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GELID Icy Vision Dual Fan VGA Cooler

GELID Icy Vision Dual Fan VGA Cooler

August 30, 2010 by Lawrence Lee

Product GELID Icy Vision

GPU Cooler
Manufacturer GELID
Solutions
Street Price ~US$55

GELID is a manufacturer that we believe is on its way up. Though it currently
lacks the name recognition of its progenitor, GELID seems to follow Arctic Cooling's
fundamentally strong design principles and quiet computing philosophy, only
with a flashier style. The GELID products we've reviewed so far, the Silent
Spirit
and Slim
Silence
, are affordable, quiet cooling solutions, but certainly not
high performing by any stretch of the imagination.


GELID Icy Vision vs. PowerColor Radeon HD 4890.

The Icy Vision, on the other hand, is an ambitious VGA cooler which GELID claims
can tackle some of the hottest single GPU cards on the market including the
Radeon HD 5870 and GeForce GTX 480. Though it may be a quiet product, absolute
cooling proficiency is the name of the game here and the Icy Vision has all
the right tools to excel in this area. The heatsink has 5 heatpipes, a pair
of 92 mm fans, and weighs almost a pound; it's not particularly impressive for
a heatsink cooling a CPU, but fairly massive for a GPU.


Included accessories.

Along with the hardware to mount the cooler itself, GELID provides an impressive
array of heatsinks for 16 RAM chips, the NVIO chip on Nvidia cards, and voltage
regulators. One notable inclusion is a one-piece VRM heatsink with a hard mounting
scheme for a variety of cards from ATI's Radeon HD 4000/5000 series — this
is typically absent from most GPU cooler packages. In addition, rather than
having thermal adhesive pre-applied, thermal tape is attached to the heatsinks
manually. Rounding out the package is a tube of thermal compound and a 3-pin/4-pin
molex fan adapter cable.

GELID Icy Vision: Specifications
(from the product
web page
)
Air Flow (CFM / CMH): 67.14 / 114.13
Bearing: 1 Ball & 1 Sleeve
Cable Length (mm): 200
Current (A): 0.5 (0.25 / fan)
DC Voltage (V): 12
Fan Speed (RPM): 2000 (+/- 10%)
Fan: 2 x 9215 S-Shape UV Blue Fan
Heatsink Dimensions (mm): 216 L x 95 W x 52 H
Life Time MTTF at 40C (h): 50'000
Noise Level (dBA): max. 26
Static Pressure (mmAq): 1.3
Warranty (years): 5
Weight (g): 465
Supported Cards*
ATI™: HD4850, HD4870, HD4890, HD5830, HD5850 &
HD5870
Nvidia™: 9800GT, 9800GTX, GTS250, GTX260, 275, 280,
285, GTX465, GTX470 & GTX480
The compatibility list is based on ATI & Nvidia's reference
board layout ONLY. GELID Solutions holds no responsibility for incompatibility
on nonstandard cards. Please refer to the height restriction drawing. All
brands and trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

PHYSICAL DETAILS

The GELID Icy Vision consists of a copper base, 5 copper heatpipes, 84 aluminum
fins separated into two sections, and a pair of slim 92 mm fans. It measures
216 x 95 x 52 mm or 8.5 x 3.7 x 2.0" ( L x W x H) and weighs 465 grams
according to GELID (our sample came in at 420 grams according to our digital
scale).



Airflow
is provided by two translucent UV reactive fans each with 11 twisted blades
and a wingspan of 86 mm. The fans are secured on a black plastic frame
that latches onto each side of the heatsink.


The cooler is asymmetrical, a necessary design choice for compatibility
with ATI's latest cards. ATI shifted the GPU core on the HD 5000 series
further toward the back panel.


Despite lacking PWM control, the fan has a deceptive 4-pin connector that will plug into many modern graphics cards; the fans run at full speed when powered this way. A 3-pin/4-pin molex adapter cable is included to power it externally. The cable is 8.5"
long, effectively 11" if using the 3-pin connector and 15" using
the molex connector.


Two heatpipes curl over the base while the three others extend
to the portion of the heatsink over the VRM area. The fins are approximately
0.40 mm thick and spaced 1.90 mm apart.


The base and heatpipes are soldered together but on one side
there were visible air gaps under 3 of the 5 heatpipes.


The base is rather rough and upon closer examination, the surface
was found to be slightly concave.

