The cooling system is the same as the reference cooler of GeForce GTX 280/260 cards.
It consists of a copper base, five copper heat pipes (6mm in diameter), thin-ribbed aluminum heatsink, aluminum frame and a blower that creates airflow through the ribbing. An aluminum cap contacts with the memory chips on the reverse side of the PCB via soaked thermal pads. The GPU’s heat-spreader contacts with the cooler’s copper base via a thick layer of gray thermal grease.
If the cooling system has remained unchanged, how can Leadtek claim that it is exceptionally quiet on its new card? Well, let’s check out the card’s temperature at the frequencies which correspond to the clock rates of the reference GeForce GTX 260:
Take note that the cooler’s fan did not accelerate to its maximum 3300rpm but was working at a rather quiet 1700rpm. The temperatures of the GPU, power elements and PCB were not higher than 76°C, 79°C and 63°C, respectively, which was quite low for a graphics card of this class.
I then decided to compare the temperature and the fan speed of the Leadtek card with an ordinary GeForce GTX 260 (192 stream processors) from BFG and was surprised to find that the latter was as hot as 84°C, 66°C and 58°C, respectively, under the same conditions and with the same thermal interface (Gelid GC1).
That is, the GPU of the BFG card was 8°C hotter while the power circuit and the PCB at large were 13°C and 5°C cooler. It is easy to explain the difference in the latter two parameters. The BFG card’s cooler worked at 3200rpm in automatic mode, which was far noisier than the Leadtek’s 1700rpm. But why was the GPU of the older GeForce GTX 260 hotter than the GPU of the newer one?
I found the answer when I analyzed the BIOSes of the cards. The BFG card proved to have a core voltage of 1.12V under load whereas the Leadtek had a core voltage of only 1.06V. This seemingly insignificant difference affected the results. I want to also note that at the same frequencies the peak current is not higher than 53A on the Leadtek card but as high as 62A on the BFG card. I am not absolutely sure, but considering the above-mentioned facts and the new marking of the chip, it is possible that the new card’s GPU is manufactured on 55nm tech process. I will return to this topic again when I will be measuring power consumption of the cards.
And now you can see how effectively cooled the Leadtek WinFast GeForce GTX 260 Extreme+ is at the maximum speed of the cooler’s fan.
As you can see, the graphics card is very cool, especially for its class, at the full speed of the fan. The level of noise is high, though. You may want to run the card in the automatic fan management mode instead as its temperature is rather low then.
Considering the high efficiency of the reference cooler and the low level of noise, I checked the card’s overclockability without installing an alternative cooler. Notwithstanding the pre-overclocked frequencies, the card managed to speed up to 663/1404/2448MHz. It was stable at these frequencies and showed no visual artifacts.
That’s not a record-breaking result, but the graphics card’s temperature proved to be rather low in the overclocked mode:
The fan speed of the reference cooler is set manually at 2160rpm. It is the upper limit of the comfortable noise range.
The recommended price of the Leadtek WinFast GeForce GTX 260 Extreme+ is rather high at $390. You can download the card’s BIOS here (a 41.3KB WinRAR).