As many of you all know, STO really pushes the video card -HARD-, creating excessive heat. While the stock HSF should be adequate for anything you throw at it, sometimes it's best to provide extra cooling depending on your needs.
In my rig, I'm using a BFG nVidia GeForce 8800GT OC2. I've had previous cooling issues with this card in the past, but they've become extremely exasperated when playing STO. Fair enough. But now I'm left with three options.
1. Keep playing until the card dies, and then claim the lifetime warranty.
2. Purchase a new card and e-bay my old one.
3. Upgrade the HSF with an aftermarket solution and thus void my warranty.
Well, I decided to opt for door #3. I must say that it was a very risky move on my part. Because, for all I know the card might have already sustained permanent thermal damage. However, I'm being cheap in hopes I can hold out for a newer card in the future. Perhaps based on the new Fermi chipset. Who knows...
Using a program called GPU-Z, I was able to log temps. At idle, the GPU core was hovering around 71c. At load, it reached 81c . I knew further testing was a waste of time. This preliminary test was all that I needed to know just how HOT the card was getting.
At this point, I decided to walk into my local Fry's Electronics store and purchase a Thermaltake DuOrb for $49. Now normally, I would have purchased some silver compound to go with it. But I thought to myself "anything is better than stock, I'll use whatever was in the kit (including the white thermal paste)". Besides, it's not like I'm keeping this card forever so why waste the money. Right? All i need was some rubbing alcohol, Q-tips, and a lot of patience.
After putting it all together and installing the card, I ran some benchmarks. Idle hovers arround 50c. At load hovered between 65 and 68c. WOW! Even at load it was running cooler then idle with the stock HSF. Oh, and it's whisper quite too!
For the curious and/or those plagued with video cooling issues, I highly recommend this product. It may not be the "best" cooling solution out there, but it does a very nice job for the price.