Gigabyte Silent Pipe 3 finds redemption

Back in May, we compared a fistful of graphics cards based on Nvidia’s GeForce 8600 series graphics chips and were surprised to find that the passively-cooled Gigabyte GV-NX86S256H was anything but the quiet solution its “Silent Pipe 3” cooler advertised. The card was quiet enough at idle, but under load it quickly developed a shrill, high-pitched whine that would make Fran Drescher shudder. So much for passive cooling, or so we thought.

We went through a couple of sample cards from Gigabyte, and both exhibited the same screeching under load, prompting Gigabyte to investigate further. The company apparently traced the issue back to a batch of bad electrical components—chokes, specifically—that it had received from one of its vendors. This batch of bad chokes didn’t affect every GV-NX86S256H sold, but both our samples came from an inflicted batch, so Gigabyte sent us a fresh card for testing.

I’ve had that card cranking on Oblivion for several hours now in blissful silence, so it appears that the problems we had with our initial samples have been resolved. This passively-cooled GeForce 8600 GTS is indeed silent, and when you consider that it also comes bundled with a copy of Supreme Commander and a street price of around $183, the GV-NX86S256H is a pretty sweet deal.

Passive cooling may be silent, but it still runs the 8600 GTS a little hot. This new card’s GPU hits 90C under load. That’s cooler than our initial samples, but it’s still pretty toasty when compared cards that benefit from active cooling. The GV-NX86S256H’s power consumption is also a little higher than that of its rivals under load, likely because Gigabyte has opted to rely on the PCIe x16 slot exclusively for power rather than using an auxiliary six-pin power connector.

Passive cooling comes to the GeForce 8600 GT

Since our 8600 round-up, we’ve also received one of Gigabyte’s passively cooled GV-NX-86T256H GeForce 8600 GT cards. This card comes with 600MHz core and 720MHz memory speeds that should yield a nice little performance boost over stock-clocked GT cards at 540MHz core and 700MHz memory. The GV-NX86S256H doesn’t use Gigabyte’s Silent Pipe 3 cooler, though.

Gigabyte’s passively cooled GeForce 8600 GTS (left) and GT (right)

Gigabyte’s GeForce 8600 GTS (top) and GT (bottom)

Instead, it opts for a single-slot design that won’t cannibalize adjacent expansion slots. The GT card’s cooler is a little longer and taller than that of the GTS, but it’s also much lighter.

We haven’t run this GT card through a full suite of tests, but it, too, has cranked through several hours of Oblivion stress testing. Interestingly, the card develops a subtle hum under load—not a whine or a shriek, but a low buzz that’s still under the minimum 40-decibel noise level detectable by our digital sound level meter. This hum disappears at idle and may only be audible if the rest of your system’s components flirt with absolute silence.

As with its GTS counterpart, Gigabyte’s 8600 GT runs pretty hot—up to 106C after an hour and a half of a high resolution, high detail Oblivion stress test. At 158W under load, power consumption is also higher than we’ve seen from other GT cards. However, given the GV-NX86S256H’s 600MHz core clock speed and single-slot cooler, those results aren’t entirely surprising or unreasonable. Testing was also conducted on an open test bench that doesn’t have any ambient airflow to whisk warm air away from the card’s passive heatsink.

With a street price of just $130 and the same Supreme Commander game bundle as its GTS big brother, the GV-NX86S256H looks like another attractive option if you’re in the market for a quiet GeForce 8600-series graphics card. Just keep in mind that passive cooling tends to run mid-range GPUs pretty hot, so you’ll want to have at least some enclosure airflow circulating around the graphics card.

Comments closed
    • Forge
    • 12 years ago

    Still have the squealing cards? Tell Gigabyte I don’t mind having no warranty, and I’ll be happy to put super glue on the chokes myself. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • ReAp3r-G
      • 12 years ago

      i’ve got three fans dedicated to removing heat, the card didn’t run that hot surprisingly even after hours of playing BF2142…

      i’m happy with the cards performance thus far, but i won’t pass the chance to upgrade if any of the higher end models drop in price :p

    • narkfestmojo
    • 12 years ago

    Yeah, I got one of these.

    its hot (literally), really really hot. You’d think Gigabyte would put a small temperature controlled fan on there which would activate at load.
    Just recently I was playing a game, the screen froze and the computer went unresponsive, my first thought was “bloody video card”, so I decided to touch it (freakin’ genius) and scolded my finger.

    as an aside, why do they put all the good looking parts of a video card on the bottom, where you can’t generally see them.

    • Thorburn
    • 12 years ago

    Higher power consumption on passively cooled parts probably isn’t due to how the power is delivered.

    Static power leakage through the gates (roughly) doubles for every 10c of temperature, so as the temperatures rise, so does the power consumption.

      • ReAp3r-G
      • 12 years ago

      well, it does look bigger and probably works better but its just too big on the reverse side you’d be wasting so much of space, i was looking for a single slot cooled card since i’m running SFF…

      this would be a bad choice, i’m not sure if this card was recently tested on TR…it would still run hot nevertheless

    • postoasted
    • 12 years ago

    106c under load? Must be a typo. I’m using the 7600GT with Silent Pipe 2 and under load it hasn’t gone over 55c. But my case has a huge 220mm side case fan and two fans in back with one fan in front doing major cooling.

    • Vrock
    • 12 years ago

    Hot enough to boil water=too hot. I’ll pass.

    • FireGryphon
    • 12 years ago

    I hope the silent trend catches on. After so many years of running overclocked, super-cooled machines at any decibel cost, I want something quiet now.

    I built a SFF system for a friend of mine last year and my graphics card choice was determined by which vendor offered passive cooling. I don’t mind the card running a little hot. With adequate system cooling, the warm air gets whisked away, and I’m not concerned with electrostatic migration harming a gaming GPU that has a usable life of a couple of years to begin with.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 12 years ago

    Whining sounds are usually down to components, or possibly the wrong component for a design but can usually be fixed by sourcing proper parts. Good to see Gigabyte has done so. Now where’s the passively-colled 2600-series? They would seem to be better for HTPCs given their superior video playback…probably worse for bigscreen gaming though.

    The only thing I hate about this is…the fact that I actually PAID for SupCom! (although it was at a sale price) It seems like that damn game is the bundle-whore of 2007 ๐Ÿ™

    • JoshMST
    • 12 years ago

    Good to hear (no pun intended) that it was just a component issue rather than some design feature of the card. Luckily the one I tested did not apparently come from that batch, as it was dead silent.

    • eitje
    • 12 years ago

    I have one of the 8600 GT’s running in my HTPC, a Shuttle SD11G5. It PERFECTLY fits into the G5 chassis, and I’ve found that it’s adequately cooled by the single fan in the Shuttle. It makes for great HDTV WoW, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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