After their release of the VGA Silencer, Arctic Cooling quickly earned a respected reputation and became known as the manufacturer of one of the most popular VGA coolers ever created. The unique design made the VGA Silencer an excellent performer, but what really impressed most people was how whisper quiet the unit was.
Arctic Cooling has recreated the cooler and refined the overall design to make it sleeker and more modern looking. However, whereas before a single VGA Silencer would fit on many different cards, Arctic Cooling has altered their approach and now has many different coolers that each are designed for a certain series of cards. All told there are four different ATI Silencers (I'll be looking at the first three in this review) and five different nV Silencers that are designed for everything from the Radeon 9500 to the Radeon X800 and the GeForce 4 to the GeForce 6800.
|ATI Silencer 1
||9500(Pro), 9600(SE/Pro/XT), 9700Pro, 9800(SE, Pro)
|ATI Silencer 2
||9600, 9600SE, 9600Pro, 9600XT
|ATI Silencer 3
|ATI Silencer 4
|nV Silencer 1
||GeForce4 Ti, 5700
|nV Silencer 2
|nV Silencer 3
|nV Silencer 4
|nV Silencer 5
All the coolers are very big and require an extra available expansion slot adjacent to the graphics card slot. Unlike the VGA Silencer, all the ATI Silencers also extend quite a bit over the rear edge of all the Radeon cards I tested with which may cause problems on some motherboards.
The basic design premise of the new Silencers is the same as the previous VGA Silencer; each cooler has two or more long pins attached to it that pass through the mounting holes on the card and out the back where you attach a clip or back-plate that forces the cooler down onto the graphics core. The aluminium cooling fins, soldered to a copper plate, sit directly above the graphics core where they are most effective in drawing heat away. A large diameter fan, offset to the rear of the cooler, quietly pushes air through a plastic duct over the aluminium fins and out the back of your case. Arctic Cooling calls this design the Direct Heat Exhaust System or DHES for short.
Unlike the VGA Silencer, all but the ATI Silencer 1 also cool the memory modules. The rear modules are cooled using a large aluminium back-plate while the front memory modules are cooled by an extension to the plate that cools the graphics core. Since the ATI Silencer 1 has no memory cooling it would be appropriate if your card already has memory cooling installed.