Overclockability and Noise
High-performance products have always been milestones of the evolution of the engineering thought. To satisfy the ever-increasing power requirements of the GPU and memory the graphics card’s PCB was getting longer and thicker. As opposed to CPUs, which haven’t surpassed the limit of 125W after reaching it a couple of years ago, GPUs have constantly demanded more and more power.
The increased heat dissipation made Nvidia develop a massive cooler capable of taking off over 130 watts of heat from the G80 GPU and GDDR3 memory chips. Foxconn preferred not to change anything in the cooling system, so you can go to our review of the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX for details.
In our overclocking experiments with graphics cards we use simple, safe and cheap methods everyone can use. In this test the card worked with its native cooler but we replaced its thermal paste.
We overclocked the card using the Nvidia nTune software that supports the latest generation of Nvidia’s graphics cards. To achieve the maximum cooling efficiency we had increased the cooler’s fans speed to the maximum. We managed to increase the graphics core clock rate from 575 to 630MHz and the card was stable at that.
The memory frequency was increased by 100MHz, from 900 (1800) to 1000 (2000) MHz. This is a good result, considering the 384-bit memory bus with complex PCB wiring and the surpassing of the rated frequency of the memory chips. So, the reviewed graphics card from Foxconn can be successfully overclocked without extreme methods like volt-modding or replacing the native cooler with a water- or cryogen-based one.
As we wrote in the previous section, we checked the overclocking potential of the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX at the maximum speed of its fan. Using a sound-level meter Velleman DVM1326 we can now provide you with an objective estimate of the amount of noise produced by a particular graphics card (the measurement methodology was described in this review).
We measured the level of noise produced by the cards in three modes: 2D, 3D typical and 3D maximum (the maximum level of noise with the automatic fan-speed adjustment enabled). The noise is measured at a distance of 1m and 5cm from the working testbed assembled in a Chieftec LBX-01 system case with the side panel removed.
Since the Foxconn card’s cooler speed was set at 3D mode by the manufacturer, its results are identical in each test mode. The level of background noise in our test room was 36dBA. At a distance of 1 meter from the working testbed with a passively cooled graphics card installed our sound-level meter showed 40dBA. Here are the results:
The cooling system installed on the Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX proved to be very quiet. The card is comparable to the GeForce 7900 GTX, one of the quietest graphics cards. The new card is nearly silent in every situation except for serious overheat, and the fan speed management system reminds you of itself only during the first few seconds on your turning the system on. This is an excellent result considering that the cooler of the GeForce 8800 GTX has to dissipate over 130W!