I am going to start this review off with something different. Instead of a company tracking us down to do a review we had to go out and hunt this one down. The item we are talking about is a G4-VGA Video Cooler made by ThermalTake. I had heard about this product through some online friends. Since I already had an old Volcano 6 and it is still in my machine I thought we would give this item a glance.
There are two reasons one should look into getting one of these coolers if you have a GeForce 4 Family card. First and foremost is the some manufacturer’s stock coolers are very bad. For instance one of our regular readers, Old Iron, had his Visiontek Ti 4200 stock cooler fall off and not only destroy his video card but his motherboard as well. The second reason is that with the GeForce FX not out until February or March it is important to squeeze some extra power out of your card with games like Unreal 2 coming out soon. That is where the G4-VGA comes in…
The container that it comes in not only shows you the sharp looking Copper heatsink, it shows you the memory heatsinks as well. The kit includes the heatsink/fan combo, 2 small RAM heatsinks, 2 large RAM heatsinks, double sides heat tape, thermal paste and a power adapter. Let’s move on to the specs for this thing…
|Fan Dimension||50x50x10 mm|
|Cooler Dimension||68x60x18 mm|
|Rated Current||max. 0.28AMP|
|FAN Speed||5500�10% R.P.M|
|Max. Air Flow||10.6CFM|
|Bearing Type||One Ball|
|Life Expectation||50,000 Hours|
As you can see it not only looks good but it is built to last for a while. One of the first things I noticed was the weight of the heatsink. I am so used to cheap stock ones that I forgot how heavy the good ones are. Now before you freak out and wonder if it will break your AGP slot don’t fret. I just meant that it is noticeably heavier than the stock one. Here are the layout specs for the G4.
Does it work? Is it loud? Well continue on and lets find out!
I thought not only would I show you what it looks like done but what my Visiontek stock cooler looks like as well. The picture to the left is the stock and the one to the right in the ThermalTake.
The interesting thing about the layout and temperature differences lies with the way the cooler blows the hot air away. If you click on the right picture you will get a better shot of how the plastic top works to distribute the air in two directions. I tested the cooler the recommended way with the exhaust blowing across the RAM and with it blowing out toward the plug-in and AGP sides. My reasoning for this is that since I am trying to cool the RAM more than the core I wanted the exhaust to not come near the RAM. To show you how powerful this setup is, the reversed way raised my MoBo temp noticeably.
Would the temp difference from the MoBo make up for the extra heat on the RAM? The answer is heck yea! The cooler took heat off of the core so well that I dropped by MoBo temp by 9 degrees Fahrenheit! After trying out the RAM heatsinks in different combinations I was able to determine that with my setup there weren’t enough heatsinks to fit all the RAM on the board. The reason being is that the sinks were just too long and not useful for my particular card. This is probably the ONLY complaint that I have about this cooler. I quickly fixed this by taking a Hacksaw and cutting the smaller heatsinks into multiple parts. This worked like a charm and you can see this in the second picture.
Well does it give you an increase in core/memory speed. Once again the answer is most definitely yes. With my stock setup I ran my 4200 at 295/515. My MoBo runs normally at 113.8 with a room temperature of 72 degrees. Running 100% stable at 305/533 with the G4-VGA my new temp is 105.6. The ironic thing through this is that it just dawned on me that my CPU runs a couple of degree’s cooler as well. Normal idle temp on my AMD XP 2000+ (a 1900 overclocked to 1.68 Ghz) is around 121 degrees. As I write this article with Photoshop, FrontPage, mIRC, Windows Media Player 9, one IE6 windows and WS_FTP running my CPU temp is 118.4 using this old Volcano 6. This is very impressive to say the least.
What about gaming performance? Well I ran tests on the new core using 3DMark 2001 SE and of course UT2003. The reason I still use 3DMark is that it is a good way to judge driver version changes. Unlike Hardware sites that run generic benchmarks and the UT2003 Flyby I test my rig in real gaming conditions. I was just about able to eek out the magic 11,000 mark barrier with my score of 10,931.
Now for the important benchmark, UT2003 and all of its graphics glory. First of all I run UT2003 at 1024×768 with high detail textures and everything but physics set to normal. Physics for some reason or another are a major resource drag especially when you have a lot of bots or players in the match. My magical map for benchmarking is CTF Magma. This is the best looking but most taxing map UT2003 has in its arsenal. To truly test your Stat FPS you need to start a match with no bots as the AI takes away juice that could be feeding the video card. Most people play online with real people so AI is not needed in this test. Standing on the ledge of the castle just left of the health vials facing the middle will tell you everything. Think your rig is sweet? Well what it does here is that it shows off its true muscles. My particular setup now gets 62 fps solid and that is up from 58.
Think a couple hundred 3DMark Score or 4 – 8 extra FPS isn’t worth $15? Well look at it this way, with the temp drop I got on the CPU and MoBo I was able to overclock the system a little more as well. Not to mention what could happen if your stock heatsink/fan falls off like it did to poor Old Iron. My first product was the Volcano 6 and it is a solid product and the G4-VGA does no less. Now that I have reviewed the G4-VGA I am very much looking forward to see what ThermalTake can do in the future. The cooler definitely earns a Fanboy Approved Award!
PS. If you are interested in purchasing one for yourself drop by their website and get one online.