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VGA Cooler Roundup: A Thermalright, two Zalmans, and an Arct
http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=31975
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Author:  Devonavar [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 12:41 am ]
Post subject:  VGA Cooler Roundup: A Thermalright, two Zalmans, and an Arct

VGA Cooler Roundup: A Thermalright, two Zalmans, and an Arctic Cooling.

Sometimes, you DON'T get what you pay for...

Author:  NeilBlanchard [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 9:03 am ]
Post subject: 

Hello,

Looks good to me!

Does the VF900 block one slot below the graphics slot; or two?

Author:  Devonavar [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 11:07 am ]
Post subject: 

The VF900 blocks one slot below the cooler (two slots total). I've added a sentence to this effect, since I didn't see that I'd mentioned it anywhere.

Author:  JazzJackRabbit [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 6:21 pm ]
Post subject: 

Long awaited review of video card coolers. I find it strange that arctic cooling 5 was so quiet, IME it was horrible, but then again I had 1st edition. Seems VF-900 is a clear winner, if you choose to go with a fanned design.

Author:  cyberknight [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 6:32 pm ]
Post subject: 

I can vouch for the VF900. With some slight modding, you can also attach the VF900 fan onto your video card's fan connector (rather than motherboard) and take advantage of any thermally controlled features your card may have.

I did this with my X800XL AGP, and having the fan thermally controlled via ATI Tool.

Author:  fastturtle [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 7:51 pm ]
Post subject: 

Devonavar:

You gave me an idea with the statement about tower case designs trapping heat below the video card and I decided to look into a standard desktop case design to see if I can find one strong enough to handle a 17" CRT on top as they used to .

Author:  Howard [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 8:10 pm ]
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Could you get your hands on an Accelero and test that too?

Author:  Krazy Kommando [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 9:00 pm ]
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excellent review! its interesting to see the VF900 perform so well, i expected to see the V1 Ultra to take the win.
its also excellent to see the little VF700 perform so well, its low price and easy of instalation make it a great choise for mid range cards

Author:  dragmor [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 9:33 pm ]
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Any chance of SPCR testing the VF100?

There's a few of us that dont have the room for a 2 slot cooler.

Author:  jmke [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 10:26 pm ]
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would have love to see them tested on a hot VGA card:) AC Accelero should do well with new cards:)

Author:  lloydo [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 10:32 pm ]
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I recently had the chance to put both a NV5.3 and an Accelero X1 on my 6800 GT (actually an AOpen Aeolus too :)). Being quite a bit of a newbie, I still found them very easy to put on (even if the instructions weren't very helpful).

One thing I wasn't sure of was how to affix the aluminium backing plate for my non-existant rear RAM chips. How did you stick it on? (I noticed you didn't use screws).

Even the NV5.3 was reasonably quiet, but the X1 was difficult to hear :D
I haven't actually put the card in my case yet so I can't comment on that, but if you thought the Silencer series were big, wait until you see the Accelero! It has a new-fandangled FDB fan too :?

Author:  jmke [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 11:24 pm ]
Post subject: 

lloydo wrote:
One thing I wasn't sure of was how to affix the aluminium backing plate for my non-existant rear RAM chips. How did you stick it on? (I noticed you didn't use screws).


if you don't have ram on the back plate, you simply don't mount the rear alu plate:)

Author:  lloydo [ Wed Jun 07, 2006 11:42 pm ]
Post subject: 

Quote:
The last step is optional but highly recommended: A separate aluminum plate provides additional cooling for any RAM chips on the back side of the card. It also draws some heat through the PCB, so it is useful even on cards without rear-mounted RAM chips.


At the bottom of page 2 devon recommends I do so anyway :P

Author:  qstoffe [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 12:15 am ]
Post subject: 

Is it easy to remove the fan on the VF-900 ?

On Zalman CPU cooler CNPS 9500 you can remove the fan easily since it's only held into place by two normal screws. Is it as easy to remove the fan on the Zalman VF-900 VGA cooler ?

Author:  Tzupy [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 2:15 am ]
Post subject: 

Better later than never!

Madshrimps' article showed similar results, but they also tested the Accelero...

IMO Zalman could improve on the VF-900, since it's weight is only 185 g.
There is room the extend the fins by about 1 - 1.5 cm sideways.
Of course, the fins wouldn't have the same length anymore, which would slightly increase manufacturing costs.
Such a modified VF-900 could handle larger loads, upto 90 W IMO, which the current design is not really up to.

