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Digital-Daily : Video : silence

"Quiet" is not"slow": a review of video cards with passive cooling system

Author: Anna Timofeeva
Date: 01.06.2005

The topic of "quiet" computers these days is gaining special urgency for most PC users. The reasons of that may be most varied - starting from personal intolerance to excessive noise up to the discomfort for people around. The industry normally meets the consumer's demands, and nowadays there is a huge number of offerings on the market for those into quietness. Noiseless PSUs, housings, coolers, HDDs... the list is endless. Today, we are reviewing one of the most important component of the PC whose noise can be minimized at will or completely eliminated - on video cards equipped with a passive cooling system.

Of course, a video card with passive cooling system is no longer a discovery for anyone - they came into being not today, nor yesterday. The thing is, the noise coming from the cooling system of the video card is among the most priority points at purchase. This issue has now turned especially acute when heat emission of modern (especially, top-end) video cards is so high that to provide the most efficient heat spreader the manufacturers sometimes have to dodge and fit huge mega-structures upon their solutions. These structures may be efficient (far not all, by the way) but their voice is so harsh that turns sensitive users red hot (an not only users).

Sure, the lion's share of video cards with passive cooling falls on the low-end and mainstream sectors, whereas in the high-end sector few agree to equip voracious monsters like GeForce 6800 with a passive cooling system (at that we should give credit to Gigabyte which dared for a brave move which resulted in a successful solution, of which you can read in more detail in this material.

So, there is a vast choice of quiet cards among varied GeForce 6200 (TC) and Radeon X300 (HM). Quite recently, there have appeared GeForce 6600 with the PCI-E interface which are equipped with a passive cooling system (in this material, two of such cards made by Leadtek and XFX are taking part in the material). There is also RX600XT by GeCube with its own cooling system based on heat pipes, and of course the spice of the show will be video cards by Gigabyte - starting with RX700 LE up to GeForce 6800 AGP. Therefore, we tried to cover quite a great number of "quiet" solutions for both AGP and PCI-E sectors, and for all the price categories.

Of course, there rises a reasonable question as to the expediency of such an investigation and its trend. All is simple - the main arguments of those who have doubts as to buying a "quiet" video card are such things like the temperature and overclocking capability. The latter sometimes closely depends on the latter. Therefore, one of the major goals of this investigation is to destroy whatever inadequate rumors of the operating temperatures in video cards equipped with a passive cooling system. Dry figures are sometimes more useful than any verbose reasoning.

In this connection, we'll also investigate the overclocking capability of cards equipped with a passive cooling system. Of course, we should take results of these investigations with a pinch of salt - the overclocking capability of each card, along with the temperature, cooling system and other important factors, also depends on each particular specimen. Anyway, these results can be quite of use in order to understand the thing which we used as the title of this article - "quiet" is not "slow".

Now let's take a closer look at all our today's heroes.


  • Introduction
  • NVIDIA video cards
  • ATI video cards
  • Tests
  • Final Words

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