Aerocase Condor Passive High End VGA Cooler Review

Cooling/VGA & Other Cooling by jmke @ 2006-08-09

It?s a passively cooled heatsink for high end graphics cards made by a group of women with aerospace engineering knowledge. They?ve named their first creation, the Condor, we find out if it prevents our VGA card?s temperatures from soaring too high.

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Test Setup - Performance - Conclusion

Test Setup

JMke's Test Setup
CPU Opteron 144 @ 2.25Ghz
Cooling Scythe Mine @ 100%
Mainboard Asus A8N SLI Premium
Memory 2 * 512Mb PC3200 OCZ
Other
  • Club3D 7900 GT
  • GlobalWin 520W Silent PSU
  • Maxtor 200GB IDE HDD


  • in-take temperature was measured at 25?C for all tests
  • The VGA card was stressed by running Real-Time HDR continuously until temperatures stabilized.
  • Arctic Silver kindly send us their ?Lumi?re? thermal testing compound which has the same color as Ceramique, but only a break in time of 30min!

    The system was installed inside an Antec Lanboy, a mid-sized tower case made of aluminum, it doesn?t come with case fans, but supports 2x80mm (1*font/1*rear) ? I placed a very silent Sharkoon Silent Eagle 1000 and the 2000 RPM model in the front. Afterwards I swapped out the 1000rpm rear fan for a 2900rpm model from YS-Tech.

    I placed a dBA (AR824) meter next to the closed side panel at approximately 10cm; without the system powered on the ambient noise in the test room measured 35.6dBA. When the system is powered on without a VGA fan or case fans running the noise increased to 36.5dBA

    Placing it inside the test system

    When Aerocase first contacted me for this review I didn?t specify a normal or reversed wing Condor, it was only after I received the unit that I realized that a normal one with the wing hanging over the CPU area was going to cause troubles for me.

    The Scythe Mine is a tall CPU heatsink and it didn?t play nice with the Condor when I tried to fit the 7900GT in the upper PCIe slot. But even if I used a shorter CPU cooler I found that the rear 80mm fan was also blocking the Condor from fitting correctly; Luckily this Asus motherboard has two PCIe x8 slots so I moved the video card to the bottom one and all was well as you can see in the photos below:

    Madshrimps (c)Madshrimps (c)


    It?s important to note that you CAN bend the heat pipes slightly if this helps fit the Condor, but nothing drastic. If you need the Condor to be positioned in a certain way you can ask Aerocase to do this for you. If you do it yourself you will very likely end up breaking the heatsink.

    Performance

    Performance of the stock NVIDIA coolers with its fan running at 100% (couldn?t get it lower) is also included, the rear fan was running at 1000rpm.

    In the chart below FF stands for Front Fan, and RF stands for? you guessed it, Rear Fan.

    Madshrimps (c)


    When I recorded the first temperatures I was doubtful of the results, they were lower than the stock cooling, and not just a few degrees. I re-did the tests but the outcome remained the same, the Condor is definitely keeping the GPU core cooler than the active stock cooling! Analyzing the other results, CPU and Chipset temperatures don?t really increase much going to a passive VGA cooling.

    Increasing case cooling does have a large impact on GPU temperatures; the best noise/performance balance seems to be with the FF@7v and RF@12v (1000rpm). If you don?t care about noise and have some fast spinning case fans installed you?ll see some low GPU temperatures. The upgrade to 2900rpm rear fan drops temperatures ~10?C.

    Extra case cooling with the Condor VGA heatsink is required, having a power supply which helps removes warm air is just not enough. I was interested to see what happened if I turned off all case fans?

    Madshrimps (c)


    I?m glad I monitored the temperature actively, the GPU temperature rose over 80?C and seemed to level out for several minutes, then suddenly it spiked up over 100?C, at which point I stopped the stress test and reactivated the case fans. The cause of the failure is due to the nature of heat pipes, they are a closed loop process and it works within certain temperature ranges (for example 20C-90C), however if the differential between the hot and the cool side becomes too low, the system will stall. So ensure you have proper case cooling when using the Condor.

    Conclusive Thoughts

    Madshrimps (c)


    The Condor swoops in and grabs the title of the world?s most silent air cooled VGA heatsink. It?s able to cool the latest high end video cards and will add 0dBA to your system. While it has a price premium compared to other third party products, you do get a custom, hand made product guaranteed to help you keep PC noise down. Even those with SLI/Crossfire setups could make it work if their case is large enough and they use a normal and reversed wing.

    I do have one small gripe and that?s with the installation process, which is a bit cumbersome and can be improved upon, but once you got the Condor installed that argument is history.

    Overall the Aerocase Condor?s performance left me quite impressed and I wouldn?t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for extreme silent cooling for the graphics card. The only caveat is the large size which does restrict installation in some cases, but with the right custom modifications from Aerocase even those issues can be resolved.

    I like to thank Aerocase and Katherine for giving me the opportunity for testing the Condor.

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  • The Condor (high end cards) carries a price tag of $59.95 at the time of writing and can be ordered online
  • The Raven (Mid/Low end cads) carries a price tag of $45.95 at the time of writing and can be ordered online
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    Questions/Comments: forum thread
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