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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

I'm kinda interested in getting my vidcard upgraded, and I'd like to continue using a fanless card. Hopefully, with the following details, some of you might be able to help me out with some suggestions?


I use my PC primarily for two-channel audio --> M-Audio Audiophile out to a reasonably beefy 2-channel rig, so PC silencing is important. Currently, the Vidcard is a GF2MX, which is fanless but has a big honking heatsink. Last vidcard was a Voodoo3 3000, which was also fanless.


BUT: I also like to play games every once in a while, and the GF2-MX is kinda running out of steam, so I'm thinking that it may be time to upgrade. I've seen references here to Radeon 7500s running with a passive Zalman -- is this option usable for Radeon 8500s as well?


What about the nVidia side? (which I'd much rather stick with for ... other driver reasons, etc.) Are the Zalman passives (or are there other better models) suitable for say, the Ti4600? How low down the performance ladder do I have to go on the ATI and the nVidia side to be able to go with passive?


Lastly: I'm hoping (fairly strongly, actually) to find a card that has dual analog monitor outs, as I plan to be driving a pair of 21" IBM Trinitrons. I know that the nVidias have nView, and the ATIs have Hydravision -- are there high-3D-performance cards that will run passive and still have dual outs?


Thanks for any advice or info!


P.S. -- I don't do DVD seriously at all, since my system is 2-channel audio only, so 2D quality doesn't matter too much to me -- I find the nVidias reasonable, even if the ATIs are better. 3D performance for some of the newer games would be a fairly major concern, however, probably coming in only second to the need for dual analog outputs to drive the pair of monitors.
 

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I don't believe the Zalman passive models could handle an 8500 or a 4600. If you aren't very familiar, an understanding of the graphics card community kind of makes everything clear.


It is quite expensive to develop a new graphics card. So what each company does is focus on making a very good one every 6 months or a year, then releases it 4 or 5 times. The 7500 and 8500 line are quite similar in hardware with the big difference being the clock speed (and therefore the heat!) of the processor onboard and the memory.


The Geforce 4 line is similar. On the lower-end, they remove some of then newer features and use cheaper SDR RAM. Then they simply clock the GPU and memory ate a rate fit for its price, and sell it. Instant profit maximization across the market.


So basically, if you want one that operates cool, you're usually going to be stuck going after something that isn't high-end. Do you have any fans in your system? You might get by simply buying the Zalman low-noise fans.
 

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I own the Radeon 7500 and I disconnected that little fan!


I honestly feel it was put there simply to impress me as it couldn't possible be cooling the chip significantly... (ooo - this bad boy needs a FAN - jeez it must be a screamer!! argh argh argh!!!) Seriously, the fan's radius is barely larger than the size of a quarter! :)


I have been running this way 24-7 for weeks now, with *no* problems whatsoever. I can physically touch the heatsink onto which the fan is mounted, and it feels fine. I realize that in the *long* run, the overall life of the chip *may* be reduced, but I'm willing to bet that the "next best card" comes out WAY before this one dies (e.g. Matrox Parhelia). Even if running the chip warm reduces it's life by 50% (and that life must be several years, as my pile of outdated yet pefectly functional hardware can atest), I can deal with that. I don't think I'll need my Radeon 7500 in 2006.


My machine does have an intake fan, which cools the inside of the box substantially (I've monitored the temp with and without). The difference is great enough such that perhaps it more than compensates for disconnecting the Radeon fan.


After re-reading your post, get an nVidia card. For me, the only reason to own a Radeon is for DVD - but some others may prefer their dual display feature over GeForce MX (?).


-Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yeah, I know that in general, "the fastest" will always require cooling until the companies get a die shrink (i.e. the GeForce 1 ran really hot -- my roommates' actually killed itself via overheating), while with the die shrink, my GeForce 2 MX has exactly the same performance but is cool enough to be fanless.


The question remains, however: how far up the ATI and nVidia performance trees can I climb, and still go fanless with dual monitor outs? Any cards that come stock without fans that actually support DirectX 8 in hardware?


From what I can tell so far on this count, the answer is the various GeForce 440 MX series cards that have somewhat improved performance from my GeForce 2 MX, but don't support DirectX 8, but *do* have that all-important dual-monitor support.


The second part of the question was about aftermarket solutions (excluding water cooling) that can convert cards that come stock, with fans, to not require a fan.


In this regard, from what I understand from comments so far, this is possible with the Radeon 7500 (and even unplugging the stock fan may be OK), but probably unwise on the 8500. Does anyone know if, for example, the GeForce 4 Ti4200 may be converted to fanlessness with a Zalman heatsink?


It seems that the 4200's fan is very small and low-output anyway, so perhaps a large heatsink might be able to replace it? Experiences on this front would be greatly appreciated, especially since the 4200 can do DirectX 8 features in hardware, albeit slowly.


Any other thoughts or comments?



Thanks again.



P.S. -- I've not had a chance to try the Zalman style fan coolers that are hinged on the expansion port screws (i.e. similar to those used for their flower CPU coolers). If I ditch the fan on whatever AGP graphics card I get, and then cool the card surface with a low RPM 92 mm fan like the new PC Power and Cooling, or possibly a giant Pabst, or somesuch, do you guys think I might even get away with an otherwise passively cooled Ti4600? How silent do these bigger fans get, anyway? Can I expect say, pretty much no noise if the case is closed, even with an otherwise completely quiet room & system?
 
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