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Twin Frozr IV Cooling System: Efficiency and Noise

The Twin Frozr IV was installed on the MSI R7970 Lightning card we tested earlier and hasn’t changed much since then.

The only difference is that the nickel-plated copper sole of the cooler lacks the characteristic protrusion for the sunken-in die of the Tahiti GPU. Otherwise, it is the same high-quality and high-efficiency cooler with additional heat-spreaders on both sides of the PCB.

The superpipes as MSI calls them are snuggly fitted into the grooves and soldered to the cooler’s base.

The two 100mm Power Logic PLA10015B12H fans have originally shaped impellers that are promised to deliver a 20% stronger air flow. They run on ball bearings and support PWM-based regulation.

They also feature cute blue highlighting and a dust removal technology (when turned on, they rotate in the opposite direction for a few seconds, blowing dust out of the heatsink).

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 2.2.3 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.

The Twin Frozr IV was highly efficient on the MSI R7970 Lightning. Let’s see how it can cope with the N680GTX Lightning now:

Automatic fan mode

Max fan speed

Yes, the pre-overclocked GeForce GTX 680 from MSI is cooled very well. With the fans regulated automatically, the GPU temperature grew from 33°C in idle mode to 64°C at peak load. The memory and VRM temperatures were roughly the same. The speed of the fans was only 1650 RPM, so the card didn’t disturb the quiet of our testbed. When the fans were set at their maximum speed of 3200 RPM, the GPU temperature was 58° while the memory and VRM were 2°C colder. Well, it is clear that such an efficient cooler mustn’t be used at the full speed of its fans.

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’ll test the acoustic performance of MSI N680GTX Lightning against reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 and AMD Radeon HD 7970 cards as well as against an ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP which features one of the quietest coolers we’ve ever seen. The vertical dotted lines mark the speed of the fans in the automatic regulation mode.

Here are the results:

Although the noise graph of the MSI N680GTX Lightning goes higher than the other three, its noise in the automatic regulation mode is lower compared to the reference coolers of the AMD Radeon HD 7970 and Nvidia GeForce GTX 680. That’s not bad, yet the Twin Frozr IV can’t be called quiet in 3D applications, especially in comparison with the ASUS DirectCU II. The latter remains the quietest original GPU cooler we’ve ever tested.

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