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DeepCool Dracula VGA Cooler: Buyer Beware! It's irreversible!

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 23, 2012 3:36:45 PM

UPDATE:
It took about 2 months, but DeepCool (China, NOT USA) reviewed my issue and compensated me for the problem. While an inconvenience, It speaks well that the company was willing to stand behind their product and attempt to make things right.
/UPDATE:

I wanted to share my experiences so others can make an informed decision if this is the right cooler for them based on the issues I had with an install on my Radeon 7970.

Recently I decided I wanted more cooling for my Radeon 7970. After looking at a number of options I decided on this German made cooler. Prior to buying I called tech support to ensure that it would work with my card. We discussed the GPU hole measurements and they indicated that it would fit. Excitedly I ordered the cooler.

When I received it I went through the instructions, which were pretty sparse and a poor 'port' translation at best. To be safe I called DeepCool support again to confirm the proper install steps and most importantly application of the thermal grease / adhesive. And this is where it gets important.

In the package there are three thermal grease / adhesives supplied:
1) Syringe: Thermal grease to be used on the GPU
2) Tape: To be used for the thin heat sinks in tight spots
3) Toothpaste type tube: Used for all other areas to adhere the heatsinks

That last one is not a thermal grease, it is a tight bonding thermal adhesive and it does not pull away or dissolve with alcohol. This is key later on.

Following the steps I put on the cooler and immediately couldn't fire up the PC. After extensive troubleshooting I was able to confirm it was the cooler / VGA interface. I added more grease and tightened it down further to ensure as good a contact as possible. Now it booted but the idle temps were 10C higher than the stock cooler and stress testing immediately forced the card to shut down.

Pulling it back apart I noted the extremely large base of the cooler was not only contacting the GPU face, but also a surrounding 'wall' circling around the GPU. Unlike the stock cooler that had a raised face to ensure contacting the GPU only, this cooler did not and as such it wasn't getting the contact needed on the GPU.

I took pictures and discussed with DeepCool support. They reviewed and confirmed that indeed this cooler would NOT work with my card. And given that I couldn't even run my machine with it on at that point I had to remove that cooler to put the stock one back on. Here's where the fun started.

I was able to dissamble the cooler, remove the thermal grease from the GPU, and pull up the thermal tape. However, once I started into the thermal adhesive on the rest of the heat sinks it took a LOT of prying to get that to release, and again alcohol was ineffective at dissolving the bond. Sure enough, when working on the taller 'registers' where some of the heatsinks were attached it snapped one of those registers clean off. That bricked the card.

I then called DeepCool again and calmly explained what had happended. The rep then basically said that the thermal adhesive isn't really intended to be removed, and that once the installation was done it wasn't designed to come off.

So I summarized what had happened to this point with him:
1) A DeepCool rep had confirmed this was the proper cooler for my card
2) Prior to installation a DeepCool rep had confirmed what thermal grease / adhesive to use where
3) After my issues a DeepCool rep then confirmed it was NOT the proper cooler for my card, and given I could no longer use my card with it on I was forced to remove it
4) The thermal adhesive ended up causing damage to the card in the removal
5) Lastly, a DeepCool rep confirmed that the thermal adhesive isn't designed to be removed

I then asked to talk to a supervisor (as it wasn't the tech's issue at this point) as given I had followed the direction and guidance of the DeepCool reps to a 'T' I wanted DeepCool to support the issues with my card. Here is where the DeepCool support promptly stopped. I was told that I could not speak directly to a supervisor, that he would forward on any communications I wanted to send to him, and that he doubted DeepCool would take any responsibility even given the unusual circumstance above. Subsequent emails to the 'supervisor' went completely unanswered, and they have not bothered to contact me since.

So as it stands I am now footing the replacement of my card based on the improper guidance and instruction ofDeepCool - and a 7970 is not cheap. I don;t want someone else to make this same mistake or have the poor experience I had with DeepCool - so be warned, even if DeepCool says it should fit and it doesn't it will not come apart easily and you may end up with a brick for a card, and you will be on your own. Here's hoping others have better experiences!
July 23, 2012 4:03:02 PM

Hmmm, interesting story.
How did you purchase their product?
Do they actively quote that it fits the 7970 on their specs?
Make sure you get a erfund for the cooler at least, how much was it, as you can ask your bank to do a section 75 on it.

Lastly, ship the 7970 to the factory adn see if they will give you a replacement.
July 23, 2012 5:12:07 PM

I only purchased the card after calling and confirming with them the GPU / spacing / etc that it would fit my card. And the hole spacing did fit, it was the contact point with the GPU that caused the problem unfortunately. So to your question, it was only after talking to DeepCool directly to ensure this would fit that I then purchased the card online. And I did get a refund on the cooler, but its the $500+ vid card that is now a cup holder that has more of my attention :) 

And attempting an RMA on the card is possible, but I hate the idea of making the card manufacturer potentially responsible for something that is really an issue caused by the cooler manufacturer. It's the principle of the thing and (IMO) taking responsibility for your product / instruction. And I know there is little to no chance of them standing up for it at this point, so the only good that can come of it is to make sure others are aware of the potential problem(s) and can make a more informed choice....
July 23, 2012 5:17:50 PM

While physical damage to your card is likely not covered under warranty, you can ask if they will fix it (for a fee possibly) rather than go to the expense of replacing the entire card. Most companies will repair damaged cards if you offer to pay them.

EDIT: In the future, avoid using aftermarket coolers that require permanent attachment. :)  I know, sorry but I had to say it. I'm not an AMD guy so I'm not too familiar with all the different types of coolers, but I have never seen one that requires permanent adhesives.
July 23, 2012 5:20:14 PM

Yes sometimes bad things happen to good people. You did everything you could to act responsibly in your research and use of the product. However it was your initial decision to modify a product that has an adequate design and cooling component. Like any mod. it is the responsibility of the user for whatever happens. You could have done a "dry" fit to check all the clearances and alignments (standard practice when installing after market CPU coolers as well). Given your caution up to your assembly, I suspect you were not 100% sure this was going to work out. Even after being told it would work, you had a responsibility to be sure that was true. DeepCool sucks for giving out incorrect or out of date information. But you do share some of the responsibility for how things turned out. Hope you do get some compensation from them but I doubt it. I think you have better luck getting a new card with some accommodation in price.
July 23, 2012 5:28:26 PM

Totally true. Whenever you choose to modify hardware whether it is just a cooler or volt/trace mods, you will 99% of the time void any warranties. Some companies may not mind if you upgrade the cooler to something better as long as you don't do permanent damage. Just keep the original and put it back on if you need to send in for RMA or repair.
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