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Video Card Makeover - Part I

Page: 1/2
Video Card Makeover - Part I
Author: Lee ?Vectrex? Huffman

Thanks to

For Providing Us With This FINE Product to Mod


In this guide, we'll be taking a GeForce2 GTS, and turning it into a superstar. As I'm sure you can see by the title, this will be a two part How-To. The first part, that you are reading here, will cover video card cooling. The second part will cover overclocking your video card. Now that all of that is covered, we'll move on to the fun!

The Video Card

The video card we'll be modding today, like stated above, is a Visiontek GeForce2 GTS. This is a very basic card, which is one of the reasons for modding it (we don't want a basic card now do we?). Now that you've got the info on the card, let's move onto the modding.

Removing The Stock Cooling

The only cooling that comes on the card (that you can see in the above photo) is the GPU's heatsink/fan combo. This makes it easy to get a clean start. The only thing we will need to do is take a flat head screw driver, and pry that cooler right off.

Some people prefer to freeze the card, or heat it up, but I just went right to the prying. When you finally get the heatsink to bust off of the GPU, it will be a loud sound, and a little scary, but just be careful and you should be fine. Here we have the bare GPU after the cooler has been removed.

GPU Lapping

Lapping is something of the extreme cooling and overclocking variety. You'll find that this is a long and tedious task with sometimes small results, but if you're hardcore, then you'll be in for the challenge. Now your question is, what is lapping? Well, I'll do my best to explain it to you.

Lapping is the process of sanding down a chip or heatsink, making it extremely flat. By doing this to both the chip and the heatsink being applied to that chip, you will get a very nice bond between these two surfaces, making the transfer of heat to the heatsink work better. Now we will go into the details of lapping.

We want to use a series of different grit sand paper, moving from lower grit to higher grit. You will use very high grit sand paper, compared to what you would use say, with wood work. For our lapping, we will start with a 180 grit sand paper as our starting point, then move to 600, then to 1200, then to 1500, and finally we end with 2000. This will leave you with a nice flat, smooth finish.

Let's get to work shall we? Here you can see a close up of the GPU we will be lapping. The white paste you see is the thermal compound used between the stock heatsink and the chip. This is now hard and is stuck onto the GPU, which means we'll have to sand right through it. Let's start with the 180 grit sand paper.

You want to work the sand paper in circular motions around the chip, making sure not to be sanding away at any traces on the PCB or any other components.

Here we are half way through. Continue on until the thermal paste is gone and you have sanded off the logo from on top of the chip. How far you sand down is really a matter of how much guts you have, or how stupid you are in some cases.

Here is the finished GPU. As you can see, the old thermal paste and the logo printed on top of the chip are both gone. I have sanded down pretty far, to make sure I get the best temps possible, but you may not want to go too far, just to be on the safe side. Now that the GPU is ready to go, we'll work on our new GPU cooler, the ThermalTake Crystal Orb.

Crystal Orb Lapping

To ensure that we get the most out of our previous work done on the GPU, we'll want to do some minor lapping on the cooler as well. This is not as intense as the last lapping, so it should not take you anywhere as long.

With lapping the Crystal Orb, we'll start with a grit of 600, move to 1500, and end with 2000. The Crystal Orb already has a very nice surface, but we are just doing a little perfection here, so only higher grits will be needed. Lapping the Crystal Orb is very easy. All you need to do is place the specific grit sand paper on a flat sureface, and move the Orb in a circular motion. Then just move from grit to grit, and your finished.

As you can see from the picture below, you really do get a nice mirror finish out of this process.

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