If you'll recall the large heatsink on the front of the board, you'll also note that there is a matching one on the backside of the board as well. The Sapphire "Ultimate Edition" model uses a Zalman Heatpipe cooling method. The way it works is pretty simple; there is a hollow copper rod that goes from the front of the board around to the back. This curved piece of tubing is filled with a mesh material and a liquid that helps to transfer the heat to the entire length of the Heatpipe. That is where the front and back heatsinks come into play. They are there to dissipate the heat that is being transferred through the Heatpipe.
As you look down from the top of the board, you can see the square aluminum block that sits directly atop the VPU. This is where the cooling begins. The block has a groove along its length where the Heatpipe fits snugly in place. From there, nature takes it course and the heat is transferred via the pipe and then dissipated by means of the large heatsinks.
And to answer your immediate question, yes...it really does work. Not only does the Heatpipe technology work, it has been able to keep the VPU/GPU cooler than when using a standard stock active cooler. But we may be getting close to the limits of its effectiveness as the internal case temperatures went up by one degree during my testing of this board. Certainly this is nothing to worry about, but it could be indicative of a final limit to the effectiveness of Heatpipe technology.
A nice addition to the Zalman cooler is the addition of the top mounted brackets shown above. This is a new development and helps make the entire cooling system more stable. The smaller tolerance for movement will help ensure that the thermal interface material used on the VPU doesn't lose its effectiveness.
Another nice addition is the spacer used on the back of the board. With the higher levels of heat, you stand the chance of that heat making its way through the PCB and possibly having an adverse effect on the components in the surrounding area. This spacer used, to me, is nothing more than some rubber grommets and a small piece of aluminum. This new version appears to be made of a ceramic material, so the heat won't be so readily transferred from the heatsink right back onto the board itself. While a simple addition, it looks to be very effective since there was not an excessive amount of heat in the spacer after a hard run through our tests.
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- Sapphire 9800 Pro - Page 1 [Introduction]
- Sapphire 9800 Pro - Page 2 [Specifications]
- Sapphire 9800 Pro - Page 3 [What You Get]
- Sapphire 9800 Pro - Page 4 [The Board]
- Sapphire 9800 Pro - Page 5 [Silent Cooling]
- Sapphire 9800 Pro - Page 6 [Benchmarks - Testing Information]
- Sapphire 9800 Pro - Page 7 [Benchmarks - 3DMark2001]
- Sapphire 9800 Pro - Page 8 [Benchmarks - 3DMark03]
- Sapphire 9800 Pro - Page 9 [Benchmarks - Quake III Arena]
- Sapphire 9800 Pro - Page 10 [Benchmarks - Code Creatures]
- Sapphire 9800 Pro - Page 11 [Benchmarks - Anti-Aliasing]
- Sapphire 9800 Pro - Page 12 [Overclocking and Conclusion]