Printed Circuit Boards in detail

Naked boards: More than 40 graphics cards stripped down to the bare PCB

What does a graphics card look like beneath the cooling solution? PC Games Hardware gathered a collection of more than 40 disassembled cards and added some facts and trivia.
Naked PCBs

A graphics card (especially the more modern ones) usually needs some kind of cooling solution, but the components that actually make the device work are placed underneath that on the Printed Circuit Board (PCB). PC Games Hardware has quite big picture archives and so we filed through them and assembled a collection with over 40 shots of "naked” boards.

Facts and figures
In matter of pure length - we don't that the actual technology into account this time - there are three manufacturers fighting for the title: Ex-champion 3dfx as well as the current competitors AMD/Ati and Nvidia. On third place we see the Radeon HD 5970 with "only” 30.9 centimeters. The silver medal goes to the Voodoo 5 6000 with exactly 31 centimeters. But the "big board” is definitely the Geforce 7900 GX 2 with 33.5 centimeters. The OEM version of the Radeon HD 2900 XT comes close to this length but it hasn't been officially available to end customers. By the way, the highest consumer card is the limited Asus Mars, a dual Geforce GTX 285/2G. The PCB of this card is even higher than the I/O slots.

The by far biggest GPU can be found on diverse Geforce GTX200 boards: the GT 200 reaches 607 square millimeters, and even the shrunk GT200b with 497 square millimeters is still a big fellow. The predecessor chip G80 (Geforce 8800 GTX/Ultra) isn't much smaller though - 487 square millimeters. On the next position we have AMD's R600 (Radeon HD 2900 XT) with 429 square millimeters. Extremely small on the other hand is AMD's RV740 (Radeon HD 4770) with only 137 square millimeters, which nevertheless appears like a giant compared to the GT218 (Geforce G210) with only 57 square millimeters.

The first graphics card with two PCI Express power connectors had been Nvidia's Geforce 7900 GX2, while the Radeon HD 2900 XT was the first one with a 6-pin and an 8-pin connector. In theory this would allow a maximum power consumption of up to 300 watt - but in reality the Radeon reaches 218 in a worst-case scenario (Furmark). For comparison: AMD's current (and faster) Radeon HD 5750 needs less than 90 watt. The absolute and top scorer in matter of power consumption is the Asus Mars: the dual GPU device needs exorbitant 470 watt - and it is the only card with two 8-pin power connectors (which would allow up to 375 watt).

A curiosity in matter of PCI Express power connectors are AMD's two X2 cards: Their connectors point upwards from the PCB and thus, when the card is installed in the tower PC case, face downward in the direction of the floor - this is a unique coincident.

Picture gallery  (enlarge to view source)

Author: Marc Sauter (Dec 22, 2009)

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