Passive Cooling: XFX RX 460 Heatsink Edition Vs. Palit GTX 1050 Ti KalmX

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 ComponentsIntel 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 CoolingAlphacool 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 CaseLian Li PC-T70 with Expansion Kit and Mods
Power Consumption MeasurementContact-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 MeasurementOptris PI640 80Hz Infrared Camera + PI Connect
Real-Time Infrared Monitoring and Recording
Digital Sensors for Water and Air Temperatures in the Bench Table
AcousticsNTI 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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14 comments
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    Top Comments
  • derekullo
    Watch Dogs 2
    1920 x 1080 Pixels
    "High Settings"
    FPS (Lower is better)

    Made me Laugh.
    11
  • Other Comments
  • derekullo
    Watch Dogs 2
    1920 x 1080 Pixels
    "High Settings"
    FPS (Lower is better)

    Made me Laugh.
    11
  • Briancurry
    Me too, I guess that means the XFX crash is the winner?
    3
  • Rookie_MIB
    Wow. You know, they could fit a small incredibly slow fan in there somewhere that would generate zero noise and improve their results dramatically. I guess you could use the XFX in a server as the airflow scenario would allow cooling from the fans, but why would you use a GPU in a server anyhow?
    0
  • Math Geek
    i can't think of a single scenario where this is needed. fanless gpu but you need multiple case fans to keep it cool and barely at that. why not just have the fans right on the card? double slot so you don't save any space that way, so those few cases that truly need a single slot card can't even be claimed as a market for this card.

    now that single slot slim fan design His showed off a while ago would be an awesome thing if it worked and was actually released.

    but i just don't see this filling any need at all in a gaming pc. in a non-gaming pc a regular gpu would likely stay cool enough for the passive mode to keep the fans totally off or barely moving. yet still be able to kick it up when needed for a bit of funtime distraction.
    0
  • Pompompaihn
    Dumb products. If have to run system fans for them to work than what's the point of a completely fanless product? It's like saying my car gets infinite gas mileage as long as it's hooked to a tow truck...
    3
  • RomeoReject
    Only situation where I can see them being worthwhile is in a mineral oil setup. The fan on the GPU I have in mine baaaaarely moves as is. More oil moves as a result of convection. So in that situation, it could be worth having the extra metal on there and relying on the convection effect rather than wasting that space on a fan.

    But that is so incredibly niche, I agree with you all: These are products searching for a purpose.
    0
  • 80-watt Hamster
    Anonymous said:

    now that single slot slim fan design His showed off a while ago would be an awesome thing if it worked and was actually released.


    Are you talking about something like this?
    0
  • Math Geek
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:

    now that single slot slim fan design His showed off a while ago would be an awesome thing if it worked and was actually released.


    Are you talking about something like this?



    not the exact one but that's the idea. i did not know XFX had finally released it, must have missed that announcement. This article also pointed out that XFX bought HiS which i did not know. so i expect that this is the design HiS teased a while ago with XFX colors on it. this was the one they teased a while ago that seems to also have been relased http://www.hisdigital.com/gb/product2-940.shtml
    0
  • FormatC
    XFX bought nobody. XFX is a brand from the mother company Pine and Pine bought HIS as brand, not as single company. So are both vendors at the end only a brand from Pine and must share a lot of ressources and production lines. I saw, that they are using similar PCB layouts, only the cooling and design is a little bit different.

    XFX seems a real poor company. I got the card a few days for the review but I had to send it back on my own costs (because they had no more samples to rotate and no money for carriers). So it is impossible to answer on questions that requires a re-test or second look at the product.
    0
  • RomeoReject
    Anonymous said:
    XFX bought nobody. XFX is a brand from the mother company Pine and Pine bought HIS as brand, not as single company. So are both vendors at the end only a brand from Pine and must share a lot of ressources and production lines. I saw, that they are using similar PCB layouts, only the cooling and design is a little bit different.

    XFX seems a real poor company. I got the card a few days for the review but I had to send it back on my own costs (because they had no more samples to rotate and no money for carriers). So it is impossible to answer on questions that requires a re-test or second look at the product.

    Surprised XFX has fallen so far.

    I know with both of my XFX R9 280X cards I had from them, they're both in great condition, and currently overclocked a wee bit (It's cold where I live). XFX also says that they'll maintain warranty despite overclocks (Below a certain power threshold) which is why I picked them in the first place.

    Sad that they seem to be more dirt-baggish these days.
    0
  • FormatC
    Wait for the RX480 roundup... I measured on the HIS card (similar to the GTR Black Edition from XFX) over 7A on the PCIe-Slot! This are 30% over the specs! I know from the German distributor, that they got some negative feedback from customers about non-stable cards and SI-PCs. I tried to get in a closer contact and I sent XFX all my data - no answer or interest.
    0
  • Math Geek
    Thank for clearing it up. i've shared my HiS issues in the past so i won't revisit them, but they are not a company i will ever buy again. interesting that Pine bought that company and i'd hope they would get a boost in customer service and positive business practices as a result. never had anything negative to say about XFX personally and know many stand behind the brand as well. but if XFX is also slowly going the wrong way themselves, i would have little hope of HiS getting a boost from the parent company, if they are letting XFX brand slip as well.

    i'll stay tuned to see what the future brings from XFX cards in the next generation
    0
  • FormatC
    It plays no role, HIS, XFX or whoever - it depends also a lot from the distributors and their local handling. The support is mostly a mirror of the local branch office or distribution and may very different from country to country. I see it negative for HIS, that Pine bought the brand name for their own products. Only a few faces left, the others were all fired. HIS is more or less not more existent as an own company. It looks like XFX, but as a cheaper version. XFX light :D
    0
  • Math Geek
    that's interesting as well. HiS was the last AMD cards i bought for my house, but i have been favoring Saphire and Asus for a while now. i like the designs and the few times i have had to contact support, i mostly got what i needed.

    XFX, though respected for the most part, never really took off for me and mine. i'll probably stay with Saphire and Asus for now until another brand steps up to lure me away. HiS left such a bad taste in my mouth when i strayed, that i can't go there again. even with a new parent company, i just won't go there again. and it's too bad as i noted before, the card itself is actually pretty good. i have a 270, 270x and 280 from HiS and they are solid cards that run cool and quiet. but the business practices overshadowed this too much for me.

    nice review either way on these cards. though, they serve no purpose, the review was still all it needed to be to prove that.
    0