INSTALLATION

The most critical aspect of installation is for the heatsink to be securely
mounted. A firm mating results in good contact between the heatsink's base and
the GPU core and more efficient heat conduction. Ideally installation should
also be a simple procedure with as the user having to handle as few pieces of
hardware as possible.


The installation system is relatively simple. The procedure begins
by inserting standoffs in the appropriate mounting holes and capping them
on the other side with nuts.


The frame is then screwed onto the base.


Thermal interface material is applied of course, then the card
is placed upside-down onto the cooler. The other side of the standoffs
are secured with a set of spring-loaded bolts on the trace side of the
video card PCB.


Fully installed.


From the side.


The heatsink doesn't hang over the side of the card.


The thermal compound footprint left on the base reveals good
contact. The thinner the goop at the center the better.

TEST METHODOLOGY

Our test procedure is an in-system test, designed to determine whether the
cooler is adequate for use in a low-noise system. By adequately cooled,
we mean cooled well enough that no misbehavior related to thermal overload is
exhibited. Thermal misbehavior in a graphics card can show up in a variety of
ways, including:

  • Sudden system shutdown, reboot without warning, or loss of display signal
  • Jaggies and other visual artifacts on the screen.
  • Motion slowing and/or screen freezing.

Any of these misbehaviors are annoying at best and dangerous at worst —
dangerous to the health and lifespan of the graphics card, and sometimes to
the system OS.

Test Platform

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • CPUBurn
    processor stress software.
  • FurMark
    stability test to stress the GPU.
  • GPU-Z to
    monitor GPU temperatures..
  • A custom-built variable fan speed controller to power the system
    fan
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer:
    SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital
    audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber
    with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower



A summary of how our video card/cooler test platform is put together can
be found here.



GPU coolers are tested on a HIS Radeon HD 4890 Turbo Edition, a very power hungry
single GPU card that draws almost 150W by our estimates. The stock cooling plate
is left on to cool the memory chips and the voltage regulators as the 4870/4890
series for convenience and because the VRM heatsinks included with many aftermarket
VGA coolers are too small to be effective.

Our main test consists of FurMark stability test running in conjunction with
CPUBurn to stress both the graphics card and processor simultaneously. This
combination produces more CPU/GPU stress than a typical gaming session. As our
test system has very limited airflow, our results are not indicative of a real-world
situation, but rather a worse-case scenario. If the heatsink in question can
cool the card and its components adequately in this environment it means there
will be some degree of thermal headroom when deployed in a more conventional
situation. GPU temperatures are recorded using GPU-Z. On our HD 4890 test card,
there are three main on-die sensors, as well as three on the primary voltage
regulators. We average the results of each set of sensors.

The cooler is tested at various speeds to represent a good cross-section of
its airflow and noise performance. Noise is measured and recorded with our test
system on with the heatsink installed. Our mic is positioned at a distance of
one meter from the center of the case's left side panel at a 45 degree angle.

TEST RESULTS

Noise

Stock Fan(s) Measurements (in system)
Fan Voltage
side panel off, test system off
side panel on, test system on
12V
34 dBA
26~27 dBA
9V
29~30 dBA
22~23 dBA
7V
25 dBA
19~20 dBA
5V
18 dBA
16~17 dBA
4V
14 dBA
14~15 dBA
Ambient noise level: 11 dBA

(12 dBA with the test system on)

Despite the torqued blades and the translucent plastic material, the Icy Vision's
stock fans have pretty good acoustics. At 12V and 9V, they are far too loud
and very whiny, but this true of most high speed fans. At 7V, the noise level
becomes bearable as the whining dissipates dramatically while partially replaced
with a slight buzzing. At 5V they become what we consider quiet, and the acoustic
profile is smooth with some turbulence. At 4V, the fans are almost inaudible.
Mounting the side panel on our Antec P180B case really muffles the amount of
noise generated by the Icy Vision, particularly at 7V and above where the difference
is 5~7 [email protected]


The test system with the Icy Vision's fans at 5V with the side
panel off. Some minor spikes are visible in the wave form, but the acoustic
profile is mostly broadband,. The noise is not tonal, and benign to human
ears.

