Review: Silent and yet up to 27 degrees cooler
BFG, a renowned graphics card maker, was kind enough to send us a small package, and we were pleasantly surprised to see an 8800 GT OCX graphics card that was first showcased yesterday. Besides its special cooling that makes it one of the most silent cards based on G92 graphics core, this card has nothing special. Its overclocked G92 core runs at 700MHz, which is 100MHz faster than reference, whereas the memory also got a boost of 100MHz over reference 900MHz, and now runs at 1000MHz. This fast and silent card really struck our chord, and we’re sure it’ll do the same for you, so stay with us and see what BFG 8800 GT OCX with ThermoIntelligence Custom Cooling Solution can do.
BFG’s cooler somewhat resembles Zalman’s VGA cooler models, but those with more knowledge under their belts will recognize a not-so-famous but more and more used ZEROtherm VGA cooler. If you remember, the first time we saw ZEROtherm VGA cooler was on PowerColor’s 3850 card. We weren’t impressed then, since it didn’t feature automatic fan speed regulation and the cooler ran at the same RPM, which wasn’t very kind on the ears. ThermoIntelligence, as BFG likes to call it, implemented automatic RPM regulation, depending on the temperature on the core. BFG claims the ThermoIntelligence cooler will cool 8800GT up to 30 degrees Celsius less than reference card’s temperatures, whereas 9600GT will run up to 18°C cooler than reference.
We immediately tested these claims, and we got similar results to those that BFG claims. Our card, although overclocked by 100MHz, ran 27°C cooler than reference card. These aren’t dangerous temperatures, but your card will most definitely last longer with better cooling. BFG offers a lifetime warranty in USA, whereas in Europe the same warranty is 10 years; but after all, who needs more than that? Temperatures on the card overclocked to 760MHz were only 2°C higher.
We can’t quite prove that 9600 GT OCX card’s temperatures are up to 18°C cooler, but now we think it’s safe to say that BFG is being honest.
At this year’s CeBIT, we had a chance to meet with ZEROtherm, who showcased their new versions of VGA coolers, called GX810/815/820. It’s tough to say which one it is just by looking at it, but we think that BFG opted for GX815 Gamer edition cooler that features 120 copper fins and a fan speed of 1200~3000 rpm. To make it more stylish, the cooler is coated with chrome nickel coating. Unlike previous models with 2-pin fan connectors and no AUTO RPM regulation, the new ZEROtherm cooler features a 4-pin connector. We tried to spot the differences among this BFG cooler and the ones used on PowerColor cards by looking at the number engraved on the coolers’ plastic components, but that didn’t go well, since both have the same number - CZ06-04050A. It might be best if you take a look at these two coolers for yourself, and make up your own mind as to whether they look alike.
The fan’s pin-head connectors reveal visible differences; we see that BFG (on the left) features a 4-pin connector for automatic fan speed regulation, whereas the other ZEROtherm cooler (on the right) features a 2-pin connector and no RPM regulation. If you flip the coolers, you’ll see that BFG’s cooler base is larger, mostly due to the larger surface of the G92 core (65mm) compared to Radeon RV670’s (55nm).
While running, the card will glow with a pleasant greenish light, courtesy of the LED lamp on the cooler.
After the talk about the ThermoIntelligence cooler, let us review the rest of the hardware that makes 8800 GT OCX graphics card what it is. The PCB is reference design, except for BFG’s decision to use Samsung’s K4J52324QE-BJ1A memory, running at 1000MHz (2000MHz effectively).
This is a DirectX 10 card with 512MB of GDDR3 memory and PCI Express 2 interface, so it’ll handle current as well as future games. Dual link DVI’s support up to 2560x1600, with HDCP of course, and there’s also a TV out. Memory interface is 256-bit, and the G92 core comes with 112 stream processors, 16 ROP’s and 56 texture units. You can use it in SLI mode with another 8800 GT card, thus enhancing your gaming experience. BFG 8800 GT OCX is a dual-slot card and most users won’t mind, because in return BFG offers great compensation – silence!
The following picture shows three integral parts of the card: the PCB, cooler and memory heatsink.
BFG’s 8800 GT OCX card came in a box that made us scratch our heads quite a couple of times. This box is so small that we couldn’t help but wonder whether BFG made the PCB shorter. Their packaging is so visually small, that we didn’t expect it to hold a card that’s the same length as reference cards of the same type. In fact, this is probably the smallest box for any card based on the G92 graphics chip.