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Report: graphics cards and thermal characteristics
by Damien Triolet
Published on April 20, 2010



In our many graphics cards tests, we regularly examine noise pollution and energy consumption of the different models tested but neglect an important element linked to this: temperature. Or more generally the thermal aspect of the cards. We decided to remedy this omission by carrying out a complete analysis of the cooling systems of a panel of well-known graphics cards. This also gives us the opportunity to introduce a new test protocol to cover this.


Silence or high temperatures
The Radeon HD 4850 illustrates very well the whole problematic of cooling systems for GPUs. The biggest criticism of this card is its temperature, even when at idle, AMD having calibrated its cooling system to prioritise quietness. The cooling system only kicks in at very high temperatures. The card is therefore quiet but gets very hot. These 2 elements are obviously linked and talking about one without the other makes no sense.


The Radeon HD 4850 then, shows up the compromises made between quietness and temperature.

It allows us to judge the effectiveness of different cooling systems on an objective basis. The choice of cooling system for a graphics card can moreover have an influence on other parts of the system as some models extract hot air from the PC and others actually direct a flow of hot air towards the processor and in fact heat it up or simply cause its fan to produce more noise pollution.

If this data allows us to better advise you between graphics cards that are similar other than the way they behave thermically, it will also provide useful information to advanced users who want to optimise their cooling systems to improve overclocking or the silence of their systems.


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Test protocol  




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