This is a little hard to sum up conclusion as my feelings to the product are two-fold. I think this passively cooled Sparkle card is a very innovative product. You need to give it the conditions that it needs and you'll love the product.
These two condition are:
Optimal airflow inside your PC
A fitting mainboard, NB cooler & memory can not be higher than 5 CM measured from PCB.
Let there be no mistake, if you do not have proper cooling in your PC then you'll have a problem. During gaming the card will quickly rise to temperatures of over 100 Degrees C and above. While not recommended .. your 8800 GT still can cope with that. Even in our test with a consistent GPU peak temperature at 109 Degrees C the effect of this heat did not cause instability. However the surroundings and the PCB will get so darn hot that the inside of you PC will warm up as well. You can't even remove the card without burning yourself. That residual heat will cause instability and most definitely will affect any tweak/overclock you have in that PC not to mention life-span. For this matter alone we did not include overclock results as eventually you are bound to run into heat issues.
If you refuse to use a properly ventilated PC .. this thing will get hot. But yes you can make a damn nice omelet, it takes a while before it's well done though. Hey, who doesn't like gourmet food during gaming right ?
Now please understand that although frying the egg is not a fake, it really is intended as a pun. I meant no disrespect to Sparkle here as the product is quite good given the right conditions. I just couldn't resist, it's the way my twisted mind works. Anyway, continuing onwards.
The second con obviously is that you need clearance in-between the cooling ribbons and the Northbridge cooling. Once the Passive cooled card is installed you have 5 CM to work with. The nForce 680i "barely" makes this possible. On the new 780i for example, the Northbridge cooler is 6 CM high. The same goes for memory. If you have a mainboard with the DIMM slots close to the PCIe bus, you can't use OCZ Reaper memory or Corsair Dominator memory. The heat spreaders of these DIMM modules block the backside VGA cooling ribbons.
Right, if you factor these things in and get/have your system setup right, you end up with a reference performing product with acceptable temperature levels making no noise at all. Combine that with the 8800 GT core and it sure does offer a stack load of performance for the money. I'm not saying I would like to have this card on a Home Theater PC despite the nifty High Definition features do to the dumped residual heat, but for a properly ventilated PC I dare to state that if you like an in-audible environment, this could very well be the way to go.
It's an aesthetically pleasing to look at product and you are bound to have a lot of fun and it'll offer you a really nice gaming experience up-to 1600x1200 with all eye-candy enabled, that's a Guru3D pledge. I have yet to find a person who was not happy with the 8800 GT he/she bought, and that says a lot. Combined with a two year warranty I'd say this is a pretty safe bet.
With this passively cooled product Sparkle brings a very unique and gutsy product onto the market. Surely this is not everybody's cup of thee. But it absolutely is nice to have options in such a high demand product series. If you do it right and follow my guidelines, you'll absolutely will like this product.
As you guys know ... I have so much respect for companies doing innovative work. You can pick up the 512MB version for 249 / $275, add another 25 bucks and the 1 GB version is also at your disposal.
Sparkle GeForce 9600 GT Passive review I had a peek around for an exotic model GeForce 9600 GT. I ended up with Sparkle .. get this .. 99 EUR for their passively cooled product with 512MB GDDR3 memory. I'm sorry but that's just a heck of a lot more value than the 9500 GT will offer gaming performance wise. And next to that, as this review will show .. the product has a few surprises ready under it's sleeves.
Sparkle GeForce 8800GT Cool-Pipe3 512MB review Sparkle recently released a GeForce 8800 GT that actually is passively cooled. Because the reference cooled 8800 GT already runs insanely hot to 90 degrees C, doing the cooling part passive .. would definitely make things even worse. Combine that with the rumored GPU core temperatures of 110 Degrees C I pretty much stereotyped the product even before we had tested it.
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