Summary: Every once in a while a really simple, inexpensive, good product comes along that we can recommend without reservation – this is one of them.
The Card Cooler is an idea that is so worthwhile it makes you think “Why didn’t I think of that?” Its execution is very simple: Two brackets with two fans that mount inside your case to cool hot cards. Simplicity – uses two of the screws that hold your cards in without replacing or taking up a card slot. The only possible interference you might have is with the audio cable off a sound card; the Card Cooler buts up flush against the cards, so any protuberances will interfere with it.
The two fans are ganged together so that one four-pin hard drive connector will power both fans (pix/specs HERE.) Combined, the two fans move 60 cfm inside the case. In actual use they are not particularly noisy (the dBA spec of 28.5 I believe is for one fan – two make more noise than one, but not double) but obviously they make some additional sound. The Card Cooler’s function is to direct air inside the case to where it’s needed. The way cards are stacked in tower cases, air movement among the cards is hindered, leading to localized hot spots. If you don’t actively cool really hot cards, like video, hotspots build up. This then starts a cycle of heating up the case, leading to higher case temps, leading to hotter hotspots etc.
The Card Cooler counters this by blowing air into the card stack, thereby keeping air moving so it can get sucked out of the case. OK, so how good is it?
One case I have uses a 120 mm fan in front to draw air in, one 50 mm fan directed at the power transistors, two CPU fans, and the power supply fan. This case normally shows a four degree temperature rise between the intake and exhaust air. I did not expect much difference with the Card Cooler and was right – it lowered my case temp by two degrees, but did not change the temperature rise or CPU temp when I used it.
However, I was fixing a “friend of a friend’s” PII 400; this is a minimal configuration machine, meaning that the fans consisted of the single Intel fan on the PII 400 and the power supply fan. The video card is an OEM G200 without a heatsink and is hot to the finger. This is a perfect candidate for the Card Cooler! The table below shows the results without, with and with one of the Card Cooler’s fans turned off:
|Condition||System Temp||CPU Temp||G200 Temp|
|No Card Cooler||84 F||107 F||110 F|
|With Card Cooler||78 F||100 F||84 F|
|One Fan Off||80 F||102 F||91 F|
I measured the G200 with a temp probe placed directly on the video chip. Other temps were from Motherboard Monitor – the board was a SOYO 6BAIII.
So what can I say? Reducing the video card’s chip temp by 26 F is not trivial! It works, it works well, and for “cooling challenged” systems, it is a damn effective means to get some temps down throughout the computer. Of particular note is the reduction in CPU temp – as case temps are reduced, the temp “floor” against which the CPU must cool is lowered, thereby reducing CPU temp.
The Card Cooler is a very nifty way to lower case temps easily without severe case modifications. If you don’t have or don’t care to drill huge holes in your case and mount very large fans in it, the Card Cooler is a very effective means to good cooling. If you build office systems, I think the Card Cooler is one cost-effective way to get superior case cooling…highly recommended.