As you can see here, the eight RAM-pads never made contact with the RAM chips. You may also have noticed that some of the writing on the chips has been burned off due to excess heat. This explains its awful results when overclocking. You probably also noticed that the processor had some pretty amateur thermal compound contact. Good thing we're making a switch, eh?
You can see the various sinks are wide-set for low airflow situations. The installation of the voltage regulator sink and the RAM-sinks was pretty simple: just peel and stick (and screw, with the voltage regulator)… or so I thought. Turns out that, unlike its cousin the Accelero X2 (where the RAM-sinks are said not to come off), these ones didn't stay on! After lots of futzing and frustration, I decided to plop my hard-covered A Friendly Introduction to Number Theory, by Joseph Silverman, on the card, compressing the RAM sinks. On top of that, I put two high-school yearbooks. Twenty minutes did the trick, and I moved on to the real deal.
The pre-applied thermal compound is Arctic Cooling's very own MX-1. It is evenly applied and should make for good contact. You'll also notice that with some isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) the GPU cleaned nicely, despite its… well… chunky past.
After placing the card upside-down on the cooler, and screwing it in half-way, you have to turn it right-side up and slide into place the black clips you see in the picture above. The manual says virtually nothing about the placement of these clips, and leaves it to the user to guess. This made for lots of lifting and lowering of the unit, which, I imagine marred the thermal compound contact between the heatsink and the processor.
My final complaint about the painful installation process is the washers. The plastic washers crushed under the pressure necessary to keep the cooler in place, and leaked out to one side on more than one occasion. This is okay, as long as it maintains the distance between the card and the screws; it's just disconcerting to see nothing but air in between the card and the screw.
On the bright side, with this new cooler installed, my card fits into its slot properly. If you remember my review of the X1900XTX, it sat awkwardly out of its socket, and resultantly wiggled back and forth. Now it fits correctly. It is, however, quite wide, and therefore collides with my side window fan (120x120x25), so I had to remove that to continue testing.
Overall, I was very unhappy with the installation process of this heatsink, and I got very frustrated, but in the end it is very snug. With a better manual, and maybe better RAM-sink tape, this would have gone much more smoothly. Okay, now that it's on the card, let's get testing!