ASUS GeForce GTX 980 Strix review

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Graphics Card Thermal Imaging Measurements (FLIR)

Thermal Imaging Temperature Measurements

A new addition to our reviews will be the inclusion of Forward Looking Infra Red thermal images of hardware. Over the past years we have been trying to figure out what the best possible way is to measure temperatures on hardware. Multiple options are available but the best thing to do is to visualize heat coming from the product or component being tested. The downside of thermal imaging hardware is simple, FLIR camera's with a bit of decent resolution costs up-to 10000 EUR. Hence we passed on it for a long time.With a thermal imaging camera a special lens focuses the infrared light emitted by all of the objects in view. This focused light is scanned by a phased array of infrared-detector elements. The detector elements create a very detailed temperature pattern called a thermogram. It only takes about one-thirtieth of a second for the detector array to obtain the temperature information to make the thermogram. This information is obtained from several thousand points in the field of view of the detector array. The thermogram created by the detector elements is translated into electric impulses. The impulses are sent to a signal-processing unit, a circuit board with a dedicated chip that translates the information from the elements into data for the display.

The signal-processing unit sends the information to the display, where it appears as various colors depending on the intensity of the infrared emission. The combination of all the impulses from all of the elements creates the image. We can see hotspots on the PCB indicating, for example, GPU but also VRM temperature as well as how heat is distributed throughout a product. We do hope you will enjoy this new technology as it did cost us an arm and a leg to be able to implement it. 


Above, you can see the graphics card in IDLE conditions. You can see NORMAL idle results for the GPU, hovering in the 40~45 degrees C range. That's perfectly fine. Mind you that in idle the fans on this card remain deactivated, that will results into slightly higher IDLE temperatures.


Now we stress the card 100% with a game. We can measure pretty accurate temperatures at the GPU and VRM areas. So once we start to stress the GPU the thermals quickly change. We can measure thermals down to a 10th of a degree, our thermal camera is calibrated and does not lie. We reach ~70 degrees C on the GPU (M3), on par with what is expected. Luckily the back-plate has some gaps in it so we can measure this. At M1 and M2 (Measure Points) the VRM Area can be spotted. It runs at roughly 90 Degrees C, a little on the high side, yet that remains acceptable. 


When we position the thermal camera outwards we can see that the overall cooler design really works well. The hottest point is the top side of the card where there is some residual PCB heat detected in the VRM area. Overall it is looking OK. 


And here one last thermogram, as you can see there is no residual heat bleading to the mobo PCB or something whatsoever. The cooler is doing a nice  job actually.

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