Aftermarket Cooler or New Card?


May 31, 2011

I have a HIS Radeon 4870 1GB Card. It tends to get pretty hot after gaming and I get the BSOD sometimes. I do not OC the video card. I’m debating if I should install an aftermarket cooler or get a new card. Here are my current settings for the card:

GPU Clock: 500 mhz
Memory Clock: 500 mhz
Fan Speed: 33%
Idle: 61C-64C
Load: 81C-86C

Some coolers I’ve looked at:

ZALMAN VF1000 2 Ball VGA Cooler

ARCTIC COOLING Accelero TWIN TURBO Pro Fluid Dynamic VGA Cooler

GELID Solutions GC-VGA02-01 1 Ball, 1 Sleeve VGA Cooler ICY VISION

If you have installed an aftermarket cooler on your card, what were your results? Ideally, I would hope for a 20C drop in temperatures. Also, I was thinking of getting another card. Maybe the Radeon HD 6670 or the GeForce GT 440. I don’t have that much money to spend so a solution under a $100 would be ideal.

Current Build
AMD Phenom II x830 3.5 Ghz OC
Asus M3A78-EM
8 GB RAM DDR2 667mhz G-Skill
HIS Radeon 4870 1GB 256-bit
WD Black 640GB SATA
2 DVD Burners (1 SATA/1 EIDE)
2 120 mm Fans (Front/Back)
1 80 mm Fan (Side, Near Video Card)
The Zalman is too weak, the HD4870 is a well known room heater ;)
Either of the others should be fine, just make sure you have a good exhaust fan to pull the heat out and you should be OK.
Looks like your rig is nicely balanced, unless the 4870 is giving you problems, I see no reason to change it unless you are keen on DX11.
The main reason for these getting too hot is dust build-up in the cooler fins. Before doing any heavy surgery, give the card a good clean out.

Like this:
First, get a can of 'compressed air' it's sold in some computer stores, just tell them you're cleaning out a heatsink, they'll know what you want.
Turn off the system and remove the power lead.
Remove the card.
First, use a cotton bud to remove the dust from the fan blades. Then, use the 'compressed air' and blow it backwards, so you blow in through the exhaust, do NOT blow down or into the fan, you'll just drive the dust deeper into the heatsink and probably overspeed the fan, damaging it. It's a good idea to do this outside ;)
Reinstall the card.
1) Graphics cards, particularly older ones do run hot, but they are designed to tolerate high heat.
Follow coozie7 suggestions to clear out any dust.

2) An aftermarket cooler like you described will get theat off of the gpu die, but it will then just dump it back intp the case where case cooling has to deal with it. Not good.
I prefer cards with direct exhaust coolers that send all the hot air directly out the back of the case.

3) Your case is suspect from a cooling point of view. To test this, take the side panel off, and direct a house fan at the innards. If your temperatures drop significantly, it is time for a better case.

4) I think $50 is better spent on a good cooling case vs. a gpu cooler.
The perennial favorite, Antec 300 is now $50:

5) If your graphics card still fails with the case side covers off, it is either a failing graphics card, or possibly a bad psu.
What psu are you using?


May 3, 2008

The Zalman is more than capable of handling a 4870. I have 2 4850s with VF1000s and they idle in the 40C range, and only go up to 55C during gaming. The only difference between a 4850 and a 4870 is the memory used. Same GPU, different clock speeds. My 4850s were overclocked to 700mhz on the core with above said temps
1) the CASE is FINE.

2) Are you sure it is the graphics card?
- try a different card

3) If there's no dust on the graphics card fan, and it's spinning fine then an aftermarket cooler might not work. The card may simply be dying and a new cooler likely won't help.

4) My advice is get a new graphics card that fits your needs and budget. There are now several HD7xxx cards to choose from; I know the HD7870 and HD7850's are out but I haven't looked at price vs value. The GTX680 is just out but it's $500+ but a truly awesome card and the one I'm replacing my HD5870 with. FYI, the GTX680 gets about 2x the frame rates, on average, as the HD5870.

I recommend an HD6850, GTX560 or higher. Again, depending on your requirements and budget.

**Your CPU wouldn't get the same performance with a GTX680 as a much faster CPU. Even so, in some games it might not completely bottleneck either.

(It is confusing if you don't understand computers, but basically a FASTER CPU would make your games run better if you had a GTX680, but a SLOWER graphics card would run slower. It's not quite true that the graphics card or the CPU is always a bottleneck. In fact, you can have a CPU not hitting 100% on any core but still get higher frame rates when you overclock it because it's NOT just about how much processing POTENTIAL a CPU has but also about how QUICKLY it can process the data (overclocking).)

***My long diatribe here is to say that you can buy any card you want, up to a GTX680. The GTX560 is a pretty good value card at the higher end.


Dec 24, 2011
People tend to forget that GPU's do need to be cleaned sometimes, Dust/Hair/Lint will build up in the air channels in the heat sink and limit air flow causing over heating issues.

Generally I will pull my GPU's completely apart and take off the HSF and open it up and clean it and re-thermal paste it once a year


May 31, 2011
Thanks for the advice everyone.

@coozie7: I'll clean out the card and go from there.
@geofelt: Antec TruePower 550W
@wolfram23: I never cleaned it. I bought it off someone on CL.
@photonboy: I'll look at the 6850's.

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