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Cooling System

It is the cooling system that makes the PowerColor X1950 Pro SCS3 a unique product. SCS stands for Silent Cooling System. It is not an original invention of PowerColor, but is an Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 cooler.

This cooler design is simple, somewhat primitive even. Four heat pipes, bent at an angle of 180 degrees, are soldered with their short ends into the copper sole that has contact with the GPU die. The long ends of the pipes carry aluminum ribs limited by two decorative plastic caps. The whole arrangement is secured on the PCB by means of four screws with plastic spacers. So, there is nothing particularly sophisticated and extraordinary here.

This system boasts impressive characteristics, however. The heatsink consists of a total of 32 ribs placed 4 millimeters apart from each other. Each rib is 215mm long and 18-19mm tall. Easy to calculate, the dissipation area of one rib is about 80 sq. cm while the whole heatsink is over 2500 sq. cm large. This is much larger than the total dissipation area of the popular Zalman ZM80D-HP cooler (1350 sq. cm) and holds a promise of successful passive cooling of a Radeon X1950 Pro. The RV570 is known to generate within 65W of heat and the Accelero S1 heatsink is quite capable to cope with that load.

Moreover, this cooler is positioned by Artic Cooling as suitable for the entire AMD Radeon X1950 series as well as for Nvidia’s 6800/7800/7900/7950, except for the GeForce 7950 GX2. Perhaps you need the so-called Turbo Module, an additional fan supplied with the original Accelero S1, to cool such cards as GeForce 7900 GTX or Radeon X1950 XTX, but our card comes without that module and is going to be cooled fully passively. The success will ultimately depend on how well the heatsink plates are crimped on the heat pipes.

The cooler is rather large at 140x215x32 millimeters (LxWxH) but weighs a mere 290g thanks to the aluminum ribs. Still, we should caution you to handle the PowerColor X1950 Pro SCS3 very gently since the cooler’s base reaches to the protective frame around the GPU die on one side only. Dark-gray thick thermal grease is used a thermal interface between the GPU die and the cooler base.

An additional mounting bracket with holes is used to exhaust some of the hot air out of the system and the PowerColor X1950 Pro SCS3 is thus two slots high. You should install this bracket even without the Turbo Module if you’ve organized airflows inside your system case properly. The only drawback of the described cooler is its length. Counting the plastic cap in, it goes 4cm beyond the graphics card’s dimensions, which may provoke problems with narrow system cases (or low system cases, if it is a desktop rather than tower version). The card is about 150mm tall with the cooler installed.

The quality of assembly is high when it comes to the contact of the heat pipes and ribs. The heatsink grew hot very quickly during our tests on an open testbed, yet its temperature remained not very high. According to RivaTuner’s monitoring module, the graphics core was 56.7°C hot after running 3DMark06 for a few times. The temperature may be higher or lower in a closed system case depending on how well it is ventilated.

The Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 seems a very good solution to us, with only one drawback. The PowerColor X1950 Pro SCS3 with this cooler won’t fit into small multimedia system cases. If you want to use this card in your home entertainment center, make sure you’ve got a “horizontal” system case with a height of no less than 170 millimeters.

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