VGA Heat-Pipe Cooler Roundup 2006


Zalman's VF900-Cu

The VF900-Cu isn't a bad cooler. At low fan speed it's very quiet and offers slightly better than stock thermal performance; at high fan speed it fares better, but it gets a bit noisier, too. It's noteworthy that the VF900-Cu provided the coolest idle temperatures. At the end of the day, the VF900-Cu is a decent aftermarket cooler that looks a little less shiny because the competition is very strong.

Thermalright's V1 Ultra

The V1 Ultra is a great VGA cooler, but it's starting to look a bit dated compared to coolers like the VF1 Plus. Its performance is still quite competitive, but it's not at the front of the pack, and is fairly expensive compared to other coolers. Still, it's the only VGA cooler that forces hot air to the top of the card, so it may be a good solution for those who like that feature.

Evercool Turbo 2

Evercool's Turbo 2 is simply a great offering for the price. Sure it has its rough edges - fit and finish aren't up to the standard set by the competitors, and it has no memory heat sinks. Still, it does well where it counts most: good thermal performance and decent noise output. Add to these points the best price of the pack by far, and we have a real winner.

Arctic Cooling Accelero X2

The Accelero X2 is very easy to install and is extremely quiet, but provides uninspiring thermal performance out of the box. The cooler's potential can be unleashed by setting the fan speed to full, resulting in no audible sound increase but a healthy thermal reduction that puts it on par with the V1 Ultra and Turbo 2. This makes it a great choice if you're willing to tinker with AtiTool to increase the fan speed; otherwise, it would get a lower rating.

Sytrin's KuFormula VF1 Plus

The KuFormula VF1 Plus shows it's up to the challenge of a little competition. Sure it's loud when the fan is set to high, but the level is quite bearable, and the option exists to set the fan to medium or low to get the balance of thermal and sound performance you want. The only thing keeping it from getting perfect marks is that it's a bit of a pain to install on the X1800/X1900 because of the fan bracket incompatibilities. Still, if you're a tinkerer, that's just part of the fun.

Editor's Opinion

Each of these coolers has strengths and weaknesses that set it apart from the pack. Whatever suits your fancy - be it silence, ease of installation, high cooling performance, airflow, low price, or even style - there is a VGA heat-pipe cooler out there for you. Hopefully we've delivered all the information you need to make an informed choice.

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