Graphics Card Quiet: Gigabyte's Silent-Pipe II Cooling

Test System

System Hardware
Processor(s) AMD Athlon 64 3400+ (Venice)
2.2 GHz (overclocked to 2522 MHz), 512 kB L2 Cache
Platform ASrock 9393dual-SATA2 (socket 939)
ULI 1695 chipset, BIOS v1.6
RAM PDP Patriot EP
1x 1024 MB PC3500 (CL2.0-3-2-5)
Hard Drive Western Digital WD1200JB
120 GB, 7,200 RPM, 8 MB cache, UltraATA/100
Networking On-board 100 Mb Ethernet
Graphics Card Gigabyte NX76T Silent-Pipe II 7600 GT (PCIe)
256 MB GDDR3
Nvidia 7600 GT Reference Board (PCIe)
256 MB GDDR3
Gigabyte RX16T Silent-Pipe II X1600 XT (PCIe)
256 MB GDDR3
ATI All-In-Wonder X1800 XL (PCIe)
256 MB GDDR3
Power Supply Ultra X-Connect , ATX, 550 W
System Software & Drivers
OS Microsoft Windows XP Professional 5.10.2600, Service Pack 2
DirectX Version 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
Platform Driver AMD Athlon 64 Processor Driver
Graphics Driver ATI Catalyst 6.1

Since the Silent-Pipe II depends entirely on existing airflow within the PC case, the single most important factor in its success or failure is the tower in which it resides. To properly measure the range of effectiveness of the Silent-Pipe II, we therefore need to test how it performs in a variety of airflow scenarios.

To this end, all temperature benchmarks were run in three different situations:

  • in a standard gaming case with a fan on the side for extra airflow;
  • in the same gaming case with the side fan turned off;
  • and finally, in Gigabyte's premium Aurora case, with no side fan (or even side grille) at all.

For the standard case, we used an older Sunbeam Samurai tower. Typical of most budget-gaming cases, it sports an extra intake on its side to provide cool air to the video card. The Sunbeam Samurai we tested also features an intake fan on the front bottom, two exhaust fans on the rear top and a grille for air intake on the rear bottom. We tested card temperatures in the Samurai twice; once with the side fan on, and once off, to see how it affects the Silent-Pipe II.

For the premium case, we used Gigabyte's new 3d Aurora. While the 3d Aurora has no side fan, it does feature three large, silent and effective fans for air movement: one is for air intake in the front bottom, and two are for exhaust in the rear top of the case.

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