Aerocase Condor: A Massive, Passive VGA Cooler

Cooling
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HEATSINK

The design of the Condor is simple. A small base transfers heat to three thick (6 mm) heatpipes, which dissipate the heat through a large, double-sided "wing" of anodized aluminum. The heatpipes are clamped between the two halves of the wing and secured with Arctic Silver Adhesive.

The wing consists of two pieces of extruded aluminum back to back. There is a small gap between the two pieces to make room for the heatpipes. The fins are widely spaced, and look well suited to take advantage whatever system airflow flows around them. The gap between the two aluminum extrusions is deliberate: The HS apparently provides better cooling with the gap rather than with it closed. This makes sense, as there would be a bit of airflow through the gap, and thus the effective cooling surface area of the HS is increased.


The heatsink is big — about the same length as a video card.

The base is large enough to cover the mounting holes around the GPU die. Copper is used for the contact point with the GPU, but the bulk of the base is made of some other black metal, presumably aluminum. A secondary heatsink is mounted on the top of the heatsink, although it is so small that the additional cooling it offers is probably minimal.

The secondary heatsink makes the base quite tall, so that it extends into the expansion slot below the graphics card. However, if requested, Aerocase will make a single-slot version without the additional height of the heatsinks. This makes the Condor the only single slot cooler that we know of, even if it is one of the largest.


The base is only as wide as the mounting holes for the card, leaving the rest of the card open to the air.


Widely spaced fins are essential for good passive performance.

One surprising omission from the package was ramsinks. We've come to expect heatsinks for RAM as standard for VGA coolers, but we have never really been sure how necessary they are. After all, regular system RAM typically consumes only 2~3W, and is perfectly happy without additional cooling. Aerocase agrees. An e-mail exchange with Aerocase's president, Katherine Dean, explained that their testing showed no need for separate ramsinks. In fact, she reported that, although the stock ATI cooler has thermal pads in place, they did not actually make contact with the RAM chips on their test card!



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