IntroductionJust before the end of 2004, I graced our front page with a post about GeCube's SilenCool X700 PRO, which as the name suggests wraps ATI's mid-range PCI Express part in a silent cooling solution. To be fair to GeCube and their local PR, we've sat on it for quite a while longer than we'd usually do, due to holiday pressure and various other things. It's about time we stopped puckering up our collective journalistic sphincter here at HEXUS, to ease the review out of the database and onto the site.
Silent Cooling for X700Silent is somewhat relative, given that there'll always be something in your computer system to make a noise. Having recently had the pleasure of spending time with a media center PC that's completely fanless, that system's noise-makers were the hard disk and optical disk, with disk seeks audible and the optical drive making a relative racket. So despite the rest of the chassis being extraordinarily well engineered to remove noise from the equation, the parts somewhat out of the vendor's control conspired to inject some sonic mayhem back into the mix.
But that's not to say the endeavour isn't a fruitless one. Dropping the overall noise levels in a computer system is definitely a good thing, despite the fact you'll never likely going to achieve anywhere near complete aural bliss. Each little drop in contribution to overall system noise is one to be savoured, especially if like me, you've suffered one too many years at the hands of focussed-flow Delta fans.
Logic dictates the easiest way to reduce noise from a system is to remove moving parts. Fans, as you'd expect, are the major culprits; their spinning blades move air, so creating noise not only at the fan bearing due to friction, but also as the displaced air makes its way around the system, bumping into things. With a graphics card, remove the fan and there's no moving parts left. You've only got bad voltage regulator circuitry to worry about then, in terms of generated noise, something which is largely out of your control.
GeCube did just that, taking the reference X700 PRO heatsink and throwing it in the bin, instead attaching something a bit bigger with no fans. The larger heatsink, much larger infact, helps handle the heat which the old cooler's fan is no longer assisting with. Completely passively cooled, the GeCube relies on case cooling being effective enough to remove heat from the sink.
I ascertained in the original pair of articles that examined X700 that the heat being produced was rather too much for the reference coolers, which due to ATI's insistance that they be small, ended up being rather noisy in their fan' efforts to remove the heat. Maybe not noisy in terms of overall decibel levels, but the pitch of the fan was piercing and quite unacceptable at 100% speed, under load.
So passively cooling an X700, even if it's the slower PRO, is no small job. Let's see how GeCube attacked the problem.