The heatsink on Inno3D’s GeForce 8600 GTS Xstriker3 is a massive departure from Nvidia’s reference cooler and in some ways this may not be suitable to everyone, as it’s a dual-slot design. However, given that most motherboards are designed with dual-slot coolers in mind, it shouldn’t be too
much of a problem these days.
The Xstriker3 cooler is similar to the heatsink on Inno3D’s fanless GeForce 7950 GT, but this one features a 70mm fan and isn’t manufactured by Zalman. Despite the fact it’s not manufactured by Zalman, built quality is still very high and robust. When we asked Inno3D who supplied the cooler, the company wouldn’t go into detail, which suggests that it’s either built to the company’s specifications or a design that it has licensed exclusively.
There is a pair of copper heatpipes that transfer heat from the GPU core to the array of aluminium fins, which don’t come into contact with GDDR3 memory chips. Instead, Inno3D has cooled the DRAMs with four aluminium sinks that should be cooled indirectly by the 70mm fan.
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Curiously, the mounting bracket on the back of the card only covers a single slot meaning that, in order to achieve the best cooling performance possible, you’ll either need to remove the PCI bracket below the graphics card or get creative with your dremel. If you choose to do nothing, hot air pushed out of the heatsink on that side will just circulate inside the case.
While on the topic of the card’s PCI bracket, Inno3D has stayed true to its original plans for the iChiLL brand with the boltgun colour. Not only that, but the pair of dual-link DVI ports and the TV-out DIN connector follow the same black and gold plated theme we’ve become accustomed to. These claim to improve signal quality and reduce oxidation, but we beg to differ
, as it’s a digital signal.
Both of the dual-link DVI ports come complete with HDCP support, meaning you can connect a pair of 30” monitors at their native resolution and play back protected HD movies without problems as well. However, as seems to be the case with almost all Nvidia graphics cards these days, the TV-out port is just that – there are no allowances made for those that might want to use video-in. If that’s your thing, you’re best looking at one of AMD’s alternatives.
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Given the size of the heatsink Inno3D has kitted its GeForce 8600 GTS Xstriker3 out with, you’ll be glad to hear that the company has overclocked the card at the factory. Our sample hums along at 705MHz core, 1450MHz shader and 2100MHz (effective) on the memory. These clocks aren’t as extravagant as the clock enhancements on BFGTech’s GeForce 8600 GTS OC2, which employs a single-slot cooler, but they’re still respectable compared to the standard 675/1450/2000MHz clocks.
Looking at the card a little more closely reveals that the PCB looks to be very similar to Nvidia’s reference design, but it’s not quite the same. The only difference being that Inno3D has opted to exchange the four-pin fan header for a two-pin one in order to support the Xstriker3 cooler – it’s a strange decision, especially as the connector looks out of place given the PCB markings.
One thing we’ve not mentioned so far is the heatsink’s noise and that’s because there’s not a great deal to report. Running two almost identical systems side by side (with Inno3D’s GeForce 8600 GTS Xstriker3 in one system, and a reference-cooled 8600 GTS in another) revealed that the Xstriker3’s cooling solution is quieter than a reference heatsink but not by a great deal at idle.
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Under load, the card was appreciably quieter on our open test bench, but you’d be hard pushed to notice the difference between Inno3D’s Xstriker3 design and the reference cooler when you’ve got both cards installed in a chassis designed with noise cancelling in mind. Although none of our monitoring software could detect the fan’s speed, our observations would suggest that the Xstriker3’s 70mm fan stays at a constant RPM, while the reference cooler uses a temperature controlled sensor that increases fan speed with temperature.
Obviously, the latter has its benefits, but it also has its downsides too. We much prefer having a constant pitch coming from our machine instead of one that is constantly changing when the load increases and decreases.
Normally, Inno3D offers a two year parts and labour warranty with its graphics cards. However, it has extended the warranty on its iChiLL range to three years – this is great to see, and it should help Innovision to differentiate itself from the pack a little. During the first year, you should contact your retailer, and after that you should communicate directly with Inno3D’s support team. If for some reason you are unable to get hold of the place where you bought the card from, you should contact the board partner directly.