Graphics Card Cooler round-up



The Contenders

There are countless after-market VGA coolers available today and many of them fail to provide any improvements over the standard coolers, serving more purpose as decorations rather than real cooling solutions.

But there are of course a number of good quality products, though not all of them suitable for this roundup. This roundup will be looking at the high-end options out there, meaning there will be no passively cooled heatsinks. As far as I know there is no passively cooled heatsink that is capable of keeping a GeForce 7800 GTX graphics card cool.

The installation process in my opinion is also very important, as users will not want to place their already expensive graphics card in any danger. For this reason I have dropped products such as the Thermaltake Schooner, this passively cooled heatsink is also a mess to install. The Thermalright V-1 and V-1 Ultra are easily the most complex VGA coolers to install out of the six included in this roundup. Although the installation process is a little tricky, with a little bit of care I do not believe any harm will come to the graphics card.

Thermalright's V-1 Ultra

Next in line for difficulty would be the Zalman’s VF700-Cu and VF900-Cu coolers. Once again with a little care both coolers can be installed very easily. Both the Thermalright and Zalman coolers are compatible with almost all ATI and NVIDIA graphics cards. This is the primary reason why the installation process is slightly trickier than the Arctic-Cooling models. In an effort to keep things amazingly simple, Arctic-Cooling does not offer universal designs. Instead they design different revisions of the same cooler to suit different graphics cards, allowing their products to fit like a glove.

Zalman's VF-700 Cu and VF-900 Cu

The Arctic-Cooling NV5 Rev.3 and the newer Accelero X1 are designed specifically for GeForce 6800 and 7800 series graphics cards. Therefore, they offer the easiest installation process out of all the VGA coolers included in this roundup. The only downside being they will probably not support upcoming graphics cards unless they use the exact same design. Furthermore, the Accelero X1, will not suit any ATI based graphics cards; for this you will need the Accelero X2.

Arctic Cooling's NV Silencer 5 (rev 3), and Accelero X1

When it comes to operating volumes the Arctic-Cooling products are hard to beat, though the Zalman products are also whisper quiet. The Thermalright VGA coolers offer impressive performance, though the standard fan does make a slight hum. The great thing about the V-1 coolers is that they can utilize dual 80mm fans allowing them to still offer unbeatable performance while making very little noise. However, being the most expensive coolers in this roundup, users may be hesitant to purchase additional fans for this heatsink.

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