Performance

Test Results: GELID Icy Vision
Fan Voltage
Avg. Core Temp
Avg. VRM Temp
12V
26~27 dBA
65°C
100°C
9V
22~23 dBA
67°C
106°C
7V
19~20 dBA
69°C
112°C
5V
16~17 dBA
70°C
122°C
4V
14~15 dBA
72°C
127°C
Ambient temperature: 23°C

Ambient noise level: 11 dBA

(12 dBA with the test system on)

The Icy Vision performed superbly, keeping our HD 4890 GPU core at under 70°C
until the fan speed was severely dialed down. What's more, the temperature difference
between the fans at 12V and 4V was very slim, only a 7°C spread. As per
usual, cooling the VRMs was far more difficult, though at above 5V, the average
VRM temperature was less than 120°C which is very good compared to previously
tested coolers.

The bottom line is the Icy Vision had zero difficulty with this 150W HD 4890
even at close to inaudible levels. We can't ask for more than that.

Comparisons

GPU Cooling Comparison (16~17 [email protected])
Cooler
Fan Voltage
Avg. Core Temp
Avg. VRM Temp
Musashi
9V
17 dBA
93°C
125°C
Icy Vision
5V
16~17 dBA
70 °C
122°C
Accelero S1

(2 x 92 mm)*
12V
16 dBA
85°C
114°C
Ambient temperature: 23°C

Ambient noise level: 11 dBA

(12 dBA with the test system on)

*2 x 92 mm Nexus fans

At the 16~17 [email protected] level, the Icy Vision pummels the Scythe
Musashi
by 23°C and the Accelero
S1
(paired with two Nexus 92 mm fans) by 15°C. VRM cooling was comparable
to the Musashi, but fell behind the Accelero S1. The big, efficient fans gave
it an edge in that category.

GPU Cooling Comparison (14~15 [email protected])
Cooler
Fan Voltage
Avg. Core Temp
Avg. VRM Temp
Accelero S1

(2 x 92 mm)*
10V
15 dBA
91°C
128°C
Musashi
8V
15 dBA
97°C
131°C
Icy Vision
4V
14~15 dBA
72°C
127°C
Musashi
7V
14 dBA
102°C
142°C
Ambient temperature: 23°C

Ambient noise level: 11 dBA

(12 dBA with the test system on)

*2 x 92 mm Nexus fans

At 14~15 [email protected], the Icy Vision continues its domination, pulling ahead of
the Musashi by 25~30°C in core temperature, and 4~11°C in VRM temperature.
The GELID cooler's relative performance is even stronger as the noise level
decreases.

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high
resolution, lab quality, digital recording system
inside SPCR's
own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber
, then converted to LAME 128kbps
encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation
from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of
what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds
in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 10 seconds of room ambiance, followed by 10 seconds
of the VGA test system without a video card installed, and then the actual product's
noise at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume
so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change
the volume setting again.

Comparatives:

FINAL THOUGHTS

Simply put, the GELID Icy Vision is a superb VGA heatsink that absolutely
creams both the Scythe Musashi
and the Accelero S1
equipped with a pair of quality full-sized 92 mm fans. While our HD 4890 test
card is far from the most power hungry model on the market, its sizeable 150W
power draw is easily tamed by the Icy Vision, even when its fans are slowed
to almost inaudible levels. This impressive feat suggests there's plenty of
headroom for faster, hotter cards. With 5 heatpipes, a sizable fin mass, a pair
of 92 mm fans, and a snug installation scheme, it's not difficult to explain
its exemplary performance.

Acoustically, the fans are pretty good, sounding very smooth, particularly
at lower speeds and when muffled behind the side panel of a decent case. The memory and VRM heatsinks are adequate, and moreover the Icy
Vision is one of the few GPU coolers on the market with a proper one-piece VRM
heatsink for cards like the HD 4890 and HD 5850.

The Icy Vision really only has two negatives, its size and price, both of which
can be justified. Given the power demand of modern high-end video cards and
the GPU core's difficult position underneath the PCB, you really do need the
extra room to achieve high cooling proficiency. As for the cost, it may be steep,
but there is no alternative under US$50 that comes even close to the Icy Vision.

GELID Icy Vision
PROS



* Excellent performance

* Stock fans very quiet when undervolted

* Snug mounting system

* Proper ATI VRM heatsink included
CONS



* Takes up two extra slots

* A bit expensive



Our thanks to GELID
Solutions
for the Icy Vision sample used in this review.



GELID Icy Vision: SPCR Editor's Choice Award

* * *

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[PostScript Added]


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* * *

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