UPDATE 11/2/99 – Email from Vantec:
“I saw the article that you posted on our slot fan. First of all, I need to clarify a few things; AOC does not manufacture this product. We did not purchase this from AOC, we just sell similar products. This product is supplied by our head office in Taiwan. As far as the specs (CFM), I will inquire into the specs on this product.”
I received emails from folks who are using the Vantec System Cooler for cooling video cards; for example from Ben: “Works fine here in my system, helped me overclock my TNT2 card by extra 10MHz at least, and dropped my system temp by 3-4 degrees.” I checked this out and the intake of the Vantec does line up with the heatsink of my G200/400. I mount fans on these, but if you don’t want to void you warranty this is a perfect way to cool a hot video card. Not exactly its intended use, but a good solution for about $12.
Vantec was kind enough to send me their System Exhaust Blower to check out. This is probably the last thing they will send to us after they read this review. Skip took a look at this (here) and had some nice things to say about it. I took a look at it and have some real problems with it.
This product is a squirrel cage fan, like the great Nidec Gamma 28s (available from Radio Shack) that many of us use as a spot cooler. The difference is that the Vantec uses a spare card slot and exhausts air out of the case, while the Gamma 28 is usually used to direct air inside the case. The key spec is that it is advertised at 42 cfm. That’s a lot of air for a squirrel cage fan of this size.
As I looked at it, one thing struck me right away – I think the intake is on the wrong side. When you put it in a slot, the air intake points up. Now since hot air rises, I would think it would be more efficient if the intake pointed down, so that it would be in the rising stream of warm air. In addition, if you have cards above and below it, I would also think air flow would be restricted.
So I hacked the Vantec; I removed the slot cover and reversed it so the air intake pointed down. The problem is that it is really not designed to do that and it takes more than a little hacking to make it work. Not worth the effort, so I put it back the way it was.
As I turned it on, I just was not convinced that this thing was putting out 42 cfm. I have a 120 mm fan that puts out about this much, and I can tell you the Vantec is not even close. Now, it’s one thing to “feel” this way, it’s another to objectively demonstrate it. So I had an idea – let’s pit the Vantec against the Nidec Gamma 28 and see if we can devise an objective test.
After scratching my head about this, I hit on an idea – let’s see how long each one takes to inflate a 55 gallon garbage bag. I have these light plastic transparent ones that can do the job. So I taped up the opening, then taped each fan to the opening so that they blow into the bag without any leakage. I even removed the Vantec slot cover to get as much air flow into the bag as possible. I then timed each fan to see how long it took to inflate the bag (Imagine the look on my wife’s face when I’m doing this!).
Gamma 28 – 83 seconds
Vantec – 108 seconds
Considering the Nidec Gamma 28 is rated at 9 cfm, I seriously doubt that the Vantec is putting out 42 cfm – let’s call it a draw and say it is equal to the Nidec – 9 cfm. The Vantec is not going to exhaust much air and is no substitute for some serious cooling solutions using 92 mm or 120 mm intake fans. However, it looks like cooling a hot video card is a reasonable use for this product. For around $12, it’s not a bad way to go if you don’t want to hack your video card with a fan and void your warranty. However, it is not a viable substitute for 80 – 120 mm intake fans used in system cooling.