Author:  forester joe [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:43 am ]
Post subject:  CPU cooler?

I realise I'm being a little crazy:

could the zalman VF-900 be used as a low profile cpu cooler?

I assume that the die size is a major factor. but I couldn't tell how much smaller it is from say the 9500 or the actual cpu area of a standard CPU.

maybe Zalman alreay has that in development :wink:

Author:  cjpark [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:58 am ]
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Great review!

Just wanted to mention that Thermalright's compatibility list is pretty strict on the V-1/V-1 Ultra. I have a V-1 (non-ultra) on an x800pro (should be pretty much the same as x800xt) and it works just fine. Better than stock and very quiet. Also cut the connector off the stock heatsink and wired it to the fan for the V-1 so I could plug it into the card and control the fan with ATITool.

Setup a buddy with a vf900 on his 7900gt and I was definitely impressed, wish I could fit one in my case.

Author:  Mike_P [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 8:37 am ]
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wow, was waiting for a SPCR review of these. I've got the VF700 on my 6600GT-AGP hooked to a zalman fanmate2 @ lowest possible setting.

i found it very easy to install. aside from the fact that Zalman states it does not work w/ the 6600gt cards, it does but there are a few catches.

1. The HSI Bridge chip needs its own cooling, some 6600gt agp's come w/ a seperate heatsink on it from the oem, like mine. (eVGA)

2. ram sinks. You can cut them up and bend them to fit under the vf700, as the HSI chip moves the gpu further up the card causing the ram sinks to get very close to the base. I just didnt use them, since my oem cooler just hovered over the mem anyways.

I find it quite good. recently w/ the warm weather in Toronto i've had ambient temps in the room of 27c (maybe up to 30c, darn A/C doesnt work too good upstairs). and it's idling @ 51c loading at 65ish.

the loudest part in my system is the s478 cooler (oem) but that will be fixed w/ an XP-120 on the way :D


As for the modification to allow this vf700 to mount to the cards fan plug all you need to do is pry the female plug on the fan off. it's just pressure fit on the pins, then the regular fan header should fit.

you can use RivaTuner to quiet down the fan during 2d use, and ramp it up to 85% during 3d use. works good.

Author:  Bobendren [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:48 am ]
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Awesome review. I'm suprised though that the Arctic Cooler had a consistently high cpu temp considering it chucks all the gpu heat outside the box. Why does this happen?

Author:  andyb [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 11:16 am ]
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I usually say, what a great review, but I am quite surprised to see a total lack of different voltages from the Arctic-Cooling unit.

Please can you re-test the AC VGA Silencer in the same system while using a peice of software to regulate the fan speed.

I think that AC got a really rough deal inthat review, and deserve to be re-tested, even if no-one is totally sure of the voltages, a % of the speed, and knowing what version of what software was used to obtain that speed would be great.

As an example, I HAD an Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer 4 Rev2 for my X800XT PE, I set various speeds using ATI-Tool, and even had it off completly for a while. It is an exceptional cooler in many respects, such as, the fact that it will run at 22% hapily and cool, and when a game is fired up it can the spin up with the temperature.

Therefore a lower noise level is attained when the graphic card is not doing a lot, but gets noisier when games are being played.

Please level the playing field.


Andy

Author:  stukovx [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 11:36 am ]
Post subject: 

on the v1 ultra could you possibly replace their stock fan with a 80mm nexus and see the performance/noise ratio?

Author:  korsch [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 2:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

Bobendren wrote:
Awesome review. I'm suprised though that the Arctic Cooler had a consistently high cpu temp considering it chucks all the gpu heat outside the box. Why does this happen?


I would like to know this as well. I wonder if most SPCR readers' cases have as effective airflow as the case shown in the review, and wonder even more if a higher performance vid card would have produced very different comparative results (esp. the ambient and CPU temps of the different coolers). I have read in the SPCR and other forums some users say that replacing their performance video card coolers with Zalman and other third party coolers has resulted in major jumps in case temperature, due to the inability to exhaust all that heat generated by the newer generation of performance graphics cards. By comparison, I know that even on my ATI 9800pro (45-55W under load) the Arctic Cooler Silencer dropped my case and CPU temps several degrees in comparison with stock cooling.

