Why is it that video cards manufacturer stop using cooling fans and switch to just heat sinks as soon as the card gets a bit outdated?
Since the first GeForce 2 and original Radeon, the boards have originally sold with cooling fans. Now Geforce 5700s and Radeon X800 cards are selling with heat sink only.
Now, just because it’s old, you can't run early Pentium 4 or Athlon XP without a cooling fan! This leads me to one of three conclusions:
1. The card NEVER really needed cooling in the first place and the fan just “looked cool”.
2. The card DOES need cooling and these new cards will overheat and die after some use.
3. The new, “old model” cards are using under clocked versions of newer graphics processors and that’s why they run cooler and without a fan.
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by ChrisLudwig on 02/04/05 11:57 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
Where have you seen an X800 with only a heatsink and no fan? Also, if you've seen a Geforce 5700 with a passive heatsink, it's because it's clocked lower than a GeforceFX 5700 Ultra. It's probably a low-end LE version.
As far as AthlonXP's and Pentium4's, you could probably run them without cooling fans, but a passive heatsink is going to get hotter then you'd want, and instability would result.
I don't know who told you running a CPU with a passive heatsink is a good idea, but it's not. (unless it's a heatpipe setup or something, but I don't think that's what you're talking about)
For one thing, unlike back when the first Radeon came out, passive and quiet is a desired thing now. PC's are getting so hot and noisy to cool, people are spending big bucks to make quiet systems. But back then, nobody complained about a gpu fan, but rather probably associated passive with old or wimpy. And looking at those passive coolers back then...they looked wimpy.
Secondly, in many cases they do what is cheapest. A tiny heatsink fan could be easier and cheaper to develope/produce than a passive design. You can passively cool a Radeon 9800 pro...like a Sapphire Ultimate edition. But I bet the reference active heatsink/fan is cheaper to make than that huge zalman heatsink, not to mention taking up less slot space.
Yes another craze now is producing cheap crippled versions of cards with slower clock speeds and 64-bit memory interfaces. So as CLeeve said, that passive FX5700le is a slower version of the card it is named after.
I think each chip has basically a limit as to how high it can go on a economically reasonable passive heatsink. When you hit that limit, you either have to go active, or design a bigger better passive cooler. Considering that these companies try to save money, and don't want to have dead cards being rma'd, they pop on a fan when in doubt. Take a the Rdeon 9600 series. 9600se and 9600 are generally passive, while 9600 pro and XT have fans. So at 325MHz core speed, the 9600 seems to have no troubles. But almost all companies include a fan at 400MHz (pro) and to my knowledge only the <A HREF="http://www.sapphiretech.com/awards/image/media_318.jpg" target="_new">Sapphire Ultimate 9600XT</A> has passive at 500MHz core speed. But at this point the consumer is paying more to have a silent solution. Now you may be able to OC you passive 9600 from 325MHz past 400MHz like a 9600 pro, but you would need good case cooling for that and would hit your limit much sooner than if blowing air on the heatsink. The manufacturers can't assume that is the case and say hey, if we have to warranty this card for joe smo with a lousy airflow case, we better be conservative (maybe as ATI specs call for) and put a fan on the 9600 pros.
It's that the cards get worse and worse. They underclock them as the product becomes older, to make them a "low end" card faster.
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