Overclocker Tests 'Hideous' GPU Backplate Coolers On AliExpress And Made This Discovery

active backplate cooling hero
Overclocking guru and TechTuber der8auer (AKA Roman Hartung) has tested a couple of active graphics card backplate coolers purchased via AliExpress. Graphics card backplates can get pretty hot, so it is logical to think that adding some active cooling could help with the overall cooling of your card. However, der8auer's findings highlight the bleak reality that these solutions offer an unpleasant mix of looking "hideous" and being "not useful whatsoever."

additional backplate cooler is distorted by fittings

Der8auer used a Radeon RX 6900 XT graphics card from Gigabyte for his testing, due to its simple and clean backplate design. He also noted that with this particular design, the card's backplate has a direct contact with the GPU. As well as using the sensor data from GPU-Z, the overclocker attached a temperature sensor to the backplate for additional indicative cooling performance data. Another purposeful condition for comparison testing was fixing the GPU fan speed under idle and load when testing the graphics card with and without the additional active backplate coolers.

Two designs were put under scrutiny, and they cost about $40 or $50 each. Both featured inelegant mounting methods which made use of hardware store bric-a-brac like zip-ties, plus thermal pads and sticky strips.

The first design featured in the video sported a pair of small-ish fans embedded within a layered copper wafer structure. In testing der8auer found that this twin fan backplate cooler managed to help the graphics card idle 5ºC lower than stock. Under load, the backplate sensor showed the graphics card was about 5ºC cooler, but the GPU temperatures (from GPU-Z) appear to be no better (1ºC cooler), or within the margin of error of repeated testing of identical systems.

additional backplate cooler damaged in the mail

The second design used an L-shaped construction with heatpipes covered in fins using an attached (single) fan. Again, the idle temperatures were decent, about 8ºC cooler. Moreover, this time we saw a cooling effect in the GPU-Z readings, with the GPU cores about 3 or 4ºC lower than on a stock card. It is an improvement, but not very inspiring.

After the disappointing results, it was noted that an appropriate use-case of active backplate cooling might be with the GeForce RTX 3090, which features backside mounted GDDR6X.

In the wake of his tests with the Gigabyte Radeon RX 6900 XT, neither solution was recommended by der8auer, even if your backplate feels quite hot. Instead, it is suggested that enthusiasts save their money for a custom water cooler solution if their graphics card really needs it.