What are the benefits of using a card with the plastic casing (if any)? A high percentage of the mid-high range GPUs are encased in these, and it seems that they would hinder cooling as not as much air can reach to the processor. I know that if I was to install an aftermarket cooler that I would need to remove this, and how hard is it to remove and replace? Is it just removing a couple of screws on the bottom side? If i was to remove it and still use the stock cooler, would I see preformance, noise, and cooling change positively or negatively or would it not change noticably?
I was having fan noise issues with my ATI card. The fan was vibrating against the casing. Took off the plastic casing and the sound disappeared. My temp inside the case went UP a few degrees. Now I don't know if its because I've been rearranging things inside or not (smile) but that's my story.
It would affect negatively. Higher temp, since your fan is not vibrating against casing I dont think noise will make a big difference (i presume).
Higher temp is because the fan blows all directions, and the casing guides all the air to flow through the cooling block, and out of the case. Without the casing it wont be guided nicely through the card, but rather go in all directions. (in other words, USELESS KEEP THE CASING ON)
Obviously it depends on the situation, but a product like: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
may actually not help at all? I have a 260 core 216 and it is remarkably quiet, but I want a cool GPU/CPU. Also, my case seems weird as every PCI is upside down (well PCB is up) and I have no outtake fans below the card so i take it the zalman cooler would also probably keep a lot of the heat in because of this (unless i got a PCI Slot fan) ? I guess that makes sense, in channeling the air, as i saw benchmarks for cases where (in general) cases with side vents got worse internal temperatures.
Overall would you recommend an aftermarket cooler to keep the internal temperature down? I guess the fact that the output temp is high (may) mean that it is doing a good job pushing the hot air out.
Generally aftermarkets will make the internal temp increase - but the trade off being that you get a lower on-die temp. Now, if you can take some thin plexiglass and make a casing for that nice zalman cooler...that would be uber, and easy.