As with any graphics card we test, we take a look at heat build-up in the GPU. This is a fairly complicated process to track properly and the one tool to do it with is (the one tool that rules them all) Rivatuner. Let's have a look. We measured at a room temperature of 22 Degrees C.
Basically what we do is monitor temperatures while stressing the GPU 100%, first let's have a look at the thermal envelope we measures with the original cooler.
As you an see above with the reference cooler (which has a 53 dBa volume level !!) we idle at 65 Degrees C and peak at 90 Degrees C. Let's have a look with the Xtreme mounted onto the card:
Correct ! We still idle at 60 Degrees C and 90 Degrees C ... what's going on you ask ??
That's the fault of AMD-ATI's voltage regulation on the FAN. See The cooler already was hideously noisy and therefore ATI made a compromise (at least on our reference model). In the BIOS they created a thermal delta with too low RPM values for the fan to prevent an even higher noise level.
It's just too silly but this is ATI's fault. On the noise side .. the fans are spinning with 90 Degrees C can't be heard. We measure a DBa level below 36 ! That's great. But we want the temps down right ?
And how would we achieve that you ask ? Well, with the one tool that rules them all of course.
To gain the results you want you'll need Rivatuner. Download it. Now in Rivatuner go towards Low-Level system tweaks and select Fan control.
With Rivatuner you can select the temperature delta completely. I just selected "Fixed" and started increasing the fan rotational speed (RPM) until I could very slightly hear it, and then lowered it by 5%. The result for me was 68% Fan RPM (Duty Cycle). This setting makes the fans barely audible, I mean really .. this is silent. BTW don't forget to flag "Apply fan settings at Windows startup". This way your settings will always work when you boot up the PC.
So now let's have a look at the temperatures again shall we:
Now gosh golly Molly .. isn't that much better ? 64 Degrees C with a full load. That's just a fantastic temperature for a 2900 XT consuming 200 Watts of current.
Update: In our forums I received the question what would happen if we throttle the fans at 100%. I tested that out. Roughly 45 DBa from the entire PC can be heard. Which is slightly above the average PC noise level (not too worrying) at full 100% throttle. The tempemperature peaked at 57 C maximum; not bad at all either.
Arctic Accelero Xtreme 2900 VGA cooler review The Accelero Xtreme features with 5 heatpipes, 107 fins and 3 power managed fans. The design has been improved for optimized air flow design obviously to cool effectively, which according to Arctic is up to 240 Watt heat dissipation; that's quite a lot. They claim to can dramatically bring down the heat from GPU at least 20ºC lower than the stock cooler. Well .. let's slap a Radeon 2900 XT on it and see how well it does the job then.