Temperatures & Thermal Image Analysis
The conventional approach to overclocking by means of a higher power limit and clock rate ceiling doesn't make sense in this case. ASRock's thermal solution is already operating at its limit, and consequently fairly loud. On the other hand, undervolting AMD's Ellesmere GPU yields impressive results. Don't expect more performance. Rather, count on lower power consumption, a slower-spinning fan, and a little less noise. We didn't spend much time experimenting with this on ASRock's card, though, since real-world gains vary from chip to chip.
The following table shows a comparison of start and end values for temperatures and GPU (boost) frequencies. Just keep in mind that these clock rates can be considerably higher in games with significantly lower loads.
|Initial Value||Final Value|
|Open Test Bench|
|GPU Clock Rate||1380 MHz||1307 MHz|
|GPU Clock Rate||1380 MHz||1296 MHz|
|Air Temperature in Case||25°C||40°C|
Temperature vs. Frequency
To better illustrate our findings, we plotted temperatures and frequencies during our sample's 15-minute warm-up phase. It's particularly interesting to note the difference in temperature between the open test bench and closed case. Yet, their clock rates remain surprisingly similar.
Our stress test's chart doesn't look much different: the open bench and closed case still diverge quite a bit. You do, however, see much lower clock rates.
IR Image Analysis Of The Board's Back
To round out this section, we take a look at board temperatures across several different load levels. Because ASRock doesn't bother with a backplate, we don't have to fiddle with drilling holes or disassembling the cooler.
Hot-spots aren't an issue for this card in The Witcher 3. We measure almost 74°C opposite the GPU package on an open bench, and almost 69°C behind the voltage regulation circuitry. As mentioned earlier, spreading those components out across multiple discrete pieces makes cooling easier.
In a closed-up case, temperatures behind the voltage transformers rise by about 6°C. Same goes for the GPU package, which is now close to 80°C.
Those higher temperatures are accompanied by faster-spinning fans. ASRock's temperature limit is set rather tightly, so more airflow is the only way to ensure that threshold isn't exceeded.
An extended run of FurMark reveals slightly higher power consumption than our gaming workload, though you wouldn't really know it from our thermal readings on an open bench. At the end of the day, faster-spinning fans help mask the difference.
Seal ASRock's Phantom Gaming X up in a chassis, though, and the temperatures are now up roughly 7°C, even with the fans spinning faster.
ASRock's cooler performs the way it should. However, there is no headroom left for overclocking or dialing back the fan speed to reduce noise.
Heating and Cooling
The last two pictures show where heat builds up as the card is used, and where it starts cooling off first when the load is removed.
MORE: Best Graphics Cards
MORE: All Graphics Content