Thermaltake’s Schooner is a fanless VGA cooler that sends heat from your videocard’s GPU into two huge heatsinks via heat pipes. The heat is then sent to the outside of the case by way of another pair of heat pipes that are attached to a small array of fins, which poke out the back of your PC. It’s a clever concept, and it works, though we’d never use it on our own videocards, and neither should you.
The reason is simple: Without fans blowing over the Schooner’s heatsinks, they become the source of a tremendous amount of heat build-up—warming both the videocard and the case to almost nuclear levels.
As the benchmark numbers show, our X800 XT test card was so hot under load we needed oven mitts to remove it from the case after testing. Our test videocard’s temps ranged from 75 C to around 85 C, or 185 F! (For the sake of comparison, consider that Intel CPUs usually throttle down at about 74 C in an attempt to save the CPU from an impending meltdown.)
Running a videocard at such temperatures for prolonged periods of time is like running your car at near-redline for a few hours, and will certainly shorten the lifespan of the card.
What’s more, the Schooner is time-consuming to install. Though the installation was relatively straightforward, it took approximately an hour and a half and was grueling given the complexity of the apparatus. We also had trouble fitting the Schooner in several PCs in the Lab, as it either touched the north bridge cooler or the external fins were too tall to fit through an empty PCI slot cover.
Obviously, we’re not impressed. Although it’s possible the Schooner could work just fine with four- and eight-pipe cards, users with beefed-up GPUs should stay far, far away from this product!
Best scores are bolded. The Schooner was tested on an ATI Radeon X800 XT. Idle temps were measured after 30 minutes of inactivity. Full load was achieved by looping 3DMark05 for one hour. Temps were measured using the card’s onboard sensor.