VGA Coolers: Thermalright V1 Ultra, Zalman 700 & 900, AC Silencer 5 v.3

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Arctic Cooling NV Silencer 5 (Rev. 3)
Aftermarket VGA Cooler
Arctic Cooling
Market Price

Arctic Cooling was one of the very first companies to offer an aftermarket VGA cooler called, appropriately enough, the VGA Silencer. The NV Silencer 5 is the successor of the VGA Silencer and, as its name suggests, it is designed specifically for nVidia-based cards. In fact, it's even more specific than that — the "5" in its name is there to distinguish it from the other five nVidia-based versions that Arctic Cooling produces. Arctic Cooling's product page has the complete details about which coolers go with which graphics cards.

SPCR has reviewed the NV Silencer 5 before, so the product is not new to us. It was included in this round-up for two reasons:

  1. It makes a good reference against which to judge the other coolers in the review
  2. The original review was of the noisy first revision of the cooler; Arctic Cooling released revision 2 with a quieter fan shortly after the review was published. (Revision 3 was added to allow compatibility with the GeForce 7800 series and did not affect noise).

Plastic bubble packaging shows the main heatsink on the front with the bracket and a secondary RAM heatsink on the back.

SPECIFICATIONS: Arctic Cooling NV Silencer 5
Arctic Cooling's web site)
72 mm
Overall Dimensions 218.5 × 100 × 31 mm
Rated Fan Speed
2000 RPM
Arctic Ceramic Bearing
Noise Level
0.9 Sone
Weight 428g
6 Years


The NV Silencer is more than just a big heatsink with a quiet fan. One of the reasons why VGA cards are so difficult to cool is that in the mid-tower style cases still favored by diehard enthusiasts, the heatsink typically hangs below the card where hot air gets trapped and recirculated several times before being exhausted. The AC Silencer line is special in that the hot air from the heatsink is largely blown out the back of the case so it cannot be recirculated.

A double width cooler that exhausts hot air out the back.

This idea is no longer unique — a number vidcard manufacturers use OEM variants of the Arctic Cooling — cooler. The basic idea is excellent especially if the rest of the system also runs hot. The down side of the design is its size and weight. Like many VGA coolers, it is too thick to fit into a single slot, meaning that whatever slot is below the graphics card is unusable. At 428g, it is also the heavier than any of the other coolers in the roundup by more than 100g.

Hot exhaust air gets blown out the back of the case instead of allowing it to recirculate.

The GPU and the RAM chips on the front of the card are all cooled.


Because the NV Silencer 5 was designed for a limited range of cards, installing it is as simple as peeling off the protective paper on the heat pads, threading the bolts through the holes on the card, and screwing on the backplate. The entire process took less than five minutes. (On the other hand, removing the stock cooler took a good half hour.)

The fan is connected to two different headers that match the ones found on the most common nVidia cards. However, Arctic Cooling notes that "Asus is unfortunately not following ATIs/NVIDIAs solutions and therefore our plug doesn't fit." They recommend removing the plugs and connecting the wires directly in this case. Unlike the other coolers in this review, a motherboard-compatible header is not provided.

A cross-shaped backplate holds the cooler securely in place.
The rubber mat prevents short-circuits and damage to the delicate electronics underneath.

The last step is optional but highly recommended: A separate aluminum plate provides additional cooling for any RAM chips on the back side of the card. It also draws some heat through the PCB, so it is useful even on cards without rear-mounted RAM chips.

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