It's obvious that you cannot "passively" cool any >100W video card, and that forced airflow via case fans is absolutely necessary.
Yes, we might have done more to increase airflow to the Condor without actually adding a fan in front. Opening up all the PCI slot covers would probably have helped a bit, at the expense of HDD cooling in the front. Would it have been enough to run this system with a single 120mm Nexus fan? Highly unlikely, and as others have already noted, room ambient temperatures will often be much higher than the 22-23C of our lab.
Remember, too, that Aerocase recommends both intake and exhaust fans in systems that use their VGA coolers. All we did in our test setup was to position the front fan a little closer to the vidcard and cooling fins.
Given the ramp-up of the PSU fan -- even though it was separately ducted for cool intake air!
-- trying to run the Condor "fanlessly" with the X1900XTX under such loading conditions was pointless
. Perhaps some of you did not read the text carefully enough: The system noise (minus VGA cooler fan) under full cpu/vga load was ~30 [email protected].
As noted in the review, "no other fan-cooled power supply would fare better.
That might be a slight overstatement -- perhaps the fan in an S12-600 in a P180 would ramp up less and run a bit quieter at the same load. Still, when the DC power demand is near 250W, there are no PSUs we know of that would NOT
ramp up its fan at least some. Even at 80% efficiency, you're looking at 50W inside the PSU -- no normal PSU can dissipate this heat without forced airflow.
That leads us to the question of a passive PSU system. However.... I cannot think of a single passive PSU + case for a gamer that would accommodate a hot CPU (like the 2.8GHz prescott) and an X1900XTX with a single Nexus 120.... that I'd be happy and comfortable with in the long term. (IE -- that I didn't think would fail early due to overheating.)
Which then gets back to the question of whether one can or should expect to run a super hot vidcard like the X1900XTX passively with the Condor in a quiet system. Yes -- if you accept 30 [email protected]
as quiet. No, not at SPCR preferred 22-23 [email protected]
levels. (Besides, the only reason for a vidcard like this is to play games; gamers get mesmerized and immersed in their games, have the sound up and hardly are aware of anything else when they are gaming. I don't see what's wrong with a switch for the front fan to turn on when gaming.)
But having said all that, if we'd had a 35W A64 3800X2 or similar for the CPU and a "normal-wing" Condor, then the single Nexus 120 & the quiet CPU fan might have been enough to cool it all. Then we'd only have to solve the issue of the 30 dBA/1m PSU. An external passive PSU, right? We should have tested it that way, right?
Finally, be reasonable, people. We have umpteen products to review and only 24 hrs in a day. Surely there is more than enough data and information in the review to reach the same conclusions I did above.