So I'm planning on building a system in the near future, and while I'll start with a single graphics card, I'm planning on keeping the option of buying a second in the future. My basic question is, how important (heat management wise) is having extra space between the primary two pci slots? Most motherboards don't have extra space, but some do, and I'm wondering just how much of a decision factor that should be. For two double-wide cards, wouldn't placing them back-to-back be a nightmare as far as heat management be? Or do newer cards generally run cool enough that the extra heat generated from lack of space really doesn't matter so much? Just for reference, I'm planning on building with a single 5850 and possibly adding another later. My current Radeon x1800 probably won't be very relevant to newer systems, so I thought I'd ask where someone might have a good answer.
From personal experience, it makes a big difference.
With 5870's, I had to underclock the memory to avoid overheating and they always run hot.
With 470's I've played with, without the gap, they become VERY noisy trying to cool things down and I even saw artifacting. Adding a space made a huge difference in noise levels and avoided heating issues.
Unless you plan to watercool, I would recommend an extra space.
Agree with all of the above. You are likely to be able to mitigate/deal with the heat problem with a good case - many, many folks do - or an extraordinary one like the Silverstone Raven 1/2. The latter case is apparently so cool that it quiets the vid cards since the fans do not have to spin up to keep the cards cool.
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