Xigmatek Battle-Axe: First Direct-Touch Heatpipe VGA Cooler

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The Battle-Axe comes with mounting hardware, low-profile ramsinks, a heatsink for the NVIO chip found on some Geforce 8800 series cards, four extra rubber isolators, a dual 3-pin fan adapter, and thermal compound.

Accessories and mounting equipment.

Xigmatek supplies six standard BGA sized ramsinks and two larger ones that are long enough to cover three chips on their own. The thermal adhesive on the ramsinks unfortunately do not stick very well and fell off several times when we tried to apply them to our test card. If you wish to attempt to use them, we recommend cleaning the memory chips carefully so that they are dust-free and heating up the adhesive before application to help facilitate bonding.

Mounting arms installed.

The installation procedure is fairly simple. The mounting clips are screwed into the base, and four hex-screws are secured to the appropriate holes.

Back of the card.

On the back of the card, four spring-loaded nuts attach to the hex-screws protruding from the other side, in essence, capping them.

Oh snap.

It seems the mounting hardware is somewhat fragile. We slightly over-tightened one of the nuts (despite the fact that it has a spring to prevent this), and were rewarded with the sound of ricocheting metal. A portion of the one of the hex-screws snapped off inside the nut. To keep proper distance on that corner of the mount we improvised, using a small piece of plastic with a hole inside it, approximately the same height as the fat portion of the hex-screw. It was taped on so it wouldn't move about (see picture below).

A second nut/screw set became stuck together and effectively became one piece (unbinding them would have probably ended badly) which is why the picture below only shows two hex-screws. The Zalman VF series VGA coolers use a similar installation system, but unlike the Battle-Axe, their screws are thicker with coarser threads and the use of thumbscrews keeps fumbling to a minimum. The Battle-Axe's mounting equipment is flimsy and fidgety in comparison.

Thermal compound footprint.


Also note the small footprint the thermal compound made in the photo above. Only the center two heatpipes made direct contact with the bare 190mm square core of our ATI X1950XTX GPU. As the surrounding mounting plate is not really designed to transfer hea, the usefulness of four heatpipes is questionable, at least for this size of GPU core. Xigmatek may get better results using three heatpipes, or two thicker heatpipes instead.

Examining the base very closely with a micrometer, we determined that a GPU can be up to 215mm square and still not make contact with the two outside heatpipes in the base. For a GPU core to make contact with about 1/3 of the two outside heatpipes in the base, it would have to be 250mm sq. For all four heatpipes in the base to make complete contact, the GPU would have to be 330mm wide.

What all this means is that the Battle-Axe does not interface as effectively with the smaller cores that result from the most modern microprocessor fabrication technology because of the relatively wide spacing of the heatpipes in its base. If a heatspreader is built into the GPU, then Xigmatek's direct-touch heatpipe will still have advantages. It may be instructive to take a look at the physical size of your GPU.


Base mount.

As we lost a screw portion on one corner, a long screw with the same threading was used instead. Despite the crudeness of our methods, the base made good, tight contact with the GPU core.

Battle-Axe fully installed.

Unlike the Accelero S1, the Battle-Axe is quite easy to handle due to the presence of a metal housing. It's also a lot narrower, extending only slightly past the edge of the card's width.

The S2 has a slight curve.

Installed in our test system, the Battle-Axe occupied three extra slots, four including the video card PCB. The metal cover is slightly wider than the width of the fans, creating a sort of trough for the fan cables. Each fan has it's own 3-pin cable.

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