Samus, my main machine, was having some issues earlier today, so I opened her up and felt around. I touched the graphics card and was nearly burned. I loaded up a temperature tracking program and found that it was running at 93°C. That’s nearly 200 degrees Farenheit. I was amazed that the GPU hadn’t been damaged by this heat.

With the system shut down, I removed the card and tried to see if I could fix the problem. The fan had some dust bunnies, but nothing worse than usual. I cleaned it off, removed the heatsink, applied some new Arctic Silver, put the card back, and powered the system on. I immediately realized that this wasn’t a dust problem. The heatsink fan had failed.

Why build a card that hits the market with a $300+ price tag, has the latest nVidia chip, and has high-end VRAM yet has a fan with an extremely-high rate of failure? I’ve owned around ten video cards from various manufacturers over the past few years. This makes the forth one to have a fan failure.

I immediately ordered a replacement from Newegg: a XFX GeForce 9800 GT. I know, it’s not going to shatter any records, but I go for price, not for performance. I rarely play any games these days as it is. Besides, it’s replacing a GeForce 7600, so it’s a nice upgrade.

The fact that I immediately ordered a replacement answers my earlier question. Why make a fan that lasts ten years when you can make them fail between one to three years and force the person to get an entirely new card?

Since that card won’t get here until Wednesday at the earliest, I had to find a way to keep the system running. That’s when I had the genius idea of doing a quick and dirty mod. I ripped the card out again, removed the cover on the heatsink, and zip-tied an 80mm case fan blowing directly onto the heatsink.

With the machine back together, I booted up, loaded TF2, and watched the heat go up. And go up it did. It started at a nice cool 46°C and jumped way up to 48°C as I gamed. I’d have to say that my jury rigging works better than the original fan ever did. So, remember kids, if you want a solution to keep your GPU frosty on the cheap, slap a case fan right on top of the heatsink.

Now that I think about it, the card is quieter now too. Maybe I should remove the fan from my old card and put it on my new card when it arrives.

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