Passively cooled graphics cards aren't exactly new: the first 3D cards started out that way after all. But these days any passive cards you'll find will be much lower down the product stack than Nvidia's RTX 3080. That hasn't stopped the founder of TureMetal Cooling, Mical Wong, from grabbing Nvidia's finest and putting it through its paces though, with a predictable result of it giving up the ghost 257 seconds later.
Fanless RTX3080！ pic.twitter.com/A7S38WaffoFebruary 2, 2021
To be fair to the poor, poor Asus TUF RTX 3080 Gaming used for the experiment, it wasn't just a game that Mr Wong was pushing the card with, but the notoriously torturous FurMark benchmark. It's a 'benchmark' that pushes your system far more than any game ever does, and is usually reserved for making sure that your machine is completely stable.
In light of that, getting over 4 minutes is impressive.
Somewhat surprisingly the GPU topped out at 87°C, although the GDDR6X memory hit over 100°C. Power consumption wasn't too bad either, at 410W for the whole system. The graphics card was responsible for 347W. In case you were wondering, the CPU used for testing was the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X.
The reason it didn't instantly combust is because Mr Wong was using one of his own creations to cool the RTX 3080, the TureMetal UP10, which is a case designed with passive cooling in mind—it has fins all around the outside of the case, with heat pipes connecting to the CPU and this poor, poor GPU. That case costs $770 by the way.
I can't help wondering if the RTX 3070 would have been a better test subject.