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Cooling System: Performance and Noise

The HerculeZ 3000 cooling system is secured on the PCB with four screws around the GPU. It is easy to take off.

The metal plate with thermal pads on the memory chips and power system components can be easily removed as well. The following chart highlights the key features of the exclusive cooler from Inno3D:

So, we’ve got a heatsink consisting of over 100 aluminum fins and five 6mm copper heat pipes. The fan impellers and the decorative covers can be removed for cleaning. There’s a hex key for that in the box.

Having dismantled the cooler, we saw that its heatsink was a copy of the Spire SkyMax.

The only difference is that the heat pipes and the copper sole are all nickel-plated.

There are three fans installed on the heatsinks, each within an individual plastic frame.

The middle fan is 90 millimeters in diameter whereas the other two are 80 millimeters.

The fans are manufactured by Colorful and support PWM-based regulation. They feature an improved bearing that makes them quieter and more durable than fans with ordinary bearings.

We checked out the card’s temperature during five consecutive runs of  Aliens vs. Predator (2010) game with the highest image quality settings in 2560x1440 resolution with 16x anisotropic filtering and MSAA 4x antialiasing):

We used MSI Afterburner 2.2.2 and GPU-Z 0.6.3 as monitoring tools. This test was performed inside a closed system case at 25°C room temperature. All thermal tests were carried out before we took the card apart, i.e. with its default thermal interface still intact.

Now let’s see how the HerculeZ 3000 copes with its job:

Automatic fan mode

Max fan speed

Well, it copes very well. With the fans regulated automatically, the GPU was no hotter than 63°C. That’s just an excellent result compared to the reference GeForce GTX 670 cooler. Take note of the top speed of the fans during our test: it was only 1290 RPM! The card was barely audible in our quiet system case even after working for half an hour at high load. When the fans were manually set at their maximum speed of 2580 RPM, the GPU was only 57°C hot, which is a very low temperature for a top-end graphics card. So, the HerculeZ 3000 boasts some high performance. Let’s check out its noisiness now.

The noise level of each cooler was measured after 1:00 AM in a closed room about 20 m2 big using CENTER-321 electronic noise meter. The noise level for each cooler was tested outside the system case when the only noise sources in the lab were the cooler and its fan. The noise meter was installed on a tripod and was always at a 150 mm distance from the cooler fan rotor. The tested cooling systems were placed at the edge of the desk on a sheet of polyurethane foam. The lowest noise reading our noise meter device can register is 29.8 dBA and the subjectively comfortable noise level in these testing conditions was around 36 dBA (do not mix it up with low noise level). The fans rotation speeds were adjusted in the entire supported range using our in-house controller by changing the voltage with 0.5 V increment.

We’ve included the results of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 670 and a Gigabyte GeForce GTX 670 Ultra Durable (which proved to be the quietest GTX 670 in our earlier tests) into the next diagram. The vertical dotted lines mark the speed of the fans in the automatic regulation mode. Here’s what we have:

The graphs suggest that the HerculeZ 3000 cooler is somewhat noisier than the Gigabyte starting from 1300 RPM and is also louder than the reference GeForce GTX 670 cooler from 2350 RPM. However, take a look at the speed of the fans: the fans of the HerculeZ 3000 never accelerate above the comfortable 36 dBA whereas the Gigabyte’s fans can get as fast as 2320 RPM and produce as much as 49 dBA of noise when regulated automatically. The difference is huge, so the HerculeZ 3000 is indeed one of the quietest coolers available.

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