Gigabyte's GV-N68T256DH Graphics Card: Give the Heatsink Its Mod Due


Graphics card makers face challenges when attempting to boost the value-add of their prowess as an OEM. The processors already run at preset clock speeds, and the cards' layouts are already designed once they get into the card makers' hands. Graphics processor chip developers even offer a range of ready-made cooling solutions. The only things card manufacturers can do to give a product an individual touch is to go with an unusual color for the board, equip it with its own cooling solution and throw in a software bundle that makes it stand apart from the crowd. But once installed on the mobo, the most beautiful finishing touches are hidden away.

Gigabyte has come up with something special: the model with the cryptic moniker GV-N68T256DH based on the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT graphics processor. While the blue board and special cooler with illuminated fan are nothing revolutionary, Gigabyte has tackled a problem we've long been waiting for manufacturers to address: what good is a beautiful heatsink if you can't see it? Due to various specifications, the graphics chip always faces downwards in an ATX case. That means that on nearly every card, the heatsink - and whatever snazzy lighting it may have - is also face-down. The design represents an attempt to appease case-modding fans who deck their cases with see-through panels and lighting get especially annoyed that they can only present their graphics cards' rear panel.

Brilliant cooler positioning with an illuminated fan on the bottom of the card.

The GV-N68T256DH is for those who no longer want to waste the mod potential their graphics cards' heatsinks and fans can offer. The front of the card is adorned only with a passive cooler, which is designed solely to cool the memory modules. Two heatpipes redirect the heat generated by the graphics processor directly from the chip to a large heatsink with a fan on the back of the card. There, a glowing blue fan helps remove the heat. Only cooler-maker Zalman has similar retrofit configurations on offer.