While in one corner we have reference and then the non-reference versions of GTX 980, Gigabyte has a triple non-reference GTX 980 combo with a closed-loop water setup. The GIGABYTE WaterForce 3-way SLI GTX 980 includes a radiator-in-a-box designed to sit on top of the PC case. From the inside, you see 3x 120mm fan and front LED controls. Since there’s a total of 6x pipes, an internal USB header and a Molex, it get routed through Gigabyte’s included 5.25″ bay cover. There’s also pipe clamps, Gigabyte-themed 3-way SLI bridge which comes in a clam-shell suitcase (Yeah!) with two straps keeping it more secure.
For the DIY guys, this setup would look complicated but some may appreciate the thought put into providing an out-of-the-box solution. Gigabyte justifies it that it would be a less messy setup for novices, and the card’s warranty is not voided. It should be noted that in many cases (and depending on the country and brand), GPU makers don’t mind its end-users to remove the the GPU coolers and do whatever they require as long as there is no physical damage. It’s another case however if the cooling setup leaks and damages the card. There have been some cases where people reported the AIO coolers leaked and damaged the cards. Corsair seems to be clear that they would replace the cards, and according to RAM GUY in Corsair forums this applies worldwide.
Coming back to this, I really feel that having a single and/or dual card setup would have been a far more practical and feasible option for people to adopt. Rather than having a top mount where people would most likely use it to mount a 240/280mm radiator setup for the CPU, they probably could easily have a vertical tower sort of setup (remember Zalman Reserator 2 and MORA 3??). We can always route the water pipes through the watercooling grommets that most cases have them. On the bright side, at least it’s not as ridiculous as reference AMD Radeon R9 295 X2 where they expect a 500W TDP GPU to be cooled by a single 120mm closed loop radiator setup, a unit built by Asetek. These are some random basic ideas I am throwing out there. Corsair mentions that they use Propylene glycol and distilled water in their closed-loop water coolers. I believe it’s a good practice that everything doing anything with liquid cooling should disclose in specifications. Gigabyte VGA can go the extra mile by putting up the specs for the radiators and the fans (sleeve bearings? ball bearings? CFM? dB?). It costs a lot of money so that’s the least that can be done.
I am not sure about the OEM of the actual cooler. There’s also no information about the coolant it uses or if these are copper-based or aluminum-based radiators. Your guess is as good as mine.
The following are the specs of each of the Gigabyte Waterforce GTX 980 GPU, in comparison with the reference model:
|GTX 980 Engine Specs:||Reference||1x Waterforce GTX 980|
|Base Clock (MHz)||1126||1228|
|Boost Clock (MHz)||1216||1329|
|Memory Clock||7.0 Gbps|
|Standard Memory Config||4 GB GDDR5|
|Memory Interface Width||256-bit|
|Standard Display Connectors||Dual Link DVI-I, HDMI 2.0, 3x DisplayPort 1.2||1x DVI-I / 1 xDVI-D; 3x DisplayPort; 1x HDMI|
To give you a very idea of the actual package, take a look at the unboxing- though I am not sure why are the MOSFET and the chipset heatsinks being removed on the already installed G1 Gaming motherboard featured in the video:
There’s also the cost part. Though the official pricing isn’t out, but I was told that it would be 2.25- 2.5 lakh INR. Suffice to say, the GPU kit alone costs more than what a super-high-end rig would cost irrespective of where you are. Even though (according to Gigabyte VGA) its up to 42.6% cooler than a reference card, that’s a lot of dough.
But hey, that’s just me. Do you think a setup like this is in a right direction- or is it a cool feature but an overkill? It differs from person to person, of course. Regardless, we can give a credit to Gigabyte for testing the ‘unchartered areas of liquid cooling’ for graphic cards. Pre-installed watercooling for GPU is a very neat idea.