One of the biggest problems that may face a lot of users is the size of the cooler itself. Taking up an extra expansion slot shouldn't be an issue for most users, but the length of the cooler may cause problems with some motherboards. With a test mATX motherboard for example (a Shuttle MN31N to be specific), the two IDE connectors are behind the AGP slot on the edge of the motherboard. When the cooler is installed it sits directly above both of the connectors. I can still plug the IDE cables in, but I must remove the graphics card to get the cooler out of the way first.
There are many revisions a graphics card goes through during it's manufacturing lifetime and PCB layouts change often, sometimes drastically, and sometimes there are even different versions of the same card that use completely different circuit boards. However, the compatibility issues I experienced on the 9800 Pro, 9700 Pro, and in particular the 9500 Pro were disappointing. Granted, all three cards are fairly old now, but they are all reference designs and I would think owned by a good many people. As I mentioned in the review, it would be a good idea to do some research before buying one of these coolers, particularly so if your card happens to be one that differs slightly from ATI's reference design.
Overall, the biggest problem I have with the ATI Silencer is that they do not fit on the All-In-Wonder cards. Why it is that Arctic Cooling never designed them to work with those cards, or even designed a separate compatible version of the cooler, I don't know. It seems to me that people with All-In-Wonder cards who, like me, have them installed in a HTPC would be very interested in a high performance and quiet cooler such as the ATI Silencer.
Compatibility issues aside, I was very impressed with the performance of all the ATI Silencers I tested in this review. Not only do they offer fantastic cooling performance, they are all also very quiet and affordable. These traits don't often go together, particularly when we are talking cooling units.
You might remember my previous Sapphire X800 Pro Toxic and HIS Excalibur X800 Pro IceQII reviews, both cards come with Arctic Cooling's ATI Silencer 4. The fact that these companies and others are comfortable with offering this cooler on their expensive high-end video cards gives testament to the quality, reliability, and performance of the cooler.
4 out of 5
- Excellent performance
- Easy to install
- Some compatibility issues
- Does not work with the All-In-Wonder series