The described card is equipped with the reference cooler whose design hasn’t changed much since the GeForce 8800 GTX. The changes have been evolutionary. Particularly, the cooler now has a larger heatsink. The metallic casing works as a heat-spreader, too. Still, the card is very hot. You just can’t take it into your hand for a few minutes after you have shut down the system.
A copper heat exchanger takes the heat off the GPU. It is connected to the heatsink with heat pipes that ensure uniform distribution of heat. Dark-gray thermal grease is used as a thermal interface. The memory chips, NVIO chip, and load-bearing elements of the power circuit are cooled by the cooler’s aluminum frame – it has juts at the appropriate places. Traditional fabric pads soaked in white thermal grease are used as a thermal interface for these components. The memory chips on the reverse side of the PCB are cooled by the back half of the cooler’s casing. It is fastened to the front half of the casing with 10 screws and a few latches, so the card is actually within a single massive metallic shell. The only protruding details are the mounting bracket and the PCI Express x16 slot. This monolithic thing ensures good heat transfer and protects the card’s components from damage but it also makes the card rather heavy. You must fix the mounting bracket in the case properly. Otherwise the card may damage the PCI Express slot.
The heatsink is cooled with a Delta blower we are familiar with by other reference coolers from Nvidia. This blower is nearly silent at low speeds but audible at high speeds. It has a lot of work to do on the GeForce GTX 280 because there is as much as 170 watts of heat to dissipate even on the reference card whereas the Zotac version is going to generate even more heat. Zotac’s stickers are glued to the cooler’s casing and fan. That’s the only way of making a GeForce GTX 200 different from other vendors’ products.