SilenX IXG-80HA2 Review

RA1D - 2008-12-11 13:48:25 in VGA Cooling
Category: VGA Cooling
Reviewed by: RA1D   
Reviewed on: January 15, 2009
Price: $59.95 (Add $24.95 for fan kit)

Introduction:

Since 1995, SilenX Corporation has provided high performance, low noise products for those who find the sound coming from their computers unacceptable. It started as a hobby for a group of engineering students in search of quiet computing and eventually turned into an obsession. SilenX products found their way into recording studios and sound labs throughout the world, but soon the demand from the PC market grew strong enough that the company decided to expand its product line. Orignally a high end systems integrator for silent computers, SilenX shifted its focus to manufacturing PC components in 2002 and established factories in the US, China, and Taiwan.      

Today I'll be testing out the IXG-80HA2 GPU cooler along with the optional fan kit designed specifically for it. SilenX claims the IXG-80HA2 to be "the biggest, most powerful graphics card cooler on the market". To put that claim to the test, I'll install the cooler onto an HD4850 video card and throw it on the test bench to find out how it performs both passively and with fans installed. Read on to find out if this product can live up to the hype.     

Closer Look:

The IXG-80HA2 comes in a sleek cardboard box sporting a red and black theme. You can see the heatsink through the clear plastic window on the front of the packaging. With no fans, the cooler is a noiseless cooling option and meets its 0 dBA claims. Turn over the the box and you'll find a smaller window that displays the heatpipes of the cooler.  Also, you'll find a list of compatible video cards here.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Silent Fan Kit comes in a plastic enclosure that is transparent so that you can see everything included. The packaging lists the fan specifications and compatibility.

 

 

The cooler comes with a small bundle that includes installation instructions, various heatsinks, mounting screws, washers, and thermal paste. I found the instructions easy to follow with clear diagrams. Keep in mind that you will not use everything included in the bundle as some parts are made for specific video cards.

 

Here you see the aluminum heatsinks included in the bundle. The two larger heatsinks are designed for use with Nvidia reference design video cards, specifically the GTX 8800, GTX 9800, and GTX 260/280. The 14 smaller heatsinks are used to cool memory chips found on the card. 

 

The bundle also includes different bolts and washers in order to remain compatible with several different video cards. You have an assortment of thermal pads and o-rings to aid you with the installation process.

 

 

Closer Look:

In the world of cooling, bigger is better. And without a doubt, the IXG-80HA2 is a large cooler. There are no less than 26 aluminum fins that stretch across the entire length of the cooler, with five copper heatpipes distributing the high temps to the fins. The heatsink measures 228 mm long and 113 mm wide. In total, the fin surface area covers 2800 cm. But given its massive size, the IXG-80HA2 is relatively lightweight and only weighs 365 g.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The heatsink is only 33mm tall and takes up two slots once installed on a videocard. If you decide to use the fans for better performance, three slots will be occupied.

 

 

A look at the heatsink's base reveals the use of a Heatpipe Direct Touch (HDT) design. With some of the best CPU coolers sporting HDT technology, it should come as no surprise that it makes its way into GPU coolers. The five copper heatpipes are flattened and make up the base of the heatsink. They make direct contact with the GPU and carry the high temps to the aluminum fins.  

 

Installation:

I installed the IXG-80HA2 onto a Sapphire HD 4850 video card using the included thermal paste. With experience, replacing the factory cooling solution with an aftermarket product is a relatively uneventful process. As with most tasks, the first time can be a little frightening but don't fret. The installation guide is well written and shepherds you through the process step by step. 

After powering down my computer, I removed the video card from the motherboard. This consisted of removing the back panel screw and detaching the six pin power supply connection. I placed the card on a clean, flat desk and gave it a quick inspection to locate the mounting screws and fan connection. In this case, I removed the four screws that secured the reference design heatsink to the PCB and disconnected the two pin fan cable. You can see the 4850 graphics processor is relatively small and is surrounded by eight black memory chips. I suggest cleaning off the old thermal paste with ArctiClean before adding a new coat and installing the IXG-80HA2. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on to the next step, I mounted the included RAM heatsinks. I was only able to use four heatsinks as the rest of the memory chips are underneath the main heatsink and come in contact with the copper heatpipes. I placed thermal pads on these chips. I would suggest doing a couple of test mounts to make sure you are using the right amount of memory heatsinks.    

