Aerocase Condor: A Massive, Passive VGA Cooler

Cooling
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August 17, 2006 by Devon Cooke with Mike Chin

Product
Aerocase Condor
Passive VGA Cooler
Manufacturer
Aerocase
Market Price
US$60 + S&H

Aerocase is different from other heatsink manufacturers. Their passive Condor VGA cooler is a product of Sheridan, Wyoming — not the part of the world you'd expect a massive VGA heatsink to be designed and built. The management team is all women, a fact that they are clearly proud of — it gets mentioned in the "about Aerocase" blurb that appears on their press releases. Sales are online only; each heatsink must be custom-ordered on Aerocase's web site. You specify which graphics card you have, whether or not you need a single-slot thickness, and whether the heatsink hangs above or below the card and Aerocase will send you a cooler customized to your specifications. With over a dozen variations, this kind of customization would be impossible with mass merchandizing as each version would require a separate product or model.

Aerocase is a small company. Their web site lacks the glossy slickness of a tech multinational, but there is a surprising amount of useful information to be found if you look for it, all presented with a minimum of BS. They call themselves an "engineering company", and, for once, we believe them. What other company would have an FAQ that includes the following?

Q: Your coolers look so plain and boring... can't I get some flashing lights and glitz?
A: Hummmmm, let's see ... ah, no. First, our engineers would go on strike, and second, you defeat the purpose of simple, reliable, and passive.

That no-frills, no-nonsense attitude is evident elsewhere as well. An extensive preview (not a review — "that should be independent") of the Condor tests it with a burning hot Radeon X1900XTX — and substantiates their claims by providing complete information about the test setup, right down to the software used for testing, the models of the fans, and the speed they were running.


A no-frills cardboard box — clearly not standard retail merchandizing.

The Condor itself is unlike any other VGA cooler we've seen. It takes the brute force approach, using heatpipes to escape the space limitations of most VGA coolers. It is much larger than any other cooler we've seen, rivaling some CPU coolers for size. It does not come with a fan, and it is designed to take advantage of system airflow. Aerocase does state that the Condor is best used in conjunction with both intake and exhaust fans in the case. The version with fins that hang over the CPU area centralizes much of the heat in the system. Those who are dubious of this approach can order the "reversed wing" version, which hangs over the expansion slots instead of the CPU.

Its size and ability to use system airflow to its advantage make it the only passive cooler we've seen that we would trust on a high-end card. Aerocase agrees. As mentioned, they've tested the Condor on a Radeon X1900XTX — and they lent us the video card so we could verify their claim. That speaks highly of their confidence.


Installation hardware is minimal, since every order is customized for a specific card.

SPECIFICATIONS: Aerocase Condor
(from
Aerocase's web site)
Wing Length
7.8" (198 mm)
Wing Width (from card)
4.5" (110 mm)
Wing Area
477.4 sq. in. (3,080 cm²)
Height Above Card
1.6" (40 mm)
Weight 522.1 g
Heatpipes (3) - 6 mm x 200 mm
Heatpipe Rating 105 watts
Assembly Technique Arctic Silver Epoxy
Backing Plate Stock
Clearance above CPU 4.75" (120 mm)
Required Wing Clearance 1" (25 mm) all around
ATI X1900XT Certified
(80mm Rear Case Fan)
49°C Idle
77°C Load (82°C Reversed)


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