NVIDIA's Flagship GeForce RTX 40 Graphics Card Allegedly Rocks A 3-Fan Reference Cooler
Have you heard the rumors about how hot and power-thirsty next-generation GPUs are going to be? Of course you have, because we've been covering all of those rumors and leaks for months. This story isn't about that. Instead, we're going to talk about the latest rumor, which claims that the reference design for NVIDIA's AD102 GPU sports a triple-fan cooler.
Triple-fan coolers are nothing new, of course; video card AIBs have been building triple-fan coolers for many years. Three axial fans can provide a ton of airflow across a GPU heatsink, assuming they aren't being choked in a claustrophobic case, and that means a lot of cooling for hot GPUs.
Well-known leaker kopite7kimi has commented in the past on the possibility of a four-slot air cooler for the top-end GeForce RTX 4000-series GPUs, but this is the first we've heard about the fan configuration, and this news seems more concrete than his earlier offhanded remark. It's not difficult at all to imagine a 450-watt GPU requiring a four-slot cooler with three fans; there are already GeForce RTX 3090 Ti cards out there with exactly that configuration.
His most recent comment is in reply to another Twitter user asking him about the heat dissipation of upcoming GPUs. He first commented "need a 4-slot cooler", but then later quote-tweeted the question and mentioned that, "At least, they designed a triple-fan cooler for [the] reference board of AD102." AD102, of course, is the largest Ada Lovelace processor we've seen discussed, and the chip expected to power GeForce RTX 4090 cards.
The downside to a triple-fan cooler, as enthusiasts will be well aware, is that it dumps all of the heat from your GPU into the space surrounding the card. This includes downward, toward the motherboard (and any M.2 devices resting there), as well as outward, into the airflow path for other components like your PSU and CPU. Axial coolers with big airflow can produce big cooling, but you need commensurately big ventilation in your case to keep it from heating up the rest of the system.
It's likely that many vendors will chose to opt for liquid cooling on their fastest models, or perhaps a hybrid design as seen on cards like the Radeon R9 295X2. Similarly, the reference design isn't likely to be the same cooler as on the final Founder's Edition boards, so we don't ultimately know what that cooler will look like. Supposedly we'll find out in August.