Fixing a Video Card Heatsink?

So I load up FEAR and five minutes in I get a ton of tearing and whatnot. Previously I’ve had this problem with other games - I discovered that the heatsink on my video card was fouled with dust and whatnot so I used compressed air to blow it out. Worked OK for a while (though it would still sometimes tear and all).

Well, I basically said fuckit today and pulled the heatsink off the card. Beneath it’s kind of dusty again, so I cleaned that out. I know now I’m supposed to apply new thermal compound (arctic silver or whatnot).

My question is this: both on the heatsink and the chip there’s a dry, gray residue. I assume this is the old thermal compound - should I make an attempt to remove it? Or should I just leave it be?


Remove it. Use clear acetone until it’s gone, then use alcohol to clean off the acetone. Use thermal epoxy if the heatsink isn’t mounted with screws.

If you feel heat is an issue, test it by opening the case and blowing a fan directly at it – if it keeps happening, then heat’s not the issue.

All thermal compound says remove the old gunk first.

Suggest 99% isopropyl alcohol if you got it - Don’t use RUBBING alcohol because that stuff has additives that stay around. I tinker a lot with stuff so I ordered a case of 99% isopropyl online. It’s a great cleanser and degreaser.

Drugstores probably carry 91%, I guess get the highest one you can find.

If the card is nice and you have no plans to discard it, I’d consider a new heating solution. The zalman passive heatsinks work pretty well, but I’m now using an artic cooler since it blows out the additional heat. Balance of noise/heat is important.

It’s a 6800 GT card, which IIRC uses somewhere around 80 watts.

It’s a Radeon 9800 pro and I’m planning on replacing it soonish.

Thanks for all the advice guys!


Turns out you can get 99% Isopropyl Alcohol at Fred Meyer.

Didn’t help unfortunately - five minutes after starting the game I start to experience horrible tearing.

I don’t have a large fan handy so I’ll have to wait til tomorrow to get ahold of one and send it blasting into my case.

One thing I’ve noticed is that it doesn’t seem like the fan on the heatsink is moving much air - I put my hand below it while playing the game and it just doesn’t seem like it’s doing much. Shouldn’t the fan’s speed ramp up as the card gets hotter?


Spamming my own thread but…

My roommate had a big ole fan turns out - when that’s blasting into the case everything is working fine. So it’s definitely a heat issue - I guess the old fan is toast?

I’ve never played around with cooling before; I presume this means I have to get a new heatsink for my card (Radeon 9800 pro). Where should I go / what brands should I be looking at?

Have you tried removing the slot brackets around the video card? That’s a very simple solution to improve the airflow in some cases.

I would get the $30 arctic silencer. First, it cools like a mofo. Second, it’s a LOT quieter than a stock HSF for a video card.

If that’s too much, you can go ghetto by buying/finding a spare 80mm fan, strapping it to a bent bracket knockout, and blowing it straight at your existing HSF with the fan removed.

One last note – make sure you actually have good airflow in your case, otherwise the HSF on your card won’t make a difference.