I think this is a terrific review as usual, but I agree with andyb that some attempts should have been made to reduce the fan speed on the AC unit via ATI Tool or if possible Speedfan to see if a better balance of cooling/noise was possible with the NV5. I'm not a die hard fan of AC units as I think they have some quality control issues. But we have to consider that: (1) vid cards are getting more and more power hungry and heat producing (the 6800GT at ~55W under load is average to low compared to vid cards today and on the horizon); and (2) the demands of quiet PC users often result in compromising case air flow to some degree. Therefore I wonder if if the AC Silencer style of GPU cooling solution doesn't still have a critical advantage *if* the fan speed can be controlled to bring its noise level down to that of the other VGA coolers.

Author:  SebRad [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 2:38 pm ]
Post subject: 

It's always the way, you write a great article, with rigorous test results clearly presented and all you get is; yes good but can you ..... :roll: :lol:
I think this shows several things:
That we're not afraid to test and modify things,
that we're always "pushing the envelope",
that we put great weight and faith in official SPCR reviews and
that we're a demanding bunch :D

To people asking about various things reading through the forums to see what experiences people have had can help, most products have been tried by someone here and while we might vary in our standards we're in the same ball park. Unlike the "gamer" sites that find most stock coolers fine and, for example, can't hear the V1 Ultra at full 12V / 2500rpm over the noise of the rest of their system yet Devon describes it as "too loud to consider in a quiet system"

However I too was surprised that no attempt test the cooling ability of the Silencer at different voltages as many cards allow fan speed control and many of us are capable and prepared to do some simple wiring the control the fan speed in some way. If the plug is anything like the one on my 9600 Pro you can just jam it on to a normal 3 pin fan connector. Yes the pins have to bend a bit but they bend/spring back and it’s an instant, easy way of connecting it to a fan controller. On the last page there are sound recordings of it at different voltage levels so at least that's covered, it's then a question of how the cooling performs at reduced speeds.

With regard to the Accelero SPCR can only test what they have and they're almost totally dependant on what samples manufactures will send them. Perhaps we should club together and buy an Accelero and send it for testing or just all email the manufacture and demand they send one!
Regards, Seb

Author:  MikeC [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 4:06 pm ]
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Jumping in from Taipei because I'm pretty sure Devon is immersed in a several day film shoot (his other -- real? -- passion):

It was a very good review, I agree with those who said that, and Devon deserves kudos. We spent a lot of time thinking, trying, and retrying different testing schemes, and I think the one we ended up with is good enough to stand as a reference methodology for some time, which means future vidcard reviews will happen much quicker. Some of those coolers have been in our lab for months, I'm chagrined to say.

Yes, I agree adjusting the voltage on the AC NV5 would have made it more complete, and perhaps we can do that when the Accelero is tested. That cooler wasn't done because we never requested a sample -- didn't want any more vidcard coolers when we weren't sure how to test the dang things. Several new ones will be tested in the near future -- a new Thermalright, Accelero and possibly, one from Scythe. There may also be new brands -- Gigabyte, and some other big Taiwan brands are doing tons of coolers, some VGA coolers among them. We'll see whatComputex nets in the coming weeks.

Author:  JonV [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

MikeC wrote:
and possibly, one from Scythe.

Since the only VGA coolers listed on Scythe's site are the ones from Arctic Cooling, I'm hoping/assuming you mean a new product, something we haven't heard of before. Could it be this thing?

Image

Looks pretty hard to fit in any but the most roomy cases... and is that a heatlane? I haven't seen that since the Zen.

This is definitely something I've been waiting for though, a fanless VGA cooler that seems like it was actually made for fanless operation. Zalman's offerings in this area do their job, but their heatsinks never seemed to be shaped for low-airflow performance.

The picture is from this Computex report.

Author:  Devonavar [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 6:07 pm ]
Post subject: 

Ok, there's a lot to tackle here, but let me try:

Desktop cases that don't trap heat under the VGA card.

Will the Antec NSK2400 suffice? You might block some air vents though...

VF900 as a low-profile CPU cooler

I think the main issue would be the mounting system, not the size of the base. Modern CPUs tend to ship with heatspreaders, which aren't as fussy as bare silicon about how much of the surface is covered. For example, the base of the original Arctic Cooling Freezer is actually noticably smaller than AMD's heatspreaders, but it works just fine.

