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Cooling System Design and Performance

The cooling system is the same as on the reference GTX 280 and 260 cards.

The thick layer of thermal grease has always surprised me. It seems as if the Chinese workers are paid for a specific amount of thermal grease used up and they spend the latter with utmost generosity.

The card’s temperature was measured in a simple test. I loaded it by running the Firefly Forest test from 3DMark06 at 1920x1200 with 16x anisotropic filtering for 10 times. I didn’t enable FSAA as the GPU load and temperature would have been lower then. The test was performed in a closed ASUS Ascot 6AR2-B system case (its fan configuration is described below in the Testbed and Methods section). The ambient temperature was 23.5°C. The card’s frequencies and temperature were monitored with RivaTuner 2.20. As I had dismantled the card before testing it, I replaced the thermal interface of the GPU with a thin layer of high-efficiency Gelid GC1 thermal grease.

So, here are the results of the test with the card working with automatic fan speed management.

The GPU was never hotter than 80°C despite the pre-overclocked frequencies and the low level of noise of the cooler’s fan. The latter was rotating at only 1860rpm during this test (the maximum speed of this fan is 3200rpm).

And here is how the reference cooler can cool the card at the full speed:

The temperatures are atypically low for a top-end graphics card. Interestingly, the current on the voltage regulator at peak load was 5A lower when the card’s temperatures were low than when they were high.

Considering the high efficiency of the reference cooler, I checked the card’s overclockability out without replacing its cooler but set its speed manually at 2050rpm which seemed subjectively comfortable to me. The card proved to be stable at a memory frequency of 2448MHz (+22.5%) but I could not increase its GPU frequency at all.

Alas, the core of this sample of the Zotac card already works at its limit. Moreover, the GPU’s overclockability didn’t grow even when I increased its core voltage from 1.06V to 1.15V in the card’s BIOS. Well, it just means that the specific sample of the card has poor overclockability.

Working with the overclocked memory, the card had the following temperature:

The Zotac GeForce GTX 260 AMP2! Edition 896MB card cost about $320-350 at the time of my writing this, but a price cut is expected for the entire new series of cards from Nvidia. It will surely affect Zotac’s products, too.

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