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Cooling the TNT



In a desperate attempt to find decent cooling for the TNT, I had stumbled upon several solutions. This section is geared towards overclockers or cooling freaks, or those looking for stability. If you don't know how to overclock your TNT then check out my walkthrough in the TNT Tweak Guide. Do TNT cards need cooling to be overclocked or even run well? YES! Most freezes or TNT problems are caused by overheating cards! Read on for more info...


Disclaimer: Tweak3D takes no responsibility for what may happen to you or your computer by following these guides. Only attempt any overclocking or tweaking if you are an intermediate to advanced user.

Cooling- the comparison

It is a well known fact that the TNT runs at a high temperature. The main reason for this is the usage of a .35 micron instead of .25. According to sources, this was because the .25 micron was not completed yet. Perhaps it would have been to expensive at this time. Although the original clock speed was dropped from the spec'd 125 MHz to 90 MHz, with a little work you can get it right where it is supposed to be.


Choice 1 - Let's assume that you are completely out of money. Even spending $5 would be way too much for you at this time. Can you still overclock your card? Sure!

Just using the standard heatsink on the STB I still had the card doing 95 Core / 115 Memory for a while. However, after prolonged abuse the system would hang.

TNT with standard heatsink:

Click to enlarge

Summary - Cost $0 (default), fairly stable up to speeds of 95 MHz core, 115 MHz memory.

Choice 2 - Are you somewhat creative or still on a tight budget? Make your own cooling from a 486 heatsink/fan combo.

Go to your local radio shack -or computer store- and pick one up for about $5. Place the fan only on the heatsink, screw it in place to the heatsink using the screws that attached it to the included heatsink. If your card already has a fan (e.g.. Canopus Spectra 2500), you're safe for the first cooling step.

TNT with 486 fan attached:

Click to enlarge

Next - If you really want to keep that card running cool and you are willing to take a risk, obtain some thermal paste or tape, and the heatsink from the 486 fan/heatsink or another 486 fan/heatsink combo. Place enough paste on the heatsink (or fan/heatsink) to make sure that no metal is touching the other side, and attach this to the back side of the TNT chip itself (directly behind the other heatsink). Before turning on the machine, take another good look to be certain that no metal from the heatsink is touching metal of the soldering pins sticking out of the card. Look at the picture below for more detail. Place the heatsink along the orange square. The square is right next to the soldering pins that you must be cautious of or you'll short out your card. This method is not recommended because of the risk involved.

Where to attach the heatsink or fan to the back:

Click to enlarge

Summary - Cost $5 to $10, fairly stable up to speeds of 105 MHz core, 115 MHz memory, lose 1 PCI slot -because of fan width.

Choice 3 - For the very creative person with a bit more cash.

Go buy a Pentium cooling fan/sink and remove the heatsink from your card. Don't know how? It's simple. Run the card for a while, until it is hot. Shut down the machine, remove the card. Carefully -using a flathead screwdriver- pry off the heatsink. They come off fairly easy. Use a razor blade to scrape off any hard glue. Use a slightly dampened cloth with rubbing alcohol to remove the remains of glue. Wait for the rubbing alcohol to dry and gently rub a dry cloth on it. When it is dry you're ready to start.

Note that removing the heatsink will void your warranty!

If the Pentium cooler is too large, you will have to actually drill holes in your Pentium heatsink for the capacitors to stick out. Now, using your thermal goop, attach the heatsink.

Although nobody mentioned it to me, and I don't feel like destroying some great cooling equipment to attempt it, peltiers may do very well also. If you have tried this and can send me info, please do so.

I've also heard ideas of people using Pentium II fan/heatsinks that were filed down. These are much bulkier still, and you may lose yet another PCI slot.

Summary - Cost $10 to $30, stable up to speeds of 110 MHz core, 115 MHz memory (??? - not tested, assumption- ), Lose 1 or even 2 PCI slots.

Choice 4 - This is for the person that always wants to buy the best, and wants all the PCI slots possible.

TennMax has a long reputation for making awesome cooling products. With the Stealth for voodoo2, Lasagna for everything else, etc, they have maintained their spot as one of the best companies for cooling graphics cards. The Lasagna is only 11 mm wide, which makes it especially appealing for cooling video cards. If you order one of these, you need a step-up block for most TNTs too, which costs about $2 more.

Since the other choices have a few issues which may be annoying, the Lasagna is the best solution so far for the TNT. It will offer very good power, is quiet, and frees up a PCI slot because it is so thin. The cooler is pretty cheap, too. You still will have to remove the heatsink from your card. See above for more info.

Click to enlarge


If you're interested in the Lasagna, check out TennMax's site now. and do not forget to see the impressive results below. If you have a Viper V550 or Creative Labs TNT, you will not need to purchase the extra tall step-up block needed for attaching to the STB Velocity 4400.

Summary - Cost $17 to $19, very stable at speeds of 115 MHz core, 120 MHz memory -perhaps higher-, does not take up an extra PCI slot, can be used in the future with other cards, dependable upside-down, very quiet.



*Note that the default speed is 90/110 (core/memory) MHz clock. Unstable results were not included. All shown results were with the TennMax Lasagna, which proved to be the best solution. Because overclocking results are almost never significant at lower resolutions, only 800x600 and 1152x864 were included. Also keep in mind that when overclocking, a few MHz goes a long way. A difference of only 10 MHz can make a huge impact on framerates. Memory clock results are dependent on the brand/speed of memory the card uses.

