Introduction: Add a Cooler to an ATI All in Wonder 9600 VGA Card

Picture of Add a Cooler to an ATI All in Wonder 9600 VGA Card

The ATI All-In-Wonder card is a great value for the features, so I'm sure many people bought one when they were available. One reason that they were a great value was slower, cheaper components, so the card will do a lot, just slower than average. One area of cost saving was the heat sink for the VGA chip. All cards these days have a heat sink with a fan, but not this guy!

My PC overheated a while back. It was better after I cleaned the dust bunnies out of the heat sinks (remember to do this, kids - maybe when you change the batteries on your smoke detectors, about twice a year). However, I noticed that the VGA card got VERY hot - this was unacceptable, so I decided to upgrade the cooler.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any coolers available for this card specifically. There are many generic "compatible with all ATI 9xxx" coolers out there, but don't be fooled - these rarely work with the All In Wonder. I managed to alter one to work, and here's how I did it.

Step 1: Overview

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The ATI All-In-Wonder 9600 (hereafter refered to as the AIW) uses the Radeon 9600 chipset, but it has a bulky TV tuner module and tall capacitors that prohibit using a typical ATI 9xxx VGA Cooler. You need either a very tall narrow cooler, like a 486 CPU cooler, or a cooler that uses heat pipes to get the heat sink clear of the board.

I decided to use the Accelero S2 VGA Cooler, made by Arctic Cool. It uses heat pipes. It is designed to run in a silent PC, so it has no fans, and the heat sink is HUGE (but surprisingly light). Arctic Cool does make an optional fan kit for this cooler, but I decided to increase the number of fans on my case instead.

The Accelero S2 isn't a perfect solution, as it needs to be modified to fit the AIW card, but the modifications are minimal. It just involves making a few cuts in soft aluminum with a Dremel tool or hacksaw.

The cooler kit has heat sink compound pre-applied, and comes with a blank case-card cover with vent holes in it, so that when you mount it next to the VGA card, there is an extra vent hole in the back of your case. The kit also comes with 8 heat sinks that stick on to the RAM chips, and even though I haven't noted any high temperatures at the RAM (I don't overclock), I installed them anyway.

Step 2: What You Will Need

You will need a pair of needle-nose pliers and a small Phillips-head screwdriver. To modify the heat sink's mounting plate you will need either a Dremel-type tool or a hacksaw and vise (I used the Dremel). You should also have isopropyl alcohol and paper towels handy, and some good heat sink compound like Arctic Silver (the Accelero comes with this pre-applied, but you're probably going to ruin it during the mod, so have some extra compound handy).

This mod is going to be performed on delicate electronic components, so static protection is mandatory. Use an anti-static mat (I am using anti-static bubble-wrap that my motherboard came in). You can use a grounding strap if you like; I merely touched an earth ground periodically throughout the procedure and was careful during handling of the components.

Step 3: Prepare Your PC and VGA Card

Picture of Prepare Your PC  and VGA Card

The heat sink on the Accelero S2 is very large, so this won't work if you are using a mini case. The heat sink extends about an inch above the top of the VGA card, and will fill the next PCI slot adjacent to the VGA card. You should plan to have at least that slot free, preferably two slots so that air will flow more freely through the cooler.

Unplug the PC from the mains power, and move all of your PCI cards as far away from your VGA card as possible to give it room to breathe.

After moving the PCI cards, install the vented blank slot cover in the case.

Remove the ATI AIW card, and carefully remove its heatsink. You will need to use needle-nose pliers to pinch the heatsink retainers on the opposite side of the card to force them through the holes in the circuit board. Next, grasp the heatsink and gently twist it - this will loosen the sticky heatsink compound and allow the heatsink to be removed.

Use isopropyl alcohol and paper towels to clean the excess heatsink compound from the surface of the Radeon chip. Also, wipe off the 8 RAM chips, as they will need to be clean for their heat sinks.

Step 4: Prepare the Accelero S2 for the Mod

Picture of Prepare the Accelero S2 for the Mod

This is the Accelero, as seen from the card side. I have cleaned the heat sink compound off of the copper pad. As you can see, the heat sink is very large, but the copper heat pipes keep all of it clear of the components. Unfortunately, the aluminum mounting plate that secures the copper pad to the Radeon chip is too large and must be trimmed in a few places.

If you are going to use a hacksaw for this mod, you can remove the aluminum plate from the rest of the heat sink by removing 4 small Phillips-head screws. I used a Dremel, and I elected to keep the aluminum attached during the mod.

If you are going to keep the heat sink attached, you may want to use the needle nose pliers to unclip and remove the black plastic caps from the top and bottom of the heatsink - this will make it easier to clean later.

Step 5: Remove the Material in Two Stages

Picture of Remove the Material in Two Stages

On the aluminum retainer, remove the upper-right corner of the retainer. This should take two cuts, and should remove all the material up to the innermost screw hole in the corner. After removing this corner, use the Dremel to grind off any sharp burrs, and then use paper towels or a brush to clean off ALL of the aluminum dust. Blow off the dust from the vents. All metal dust and shavings MUST be cleaned off - if any gets on your VGA card or motherboard, it will be ruined in short order.

Once the corner is removed, the heatsink will clear the TV tuner module. Now, we must make it so that the capacitor will clear.

To do this, apply a dab of heat sink compound to the top of the capacitor. Then, place the heat sink on the card (it won't touch the Radeon chip, the capacitor will interfere), and then remove the heat sink.

Turn the heat sink over, and there will be a dab of heat sink compound where the capacitor hit. Use the Dremel tool to cut away this part of the heat sink retainer.

Again, clean off ALL TRACES of metal dust.

