VGA Fan Noise with ATI Radeon 9600 Pro All-In-Wonder
Notes for replacing the VGA fan when it has a noise or vibration problem.
The fan on my ATI Radeon 9600 Pro All-In-Wonder AGP video card started making a loud rattling noise one day, about two years after I purchased it. Cleaning all the dust out from the fan and heatink with Q-tips and alcohol did not help. So I had to replace the VGA fan.
ADDA OEM Fan
Note, the All-In-Wonder version of the ATI RADEON 9600 includes a TV and FM tuner. Thus, it is a heavy, bulky VGA card with many large, electronic components attached to it.
To solve the noise problem, I first contacted ATI tech support via the online messaging service. They had no documentation on fan noise, and they did not provide any advice on finding a fan replacement. All they did was give me RMA instructions. Since the card was two years old, the warranty had expired.
I wanted to find the exact replacement. I looked up the model number of the fan by first removing the heatsink/fan from the card, and then removing the fan from the heatsink. Removing the heatsink from the card requires small pliers to pull the two plastic plugs out, then the heatsink can be pulled off. Detaching the fan from the heatsink simply involved removing four screws.
Searching for a replacement VGA fan was difficult. The text on the fan was, ADDA Model AP4512NMX-G90, DC 12V 394D, 0.06A (L-A) Hypro Bearing. By searching for various combinations of these keywords in Google, I found a forum post with a link to Mouser.com, an electronics component supply company. The Mouser part number was 664-AP4512MX-G90. I purchased the fan for about $15 including shipping.
The part came as a combined heatsink and fan. Even though the model number was exactly the same, the attachment mechanism was slightly different. The heatsink could not be mounted to the Radeon card. So I attached the new fan to the old heatsink, it being the same size. I thoroughly cleaned off the old heatsink compound, which had hardened, and applied new heatsink compound. The screw holes did not line up, so I connected the fan with some twist ties.
After I turned it on, it did not rattle, but it was loud. It seemed slightly louder than the original fan, which was already the loudest component in my computer. This was probably due to the loose, imprecise mounting. Small fans are almost always louder than larger fans, for moving the same amount of air. I was unsatisfied.
Vantec Iceberg 4
I went to a local computer shop and bought a Vantec Iceberg 4. The Iceberg has two models, a Pro model and regular model that are compatible with different sets of video cards. The one I got was for ATI, and it had Radeon 9600 listed on the packaging. Of course, when I brought it home and tried to attach it, it did not fit. A capacitor was in the way. There was no easy way to modify the heatsink, because it was solid copper. The website does not list Radeon 9600 as being supported. The fan had been on clearance as a returned item. It still had a return period, so I returned the fan to the store and got back my $10.
ZALMAN VF700-ALCU 2
About a month later, I was shopping on newegg.com for a hard drive. I did a search for VGA cooling fans and found the ZALMAN VF700-ALCU 2 Ball VGA COOLER. The reviews seemed to be good, and the manufacturer's website showed that Radeon 9600 was supported. Actually, the website was the clincher for me, because it had complete information and was very well presented. Many hardware manufacturer websites have a pittance of product information. So I bought this Aluminum/Copper heatsink for about $30. I did not get the Copper one because the 9600 Pro does not put out that much heat. The size of the Zalman compared to the stock heatsink makes it certainly overkill for the chip's cooling needs.
When I received this fan, of course, it did not attach properly either. I have the impression that most manufacturers of after-market PC components lie, misinform, mislead, or withold important information about their products. There was a capacitor in the way. However, the situation was not irretrievable, since I could bend the fins back until the heatsink could attach. Bending was actually not enough, so I cut about six of the fins off with regular scissors, and then the heatsink attached easily following the instructions.
I really had no choice but to use this heatsink, because while removing the old one, the plastic supporting pin cracked and broke into pieces. The plastic is very weak and brittle. It would not have attached correctly again.
After installing the Zalman, I connected it to my power supply using the included adapter. The adapter has a 5V plug that puts the fan into silent mode. The product is very quiet, and attaches securely to the card, so overall I am pleased. Hopefully, when I eventually upgrade my video card, I will be able to reuse the Zalman fan on the new card.
As of December 2006, I have been using the Zalman VF700-ALCU 2 successfully for about a year. I keep it at the lowest fan speed setting using the externally attached, variable fan speed control. Sometimes I increase it when playing games, but that is probably not necessary.
Artic Cooling VGA Silencer, Rev 3 Review
One reader did some further investigation on replacement fans for the ATI RADEON 9600 AIW, and found the Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer, Rev. 3. This fan works with the same video card without modification! Arctic Cooling's 'VGA Silencer Rev. 3' offers two fan speeds. The faster speed is equivalent to ATI's noise level while the lower speed is virtually silent. Even at the lower speed, the fan provides a 58 degree operating temperature as opposed to ATI's 79 degree (Celsius). The VGA Silencer, Rev. 3 is compatible with ATI 9500 to 9700 (SE, Pro, XT, and AIW) as well as ATI 9800 (SE, Pro, and AIW), and retails for about $22 USD. One the company website, it says the plastic casing can be cut to accomodate any obstructions on the VGA card. Thanks to Bob Miklosey.
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