So what have I got to say about this card and cooling solution. To start off with it is not perfect, though all of the issues are resolvable. The fact that it is a small bore system will raise a few eyes, though small bores if balanced well do perform. They might not be suitable for TEC's, but they are easier to manage, will still function a hell of a lot better than air and look drop dead gorgeous. I ran a small bore with my first ever setup many years ago and it worked absolutely fine.
The pump is my real area of concern. We do know that a high flow rate is vital for good cooling and this pump is good enough for the card, maybe a chipset as well, but nothing else. With either a Criticool or a Swiftech relay you can still have a pump that turns on with your PSU, but will be mains powered. The idea of a 12v pump is great, though I have yet to see one I have liked.
Being picky, the reservoir is a bit sad too. It works absolutely fine, though I would personally never use it. One of the nice aluminium ones from Aqua Solutions is a must and would complement the beauty of this card to a letter.
This brings us to the crux of the problem. Though I have got this card on loan and I know in my head that in a few short days time this card will be going back to Gainward. In my heart it is mine. I am already planning how it would look in my case and the parts that I would buy to make it that bit better. Its like getting that stainless steel racing exhaust for your Ferrari. The factory one is fine, but the sight of those glinting stainless pipes are so much better. The idea of a fully integrated watercooled graphics card does not tell you how gorgeous this bit of machined and polished aluminium really is.
They might not be able to make a decent cup of tea at Gainward, but they CAN make a card that will always be a classic. I have heard it asked if this card is "over the top" and the answer is yes. This card is completely over the top, just like a Dodge Viper GTS is and I would buy one of those without a blink if I could. This is the Muscle Car of the graphics card world; it does it just so damn well and with so much class.
So what do I give it for an award. Well it definitely gets the MODFATHER AWARD as the potential of this card is so much more than just a card. This can be the starting block of a compete watercooled system, if you wish or just a stunning contribution to your whole system. As to its main rating that is so much harder as this is just so much more than just a graphics card. Without the watercooling it is one hell of a product, with, it is truly something special. This card has created a class of its own and there is in reality nothing to compare it to. Therefore with some reluctance I will give it a GOLD AWARD, the reluctance is purely because this is as high as our awards go and this card really should be on a pedestal of its own.
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