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

Cooling
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FINAL THOUGHTS

The Battle-Axe is an exceptional VGA heatsink, capable of cooling all compatible video cards — if it can cool a X1950XTX this well, it can cool a Geforce 8800 series card easily. While the specifications do not list ATI HD 3800 series as compatible, it does not look incompatible. It may be the absence of a VRM heatsink that prevents it from being officially supported. We do recommend that some kind of fan control be used, and a fan swap or modification would not be a bad idea as the acoustics were not great.

While it performs superbly, from a usability standpoint, our experience with the product was primarily negative. It's not often that mounting hardware gives us so much trouble in the lab, and even rarer for a screw mount to actually break... twice! It was simply a pain to install and uninstall, and we were afraid we would not be able to finish testing. The weak ramsink adhesive was also inexcusable.

As effective as its cooling is, the Battle-Axe's performance probably could have been better on a larger GPU, because two of the four heatpipes did not make direct contact with our ATI X1950XTX core. Any performance advantage the two outside heatpipes provided here were minimal.

The nVidia 8800 series GPUs appear to have considerably larger cores than our ATI, and some of them incorporate heatpipes as well. The latest 9800GTX series appear to use essentially the same size die as the 8800GTX. All of these video cards would probably benefit more from the Battle-Axe's four heatpipes than our ATI X1950XTX. Interestingly, more recent ATI GPUs like the 3850 and 3870 series are smaller, about the same size of the X1950XTX. so they would have the same disadvantage with the Xigmatek.

The underlining direct-touch technology seems even more impressive considering the size of our test GPU. Despite the challenges, the Battle-Axe performed admirably, beating out the more expensive Zalman VF1000. There is definitely more potential here than we tapped. That great potential cooling performance may be compelling enough for many potential buyers to overcome the longer list of cons in our summary below.

Xigmatek Battle-Axe VD964
Pros

* Excellent performance with any amount of airflow
* Fans easily replaced

Cons

* Fans much louder than needed
* No fan controller
* Terribly fragile mounting hardware; virtually unacceptable.
* Weak ramsink adhesive
* Takes up three extra slots
* Heatpipe spacing in base too wide for a small GPU

Thanks to Xigmatek for the Battle-Axe sample.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Xigmatek HDT-S1283 & SD964 "heatpipe direct-touch" CPU coolers
Arctic Cooling Accelero S2 VGA Cooler + Turbo Module
Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 VGA Cooler
Updated VGA Card/Cooler Test Platform
Zalman VF1000 LED Graphics Card Cooler

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