BFG 9800 GT 512MB ThermoIntelligence Passive Cooling Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     April 7, 2009

A Closer Look at the BFG 9800 GT Thermointelligence

Upon first glance, the top of the BFG 9800 GT ThermoIntelligence isnít much to look at even though there are a number of points of interest which are important to note. To begin with we can see that BFG has opted to install the HR-03 Rev.A in a wrap-around configuration as opposed to the typical upright installation many users tend to gravitate towards. To cut costs, BFG has also decided to keep the memory ICs naked without any pre-installed heatsinks.

When the card is flipped over, we are greeted by a full view of the HR-03 Rev.Aís fin assembly. Due to its size, you will need at least 1 ĹĒ of free space on top of your card in order to properly install the 9800 GT ThermoIntelligence which shouldnít be a problem for the majority of systems out there. However, some of you may run into an issue if your motherboard has an exceptionally tall northbridge cooler and a high placement of the PCI-E slot.

The components used in the power distribution section of this card are slightly different from a reference 9800 GT but there isnít anything here that could be called a significant dumbing-down of the design. What did surprise me was that much like the memory; BFG didnít bother to put any heatsinks on the VRMs. Considering this card is intended to be run passively, there will be very little airflow over the VRMs while the heatsink will be pumping heat into its immediate surroundings. As such, without very good airflow within your case I would be a bit worried about the lifespan of the VRMs.

BFG uses the stock Thermalright mounting mechanism that is supposed to provide even pressure distribution over the largest possible surface area. Even with this system in place, in some cases we have seen overzealous installations where the screws were overly tightened and the resulting pressure caused the PCB to noticeably flex. Luckily, BFG seems to have been aware of this fact since there is no evidence of excess PCB flexing on their card even though the cooler is well secured.

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