Up until about six months ago, you’d be hard pressed to find a high end Nvidia graphics card that wasn’t using a stock Nvidia cooler; Nvidia only sold its GPUs as full kits: card, cooler and all, which meant that aftermarket coolers, custom PCBs and improved power delivery systems were an expensive no-go.
This of course led to every Nvidia partner card being effectively identical, bar the quality of the GPU in pre-overclocked versions and the ever present branding sticker affording little differentiation. This allowed ATI, which offered a much more de-restricted approach to selling its own GPUs, to gain some much needed kudos amongst discerning custom graphic card hunters.
Thankfully though Nvidia has at least seen the error of its ways, and is now also taking a more flexible approach to board partners and their needs, resulting in a much more diverse array of graphics products sporting Nvidia GPUs. We’ve already seen the success of such cards with the affordable Palit GTX 275 and now Inno3D is looking to get in on the action with its iChill GTX 275: a card which boasts perhaps the most mentally huge after market cooler we’ve ever seen. Ever.
Click to enlarge - the card is a triple slot, 12" monster!
The cooler in question comes from Arctic Cooling, a company better known for its enormously popular and highly affordable CPU heatsinks. Sold independently as the Accelero Xtreme 280, the cooler is a triple slot, triple fan, 28.7cm long monster, with Arctic cooling claiming it’s able to deal with in excess of 250w of heat; so more than enough then for the 219W TDP GTX 275.
The cooler is centred around five dual direction copper heatpipes that run its full length, running through the large GPU contact plate and heatsink at the centre and then out through the two large arrays of aluminium cooling fans at either side. Cooling this huge array of fins are three separate 92mm cooling fans, suspended above the fin stack (or beneath the stack once the card is installed) and blowing air directly onto these fins. However, this does have the negative aspect of circulating hot air from the card directly into your case rather than exhausting it out the rear, as Nvidia’s stock cooler is designed to do.
Click to enlarge - One fan good, three fans better?
The sheer size of this cooler could also pose a problem to many with smaller or more confined cases. The card measures nearly 30 cm so you’ll need a good sized case to accommodate it – a "cramped chassis" such as the Antec 902 or similar will almost certainly suffer, so if you’re considering picking one up, make sure you’ve got the room to accommodate this beast before you splash the cash. The fact that the cooler turns the card into a triple slot monster could also cause problems with SLI setups or in systems with multiple expansion cards, so make sure you won’t be needing those obscured expansion slots as well.