Gainward GeForce GTX 560 Ti Phantom - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Fans

Invisible Fans?

Invisible Fans?

The graphics card market is a cutthroat one. When NVIDIA fired the first salvo of the year by launching the GeForce GTX 560 Ti, an excellent card in our books, AMD responded almost immediately by cutting prices of their high-end Radeon HD 6950 so that it will compete with NVIDIA. This move illustrates just how competitive both AMD and NVIDIA are, and it is no different amongst the two companies’ many partners.

In a market flooded with many custom-designed GeForce GTX 560 Ti cards, Gainward is attempting a bold cooler design to get ahead. The Gainward GeForce GTX 560 Ti Phantom might be based on a regular GeForce GTX 560 Ti chip, however, its cooler is anything but ordinary. On first glance, you’ll notice two things: one, the cooler is massive; two, the fans are no where to be seen. That’s not right, you may think, because as cool as the new GF110 chips are, there’s no way Gainward could have developed a passive cooler capable of handling the GeForce GTX 560 Ti’s considerable 170W TDP.

True enough, there’s no way a passive cooler would suffice for a GeForce GTX 560 Ti (unless of course the passive cooler in question is a massive, massive one), and so it is no surprise that the Gainward card actually does have fans. The unique thing, however, is that the card’s dual fans are hidden beneath the heatsink. Traditionally, a cooler’s fans sit on top of the heatsink, drawing cool air in and blowing it across the heatsink; but in the case of the Gainward GeForce GTX 560 Ti Phantom, the fans are positioned underneath, between the heatsink and the GPU core, sucking cool air through the heatsink above and then blowing it directly onto the GPU core. It’s an interesting concept to be sure, and we are eager to find out if it really works.

Look ma, no fans! The cooler on the Gainward GeForce GTX 560 Ti is indeed one of the more unique ones we've seen in recent times.

Gainward claims that their GeForce GTX 560 Ti Phantom is geared for quiet gaming and cooling efficiency, so the card is only mildy overclocked - 835MHz at the core, 1670MHz at the shaders and 4100MHz DDR at the memory. This means an increment of only 13MHz bump at the core, 26MHz at  the shaders and 92MHz DDR at the memory, which is negligible to be honest and makes us wonder why Gainward even bothered in the first place.

Before we go on, here’s a quick look at the Gainward GeForce GTX 560 Ti Phantom and its unique custom cooler.

The Gainward card gets two DVI ports, a VGA port, and a full-size HDMI port.

Taking a close peek, one can see the fans hidden underneath the heatsink array.

A diagram showing the key components of Gainward's unusual cooler design.

The Good
Effective cooler
Improved selection of video output ports
The Bad
Conservative clock speeds
Large cooler occupies up to 3 expansion slots
Slightly pricey

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