After hacking together our own passively-cooled card, we now compare off-the-shelf solutions based on AMD and Nvidia GPUs. Was our attempt amateurish or could there be a more general problem with passively cooling current-gen graphics processors?
Our German team has a bit of an obsession with passive cooling. In case you missed it, check out their Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Passive Cooling Mod. As we saw in that piece, at least some airflow was necessary to keep Nvidia's 75W card working properly. Nowadays you can buy a couple of different retail products that sport passive cooling, without the need for our do-it-yourself effort. One is XFX's Radeon RX 460 Heatsink Edition, and the other is Palit's GeForce GTX 1050 Ti KalmX. Both sport 4GB of GDDR5 memory.
Does either card work the way it's advertised? A specially designed cooler with optimized fin spacing is obviously on the right track, but we're professionally skeptical and obligated to test in every way, shape, and form. You'll see us benchmarking on an open-air chassis and in a closed case with single- (front/positive pressure) and dual-fan (front and back/negative pressure) configurations.
XFX and Palit apparently came up with different approaches for utilizing the airflow in your case, based on the way they have their fins positioned. At a glance, internal convection may be adequate to cool Palit's card, while the XFX solution appears to need some additional help from a fan.
Based on their respective GPUs, Palit's GTX 1050 Ti KalmX should obviously be the faster card. But that's not our primary concern: the boards first have to work the way each company's marketing department advertises before we even start thinking about gaming. Right now, cooling is everything!
Our test system and methodology should already be familiar to you from How We Test Graphics Card. But if that story is new to you, we encourage you to check it out before digging in to this piece.
The following table provides a quick overview:
|Test Systems And Environment|
|System Components||Intel Core i7-5930K @ 4.2GHz|
MSI X99S XPower Gaming Titanium
Corsair Vengeance DDR4-3200 @ 2400 MT/s
1x 1TB Toshiba OCZ RD400 (M.2, System SSD)
2x 960GB Toshiba OCZ TR150 (Storage, Images)
be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11, 850W power supply
Windows 10 Pro (with all updates)
|Water Cooling||Alphacool Eispumpe VPP755|
Alphacool NexXxoS UT60 Full Copper 360mm
Alphacool Cape Corp Coolplex Pro 10 LT
5x be quiet! Silent Wings 3 PWM
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut (for cooler changes)
|PC Case||Lian Li PC-T70 with Expansion Kit and Mods|
|Power Consumption Measurement||Contact-free DC Measurement at PCIe Slot (Using a Riser Card) |
Contact-free DC Measurement at External Auxiliary Power Supply Cable
Direct Voltage Measurement at Power Supply
2 x Rohde & Schwarz HMO 3054, 500MHz Digital Multi-Channel Oscilloscope with Storage Function
4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZO50 Current Probe (1mA - 30A, 100kHz, DC)
4 x Rohde & Schwarz HZ355 (10:1 Probes, 500MHz)
1 x Rohde & Schwarz HMC 8012 Digital Multimeter with Storage Function
|Temperature Measurement||Optris PI640 80Hz Infrared Camera + PI Connect|
Real-Time Infrared Monitoring and Recording
Digital Sensors for Water and Air Temperatures in the Bench Table
|Acoustics||NTI Audio M2211 (with calibration file)|
Steinberg UR12 (with phantom power for the microphones)
Creative X7, Smaart v.7
Our own anechoic [low-reflection] measuring chamber 3.5m x 1.8m x 2.2m (LxWxH)
Axial measurements, perpendicular to the center of the sound source (s), measuring distance 50cm
Noise levels in dB(A) (slow) as RTA measurement
Frequency spectrum as graphics
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