Ever since ATI launched its Radeon X850XT, its cooling solutions seemed to take a step backwards from the great coolers that we saw on the Radeon X800-series and Radeon 9800XT. The cooler used on the Radeon X1800XT
and Radeon X1900XTX
wasn't much quieter than the X850XT's cooling solution
, but they weren't ATI's worst offenders.
click to enlarge
In recent times, the single slot coolers have taken a massive step backwards. The cooler used on the Radeon X1800XL
, Radeon X1800GTO
and Radeon X1900GT
was frankly awful. Although it did a reasonably good job of keeping the rather warm R520 and R580 GPUs cool, it kept us informed of just how hot these GPUs were getting. In other words, it was damn loud. In fact, it was so loud and annoying that we actually steered away from recommending cards using this particular cooling solution, whether or not performance was class-leading.
This time around, ATI has listened to its critics and designed something more efficient; most importantly though, it's incredibly quiet. It is clear where the design inspiration has come from - it looks very similar to previous designs from Arctic Cooling, and it's very similar to the cooler that HIS used on its Radeon X1900XTX IceQ 3 iTurbo
We asked ATI about the where the cooling design came from, and we were right with our initial thought path - the design is one of Arctic Cooling's and we are under the impression that it is an 'ATI exclusive' design. That isn't a bad thing; in fact, I think that it is an incredibly good thing because Arctic Cooling makes some of the best video card coolers on the market.
Under the rather striking red shroud, the heatsink portion of the cooler is made from copper. There is a single heatpipe and a total of 35 fins inside the shroud. The fan is a variable speed type with a 70mm diameter. It spins at an almost-silent 1000RPM in 2D mode, and then spins up to barely audible levels during heavy gaming sessions. There are vents underneath the fan, allowing air to flow under the fan shroud to cool the PWMs down - this is necessary, otherwise there would be a rather warm dead spot under the fan shroud.
To complement the fantastic heatsink design, ATI has included a rather mean-looking memory heatspreader made from copper. This covers all of the GDDR4 DRAMs and screws directly into the PCB. There is a second copper heatsink covering the PWMs - this is cooled by excess air coming through the bottom of the fan shroud.