Cooling Systems: Efficiency and Noise Level
Before we get down to checking out the exclusive Windforce 3X 600W cooler, we want to test the card’s default cooling system. The latter combines a vapor chamber with an aluminum heatsink and additionally has a metallic plate with thermal pads for memory chips and power system components. The whole arrangement is cooled by a radial fan with adaptive PWM-based speed regulation.
To measure the temperature of the Gigabyte GeForce GTX TITAN Black GHz Edition we ran Aliens vs. Predator (2010) five times with maximum visual quality settings, at a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels, with 16x anisotropic filtering and 4x MSAA.
We used MSI Afterburner 3.0.0 and GPU-Z version 0.7.8 to monitor temperatures inside the closed computer case. The computer’s configuration is detailed in the following section of our review. All tests were performed at 26.5°C room temperature.
With the cooler’s fan regulated automatically, the Gigabyte is as hot as the Zotac GeForce GTX Titan Black: up to 87°C. The speed of the fan is higher at 3420 RPM, though.
We must note that the ambient temperature was 1.5°C higher during this test than when we had tested the Zotac card.
And if the fan is set at its maximum speed (4280 RPM according to our monitoring tools), the peak GPU temperature is no higher than 77°C.
So the temperature seems to be normal for a graphics card of this class.
The Windforce 3X 600W comes with screws, thermal pads, a cleaning napkin, an L-shaped key, and two syringes with thermal grease.
There’s also a detailed installation guide describing the whole procedure starting from removing the default cooler.
The Windforce 3X 600W has a number of improvements over the original Windforce cooler. It is rather compact, fitting within the standard dual-slot form-factor.
It has an aluminum heatsink with Triangle Cool technology and innovative finning and features composite heat pipes. The cooler also has an aluminum frame with three high-airflow fans.
There are five 8mm copper pipes and one 6mm pipe in the heatsink.
The pipes pierce both sections of the densely finned heatsink and contact with the entire length of the copper base. The heat pipes are soldered to the heatsink fins as well as to the cooler’s base.
The cooler’s composite heat pipes feature an additional capillary layer to improve heat transfer.
The fans have also been improved. They’ve got notched blades and an additional “fin” at the front.
Gigabyte claims these optimizations enhance the air flow by 23% compared to conventionally shaped fans.
The fans are PWM-regulated in a range of 1000 to 4300 RPM.
The Windforce 3X 600W also features smart highlighting on its casing. We don’t know what’s so smart about it as it always stayed blue throughout our tests.
It is easy to install the cooler on the graphics card. Just don’t forget to unpeel the protective film from its thermal pads and apply some thermal grease on the GPU. The cooler adds 20 mm to the graphics card’s length, yet looks quite compact overall.
Our first test of the Windforce 3X 600W proved its high efficiency.
In the automatic regulation mode, when the fans accelerated steadily from a silent 1000 RPM to a comfortable 2040 RPM, the peak GPU temperature was 78°C. It is about 20°C better than with the reference cooler and much quieter, too! That’s just an excellent performance for a cooler of the world’s fastest graphics card.
And if you want to lower the temperature even more, you can set the fans at their maximum speed. The result is comparable to what you’d get with an entry-level liquid cooling system.
The GPU is no hotter than 58°C. And we’re talking about a GK110-B1 die which would be clocked at up to 1176 MHz during our test. So, Gigabyte has come up with an extremely high-performance cooler. Let’s check out its noise level, though.
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 fans was being adjusted by means of a controller that changed the supply voltage in steps of 0.5 V.
The Gigabyte GeForce GTX Titan Black GHz Edition will be compared with the reference Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan Black and AMD Radeon R9 290X as well as with the original MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti Gaming and ASUS ROG Matrix GTX 780 Ti Platinum (the latter will also take part in our performance tests). The vertical dotted lines mark the top speed of the coolers’ fans in the automatic PWM-based regulation mode.
Despite the serious competition, the Gigabyte GeForce GTX Titan Black is superior to the original cards from MSI and ASUS in terms of noisiness. The three fans of its Windforce 3X 600W cooler are quieter at any speed. The reference GeForce GTX Titan may seem to be comparable to the Gigabyte in this test, but the Windforce 3X 600W is much better than the reference cooler if you compare their top speeds in the automatic regulation mode.
So, the new card from Gigabyte is quieter than its opponents and, unlike them, is virtually silent in 2D applications.