iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






HD 4850 / 4870 / Golden Sample and Bliss 9600 GSO Golden Sample

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Now let's take a look at cooling systems. We'll skip the reference 4870 card, as we have already examined it in the baseline review.

Gainward HD 4850 Golden Sample 512MB
Gainward HD 4850 512MB

Cooling only the GPU, this device consists of a massive heatsink reinforced with heatpipes and a large low-speed and low-noise fan. The cooler as well as the card itself is covered with a decorative plastic housing.

Gainward Bliss 9600 GSO Golden Sample 768MB

This cooling system is similar. Just the decorative housing is different and memory chips are cooled by a plate on PCB front and a big heatsink on PCB back.

Gainward HD 4870 Golden Sample 512MB

This cooling system is also similar. But the heatsink is nickel-plated and two fans are built into the cover -- not directly connected to the heatsink. It's a GPU-only cooler.

The fans are slow and there is no noise.

All these cooling systems have one drawback: some hot air stays inside the PC enclosure. In case of cards as hot as 4870, this has a negative effect.

We monitored temperatures using RivaTuner (by A.Nikolaychuk AKA Unwinder). Results are below.

Gainward Bliss 9600 GSO Golden Sample 768MB

Gainward HD 4870 Golden Sample 512MB

Gainward HD 4850 512MB

Gainward HD 4850 Golden Sample 512MB

9600 GSO has an excellent cooling system that keeps the core at just 57°C. Today's hottest card, 4870 GS, also has a surprisingly excellent cooler that keeps core temperature below 70°C after several hours of operation under load. At that, fans make very little noise, never rotating at increased speeds.

The 4850 GS cooler has only one fan that fails to do the job just as efficiently. The core temperature is above 75°C. But don't worry, it's still acceptable. This can be easily explained: for a 4850 product, this card operates at very high frequencies, close to those of 4870. The same cooler on a regular 4850 card significantly decreases operating temperature.

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