Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer Review

With graphic cards coming out with more powerful cores, each faster
than the one before and along with the overclocking enthusiasts looking
to squeeze that bit of extra performance from their card, the ever
present issue of heat management rises up. With more and more people
paying attention to video cores, Gpu cooling is fast expanding from
being a niche market with a select few customers and little options to
choose from to something comparable to the cpu cooling market with
large arrays of coolers to choose from provided by various
manufacturers.

Adding the fact that the typical user today looks for good cooling but
also that it should to so as quietly as possible, manufacturers have
focused on large heatsinks and larger fans running at lower rpm’s to
provide the most effective cooling possible with as little fuss as
possible.

With this in mind we take a look at one of the more popular graphics
card coolers in the market , the VGA Silencer Rev 3 which promises both
effective cooling as well as silent running..

Technical Specifications

  • First VGA cooler with selectable cooling and noise level absolute silence or uncompromising cooling performance
  • Unique mounting clip improves the heat transfer of the GPU to the heat sink significantly
  • DHES (Direct Heat Exhaust System) carries the warm exhaust air directly outward
  • Overall Dimensions: 185 x 84 x 34 mm
  • Weight: 278 g
  • Rated Fan Speeds: 1200 / 2400 RPM

Taken from Manufacturer Site Arctic Cooling


First Impressions

The card comes in a transparent plastic packaging with a cardboard
backing which is good for retailers who wish to display their products
but raises the possibility of damage during transportation etc.
Included in the package are:

  • VGA Silencer Rev 3
  • Tube of Arctic Thermal Paste
  • Mounting Clip
  • Installation Pamphlet

The installation pamphlet provided is pretty detailed with pictorial
descriptions which makes it easy for even a novice user to install the
silencer. However the manual provided was for the original vga silencer
while the product here is the Revision 3.

Compared to the original vga silencer installing the rev 3 is pretty
straightforward and does not require the removal of the graphics card
bracket as indicated by the manual.

The difference between the original silencer and the rev 3 removing the
necessity of removing the graphics card bracket, difference in
position of gpu block allowing it to be used with cards that were
previously incompatible such as the XT series of graphics cards. Check
out the complete compatibility list here.
http://www.arctic-cooling.com/en/pro…ibility_en.pdf

More Details and Installation

The VGA Silencer comes with a massive aluminum heatsink coupled with a
80mm fan. The heatsink block comes nice and shiny , a smooth surface
for better contact with the gpu core. Examine the surface for any nicks
and abrasions . The piece I received had a couple of scratches but none
were near where the gpu core would come into contact.


Installation

The VGA silencer will be tested with a Sapphire Radeon 9600 xt which
comes with a small heatsink and fan combo which looks smaller than the
reference ati design heatsink and fan combo.

Start off by removing the stock cooler & clean of any of the existing thermal paste residue.

Notice the 2 mounting holes diagonally opposite the core. The VGA
silencer can be installed on any card that has these mounting holes.

Next apply a small quantity of thermal paste to the core to ensure good contact with the heatsink block

Next we move to installing the VGA silencer on to the graphics card.
Start by placing the silencer on a flat surface with the heatsink block
pointing up. Next gently place the card on top of the silencer so that
the mounting holes of the card are aligned to those of the heatsink.

Finally place the mounting which can be seen in the picture below and
screw it in . The screws come with rubber washers to make sure you
don’t over tighten them and damage the graphics core.

Remember to connect the fan plug before mounting the retention clip !

Finally after installing the mounting clip your card is ready to be
installed and should look like this. Arctic Cooling have also taken the
trouble to sleeve the fan wire and arrange it neatly so it doesn’t look
too messy if you have a windowed case.

In the below pic we can compare the stock cooler for the card and the
Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer. Note how the VGA silencer covers almost
the entire card

The Heatsink duct fits flush with the video card bracket to ensure that
no hot air seeps into the system and all hot air is exhausted from the
system.

The VGA Silencer comes with an additional bracket for the heatsink
exhaust that has a small switch where you can select a high or low fan
speed. The low speed is barely audible and even the high speed setting
is not much louder.

Below is a close up of the card installed in a pc


Performance Figures

Now that the silencer is installed , lets take a look at how effective the cooling it offers really is.

Since the Radeon 9600 xt comes with a built in thermal diode
temperatures are monitored from the overdrive panel in the display
properties dialog.

Stock Cooler :

  • Idle : 44 ° C
  • Load : 57 ° C

Load Temps taken after 10-15 minutes of playing Doom III

Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer :

  • Idle : 39 ° C
  • Load : 44-45 ° C

From the above figures we can see that the VGA silencer offers a
drastic improvement over the stock cooler installed by Sapphire.

More Performance :

After such promising temperatures , I decided to try a mild spot of
overclocking to see how the card could handle it. I increased to :

  • Core : 530 (default 500)
  • Mem : 330 (default 300)

And I ran 3dmark 2003 and I got a score of which is a pretty decent
score for a 9600 xt I think .. Plus there were completely no artifacts
or distortions while running any test. Even in pixel shader tests there
were no flashes or sprites.

On the stock cooler anything above 510Mhz for the core wasn’t stable.

Conclusion

From the above figures we can see that the Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer
is a solid performer that delivers all that it promises. With the next
generation coolers coming soon the prices for this cooler are hitting
rock bottom which makes it excellent value for money with great
performance. A product that can be well recommended.

Pros

  • Silent Running
  • Better cooling compared to stock
  • Value for money
  • Lowers system ambient temps by exhausting hot air from graphics card

Cons

  • Some users might not be happy with the fact that it uses an extra PCI slot
  • No Ram Cooling provided

Tips

  • Consider using Ram Sinks for better performance while overclocking etc.

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