arctic-cooling VGA Silencer Review
Nvidia and ATI. Two graphics card companies with high-end cards. Nvidia on one corner with their GeForce FX, and ATI on the other with their Radeon. Two cards that have one thing in common, they dissipate some serious heat, they are hot. ATI and their Radeon have a single slot cooler that does the job (barely sometimes) and we all should know about Nvidia with their big, and loud two slot cooling solution. One of the downfalls of that design was that the fan was too loud, not the cooling concept. ATI with their Radeon 9700 Pro and above on the other hand, cooling was adequate but still a long ways to go as the cards run very hot. What about if you want something that would allow your Radeon to run cooler and overclock more while being as quiet as the stock Radeon cooling solution? Until now there hasn’t been that one solution that would allow so, except water-cooling, but that’s still a ways off in traditional computing. Well enter arctic-cooling and their VGA Silencer.
The arctic-cooling VGA Silencer is a big video card cooler that is designed to fit ATI Radeon graphics cards based on the PRO series. That would be the 9500 (Pro, AIW), 9700 (Pro, AIW) and 9800 (Pro, AIW) as of current. Nvidia cards that are supported are the lonely Nvidia GeForce 3 TI.
The package and the cooler is revealed
The arctic-cooling VGA Silencer comes with a couple of things. These include the arctic-cooling VGA Silencer itself with the attached bracket, a grounding bracket, the mounting clip, and a tube of arctic-cooling Silicone Thermal Compound (Contains 50% Silicone, 20% carbon, and 30% metal oxide).
The bundle and some other hardware
The arctic-cooling VGA Silencer measures about the length of a Radeon graphics card, 185 x 84 x 34 mm, and is made out of aluminum that helps dissipate heat quickly. The amount of aluminum, the surface area, is an added bonus as the bigger the surface area; the more efficient the cooling will be. On top of the aluminum heatsink is covered via plastic shroud. The cooler weighs in at a moderate 278g and will make you card a bit heavier. You notice the 70mm bluish fan. This fan pushes cool air to the GPU and thus hot air is reverted outside the system (slot cooler like). This is what Arctic Cooling calls “DHES” or “Direct Heat Exhaust System”. Speaking of slot cooler type cooling, the arctic-cooling VGA Silencer in theory should reduce the ambient case temperature thus allowing the CPU to run cooler.
The aluminum heatsink has great construction as the edges are not sharp and the aluminum is evenly spread apart for maximum cooling efficiency.
The fins are spread evenly for maximum heat disposal and the VGA Silencer has a nice looking base
The bottom of the heatsink is of great quality and is specifically designed to fit the Radeon 9500/9700/9800 and GeForce3 TI video cards. The finish of the base is flat and does have some machine marks but that shouldn’t be an issue.
arctic-cooling pays attention to the tidiness as the fan’s connector that plugs in the Radeon fan plug is sleeved and tucked away on the top of the plastic shroud. One thing to note is that the fan is two speed selectable (HI and LOW speeds). arctic-cooling claims that this is the first video card cooler to do so, and I believe them. This is great for people who want the best of both worlds. HI speed runs at 2400RPM and LOW speed runs at half of that, 1200 RPM. arctic-cooling says that HI speed is about the same noise level as the stock cooling on the Radeon, which is good by all means.
Sleeved fan connector is tucked away; tidyness
The instructions that come with the arctic-cooling VGA Silencer is easy to read and follow as there are actual pictures to help you along the process. I’m not going to copy word through word on what it says but I will tell you the steps in my own words. The arctic-cooling VGA Silencer is used on my ATI Radeon 9700 PRO.
1. Remove stock ATI cooler by removing two push pin clips on the back of the card. Remove the fan connector as well. It is good to have some pliers as well to unclip those push pins.
Yucky yellow thermal pad. It was actually really hard to clean and there's still some on the die.
Put the other grounding bracket in place (not shown)
4. First plug the fan connector into the card. Now place the cooler on the card and bracket. Position the cooler with the two mounting holes on the Radeon.
5. Be careful not to allow the card to move as you have the mounting holes matched up. Flip the card over and place the mounting clip through the mounting holes and screw on to the card and cooler. You don’t want to screw it too tight because you might crack the GPU, but screw it to the point where it doesn’t want to screw anymore and the cooler doesn’t move and everything holds into place.
It's in the HTPC Case
Testing will be comparing the max stock-cooling overclock to the max arctic-cooling VGA Silencer overclock. The next test will be comparing the temperature decrease if any. As there is no right way to get the most accurate GPU temperatures, I will be placing a temperature probe on the backside of the card right above the GPU area. This is under the mounting bracket. Before and after temperatures will be provided. As this is done in the Silverstone HTPC case and not my regular testing case, I will tell how much of a temperature difference occurred without stating exact numbers. These temperatures will be with stock frequency speeds. I will let the card idle for 30 minutes and load for 10 minutes while AquaMark 3 Benchmark is playing on defaults.
As you can see the big surface area pays off with an impressive decrease in temperatures on both HI and LOW speed settings and a improved overclock.
Observations – The fan is very quiet. On high, there is only a small steady hum and very close to the Stock cooling in terms of noise. On LOW speed, you can’t hear it at all. While touching the aluminum by feeling the rear of the card, you will see that it does indeed work, as the aluminum is warm.
Update: Here are the results from putting the system back into my original Chenming test case...
As you can see by the results, more cooling helps a long way! OCing was a beast and provided a healthy boost in added performance. The final maximum overclock that was capable on the part of a more free-flowing case was 385MHz for the core and 355MHz for the memory. Going past beyond this point would create problems/miscalculations resulting in artifacts and horizontal pixels.
The arctic-cooling VGA Silencer flat out works and it works very darn well while being quiet enough that it won’t be annoying and the source of noise in your computer. With a retail price of $22USD and installation being so simple to do, the arctic-cooling VGA Silencer is going to sell like hot cakes.
The only downfall with the arctic-cooling VGA Silencer is that it does not cool the ram. Other than that, the arctic-cooling VGA Silencer is a great way to cool your graphics card down and doing it quietly.
I rate the arctic-cooling VGA Silencer a…
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