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Asus GeForce GTX 780 DirectCU II OC 3GB Review

The GTX 780’s all-new Cool Tech cooler contains two separate fans to move air into and across the heatsink.

The GTX 780 overclocking champ

Last month, we took a look at EVGA’s GTX 780, which sported a new, fancy-britches “ACX” cooler. This month, it’s Asus’s turn with its own redesigned and totally non-reference GTX 780. At first glance, this GPU’s most notable attribute is its redesigned cooler, which despite many changes still bears the DirectCU II moniker we’ve seen on previous models. The new design uses five direct contact (DC) copper heat pipes, one of which is a plump 10mm, along with a primary “hybrid” fan that has two sets of fan blades to blow air in two directions at once. The cooler takes up two PCIe slots, and has an aluminum backplate wrapped around it to help support the cooler and dissipate heat across the top of the card. Our favorite feature of this cooler is that it can be detached from the card with just four screws, making it easy to clean before company comes over.

Note: This review was originally featured in the November 2013 issue of the magazine.

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Thermaltake NiC C5 Review

Despite its front fan having a depth of 25mm, the C5 won’t get in the way of RAM slots.

Give a little, take a little

We don’t know how it started, but heat spreaders on today’s RAM sticks have gotten kinda out of control. So, gearheads these days have to get pretty creative (or potentially destructive) to fit most large aftermarket CPU coolers on the motherboard. Thermaltake had the bright idea to just make a more compact cooler, with not one but two 120mm fans on it. NiC stands for “Non-Interference Cooling,” and its C5 model sits at the top of the vendor’s lineup. With five heat pipes and 230 watts of heat dissipation, it’s ready for serious cooling, and it won’t get in the way of your RAM slots.

Note: This review was originally featured in the October 2013 issue of the magazine.

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MSI GeForce GTX N770 Lightning Review

The Lightning is the highest-clocked GTX 770 available.

A bit too extreme, as it turns out

Last month, we reviewed two GeForce GTX 770 cards from Asus and Gigabyte that cost just $10 more than the reference design, but were well-cooled and only slightly overclocked. That’s too boring for MSI, which decided to take its flagship GeForce GTX N770 Lightning to an extreme not previously seen.

Note: This review was originally featured in the October 2013 issue of the magazine.

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Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Review

Close, but no silver bullet

The Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E doesn’t lack for heat pipes: Eight of them rise from the heat exchanger up into the two sets of cooling fins. The entire thing, from aluminum fins to copper pipes and heat exchanger, is plated in a shiny nickel coat. The two sets of cooling fins are shiny and jagged, and much more stylized than the Noctua DH-14 (reviewed April 2012) or the Phanteks PH-TC14PE (reviewed June 2012), its most obvious competitors of the coolers we’ve tested. The whole assemblage weighs two pounds, 7.6 ounces with both fans. Those fans—a 15cm TY-150 and 14cm TY-141—are both low-RPM 12V fans with 4-pin PWM connectors.

There’s something incongruous about mustard-and-olive fans with those edgy nickel-plated cooling fins.