Finally, if you had previously removed the aluminum retainer from the copper pad, re-attach the retainer to the heatsink with the screws.

Step 6: Install the Accelero on to the AIW Card

Picture of Install the Accelero on to the AIW Card

At this point, you can follow the instructions that came with the heatsink to complete the installation. I will paraphrase them here, with a few observations:

1. Clean off the RAM chips and stick the little heat sinks to them.

1b. At this point, connect the audio cable to the card (it will be nearly inaccesible later)

2. Apply heat sink compound to the Radeon chip carefully, using a business card or the plastic case from the heatsink kit to smooth it on.

3. Remove the adhesive backing from the aluminum retainer and use the adhesive to stick the spacers to the two mounting holes used for this card.

4. Carefully place the heatsink's copper pad on the Radeon, and use two screws with fiber washers to VERY LOOSELY secure it to the card.

5. Install the plastic retainers that hold the heatsink to the top of the card. You will need to move the heatsink away from the card to do this, so it's good that you didn't tighten them down.

6. Tighten the screws down only finger tight.

7. Slide the heatsink on the card as far "up as it will go, so that the card will plug into the motherboard OK.

8. Tighten the two screws down in stages, half a turn on one and then half a turn on the other, repeated until the screws are fully tightened. The VGA card will warp slightly - I don't know if this is a great plan, but it seemed to work OK for me (next time I will rig some kind of a backing plate).

9. Install the VGA card in your PC, connect the audio cable to the sound card, and fire up your system to test it all out.

I plan to undo this and install a temperature probe in the near future, but for now the modded AIW card is working great.

Comments

Punkguyta (author)2007-11-21

What in your right mind makes you think you need a 10 pound heatsink for an All in wonder?

exabopper (author)Punkguyta2007-11-26

Heat must be eliminated at all costs. If we let heat increase too much, the universe will eventually overheat and life as we know it will end. I am just trying to do my part to save everything.

PS - don't write to me explaining the physics of how wrong this answer is - it at least required a little more thought than, "THE OLD HEAT SINK WAS FRIGGIN HOT, DUH." Anyone in their "right mind" would have figured that out, especially since the first paragraph of the Instructable explained that very thing.

Punkguyta (author)exabopper2007-11-27

Actually your answer is possibly wrong, I will try to elaborate despite your 1-upism below: Given time for the computer to be on, the heat sink will eventually heat up as hot at that other smaller heatsink that was factory installed. So, we had a fan right? Well with such a large new heatsink, we'll need a bigger fan to keep it cooler because of the increased surface area on the heatsink takes more air moving around to cool it. Thusly using more electricity and not really saving the environment.

_Scratch_ (author)Punkguyta2011-06-22

Actually, you are wrong. The point of a passive cooler is to have a large surface area to disperse heat across. Hot air also wants to move up, so there is a constant movement of air, even without a fan. It does not require more air moving to cool it, quite the opposite actually, the reason why the passive sinks are so big. The more surface area, the more heat transfer to the air, which better dissipates heat, heating the air up more, which causes more hot air to rise, and more cold air to move up into the sink. Do not rely on electricity for everything, nature has its own tricks.

exabopper (author)Punkguyta2007-11-28

The intro of this Instructable notes that the original heatsink had no fan, was small, and got hot. Other reviewers of this card also noted the heat, and that while it was excessive, was within the operational parameters of the card, so it was not necessarily dangerous. In my opinion, excessive heat can stress the appliance, and perhaps over time, the heat will prove to be too great after all. I therefore decided to upgrade the cooler. Step 1 of this Instructable notes that the Accelero is designed for use in a fanless environment, and for this reason has very large surface area. Step 1 also states that I will add more case fans to my PC anyway, so as to help overall cooling of the system. While my system now sounds like a C-130 taking off, it runs within a few degrees of room temperature. It is true that the larger cooling capacity of the new coolers I added on the VGA card (and also CPU) will increase heat in the case overall, however the new case fans move the hot air to the outside (my office). After extended periods of computing with the door shut, my office is noticeably warmer than the rest of the house, but not uncomfortably so. I also realize that the heat I produce is only transferred, not eliminated, so the universe will eventually perish, heat sink or no. However, I feel that by using my computer to help educate others, so that perhaps an older component remains in use instead of being sent to a landfill, that I am helping to save the environment that way. Besides, any increase in the overall education of the human race will ensure that, at some point, a human will come up with a solution to environmental problems, and perhaps save the universe after all. That's why this site is so important.

exabopper (author)2009-07-17

The graphics cars is actually a small computer that works with the rest of your computer, so that your main PC doesn't waste its time drawing pictures while it is doing other stuff like keeping track of your game score and opponents and other calculations. When your PC is ready to draw something on the screen, it sends some very basic information to the graphics card, and then kind of walks away while the graphics card finishes the picture and displays it to your screen. Because the graphics card is its own separate computer system, having more RAM and more coolers attached will make it draw screens faster, so your whole computer runs faster. Some graphics cards are built right into the main board, and they use some system memory instead of its own RAM. This is slower, but it's also cheaper, so a PC that doesn't play games or draw complex 3D pictures will do fine. However, if you are playing a fast, 3D game, a separate graphics card is needed (otherwise the PC will be so slow that the game will be unplayable - system lag). Most high-end gaming PCs actually have two graphics cards working together.

_Scratch_ (author)exabopper2011-06-22

The only High end PCs ive seen running 2 or more gpus are Alienware, or home built computers. My computer isnt incredible., but i built it. Also, to punkatsub, if you play any graphics intensive games (pretty much any after 2007) need a independent graphics card to run on high detail and smoothly. Such as Modern Warfare 2 on the computer.

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