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

Passive Cooling Shootout: Which One Is Better?

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 @ 4.2GHzMSI X99S XPower Gaming TitaniumCorsair Vengeance DDR4-3200 @ 2400 MT/s1x 1TB Toshiba OCZ RD400 (M.2, System SSD)2x 960GB Toshiba OCZ TR150 (Storage, Images)be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11, 850W power supplyWindows 10 Pro (with all updates)
Water CoolingAlphacool Eispumpe VPP755Alphacool NexXxoS UT60 Full Copper 360mmAlphacool Cape Corp Coolplex Pro 10 LT5x be quiet! Silent Wings 3 PWMThermal 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 Supply2 x Rohde & Schwarz HMO 3054, 500MHz Digital Multi-Channel Oscilloscope with Storage Function4 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 ConnectReal-Time Infrared Monitoring and RecordingDigital 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.7Our 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 50cmNoise levels in dB(A) (slow) as RTA measurementFrequency spectrum as graphics


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  • derekullo
    Watch Dogs 2
    1920 x 1080 Pixels
    "High Settings"
    FPS (Lower is better)

    Made me Laugh.
    Reply
  • Briancurry
    Me too, I guess that means the XFX crash is the winner?
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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...
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 80-watt Hamster
    19487062 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?

    Reply
  • Math Geek
    19488039 said:
    19487062 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
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • RomeoReject
    19491648 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.
    Reply