Noise, Temperature, Overclockability
We measured the level of noise produced by the Sparkle card, which has a larger fan than in the reference cooler of the GeForce 8800 GT, with a digital sound-level meter Velleman DVM1326 using A-curve weighing. The level of ambient noise in our lab was 36dBA and the level of noise at a distance of 1 meter from the working testbed with a passively cooled graphics card inside was 43dBA.
The new version of the reference cooler is indeed quieter and feels virtually silent to the eye. The cooling performance hasn’t worsened. On the contrary, the GPU temperature is 85-88°C under load. This is not low, but the temperature would easily be higher than 90°C with the older cooler, especially if the system case was not ventilated properly. The new, improved, cooler is installed on all new batches of GeForce 8800 GT – you can tell it by the diameter of the fan and the hole in the casing.
The card did well at overclocking. We managed to increase the GPU frequency to 700MHz, and the shader domain frequency rose up to 1750MHz. The memory chips were stable at 1000 (2000) MHz. This frequency gain implies a serious performance increase, so we will test the card at the overclocked frequencies, too. Besides everything else, this will help us better see how the memory amount limits the performance of the GeForce 8800 GT 256MB.
The card proved to be free from compatibility problems. It worked normally with all PCI Express 1.0a mainboards we tried it on.