Card appearance and thoughts
Inno3D has designed-in a number of improvements with its premier iChiLL series. The first is painfully obvious, as it has teamed up with the experts at Arctic Cooling and pre-fitted an NV Silencer 6 rev. 2 iChiLL-branded cooler on its 7900GS.
The cooler's large-diameter fan spins slowly and is virtually inaudible under load. Inno3D has also taken the opportunity presented by better-than-reference cooling to overclock the GPU from the standard 450MHz to 550MHz - a 22 per cent increase in pure rendering power.
Allied to a faster core speed, the iChiLL series also boasts RAMsinks that cover the 256MiB of card memory, pre-overclocked from 1320MHz to 1500MHz - a 14 per cent improvement over default. We're impressed that both GPU and RAM cooling aren't mere aesthetic novelties: they serve a genuine purpose for the enthusiast.
A side-on shot shows the only drawback of the Silencer 6, that is, the dual-slot taking nature of the card, so whilst it might not fit into some Shuttle XPCs, it's aimed at the enthusiast who runs a regular ATX-accommodating chassis.
A look at the opposite side highlights the copper GPU heatsink which aids efficient heat transfer, and like all 7900GS cards it features a 'golden finger' that's the conduit for SLI - NVIDIA's multi-GPU technology. Remember, though, it also requires a compatible motherboard.
The sample card idled at 42C and maxed out at 61C. Those temperature readings are a little higher than Inno3D's own Zalman-equipped version but lower than a reference heatsink-cooled XFX 7900GS. It's worth remembering that the iChiLL model runs with a heavily overclocked core speed of 550MHz, however.
The GeForce 7900GS SKU requires enough power to be equipped with a 6-pin PEG connector, here situated just underneath the cooler. The angle of the picture is somewhat misleading, as the cooler doesn't impede the connection to the PEG connector in any way.
Inno3D also uses solid capacitors on its iChiLL line. They're often found on premium motherboards and have been demonstrated to provide better reliability and higher quality than regular electrolytic models.
A look at the back highlights the double-height nature of the card that we alluded to above. Another differentiating factor of the iChiLL range is the use of gold-plated DVI and TV-Out connectors that should offer a higher signal quality in the long term, with gold less prone to oxidisation than, say, regular metal.
Both DVI ports are dual-link but neither offer HDCP support, meaning that you won't be able to play Blu-ray or HD-DVD material in its original high-definition glory. Something to bear in mind when the next generation formats become truly pervasive.
The rear is only irregular with respect to how the iChiLL's NV Silencer 6 cooler attaches on to the PCB.