The Gigabyte WindForce 600 Graphics Card Cooler
Changes to the WindForce Cooler
Let’s ignore the 600 W rating on Gigabyte's cooler, since it’s just a theoretical number handed down from the marketing department. Instead, we're interested in the physical changes that lend this WindForce model its claimed performance improvements. There were certainly things Gigabyte needed to fix, such as clicking/humming fans, which certainly didn’t do the otherwise potent cooler any favors.
Gigabyte deserves recognition for sticking with a two-slot configuration. While some competitors achieve better cooling through the use of more material, the GHz Edition board's bundled thermal solution is just optimized. As a result, SLI arrays remain viable (even if the reference design's ability to exhaust waste heat is probably better for multi-card setups). But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Fans and Airflow
As mentioned, Gigabyte really needed updated fans. The rotor was redesigned and the bearings were improved, contributing to a smoother ramp-up and quieter operation at low idle rotational speeds.
A new fan blade surface structure is supposed to result in better airflow with less turbulence. I’ll go ahead and mention briefly that this does register a positive outcome in our measurements.
The design that Gigabyte markets under the “Triangle Cool” moniker is supposed to improve airflow through the cooler’s fins, which are also changed to minimize turbulence and its accompanying noise. That's an ambitious undertaking, since the performance-oriented nature of the WindForce coolers means we've never found them particularly quiet.
New Heat Pipes
Another area where Gigabyte shot for improvements was the make-up of its heat pipes. The company created this diagram to illustrate its approach, which attempts to combine the advantages of several different materials.
All of that sounds compelling in theory. But of course, we have to quantify the differences ourselves. Are the claims a marketing stunt, or is this a real alternative to competing 2.5-slot cards? We'll get to that just as soon as we get Gigabyte's WindForce cooler assembled.