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Arctic Cooling NV Silencer 5 Rev. 3

Date: November 12, 2005
Author(s): Rob Williams

Arctic Cooling has just updated their popular NV Silencer to support the 7800GT, and that’s exactly how we are going to test it! The cooler still uses the proven design of blowing hot air out the back, and looks great while doing it. Is it better than stock though, and possibly water cooling?



Introduction

Arctic Cooling is not new to cooling graphics cards. Taking a quick look at their site, we can see that they still sell coolers for the legendary GeForce 4 TI and even the Radeon 9500. Over the years, they have done very little to change the design of the Silencer, because they found the sweet spot and are sticking to it.

Taking a look at an image of the cooler will give you a clear view of how it works. This is not an innocent looking cooler, it looks like a beast. The Silencer is comprised of four main parts which are thrown together to quickly get heat off of the GPU and outside of your tower.

To make it clear though, this is not only compatible with a 7800GT or GTX, but an array of other cards as well:

Here are some more specifications that you should know:

Looking at the bottom, we can see the base is made of pure copper. This is obviously a smart move, because it’s been proven time and time again that Copper is an awesome material to dissipate heat away from the contact quickly. Lined around the edge of the heatsink are 8 square pieces of thermal adhesive that make perfect contact with the memory chips on your card when the cooler is installed. These pieces can come off very easily if you need to move them around, but they are not so loose that they will fall off.

On top of the copper base is a collection of aluminum fins, which will help even further in distributing the heat around for quicker release. Of course, the entire unit is enclosed in a huge plastic chassis, which is there to keep the heat going in one direction, rather than all over the inside of your tower. At the rear is a very unique fan that’s used to push the airflow towards the back of your case, so that the heat will leave your computer case very quickly.



Installation

Because of our recent Titan Robela review we had, my 7800GT was still hooked up to water cooling. Since this particular water cooling didn’t do anything amazing for the GPU, I had no problems with wanting to remove the blocks and get the Silencer installed. First thing to obviously do though, is remove your card from the computer and thoroughly clean the thermal paste from the core, and memory chips if there is any there.

Since the Silencer already has thermal paste applied to all the necessary areas, it was unnecessary to apply any AS5, and this is one thing that makes installation very easy. Personally, I clean off my core with a Q-Tip and rubbing alcohol and then use the dry end to finish it off. This will leave the core nice and clean and reflective like a mirror.

There is not one single complaint I have about the installation process… it could not have been made any easier. First, you have to take the mounting bracket and attach it to the back of the card. Since the correct holes are clearly evident, this was no problem at all. After removing the tape and plastic off the thermal paste on the cooler, the cooler was attached to the card perfectly.

As soon as the cooler was in place, all that there was to do was to screw it into place, and voila! Because the 7800GT does not have memory chips on the back of the card, it was unnecessary to use that bracket. If you have a 7800GTX however, it’s recommended that you do for better heat dissipation. Now that we have everything good to go, we can throw it back into the computer and give it a good testing.

Performance

To effectively push the cards heat to the limit, I ran it through a collection of good tests. Firstly, the card was slightly overclocked to 470/1.12 since that’s how I use it on a day to day basis. It’s a wimpy overclock, but I believe this 400W PSU installed may be holding it back.

The first program ran was 3D Mark 2005, which had all three included game tests looped 3 times. When that finished, I opened up RTHDRIBL and let it run in full screen for 10 minutes. Finally, I played through Half-Life 2: Lost Coast at 1280*1024, Highest Detail, 4x AA and full HDR. Those three tests are more than enough to push the card, so I stopped it there. The temperature results were acquired using RivaTuner, since it does a superb job.



Final Thoughts

I could be naive, but I was actually quite impressed with the results. We see that at absolute load, the NV5 Silencer keeps right up to the Titan Robela water cooling set up. Granted, the Titan Robela is more of a beginners water cooling rig, but to keep up with water cooling at all is very impressive.

Before I had installed the Silencer, I ran Coolbits to detect my maximum recommended overclock. It had found that 470/1.10 was the max, so that’s what I have been using for the last while. Even at that overclock though, games were not always completely stable, but that may once again turn to my 400W PSU, alongside with a very overclocked CPU.

Once the Silencer was installed, I ran Coolbits again, and this time it detected 472/1.12, a bit better. At this overclock, I played through a few games for a while, including Counter-Strike: Source. I was very pleased to see that I didn’t stutter at all, and the game never ran smoother. It appears that the Silencer does a better job of handling an overclocked card, compared to the Robela water kit.

Conclusions

Admittedly, this is the first NV Silencer I have ever installed and used. I did have high expectations though, because I’ve been reading on them for awhile, and it’s not exactly rare to see them being mentioned in forums when it comes to GPU cooling. The first thing that really impressed me about the Silencer is how well built it is. It’s a very solid product, even if it is half plastic. Even with the plastic, this does not feel flimsy or cheap in the least.

Even though the Silencer does not include any LED’s or some far out design, it is easily one of the best looking coolers on the market. It has a great style and design, and makes the graphics card look like a monster once it’s installed. Another thing is the ultra quiet fan, which is apparently due to the strange but useful design. Installing the Silencer actually added another fan to my rig, because I was using water prior. I cannot tell that another fan was added to the system… it’s just as loud as before. So, it cools as well as the Titan water cooling, and is just as quiet.

I think my favorite feature of the Silencer though, would have to be the fact that it shoots all the heat out the back of your tower. This will not only help the graphics card, but the entire computer. Instead of having a cooler that shoots off heat inside your computer, it will get rid of it immediately, and that should in turn keep the inside of your computer cooler overall.

After evaluating this product and having used other cooling on this card, I am not the least bit hesitant to give the NV5 Silencer a perfect score; 10/10 and our Editors Choice award. The Silencer has it all, easy installation, great looks, wicked performance and best of all a great value. If you are looking to provide better cooling to your GPU but don’t want to jump up to water, I highly recommend you consider this cooler.

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