 

 

After spreading thermal paste over the graphics chip, I lined up the holes on the cooler with the ones on the video card. Using the included O-rings, bolts, and screws, I installed the GPU heatsink with no problems. Only after installing the card into the system did I find an issue. Once you've connected the 6-pin PCI-e power connector to the card, it is difficult to remove it due to the cooler's length. I had to use a screwdriver to squeeze the release tab on the power connector but it's not a deal killer in any sense, just an inconvenience. 

 

 

Even with its massive size, the videocard and SilenX cooler combo remains a dual slot solution. The IXG-80HA2 is actually a couple of inches longer than the 4850 and gives the card an intimidating look.

 

 

 

Specifications:

 
Dimensions

228.4 x 113.2 x 33.2 mm

 

Rated dBA

0 (8-18 with fan kit)

 

Base Material

Copper heatpipes, aluminum plates

 

Fin Material

Aluminum fins

 

Fin Surface Area

2800 cm2

 

Weight

365g

 

 
Fan

75.4 mm x 3 fans

 

 
Fan Speed

1000 - 2500 RPM

 

 
Air Flow

10 - 96 CFM 

 

Bearing:

Fluid Dynamic Bearing

 

Compatibility:
ATI

Radeon HD 4870, 4850, 3870, 3850, 3690, 3650, 2600, 2400, X1900, X1800, X1600, X1550

 

nVIDIA

GeForce GTX 280, GTX 260, 9800 GTX, 9600 GT, 8800 GTX, 8600 GT, 8500 GT, 7800,   7600, 7300, 6800, 6600, 6500

 

 

Testing:

Now, the fun really starts. In order to stress the GPU, I fired up four instances of the Real Time High Dynamic Range Image Based Lighting (rthdribl) demo and monitored the temps with ATI's Catalyst Control Center. I recorded all temps after 15 minutes in a climate controlled environment with an ambient temperature of 22.2 degrees Celsius. For the stock cooler tests, I manually set the fan speeds to 25% (low) and 100% (high). I also used the ATI Overdrive utility to overclock the video card and recorded those results as well.   

 

Testing Setup:

 

Overclocked Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

There are a couple of valuable observations to make from the results. The most important is the dramatic cooling performance the IXG-80HA2 has when combined with the fan kit. If you compare the stock cooler at 100% with the IXG-80HA2 with fans installed, you will find approximately 20% cooler temps in an idle state and around 30% better under load.  Impressive!

Almost as dramatic is the cooler's ability to remain effective without fans and operating in silence. Yes, the IXG-HA2 with no fans performed on par with the stock cooler at 25%. As a word of warning, the copper heatpipes on the heatsink get very hot when used passively. 

 

Conclusion:

SilenX comes through with a great looking product that provides quiet computing and impressive cooling performance. The IXG-80HA2 GPU cooler gives you that flexibility by replacing the stock cooling solution with a passive heatsink, and having to option to add the fan kit for lower temps. Either way, this cooler gives you a better choice over stock and is compatible with the latest video cards from both Nvidia and ATI. 

Though the IXG-80HA2 is found on the manufacturer's website, it has not found its way on to the market yet. SilenX reports the retail price at $59.95 for the heatsink and $24.95 for the optional fan kit. That makes this the most expensive air cooling solution on the market. Many consumers may be turned off by this fact, as competitive VGA coolers can be found for much less. Also, the length of the cooler might make the removal of the PCIe power connector difficult for some.

Fantastic thermal performance along with silent operation makes it easy to endorse this cooler. SilenX has a winning design on their hands, one that supports a wide range of video cards and looks just as good as it performs. If you are in the market for an aftermaket video card cooling solution and willing to spend a few extra dollars, the SilenX IXG-80HA2 definitely should be high on your list.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: