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Reviewed: Corsair Hydro GFX (GTX 980 Ti)

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Shawn Baker

Page 1: Reviewed: Corsair Hydro GFX (GTX 980 Ti)

corsair hydrogfx logoThe focus on high end performance on modern high-end GPUs sees a large focus on cooling. With features like GPU Boost and PowerTune, partners want to make sure that the GPU on their PCB is running as cool as possible to help extract the best possible performance. While new to the graphics card market, Corsair are hardly a stranger to water cooling. Partnered up with MSI, let’s find out what Corsairs first graphics card, the Hydro GFX is capable of.

Cooperation between Corsair and MSI was announced in mid-September with the two companies working together to create the Hydro GFX, a water cooled GTX 980 Ti. Whether more models will appear under the collaboration remains unknown. However, with successful sales, it’s safe to assume this partnership could grow further. MSI sells the same card as the GTX 980 Ti Sea Hawk. While NVIDIA have said “A good graphics card does not require water cooling”, one can’t hide the fact that high-end offerings do benefit from it.

While NVIDIA has stayed away from reference cards carrying water cooling, AMD have been at it with the AMD R9 Fury X. Not only that, the company’s upcoming R9 Fury X2 graphics card should also carry water cooling.

Corsair Hydro GFX
Corsair Hydro GFX

While AiO water cooling solutions don’t carry the same punch as more powerful custom designs, the ease of use and flexibility they offer are what make them really shine. We’ll have to see just what Corsair and MSI have done today.

Key Architectural data

By now we’ve got a very good idea of what’s going on with the powerful GM200-GPU. Based on Maxwell architecture, the 28nm chip carries a total of 8 billion transistors. Compared to the slightly higher end GTX Titan X, two Maxwell streaming multiprocessors have been disabled. A total of 2816 Shader Units, 176 texture units and 96 ROPs are seen. The 6GB of GDDR5 sits on a 384-bit memory bus.

The Corsair Hydro GFX
model Corsair Hydro GFX
price $749.99
Homepage www.corsair.com
Technical specifications
GPU Maxwell
Manufacturing Process 28 nm
Transistors 8 billion
GPU Clock Speed (Base Clock) 1,190 MHz
GPU clock (Boost Clock) 1,291 MHz
Memory Clock 1775 MHz
Memory Type GDDR5
Memory Size 6 GB
Memory Interface 384 Bit
Memory Bandwidth 340.6 GB / s
DirectX Version 12
Shader Units 2,816
Texture units 176
ROPs 96
Typical Board Power 250 Watt
SLI / Crossfire SLI

The upgraded cooling means that Corsair and MSI has taken the time to overclock the model. While NVIDIA offer a base clock of 1,000MHz, the Corsair Hydro GFX carries a higher 1190MHz clock. In terms of boost clock, we see an increase from 1075MHz to 1290MHz. Looking at the base clock, this translates to a performance increase of 20% and should show a significant increase in our benchmarks today. As for the memory, that’s seen a slight increase from 1750MHz to 1775MHz. While this is a solid overclock, it’s not all that uncommon in such water-cooled cards.

This isn’t the first water cooled GTX 980 Ti we’ve looked at, though. Not long ago we had a look at the Inno3D GTX 980 Ti Black iChill Accelero Hybrid S which saw a minimum boost clock of 1304MHz. In practice, the number was even higher at 1443MHz.

GPU-Z-Screenshot zur Radeon R9 Nano
GPU-Z screenshot for Corsair Hydro GFX

The GPU-Z screenshot confirms the details we’ve just mentioned.

Comparison of temperature and clock
game temperature Clock
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 65°C 1,392 MHz
Battlefield: Hardline 65°C 1,392 MHz
Grand Theft Auto IV 64°C 1,392 MHz
Far Cry 4 65°C 1,392 MHz
Total War: Attila 65°C 1,392 MHz
Metro: Last Light Redux 65°C 1,392 MHz
Tomb Raider 65°C 1,392 MHz
DiRT Rally 65°C 1,392 MHz
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor 65°C 1,392 MHz

While the boost clock minimum is 1291MHz, every manufacturer pretty much improves upon that. Looking above, we can see that our Corsair Hydro GFX manages a solid 1392MHz across all our benchmarks here today at a temperature of 64c to 65c. Going back to the Inno3D GTX 980 Ti Black iChill Accelero Hybrid S, that managed to achieve a slightly higher 1443MHz across our benchmarks.