Thermaltake Duorb VGA Cooler: Are Two Orbs Better Than One?

Cooling
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MP3 NOISE RECORDINGS

The recordings begin with the ambient noise of the test room. Please set your playback volume so that the ambient noise is almost inaudible, then don't adjust the volume control again. For best results, save the sound file to your own PC, then listen.

Thermaltake Duorb in test system (at 5V, 7V, 9V, 12V @ 1m)
The MP3 is broken into five-second sections beginning with the ambient in the room (14 dBA), followed by the VGA test system without a video card installed (17 dBA).

Thermaltake Duorb in open air (at 5V, 7V, 9V, 12V @ 1m)
The MP3 is broken into five-second sections beginning with the ambient in the room (14 dBA).

FINAL THOUGHTS

Thermaltake products usually rely on fast spinning fans to keep them competitive with more efficient products, but with the Duorb, the fast, noisy fans were not necessary. Even at 5V with the fans barely audible, it achieved almost the same level of performance as it did with the fans churning vigorously at 12V. The Duorb has few of the qualities befitting a silent PC: Not only do the fans spin too fast, they're made of a brittle resonant material, hard-mounted, and spaced too closely together. The lack of fan speed control compounds the acoustical shortcomings.

The provided RAM heatsinks are small and probably ineffective. Next to Zalman's low-profile heatsinks, they seem rather pathetic. Cutting corners like this when memory chips are getting hotter with each new GPU generation seems short-sighted. In addition, the mounting system really needs work. Zalman VGA coolers use a similar method but with thumbscrews and sturdier screws which keeps fidgetting to a minimum — it's very simple to use. Another better mounting system is exemplified by the Arctic Cooling Accelero S1/S2, which uses four screws and mounting arms that are attached permanently, making installation a one step process.

Judged purely on cooling performance, the Duorb is excellent, delivering a high level of performance and at a lower price-point than the Zalman VF1000. However, its cooling ability is limited by its two heatpipe design and even ridiculous amounts of airflow cannot improve it further. The extra airflow might be useful for a super-hot, poorly designed system operated in an unairconditioned room during a heat wave in the tropics... but that's a long stretch. The basic heatsink design is good, but for quiet cooling, a fan controller is mandatory, along with soft hands to finesse the fragile mounting screws.

Thermaltake Duorb GL-C0102
Pros

* Good performance with any amount of airflow
* Occupies only one extra slot

Cons

* Fans much louder than needed
* No fan controller included
* Questionable mounting hardware
* Ramsinks are puny

Thanks to Thermaltake for the Duorb sample.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

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