The quiet PC revolution has been gaining ground over the last few years. In
fact it has become so mainstream that large computer stores are starting to carry 'quiet
PC products' such as low dB case fans, sound dampening materials, and low
noise/fanless power supplies.
The Gigabyte GV-RX80L256V is not the
first fanless videocard, but it is probably one of the first high-end
fanless card to hit the market, as far as I'm aware. A high-end videocard that
doesn't produce noise has been on the wish list of many an enthusiast, so how
does this one handle the heat?
heatpipe cooler found on the GV-RX80L256V
looks and feels very solid and is intended to cool the Radeon X800 XL VPU only. The
heatsinks on the front and back of the videocard do not make contact with the GDDR3 memory,
and really don't need to. A ~50mm wide copper heat spreader rests on the X800 XL
core, and is in turn connected to the two heatpipes and the heatsink on the front
of the videocard. The heatpipes primarily transfer the heat load to the large
heatsink on the back.
During testing we noticed that the heatpipes and heatsink were way too hot to touch... yet
the card did remain stable.
PCSTATS measured the temperatures
of the GV-RX80L256V heatsink in a few locations, with a Fluke 54-II thermocouple thermometer. Under load, the heatpipes
were initially about 83.3 degrees Celsius, while the heatsinks on both the front
and back measured in the mid 60 degree Celsius region. The X800 XL core
temperature reached as high as 105 degrees Celsius, according to RivaTuner's built in monitoring feature (figure in some
+/-10 error on that figure).
PCstats test platform consists of a motherboard and
necessary drives laid out in the open, so there were no air forces from case fans, or powersupply
exhaust to influence the thermal equation.
Our expectations are that
the GV-RX80L256V's heatsink is designed to
take advantage of the system airflow within a case, and exhaust air from the
CPU heatsink. After simulating airflow similar to what we'd find in a case
(an 92mm case fan 6" away from the videocard, pointing in its general direction)
the temperatures dropped considerably across the board, with
the core temperature hovering in the 50 degree
Celsius region. Bottom line, while the GV-RX80L256V is a passive
heatsink, it will need good case ventilation to work properly - this doesn't mean big loud case fans, a
92mm or 120mm fan blowing in its general direction will be more than