With all of the different mounting holes on the VF900, I suspect that at least one of them could work, but the problem may be the height of the die, not its area. Even if the mounting holes could be lined up correctly, I think it's likely that the posts wouldn't be tall enough. I would expect to be faced with some significant customization...

Lack of data for the AC NVSilencer 5

I'm surprised people are still interested in this cooler with the Accelero set to succeed it. As MikeC stated, it was reallly only tossed into the mix as a reference because we had it on hand. In retrospect, I probably should have tested it both ways — once affixed to the VGA header, and once controlled externally. I was actually unaware that RivaTuner could control fan speed; I only discovered this program at the very end of the testing. Neither SpeedFan nor ATITool allows the fan on our test card to be controlled.

At this point, it will be quite some time before I will be back in the lab with enough time to retest it, so things will have to stand as they are for now. Perhaps we can revisit it again for a third time (!) when we look at the Accelero.

CPU temperature with the AC NVSilencer 5

I didn't really think a 3°C difference from high to low was worth commenting on. I would blame measurement variance and slightly different ambient temperatures on different days of testing.

Author:  jmke [ Thu Jun 08, 2006 10:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

Quote:
Accelero set to succeed it


the Accelero is not a replacement for the Silencer series, it's different product line. that's what AC told me at least

The V1-Ultra shows it muscles when using a high-end (hotter) VGA card, the 6800GT is quite cool compared to 7800 and X1900 series, the scale will tip in favor of the V1-Ultra due to its massive heatpipe construction which comes into play at higher heat outputs. the VF900 will keep up nicely and even the Silencer will offer a great balance between noise and performance. the VF700 will be overwhelmed easily though, and higher temps than the stock cooler can be observed.

Quote:
Any chance of SPCR testing the VF100?


afaik it's not available for retail


Quote:
and possibly, one from Scythe.


not before the end of the year according to Scythe, it should be a passive HSF , much like the Thermalright one at their booth

Author:  eoctanker [ Fri Jun 09, 2006 2:22 am ]
Post subject: 

Great article, just in time for me too! I will be mounting the VF900 on a 7900GT in a Solo with a A8N-SLI Premium board. When I get it together I will send pictures and temps so a less ducted system can be seen with a hotter running card. I won't be able to do the Decible level testing though :lol:

Author:  Thomas [ Fri Jun 09, 2006 2:43 am ]
Post subject: 

Devonavar wrote:
Ok, there's a lot to tackle here, but let me try:

Lack of data for the AC NVSilencer 5

I'm surprised people are still interested in this cooler with the Accelero set to succeed it. As MikeC stated, it was reallly only tossed into the mix as a reference because we had it on hand. In retrospect, I probably should have tested it both ways — once affixed to the VGA header, and once controlled externally. I was actually unaware that RivaTuner could control fan speed; I only discovered this program at the very end of the testing. Neither SpeedFan nor ATITool allows the fan on our test card to be controlled.

At this point, it will be quite some time before I will be back in the lab with enough time to retest it, so things will have to stand as they are for now. Perhaps we can revisit it again for a third time (!) when we look at the Accelero.


Regarding the interest in the Silencer. I dont know for sure, but I believe the two main reasons for the interest is:

1) The basic design is brilliant.
2) Many of us had it / have it.

Personally, I believe AC could have taken it a class or two up, if they improved quality. Better fans, better polishing of the contact area between GPU/HSF. And maybe add in a heatpipe or two. Enough about that, back to the review :wink:

I think the main reason for people commenting on voltage for the Silencer, is the point about using the Silencer as a reference.

For me, a geusstimated voltage of 10 volt, dont look like much of a reference :D

Another thing to consider, is there's several reports of different VGA card's PWM regulation of the fan, which introduce noise. Especially with Silencers. Maybe, the Silencer is more quiet than the VF900...

All in all, I think using a FanMate2 will make it a better choise as a reference.

But dont get me wrong, I really like this review:

1) It's simply the best VGA review I've read (and I've read a LOT)
2) You've done a great job by creating and developing the test methology.
3) Well chosen coolers.
4) Re-use of usual SPCR standard way of doing things.

One more point: If this review wasnt as great as it is, I wouldnt spent time on commenting it.

Author:  lloydo [ Fri Jun 09, 2006 8:01 pm ]
Post subject: 

Sorry to be annoying, but Devon could you quickly tell me how you affixed the aluminium plate to the rear of your Aeolus 6800 GT?

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