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Cooling System: Efficiency and Noise

The plastic casing of the cooling system is fastened along its edge. It is quite easy to remove.

It hides an aluminum heatsink on the power components, a GPU heatsink and a fan secured on the plastic extension of the PCB.

The GPU heatsink consists of a copper base with aluminum fins soldered to it.

There is no vapor chamber and no heat pipes here.

The reference GeForce GTX 670 cooler also includes a simple 70mm PWM-regulated fan and a tall heatsink for power system components.

The unsophisticated cooler, short PCB and rather simple power circuit do not quite match the product's price tag of $400, but that's what Nvidia offers for that money.

We checked out the card’s temperature while running Aliens vs. Predator (2010) in five cycles at the highest settings (2560x1600, with 16x anisotropic filtering and 4x antialiasing).

We used MSI Afterburner 2.2.0 and GPU-Z 0.6.2 as monitoring tools. This test was carried out with a closed system case at an ambient temperature of 25°C. We didn’t change the card’s default thermal interface.

Let’s see what temperature the card has when its fan is regulated automatically and at the maximum speed of the fan:


Automatic fan mode

Maximum fan speed

The GPU is as hot as 81°C in the automatic regulation mode, the fan reaching 2190 RPM. The GeForce GTX 680 had the same GPU temperature but its fan speed was lower by 270 RPM. At the maximum speed of 3750 RPM the GPU is no hotter than 65°C. This is 3°C higher compared to the reference GeForce GTX 680 but the latter’s fan worked at 4200 RPM.

We measured the level of noise using an electronic noise-level meter CENTER-321 in a closed and quiet room about 20 sq. meters large. The noise-level meter was set on a tripod at a distance of 15 centimeters from the graphics card which was installed on an open testbed. The mainboard with the graphics card was placed at an edge of a desk on a foam-rubber tray.

The bottom limit of our noise-level meter is 29.8 dBA whereas the subjectively comfortable (not low, but comfortable) level of noise when measured from that distance is about 36 dBA. The speed of the graphics card’s fan was being adjusted by means of a controller that changed the supply voltage in steps of 0.5 V.

We’ve included the results of reference Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 and AMD Radeon HD 7950 cards into the next diagram for the comparison’s sake (the vertical dotted lines indicate the top speed of the fans in automatic regulation mode):

The reference GeForce GTX 670 is no quieter than the GeForce GTX 680. Moreover, the cooling system of our sample changes its fan speed inconsistently as is indicated by the wavy shape of its noise graph. The cheap plastic of the cooler casing and of the PCB extension with fan resonates, causing even more discomfort. Unfortunately, the GeForce GTX 670 is unsatisfactory in this test.

 
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