The Best Hardware of 2010 - Graphics Cards
Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 1GB
While the first batch of GF100 Fermi GPUs, used in the GTX 480 1.5GB, GTX 470 1.3GB and the GTX 465 1GB were typically hot, power hungry, noisy and not fast enough to convincingly topple ATI from its throne, the GTX 460 1GB changed all that. Cool running, quiet, and with performance that could sometimes match the Radeon HD 5850 1GB, the £170 GTX 460 1GB soon became the mid-range darling, and it's overclocking performance was unbelievably good
- most cards will easily reach 800MHz core. While it's position has is now contested with the Radeon HD 6850 1GB
, the GTX 460 1GB made choosing a mid range GPU an easy decision for a big part of the year.
Click to enlarge - Board partners had free reign over GTX 460 1GB coolers and board design
Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB
Similarly, after the disappointing all round performance of the GTX 480 1.5GB and GTX 470 1.3GB, eight months later we were treated to what Fermi GPUs can really do with the release of the GTX 580 1.5GB. The GF110 GPU at the heart of the GTX 580 1.5GB uses low power transistors on the non-performance sensitive components, solving the heat and noise issues of the original GF100 architecture, while allowing for ten per cent higher clock speeds across the board. The unlocking of the last block of 32 stream processors was the coup de grâce, allowing the GTX 580 1.5GB to out perform the GTX 480 1.5GB by up to 30 per cent in some cases. The result is a colossally powerful single GPU, which can cope with all current games with ease.
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The Best Hardware of 2010 - Cooling
Thermaltake Frio CPU Cooler Review
Considering the fact that heatsink design hasn't moved on that much in the past three years, the arrival of the Frio, and it's significantly improved performance was a pleasant surprise. Eschewing the direct contact heatpipes of past favourites such as the Titan Fenrir, the Frio uses a conventional moulded base, through which run five nickel plated copper heatpipes. The result is cooling performance up to six degrees better than the nearest competitor; a massive difference in the world of CPU cooling.
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Hailea HC-500A Water Chiller
Air cooling might be fine for the majority, and watercooling offers something extra for those who want more, but the Hailea Water Chiller added a whole new aspect when it came to cooling PC hardware. This towering beast replaces the radiator in a conventional water cooling loop, actively cooling the water to a temperature set by the user. While this means the Hailea has to sit outside of your PC, it lets even a small PC house a hugely overclocked, watercooled system. With the improved cooling, clock speeds can be pushed far beyond those possible using even the biggest fan-cooled watercooling setups. Just watch the dew point though - cooling the water too much can cause condensation on your hardware and fry it!
Click to enlarge - The Hailea can drop coolant to sub-room temperature levels