Having a closer look at the heatsink reveals that the design resembles the heatsink used on Nvidia used on its GeForce 7800 GT
. It's not the prettiest design in the world, but then BFGTech has not claimed anything of the sort - instead, the company boasts superior cooling performance.
BFG's claims of improved cooling performance are backed up by using a much higher density fin design than the stock GeForce 8600 GTS cooler. For those that understand the physics behind keeping something cool, you'll know that the larger the surface area, the higher chance you've got of cooling something down. However, it doesn't stop there because it's not just a case of throwing more surface area at it without considering design.
Both the reference heatsink fan and the ThermoIntelligence design feature a copper insert that comes into contact with the GPU core - this is a fairly standard feature on today's graphics card cooling solutions, as are heatpipes. Heatpipes are used to transfer heat away from the heat source to a part of the cooler that has a larger surface area. In the case of the reference 8600 GTS and ThermoIntelligence coolers we've got here, the heat is transferred to the array of fins.
The reference design heatsink includes a pair of heatpipes that come into contact with a large portion of the bottom of the fins. However, the problem is that they have been flattened and as a result don't perform optimally. On the other hand, the ThermoIntelligence cooler only has a single heatpipe that looks to only run along one edge of the array of cooling fins. This time though, the heatpipe looks to have been left intact and, from what we can see, hasn't been disfigured or flattened.
The fan is a radial design with straight blades and, once the graphics drivers are installed, spins relatively peacefully. Under the load of prolonged gaming, the heatsink didn't spin up and wasn't particularly loud either. Overall, it's subjectively quieter than the stock GeForce 8600 GTS cooling solution.
One area where BFGTech excels above most other NVIDIA board partners is with its warranty service and after sales support. The company offers a ten-year warranty with all of its cards in Europe, and a lifetime warranty to its customers on the other side of the Atlantic. The reason for the lower warranty term in Europe is EU legislation, but that shouldn’t worry you.
BFGTech also offers its customers free 24/7 technical support, albeit on an American 1-800 number (it’s free via SkypeOut), although if you don’t have SkypeOut or don’t live in America, BFGTech also offers free 24/7 support via email too. In the past, the downside of BFGTech’s RMA process was the fact that all RMA’s were handled by the company’s US office. Recently though, BFGTech opened an RMA Centre in the UK, meaning that there will be much shorter turnaround times for UK customers.