It is next to impossible to create an ideal product when it comes to such a sophisticated device as a modern graphics card. The developer has to work his way within a variety of limitations. As games give us ever more realism, the level of detail is constantly growing up and the requirements to the gaming computer’s graphics subsystem rise as a consequence. The GPU developers meet those requirements, creating faster GPUs. Faster GPUs have to incorporate more transistors and to work at higher clock rates – the latest GPU from Nvidia has a shader domain frequency of over 1GHz and consists of a total of 681 million transistors.
As a result, the increase in the GPU’s computing power is accompanied with an increase in its power consumption, which in its turn makes it necessary to use more complex power circuits to satisfy the demands of new GPUs. Such power circuits inevitably make the PCB larger. Just take a look at the GeForce 8800 GTX and some solutions from ATI/AMD that are obviously not to be installed into a compact system case.
Power consumption is linked to heat dissipation, which means that ever more sophisticated cooling solutions, capable of dissipating some 100-130W of heat, have to be used. As opposed to CPU coolers, graphics card coolers have to comply with harder dimensional requirements and their developers often have to resort to high-speed fans, worsening the cooler’s noise characteristics. It is a kind of dilemma: the graphics card has to use either a massive dual-slot cooler with acceptable noise characteristics or a compact but noisy cooler. Few people would stand their graphics card to sound like a vacuum-cleaner. Making coolers larger is the lesser of the two evils.
So, can a graphics card be created that would combine high performance in modern games, moderate power consumption and heat dissipation, and quiet operation all together? The answer can hardly be positive for top-end products, but it is quite plausible with mainstream graphics cards as we’ll show you by the example of the new model from PowerColor.
Working on a silent, but sufficiently fast, graphics card, the company based it on the Radeon X1950 Pro, one of the best solutions in the $199 price category. The new card is called PowerColor X1950 Pro SCS3.