Arctic Cooling ATI Silencer 2 VGA cooler

Cooling
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November 8, 2004 by Sean Boyd with Mike Chin

Product
Arctic Cooling ATI Silencer 2
Manufacturer
Arctic Cooling
MSRP
US$33

Sean Boyd is one of two Vancouver-area volunteers who recently began to assist in the SPCR lab regularly with equipment testing and with various ongoing projects. A British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) graduate in Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology, Sean built a multi-channel voltage controller for the lab and has been using that device along with an anemometer, a precision sound level meter and careful listening to further the SPCR Fan Project. This is Sean's first article, a review of one of the many models of Series 2 VGA Silencers recently released by Arctic Cooling. Several other models are in the review process.

-- Mike Chin, Editor / Publisher, SPCR

INTRODUCTION

After Mike heard about the horrible sounds produced by my Sapphire 9600XT's stock heatsink fan, he suggested I try the Arctic Cooling ATI VGA Silencer. He was quite enthusiastic about the original Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer, and we were both interested in seeing if the new generation would be even better. Anything would be better than the stock cooler.


The bane of my existence: The Sapphire 9600XT stock fan and "heatsink".

Video cards are keeping pace with CPUs with regards to thermal characteristics. Because the hottest video cards are now producing in excess of 70W, they often need nearly as much cooling as a CPU. Stock cooling devices for high end video cards usually incorporate a small fan that has to spin frantically to provide adequate cooling. Naturally, various after-market cooling solutions have become available in an attempt to offer better cooling and reduced noise.

One year ago, when SPCR reviewed the original Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer, Russ and Mike were delighted with the simple, effective low-noise performance of this video card cooler. They praised the core design concept of using a blower style fan to force air over the cooling fins and directly out of the case, rather than having the heated air circulated within the case. They liked the manual fan speed switch, the relatively light aluminum construction, the direct positive contact between the GPU and heatsink base, the sturdy plastic construction, and the modest acoustic signature of the fan. Russ liked it so much that he adopted it for his own personal PC. The only complaint they had was that it could be used with only a small handful of ATI cards.

This is no longer a valid complaint. Arctic Cooling has recently released a total of eight new video card coolers; four for various ATI models and four for various nVidia models. The model designations and compatible video cards are:

MODEL
COMPATIBLE VIDEO CARDS
FAN RPM
ATI1
ATI 9500-9700 (SE,Pro,XT) and 9800 (SE,Pro)
1500
ATI2
ATI 9600 (SE,Pro,XT))
1500
ATI3
ATI 9800XT
2000
ATI4
ATI X800 Series
2200
NV1
nVidia Geforce 4TI and FX 5700
1500
NV2
nVidia FX 5700 Ultra
1500
NV3
nVidia FX 5900 XT
2000
NV5
nVidia Geforce 6800 series
2500

The main difference between the models is the size and shape, as well as the fan speed. The higher model numbers have significantly larger copper bases and heatsink assemblies. The varying size of the copper bases appears to be simply due to differences in video card RAM size and location. The larger heatsink and elevated fan speed are needed to dissipate the heat produced by more powerful video cards.

The ATI1 and NV1 do not have passive memory coolers. Because of this, they have a higher degree of compatibility at the cost of reduced memory cooling.

Arctic Cooling has wisely posted height restriction drawings under the "Additional Information" section in the web page for each model. They are CAD-type drawings which show the location of required mounting holes as well as they varying clearances necessary. This provides the potential buyer more information about compatibility before purchase.

SPECIFICATION & DESCRIPTION

While the basic design concepts of the VGA Silencer remain the same, everything seems to have been altered slightly. The comments here refer specifically to the ATI Silencer 2 model used to replace the stock Sapphire 9600XT cooler, but many of them are also relevant to other new Arctic Cooling VGA silencer models.


The complete package.

New Memory Cooler

The new ATI Silencer 2 consists of two main parts: An active GPU cooler and a passive memory cooler, weighing in at 282g and 62g respectively. The total weight of 344g is almost 25% heavier than the original VGA silencer, due entirely to the addition of the passive memory cooler. The active GPU cooler is slightly larger overall, measuring 218.5 x 100 x 35.8 mm (~8.6" x 3.9" x 1.4"). However, the heatsink portion is probably smaller, as you can see in the following photos of the original VGA Silencer and NV Silencer 2, which is very similar in size to the ATI Silencer 2. Unfortunately, the ATI Silencer 2 had already been installed when these photos were taken. (Note: For clarity, the memory sink has been left off the NV2.)


The finned portion is definitely smaller in the new version while the fan is slightly larger in the new.


The new sink is formed of two parts: Copper base screwed to thin aluminum fins.
The original was machined from a single piece of extruded aluminum



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