'll measure the distance when I get home tonight.

EDIT: Measured - the clearance you need is 17-18 mm (5/8" or so) above the mounting bracket - that is, the distance you specify in your drawing is about that much. I think you could probably get away without having them - but it would be up to you in that regard.


I only have about 3/8" clearance max. Based on what I saw in the installation manual, it looks like both sides of the heatpipe & plates will be mounted securely even without the top brackets. I think I'll give it a try without them to see. My case is a desktop so my graphics card will be sitting vertically. So I shouldn't have to worry about anything "pulling loose" somehow.

Your thoughts on how secure everything is without the two brackets on the top?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2005 1:46 pm 
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MofoMofo wrote:
I only have about 3/8" clearance max. Based on what I saw in the installation manual, it looks like both sides of the heatpipe & plates will be mounted securely even without the top brackets. I think I'll give it a try without them to see. My case is a desktop so my graphics card will be sitting vertically. So I shouldn't have to worry about anything "pulling loose" somehow.

Your thoughts on how secure everything is without the two brackets on the top?


My impression is that the whole assembly was pretty secure without them - the brackets seemed to be a "failsafe" more than anything else. If I had to quantify it, in terms of safety/comfort/secureness, I'd call the card without the brackets 95% sturdy without the brackets, and 110% with.

Those are completely subjective evaluations, of course, based only on a gut sense.

My impression is that the brackets are there to provide a third (fourth?) point of stabilization, and are more for peace-of-mind than actual bracing, but given the option of having vs. not having them, I'd put them on if you can. They pull together the dissipation plates at the top, which presumably gives better contact for the plate with the heat pipe.

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Kozure

Fong Kai FK-333 Case
Seasonic S12 Energy + 550W Power Supply
P4 540 3.2E GHz w/Zalman CNPS 7700-Cu HS on Asus P5GD2 - stock fan swapped for Scythe S-FLEX SFF-21E
Sapphire X1950Pro 256 MB w/stock fan (working on it)
Seagate V 200GB SATA HDD w/Luxurae enclosure
Noctua NF-S12-800 intake and exhaust fans


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2005 2:18 pm 
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Kozure wrote:
My impression is that the brackets are there to provide a third (fourth?) point of stabilization, and are more for peace-of-mind than actual bracing, but given the option of having vs. not having them, I'd put them on if you can. They pull together the dissipation plates at the top, which presumably gives better contact for the plate with the heat pipe.


Yeah, worst case I can probably find a similar solution using a smaller washer & nipple. In the manual the washer & nipple seem thick, but I'm not sure if this is true or not.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2005 1:14 am 
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Digging up this thread.

I just installed the ZM-80D-HP on my MSI NX6600GT TD128E (PCI-e), though it took me a lot longer than I had anticipated. For one, I ran out of thermal grease (they really don't give you that much) and ended up using some of my Arctic Silver 5 on it. Second, it was a balancing act keeping loose parts together until they can be scewed in place. Anyway, I'm currently idling at around 39-40ºC, whereas stock cooler was around 36-37º. Not bad, especially considering how much quieter my system got (the MSI fan was quite loud). I haven't really tested it under load, but Doom3 for 5 minutes had the temps rise to about 57º.

So I have one question: how exactly are the backside RAM heatsinks supposed to fit on the backside of the board. Are they supposed to align perfectly with the front side heatsinks? I ask because the heatsinks don't fit flat across the various metal parts on the backside. In fact, there's really only 2-3 small points of contact, and not all of the same height, so the heatsink is actually resting at an angle. Also, I believe one heatsink is just barely touching heatpipe B, and I'm not sure if that'll be a problem.

System's been up for a coupla hours now, so it seems fine for now. I guess I'll have to put it under load for awhile to see how it really performs.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2005 1:34 pm 
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The MSI seems like a popular card (I just got one too). It is by far the noisiest thing in my PC, although I haven't closed it up yet.

I'm still debating between this and the NV Silencer 6. This won't help to coole a passively cooled nForce4, although it would be the quieter solution.

Nice review by the way.


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 Post subject: my 2 cents
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 3:11 pm 
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Just wanted to add my 2 cents. 57C is pretty darn good for a fanless heat sink under load. My MSI NX6600GT-TD128 idles at around 45C like you describe, but goes above 70C when I play World of Warcraft. I may have to purchase something like that if it is quieter AND cools better than my stock fan and heatsink.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 4:15 pm 
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I have the XFX 6600gt with a ZM80d-hp on it. It idles at around 45c. Temps during actual game play are about 58c.

Mys system has a 7700 alcu as well. I suspect the zm80d-hp would not work as well with cpu coolers that receive their cooling air on a path parallel to the motherboard and then blow right out the exhaust instead of spreading the exhaust around like the 7700. Anyone around here with a Ninja using a ZM80d-hp?

During an extended round of torture testing with 3dmark 05, I was able to get temperatures up to 69c. At standard clock and memory speeds there were no artifacts.

I don't recommend overclocking your 6600GT if using this cooler unless you want to add a dedicated fan.

Personally, I think the thing is hard to assemble, and I had to redo it because it was not quite right the first time.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 12:06 am 
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I have the MSI 6600GT and same heatsink cooler. It fits very well unlike my cousin's 5900XT which looks retarded. Installation on the second time was a breeze since I knew exactly what to do. OEMs can totally utilize this heatsink to cool 6600GTs properly. It idles around 50 and up to 72 after hours of gaming. Overall I am very pleased.

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