The video card dilemma got a small boost. I decided to replace the stock coolers with hopes of maybe RMAing the cards. I did the first card and thought what the heck, I would plug it back in and see what happened. Much to my amazement it is working PERFECTLY! I can run all the video stress tests, I can play my games FULL SCREEN and at a pretty decent frame rate I might add. I even got a Vantage score of over 9200! Needless to say I was blown away.
I installed the ATI 8.10 drivers and Catalyst Control Center, and set the fans to 35% and am running at a cool 45C at idle and 57C under maximum load. WOW! It's almost unbelievable.
The downside however is I was not as lucky with the second card. Most of the original thermal material was gone and I made some improvised replacements but I think the card was already toast. I do not get a video signal whatsoever from it. Bummer. Now that the card is obviously been tampered with, there is no hope of an RMA. I am still going after Arctic Cooling, but I don't expect much.
At least my gaming rig is up and running again! I don't think I am going to fork out money for a replacement card unless I see serious issues in my games. I just played FFoW and pulled off more head shots in five minutes then I have ever done! If I do decide to replace the dead card I think I will look seriously at a 4870 x2 only because of the fact there are less heat issues with a single card.
So I am still out about 400.00 but that is somewhat less painful then 700.00. And I still have a usable rig. It is a good day.