Test system


Pentium II 450
ABit BX6 mainboard
STB Velocity 4400 AGP (Using NVIDIA Reference Drivers v0.48)
Diamond Monster Sound MX200
Refresh rate set at 80 Hz
V-sync disabled
Windows 98 OSR 2.1
Fresh install of all software (no tweaking)



  Core/Mem Core/Mem Core/Mem % increase
  90/110 100/115 115/120 27.8/9.1
Benchmarks FPS FPS FPS % increase
Quake 2 - demo1 56.7 57.6 61.3 8.1
Quake 2 - crusher 30.8 31.2 32.5 5.5
GLQuake - demo2 68.9 71.2 73.5 6.8
Forsaken NUKE 104 107 113 8.7




  Core/Mem Core/Mem Core/Mem % increase
  90/110 100/115 115/120 27.8/9.1
Benchmarks FPS FPS FPS % increase
Quake 2 - demo1 30.6 31.8 34.8 13.7
Quake 2 - crusher 23.0 24.1 24.5 6.5
GLQuake - demo2 33.2 35.4 39.3 18.4
Forsaken NUKE 49 53 57 16.3




Comparison- features at a glance

This graph is a summary of each of the cooling methods.

*The group PCI slots inaccessible due to size is the number of PCI slots that the cooling will cover (making them inaccessible) on most motherboards, assuming the card is AGP. This is a bad thing :)

**The risk was calculated by observations of the dangers present during installation.


Plain heatsink 486 cooling fan 486 cooling fan w/ heatsink on back 486 cooling fan sandwich
Yellow Green Red Blue
Pentium cooling fan Pentium II heatsink/fan TennMax Lasagna TennMax Lasagna sandwich
Brown Orange Silver Light Green

*"Sandwich" configurations had the same cooling on both sides of the card


Core clock speed

95 MHz
105 MHz
110 MHz
110 MHz
110 MHz
112 MHz
115 MHz
122 MHz

Memory clock speed

115 MHz
115 MHz
115 MHz
120 MHz
115 MHz
120 MHz
120 MHz
120 MHz


$5 to $10
$10 to $20
$10 to $20
$5 to $15
$10 to $30
$17 to $19
$34 to $38


PCI slots inaccessible due to size

0 - n/a
1 or 2

Installation difficulty (out of 100)

0 - n/a

Risk involved (out of 100)

0 - n/a




There is no mention of peltiers at this time for a few reasons. First, they cost a lot more than any of the choices above. Also, they are very risky on video cards. Condensation can short out the card. If the fan fails to cool the peltier, the video card will be destroyed by the overheating peltier. Also they take a lot of space, and power.

However, for the daring and brave, a peltier can lead to amazing results. Here's an e-mail I received from a fellow tweak monkey, who took matters into his own hands and crafted a peltier cooling device for his TNT.

Hi, just thought you'd like to know that I got my STB Velocity 4400 AGP
running at 137 Mhz Core(Very Stable) and 115 Mhz Memory Timings.

How I did it:

A) Installed a 486-Style Fan on top of the STB Heatsink
B) Installed a 486 HeatSink on the backside of the Board
A&B above are from Tweak3D followed his suggestions almost exactly.

*C)* Increased my Voltage supplied to the DRAM, ChipSet, AGP, and CPU's
I/O Buffer from 3.5v to 4.0v. (My motherboard is the Asus P5A, to do so
on that board, move the jumper from VIO1 over 1&2 to VIO0 over 2&3).

I then tried bumping up the Core and got upto ~128 Mhz. Then started
moving up my Memory Timings and got that to 120 before things got funky.
Being the overclocker that I am I still wasn't happy so I pealed off the
Standard HeatSink that came with the STB V4400 and put on my CPU's
Peltier Fan, put a ball bearing on the pentium.

Tried again and took her all the way up to 137 Mhz Core / 115 Memory.
If you try to take the Memory timings above 120 or the CPU above 150 the
whole system will lock up after one minute in quake.

Quake 2 looks Very Normal at 137 Mhz there is a slight bit of flickering
in items at long distances but nothing extremely annoying.
I'm running a Socket 7 100 Mhz bus. I assume if you increased the bus
to 105-120 you'd have to decrease the Core/Memory Timings. I'd try this
but my Pentium just won't handle it :) (can't wait 'til I get money
for a K6 Processor).


If have the money, time, and are willing to take the risk, make sure share your results with me if you use a peltier when overclocking your TNT.


Cooling the TNT is not an easy task. With a little creativity and a lot of effort you can gain tons of performance -especially at higher resolutions- by overclocking a properly cooled card, or gain overall stability if your card is too hot.

The best solution in these instance was easily the single TennMax Lasagna, a product that is fairly inexpensive for its quality. Besides the performance, the fan is durable, can remain upside-down for long periods of time, uses little power, isn't so large that it takes PCI slots, and is quiet. Make sure to read more about it on the TennMax website.

Other notable methods were the Pentium II cooler if you have the supplies and time, and the 486 fan because it is simple, cheap, and works well.

I would avoid the sandwich ideas unless you really need performance, and are willing to take the time and risk for its construction.

Any comments you want to add? Ideas? Suggestions? Let me know.

Problems? Head to the discussion board.

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