Abit Siluro Geforce Ti4200 OTES – Why so special?

What’s significant about this 13 year old video card you ask? It was the first card to feature a blower style cooler that vented hot air from the GPU outside of the back of the PC through a port in the PCI bracket. Until this point all GPU coolers would just let the hot air vent right back into the case.  This was not too big of a deal back in the day as GPUs didn’t kick out too much heat – but this cooler started a trend that would make it’s way into pretty much every generation of video card from Nvidia and ATi going forward. It became, and is now, very common for the “reference” card (the stock design for a card from the manufacturer) to feature a blower style cooler.   These coolers are very popular effective but have a couple of downsides:

  1. Larger size!  They take up two PCI card slots.
  2. They are loud when the fan spools up.  In some cases very loud.

These days it’s very common for an enthusiast level video card to take up two PCI slots of room.  So that’s basically a non-issue now but at the time of the release of the Geforce 4 series it was a consideration.  Still and all dumping any hot air out of the back of the case is helpful if you’re overclocking your CPU.   The added stress on motherboard components from CPU overclocking  (chipset, CPU power VRM modules, and more) means increased heat from those components so any heat you can keep outside of the case is helpful.

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The air gets sucked into the turbine looking fan in the middle there and then all vented out the back.  This blower system is sealed so the hot air never escapes back into the PC case.  This is the crux of what makes this cooling solution so attractive!

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I’ve been after one of these for my video card trophy wall for some time and I finally found one that was in nice shape and at a very fair price.  Thanks random eBay seller!   This card features Samsung memory chips that run at 275mhz (550mhz DDR effective) which is actually the speed for a Ti4400, the next level up from a Ti4200.  The GPU is a 4th generation Nvidia chip (GF4) and is factory overclocked to 275mhz (Ti4400 speed) as well.  The real irony of this card and it’s cooler is the overclocking limitations were based on the card components, not the cooler.  The cards could generally hit 315mhz GPU 600mhz memory when overclocked – but this was achieved with a non blower style cooler as well.  Oh well – at least the heat is getting pushed out of the back of the case!   So aside from it looking kind of nifty and keeping the internal case temperatures down the OTES system on this card didn’t help it overclock any better than any other Ti4200.   Good overclocks usually boil down to a combination of the quality of the card components (GPU silicon, memory chips, printed circuit board, card power regulation, and more…) and at a certain point effectively removing heat does come into play, but not here.

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Well, I digress a bit.  The point of this post is to show the significance of this style cooler and that it would start a trend that is still used today on many video cards.  The blower cooler would show up again fairly soon on the infamous Nvidia FX5800 Ultra.  Overclocked to within an inch of it’s life it was the hottest and fastest GPU out there.

NVIDIA Geforce FX 5800 Ultra

NVIDIA Geforce FX 5800 Ultra

This was an evolved version of the OTES blower cooler and was VERY loud according to owners.  The card was fast though. Neck and neck with the ATi 9700pro which had been king of the hill for some time.   The noise levels from this cooler spawned an outcry of comments and images from the enthusiast forums.  This picture was the most famous of them

NVIDIA Geforce FX 5800 Ultra - leaf blower funny

NVIDIA Geforce FX 5800 Ultra – leaf blower funny

Still and all many were willing to sacrifice the noise for the performance and to keep internal PC case temperatures down.   I never owned one of these 5800 Ultras but I did have a pair of ATi Radeon 1900xtx cards that literally sounded like a hair drier on high when they spooled up to 100%.  It was very loud – so I can empathize!  But like the rest I put up with it because of the great performance and to keep my case temperatures lower.

Since that time blower cooler technology has evolved quite a bit and the modern versions of these coolers are much quieter.  The new blower technology combined with customizable software based fan profiles allow you to keep the noise in check pretty well, but they are not the most quiet air cooled solution.  Many manufacturers build non blower style coolers that are nearly dead silent at full speed and vent the air back into the case.  If you have good case ventilation this is not too big of a deal so lots of folks go that route.   Still, getting that hot air out of your case is ideal.  Personally I’m fan of the blower cooler – no pun intended.   Ouch, I think that’s my queue to wrap this up.   Ya’ll stay cool out there, ha hear?

DJ Rose

Thunder cats ho!

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