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Cooling System: Noise and Efficiency

MSI’s announcement of the next-generation Twin Frozr V cooler almost coincided with Nvidia’s announcement of the new GPUs. As it was the case with the Twin Frozr IV, we are up to several modifications designed for graphics cards of different classes. The GeForce GTX 970 Gaming seems to use the most advanced modification, though. MSI claims the new Twin Frozr took 18 months to design and implement. The outcome is up to 10°C better than the Twin Frozr IV Advanced.

The cooler has a nickel-plated copper-base heatsink, copper heat pipes and aluminum fins.

There are four heat pipes here: two are 6 mm and the other two are 8 mm in diameter. The pipes go alternating out of the base to different sides, piercing the whole of the heatsink.

The heatsink and the pipes are soldered to each other, just as you may expect from a top-end cooler.

The thin aluminum fins are placed 1 mm apart from each other on the heat pipes. Frankly speaking, the heatsink seems to be unchanged, so let’s see what fans the new Twin Frozr V has.

The two 100mm Torx Fans are manufactured by Power Logic (the PLD10010S12HH model). The actual diameter of the impellers is 94 mm. The fans feature alternating blades which differ in their angle of attack.

Thanks to the peculiarly-shaped blades and the increased number of them, the fans ensure increased air flow at a 5% noise reduction. The fan regulation algorithm has been optimized as well. The Zero Frozr technology means that the fans are halted altogether in 2D mode and at low 3D loads. Judging by monitoring data, they start working as soon as the GPU temperature hits 60°C. And they do so very smoothly, without a sudden acceleration as is often the case with other coolers. The fans run on sleeve bearings with increased service life.

The power transistors and memory chips on the face side of the PCB are cooled with an aluminum heatsink and a heat-spreading plate with thermal pads, respectively.

Modders will appreciate the highlighting of the Gaming series logo at the top of the cooler’s casing.

Just take a look at how splendid it is:

But of course, we are more interested in the cooler’s performance and noisiness rather than its beauty. So let’s check these properties out right now.

To measure the temperature of the graphics card we ran Aliens vs. Predator (2010) five times at the maximum visual quality settings, at a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels, with 16x anisotropic filtering and with 4x MSAA:

We used MSI Afterburner 4.0.0 and GPU-Z version 0.7.9 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 20°C room temperature.

First we ran our MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming with its fans regulated automatically.


Auto fans speed mode

Besides the increased clock rate (1316 MHz in the boost mode), the monitoring diagram shows that the GPU temperature was steadily rising up to 60°C and only then the cooler’s fans switched into action. Their starting-up was imperceptible against the background noise of our quiet computer since their speed reached only 960 RPM (41% of their full) and stabilized at that mark. Considering that the card maintained that speed of the fans throughout our test and the temperature never rose above 63°C, the result is absolutely amazing.

Recalling our previous tests of top-end graphics cards, their coolers would only use their fans at 1000 RPM or thereabouts in 2D mode but now we see this fan speed maintained at a high 3D load. Of course, this result is not entirely due to MSI’s redesigned cooler or its fans. It is the energy-efficient Maxwell GPU that makes the trick with its low heat dissipation. MSI should be given credit, however, for making good use of that fact and developing a fan regulation algorithm which combines high cooling performance with a very low noise level.

When the cooler’s two fans worked at their maximum speed, the peak GPU temperature of the GeForce GTX 970 Gaming was hardly above 51°C.


Maximum fans speed mode

We guess that’s redundant for the GeForce GTX 970 Gaming, especially as the fans become audible (even though not really noisy) at the maximum 2300 RPM.

As for the noise level, we couldn’t measure it using our standard method because the card has a special type of the fan connector. We can only add that the card was very, very quiet in the automatic fan regulation mode and was absolutely silent in 2D mode. Its chokes didn’t produce any unwanted sounds, either.

Overclocking

With such a high-performance cooler and such an energy-efficient GPU, the GeForce GTX 970 Gaming couldn’t help delivering high overclocking potential. Indeed, we managed to accelerate its GPU from its default 1140 MHz by 185 MHz (+16.2%). The memory chips were overclocked by 1040 MHz (+14.8%).

So the resulting clock rates were 1330-1469/8052 MHz.

Moreover, our monitoring tools showed that the GPU clock rate was up to 1501 MHz in 3D mode!

A GPU clock rate of 1.5 GHz is most amazing. It used to take liquid or even better cooling to reach such clock rates with earlier graphics cards. But now the MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming hits that mark with an air cooler working in complete silence because the fans would never accelerate above 1060 MHz. The GPU temperature reached 65°C during the first cycle of our test and stayed at that mark thereafter. All in all, the MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming is a graphics card with excellent overclocking potential and a most efficient cooler.

 
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