Moving on to the card itself, not only is it passively cooled but Inno3D has also managed to squeeze a little bit of extra performance out of it by overclocking both the core and the memory so they now run at 560/1500MHz, that's a 10MHz increase in core clock and 100MHz increase in memory speed over reference speeds -- not a lot but, hey, it's passive!
Interestingly, the 570M Extreme card we looked at was also overclocked but XFX had managed to push the core even further, to 570MHz, while only increasing memory speed to 1460MHz. It'll be interesting to see which combination gives better performance. Of course, you get the full compliment of 24 pixel pipelines, 8 vertex shaders and 16 pixel output engines crammed into the G71 core, so either way we can expect performance to be just a smidgen above standard cards.
In order to keep those red hot innards cool, Inno3D is relying on the power of Arctic Cooling's Accelero S1M cooler to dissipate all that heat. While not as big as the Accelero S2 used by the PowerColor card, the S1M is still a beast of a cooler and it dominates the card.
The aluminium radiator, which consists of an array of 22 very fine aluminium fins, covers the entire length and height of the card so, just as the PowerColor did with CrossFire, you may have some serious difficulties creating an SLI setup if you're using anything other than an Asus motherboard (as they all come with 'soft' SLI connectors).
Four copper heatpipes run from the GPU contact plate up through the radiator where heat can more effectively be dissipated through the massive surface area. The contact plate itself is made up of a copper base with an aluminium upper section that clamps round the heatpipes and holds the whole thing onto the card. The base plate doesn't cover any of the PWM circuitry or memory chips that surround the core. This has meant that additional BGA RAM sinks have been added to the memory chips, one each for all eight, in order to keep them cool.
All this movement of heat from the card to the surrounding air is very well but, unless that hot air is allowed to flow elsewhere, you're liable to end up with a smouldering mess under you desk. So, make sure your case has good ventilation.
While on the topic of ventilation, one concern we have with this card is that Inno3D has opted to put a large plastic sticker on the grill. It covers nearly one third of the surface area of the radiator and it will reduce airflow around this portion. It can be easily removed from the heatsink since it's simply stuck on, but it does seem odd, especially given that when the card is installed in a case the sticker will no longer be visible. It would've made a lot more sense to put the sticker along the top instead.
In terms of connectivity, on the card's PCI bracket, there's a pair of HDCP enabled dual-link DVI ports which will enable you to connect two monitors at resolutions up to 2560x1600 each. However, without HDCP compliancy over dual-link you won't be able to use this card to playback any protected HD content at 2560x1600 (not even GeForce 8800-series hardware can do this) -- something worth bearing in mind if you are thinking about connecting this to a 30 incher. If you still use analogue connections you will be happy to see a combination component/composite output sits atop the DVI ports.
At the other end of the card, the six-pin power connector is slightly awkward to get to, being hidden underneath the cooler's radiator. However, there's very little Inno3D could've done to make access easier while using such a massive cooler as this. Also, the infrequency with which most of us change graphics card means this shouldn't be too much of a concern.
Inno3D makes a big deal of the use of gold plated connectors and solid capacitors on this board. Using quality capacitors is a useful and welcome addition but the gold plated connectors really are unnecessary.
Inno3D offers a three-year parts and labour warranty with its iChiLL range of graphics cards. This is actually an added bonus of buying into the iChiLL series as normal Inno3D cards only come with a two-year warranty. For the first year, your point of contact will be the retailer you purchased the card from, after that you will need to contact Inno3D directly.