A small issue I do have with the setup is that the fan control is on the cooling unit itself instead of being controlled by a driver or access through an external bracket. Most video cards will only spin up the fan when heat rises or the card starts to run on load. Here, the fan stays at the same speed and the only way to change from high to low or vice versa is to open the case and manually switch it. The low speed is pretty damn quiet and I did all my testing at this setting. When turning on high, it doesn’t seem to be as loud as a regular X1900 XTX fan but it’s definitely not the setting to run in if you want to really have a quiet computer.
Keep in mind that the card will need two power source connections. The standard six pin PCI-E connector is still needed for the main card itself but you’ll also need a free molex connector for the Blizzard radiator/fan unit. If connected, you’ll see blue LEDs on the radiator unit light up.
A question does come up when pairing this card with a CrossFire card though. You’re going to negate the quietness by sticking a CrossFire card which uses a regular heatsink and fan setup. Until Sapphire decides to release a CrossFire Blizzard card, those thinking of going with a two card setup should just pick up two regular cards. We don’t have a CrossFire master card here to test so we can’t comment much on performance or issues with installing a second card with the Blizzard.
The nicely done Sapphire Select is also included in this setup. If you don’t know what this is, there are a group of games that are included on a DVD and you’re allowed to pick two to own. The others can be purchased at a discount price. The Sapphire Select gets updated as time goes on to reflect some of the latest games and it’s a nice way for consumers to test out a few before settling on the ones they really would like to add to their collection.
So let’s get onto the test. We don’t have a comparative NVIDIA product here to run the tests against so we’ll pit it against Sapphire’s Radeon X1900 XTX I tested a few days ago. I am also including the fastest NVIDIA card we have in the labs, which is the GeForce 7800 GT. Tests were done with Catalyst 6.3 and NForce 84.21 drivers for the NVIDIA card.
Our test setup included:
- AMD64 3800+
- 512MB PC3200 RAM
- ECS KA1 MVP Crossfire motherboard
- Windows XP w/ Service Pack 2
- Maxtor 120 GIG 7200RPM HDD
Our first test will be the synthetic Futuremark test, 3DMark06.
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