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Does "passive cooling" on high-end video cards work?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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November 3, 2007 3:31:41 PM

Hi,

I'm getting a new 8800 GT and, of course, am attracted to a passive cooling solution for the quietness, but it seems to me like it couldn't really work as well as a fan.

Anyone have experience with these and do they work?
November 3, 2007 3:47:47 PM

If its passivly cooled then the only advantage is thats its silent. This is a good advantage withthe 8800GTs as the fan is apperently quite noisey.

Disadvantages are that the cooler is worse than one with a fan (obviously), so you cant OC as much and its recommended that you have decent airflow thorighout your case. The Thermalright HR 03 (or similar name) ones can be used as a passive, and you can add your own fan of choice.
November 3, 2007 4:07:46 PM

the only 8800GT ive seen with passive cooling included, is the Sparkle version... when i checked a few days ago it wasnt yet available, but maybe thats changed since.

what oswold said is right though... ocing isnt really an option, but as long as you dont mind that, and are primarily concerned with how audible things are, then itll work fine.

im not aware of the thermal limits of the 8800 series, could be above 100C even (the thermal limits of the 7 series for example was as high as 115C on 110nm process), but either way i would imagine they could easily handle a passive cooling solution, also because of the much smaller 65nm manufacturing process which helps keep temperatures more acceptable too... and if it cant be kept stable on passive cooling alone, itll most likely say on the box or manual or even their site i would imagine ('needs sufficient additional cooling, etc', which also kinda negates the reason for passive cooling to begin with, which is primarily silence, if only)
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November 3, 2007 5:07:53 PM

Well, I have seen one passive solution that basically just added a sleeve that would go around the cooling vanes and then attach to your normal 120 MM exhuast fan, thus pulling out extra heat with an existing fan.

But honestly, although a GPU fan at 100% is noisy, I only run it at that when gaming and then I have on earphones anyway and don't mind.

From the further research I've done, even the best passive solutions ran 20 C hotter than fan solutions and I do like to OC till it smokes, so I think I'll have to remain a fan guy (or until I decide to go liquid).
November 3, 2007 6:34:43 PM

yeah, passive cooling does run hotter, it is passive afterall (the temperatures of a smaller 65nm process are offset by the increased density and complexity)... but, if youre going to heavily oc (or even moderately) as it seems you are, then simple passive cooling as such definetly isnt the way to go at all... if you like to keep your temperatures still relatively cool anyhow.
a b U Graphics card
November 3, 2007 6:47:47 PM

logically speaking why do you have to worry about the ambient sound of your machine? why not turn your volume all the way up as to not hear the sound of your fan? the sound coming out of my speaker is way way louder than the sound of my machine.. fan noise, i just dont get it
November 3, 2007 6:54:40 PM

some pcs are louder than the speakers, especially if you have no speakers even on, such as if you just want quiet, and no real excess noise at all without the use of something to block it out (lower grade psus with a high demand placed on them, smaller fans overall, numerous fans at high rpms (or even 1 fan for that matter), excessive heat buildup from too many components which then need to be properly cooled causing additional noise, bad case design causing everything causing noise to just be amplified that much more anyhow), just stuff like that
November 3, 2007 7:41:11 PM

I find that I never noticed fan noise, until I met the 2900 cooler going at 100%
the first time I switched it on, it was loud enough to make me jump, as if someone had shouted in my ear. It does cool well tho
November 3, 2007 7:54:51 PM

Yer when I got my faulty 7900GT, the fan sounded like a hairdryer, I was really surprised since it was bigger than the one on my 7600GT. In fact I cant distinguish the 7600GT fan from the rest of the fans.

I could see my self buying a passive cooler if i get a card as loud as that 7900GT (i'm hopeing they wont sent me another).
June 3, 2009 5:55:58 AM

Perfectly valid to try to minimize noise. I've heard of some guys setting up servers with solid state flash hard drives (optionally set up in RAID) to minimize noise. You could do something similar for a Home Theatre PC. Instead of building a huge server with 4 cores and 4 hard drives, use a teeny little network attached media server box: http://ca.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=24&l2=165&l3=0&l4=0...

Integrated video used to be a bad bad thing, but I've seen some boards with decent onboard graphics such as the ASUS P5N7A-VM: http://ca.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=11&l3=812&l4=0...

I've heard good things about the IceQ technology, which has a pretty nice thermal dissipation. My friend says the fan on his hardly runs, compared to a similar card he had swapped out.

http://www.hisdigital.com/un/product2-66.shtml
more: http://www.hisdigital.com/un/product1-57.shtml

If you are serious about going with no fan, I've heard of two reasonably priced passively cooled video cards that have been released recently. Given the choice, would go with the latter:

The Sapphire HD 4670 Ultimate 512MB Passive:
http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-r...

The Gigabyte Radeon HD 4850 1GB Passive:
http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-r...

a b U Graphics card
June 3, 2009 7:23:46 AM

halloween is what, 5 months away?

why is thread necromancing on a rampage these days.
June 28, 2009 12:31:04 PM

@wh3resmycar:

Because there're people out there who google for articles on silent graphics cards and are happy to find some up-to-date information, no matter how old a thread is.

And btw regarding your older post about turning up the speaker volume to drown out fan noise - some people actually have neighbors and treat them with respect. Maybe you'll get the point of the whole discussion if you consider that some guys cannot afford a secondary machine and are actually forced to spend a significant amount of time doing something else with their PCs than gaming. Working to earn some money, for example.
a b U Graphics card
June 28, 2009 1:28:16 PM

I used a similar passive cooler to the main ones about now, not sure on name without pulling case apart now...
think it was a Accelero something or other

Sits on my Asus 8800GT in my Antec P182 case with good airflow

Normal Idle is 48
Load 60

Am in the UK, but is a really hot day today, card is helping run G-Force music visulisation (Very little load - almost same as idle) and temp is 58.

I would definitely go this route again soon on the next gen cards when they come soon as I Love a Quiet PC !
Am hoping they will be quiet enough for me not to have to bother though.


One word of warning, be sure that any after market cooler you buy will be compatable with your specific model of card.
My cooler would fit almost all 8800GT's except mine and to make it fit took a certain amount of carving away of cooler fins of the Accerlero Passive cooler to make room for a Asus nonstandard board cooler for minor components >_<

Basically is your card has the run of the mill cooling standard solution, and not a 2 slot extra size one, any normal aftermarket cooler should be fine :) 
June 28, 2009 9:19:13 PM

I would still have a fan directed over it
!