Last month we had high praise for Zalman’s super-quiet VF700-CU LED VGA cooler, but this month we zero in on Arctic Cooling’s extremely popular Silencer series of VGA coolers. Though only the ATI Silencer 5 is pictured, we also reviewed the NV Silencer 2 Rev. 3 for nVidia cards. Both cards live up to their name by being sinfully quiet, but the massive cooling apparatus gave us a serious hardware hangover.
Both coolers have the same construction: essentially a massive copper heatsink that bolts directly to the GPU core. Cool air is sucked from inside the case and blown by the 2100rpm fan over the heatsink and out of the case. As you can see from the image, the cooler is massive, and takes up quite a bit of space.
While we didn’t care that it blocked the two slots (useless PCI-E x1 slots) below the top PCI Express slot on our A8N mobo, the cooler makes it impossible to reach the release tab that most graphics-card slots sport. It also makes unplugging the six-pin PCI E power plug very difficult, as it’s located beneath the shroud. As if that weren’t bad enough, one of the mounting screws protrudes from the top of the unit, which prevented us from using one of our DDR RAM slots. It’s a very poor design, to put it mildly.
Installation was simple. Just remove the stock cooling apparatus, drop the Silencer onto the card, and secure it to the back of the board with four easily installed screws.
Once up and running, the ATI Silencer offered exceptional cooling compared with the stock cooler, while the nVidia version offered about the same cooling performance as the stock unit, but without all the noise. Our 6800 Ultra test card was irritatingly loud with the stock cooler, so the addition of the Silencer was a blessing.
Though these coolers are indeed “silent,” their plus-size girth causes way too many clearance issues.
Month Reviewed: January 2006