Nvidia’s Founders Edition: Farewell, Beautiful Blower
The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, 2080, and 2070 Founders Edition cards represent a departure from the “reference” design we were first introduced to in 2012 with GeForce GTX 690. After the 690, we grew to appreciate cards like the original GeForce GTX Titan with its centrifugal fan that blew heated air out the dual-slot bracket and away from your PC’s guts. Many enthusiasts felt differently, though. Because centrifugal fans move air through heat sinks quickly, they tend to be noisier under load than more free-flowing thermal solutions with multiple axial fans. And because Nvidia tried to keep their reference boards running quietly, they were often accused of limiting peak GPU Boost clock rates or even outright throttling performance.
Sadly for us, those days are gone. The new Founders Edition design eschews a centrifugal fan for two axial fans. They sit atop a dense fin stack that surrounds what Nvidia calls the largest vapor chamber ever used on a graphics card. A forged aluminum cover encircles the cooler’s length but leaves the top and bottom open. Heated air is consequently directed up out the top and down towards your motherboard, possibly in the direction of an M.2-based SSD installed underneath. The aesthetic just isn’t as distinct, sacrificing the prestige of Nvidia’s previous-gen reference boards.
Gamers who put a lot of care into building PCs with plenty of airflow should enjoy a better experience overall though; the axial fans can dissipate more power or drive lower temperatures at a given noise level. Alternatively, the axial fans offer improved acoustics compared to blowers in a power-limited condition. Either way, there’s a silver lining for anyone who preferred the elegance of a centrifugal fan exhausting heated air but is willing to entertain the merits of Nvidia’s latest creation.
Another potential selling point is improved overclocking headroom. Some of this comes from the cooler’s increased capacity. But Nvidia also says its power supply facilitates close to 60W of additional capacity beyond the stock 260W. At the same time, efficiency is optimized using an eight-phase power supply able to dynamically turn phases on and off based on load.
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