GeCube FZ Cool Radeon X1950 PRO Champion Edition 512MB

The GeCube FZ Cool Radeon X1950 PRO Champion Edition 512MB

The GeCube FZ Cool Radeon X1950 PRO Champion Edition 512MB

Without a doubt, the FZ cooler on this GeCube Radeon X1950 PRO is the highlight of this card. With its combination of heat pipes, aluminum fins, dual 80mm fans and thermal electric cooling, it is a hybrid creation that goes beyond the standard heatsink fan combination. It is also one of the larger coolers and its overall thickness is even more than the two-slot coolers popular among high-end cards now. Users with cramped or smaller motherboards may not want to sacrifice their expansion slots for this card.

With two 80mm fans, the GeCube generates more noise than the reference card, no matter if GeCube claims that each fan is rated at less than 20dB.

Quad heatpipes are found on the GeCube and according to the vendor, two of them are set aside for air cooling and the other two for the thermal electric cooling.

Power is required for the thermal electric cooling part of this giant cooler and an extra power connector is present for this. Like we mentioned before, for the TEC (looking like a thermocouple) to work, electricity is needed to transfer heat between the metal surface closest to the GPU to the other side where the aluminum fins and cooling fans are. Hence, the TEC is actually sandwiched between the two metal plates. GeCube has also implanted heat pipes leading from the metal plate closest to the GPU directly to the heatsink, probably so that there is more than one avenue of heat transfer. We shall see how it fares in our temperature tests later but frankly, we were not too impressed by the noise, as the dual 80mm fans did their best to ruin things. By itself, each of these fans would have been considered decent in terms of noise (GeCube rates them at less than 20dB) but put two together and the volume immediately becomes quite audible. It certainly generates more noise than the other Radeon X1950 PROs that we have reviewed. At least it wasn't a high pitched whine but more like a steady whirling and according to GeCube, fan speeds and therefore noise will vary with the temperatures.

The extra power connector is meant for the thermal electric cooling component of the heatsink.

The thermal electric cooling (TEC) element of the cooler is found here, where the Peltier effect - passing a current between two dissimilar semi-conductors creates a temperature differential and drives heat transfer between them. In this case, heat from the side closest to the GPU is transferred to the one leading to the heatsink.

The core clock of the GeCube was found to be at the standard frequency of 575MHz. The memory clocks too followed ATI's specifications and Samsung's 1.2ns rated modules were used. For a 'Champion Edition', we had expected some overclocking, especially with the new FZ cooler. However no overclocking was reflected in ATI's Overdrive panel so it is likely that the FZ cooler is the intended star of the show. Instead, what GeCube added was another 256MB of DDR3 memory, giving it a total of 512MB. Finally, all the features expected for a standard Radeon X1950 PRO are present, like HDCP support from its dual-link DVI outputs and internal CrossFire for multi-GPU setups.

Be prepared to have adequate space for the GeCube for it will take slightly more than the usual two slots.

A rare find in the included accessories was a DVI to HDMI adaptor. With HDCP support, all Radeon X1950 PRO cards can output to HDMI given the right converter. But the GeCube here has not been modified to accept audio input so if you're using the HDMI converter, you won't be getting sound from the HDTV. You could however rely upon S/PDIF output from your motherboard or audio card ported directly to your home theater system for this purpose. Besides the accessories, the bundle only has a CyberLink Power DVD playback application and the graphics drivers, which is quite typical of GeCube. Here are the items found in the package:

  • 1 x DVI-to-VGA adaptor
  • 1 x DVI-to-HDMI adaptor
  • 6-pin Molex power connector
  • 9-pin mini-DIN to Component dongle
  • S-Video extension cable
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Driver CD
  • CyberLink Power DVD

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