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Gigabyte's Cooling Solution, Up Close

Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock: Now With Windforce 5X
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The theory behind Gigabyte's Windforce 5X cooling solution is similar to what we've seen from direct heat exhaust-based systems, whereby warm air is channeled in such a way that it should not affect neighboring components or even increase the ambient temperature inside of a case.

Conceptually, the idea is great. However, it requires some creativity to implement. Gigabyte uses fans on top of the card that are turned around, sucking air though the card and away from the board instead of blowing into the card's heat sink. Heated air is then meant to exhaust through an opening on the side of the case.

Because of where they're located, Gigabyte was only able to use 40 mm fans on this three-slot card. This could get loud. In order to move the same amount of air as larger fans, these small blowers have to spin faster. And spinning faster generally results in a lot more noise. We're looking at up to about 10 000 RPM per fan.

The cooler is held in place by six screws. Taking them off gives us a good view of the board and cooler separately.

A total of nine heat pipes with diameters of 6 mm each transfer the heat from the large vapor chamber to the aluminum heat sink. The heat sink is constructed so that the air can’t escape to the sides.

We’ve overlaid a photo of the board with a photo of the cooler to better illustrate how they fit together.

The next photo shows the connection between the vapor chamber and four heat pipes that run toward the back of the card. It also shows the air channels, a few of which are partially open to allow indirect cooling of the board.

Even though the cooler looks imposing, we did have some questions about its performance. We’ll take a closer look on the next page.

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