There you have it, pressure drop, test loop flow rates, stock and overclocked GPU core along with VRM temps thanks to some custom Mosfet/VRM sensors. The test process for GPU blocks and all the extra that came with this endeavor was more than I originally anticipated, but that certainly does not mean we will not do it again even if we have to sacrifice a GPU to do it. Some of you will look at the results and declare there is little to no difference in block choice, which part of me agrees since we never ran into stability problems through testing. All of the blocks allowed for significant clock and voltage increase, but further than that, you are taming the heat and letting your loop deal with it. After all, dealing with the heat is one of the biggest reasons to go with water.
Aesthetically, we all have our own opinions and own brand preferences but I cannot say there is a bad looking block in the roundup. Take the next step beyond looks to function/usability and we start to differentiate the crowd. If you want to use compression fittings on the same side of the block, Aqua Computer and Watercool are out, need to have your outlet port closest to the PCI slot cover then EVGA is not an option. Bitspower is the only one to have the barb ports parallel to the card but do include two ninety-degree elbows. Installation wise, all of the blocks were rather painless… Well, except for taking the stock cooler off the card in the first place. Way too much thread locker was used in assembly. One of the concerns previously with full cover blocks was card bending, and I am here to report that I did not have a single instance of card bending or warping. This could be due to the use of standoffs or just making sure I did not over tighten the mount screws, I think it is actually a combination of the two. Initially I wanted to weigh the blocks, but the lack of access to a decent scale cut that from the comparison.
Jumping back to the data side of things, I wanted to come up with a way to show performance of the blocks but account for all the temps and restriction. Eric (Vapor) came up with a very objective means in his latest CPU block testing with the Relative Performance scoring and I adopted the same thinking to our GTX480 blocks. The calculation is weighted 50% Overclocked GPU Temp, 25% Overclocked VRM Temp and 25% Loop Flow Rate.
Closing the topic of performance, we move to the last piece of the puzzle, price and the dent to your build budget. GPU’s are just expensive, especially when our appetite for them cannot be satisfied with just one and then we have to slap a block on each. Full cover GPU blocks require a lot of material and copper is not cheap and neither is the machining. The prices range for the blocks we have in the round up, XSPC Razor is available for $84.95 and on the high side we have the Bitspower Black Freezer at $149.95 (Prices capture from Performance PC’s on (08/26/2010). I do not see price being a big determining factor in the choice of GPU blocks, as most of the time there is a particular look that we are after for our builds and five or ten dollars is not going to change your mind. Of course we would like to see all of the blocks in the roundup priced like the XSPC Razor, but we will not be holding our breath in anticipation of a price overhaul.
This concludes our first stroll down the path of testing GPU blocks, which overall has been a great experience, albeit a few bumps in the road and some things we will change on the next GPU block roundup. Before we close out, there is a long list of people to thank, especially MSI for providing us a GPU to torture. Each of the block companies provided a sample for testing, without their cooperation and support of the community, this test would not have been possible. So in closing a big thanks to Aqua Computer, Bitspower, Danger Den, EK, EVGA, Koolance, Watercool and XSPC.