Watercooled GeForce GTX 280 Showdown

Written by Harry Butler

November 25, 2008 | 08:30

Tags: #coolant #gt200 #gtx-280 #overclocked #overclocking #radiator #review #water #watercooled

Companies: #bfg-and-msi #nvidia

BFG GeForce GTX 280 H₂OC

Manufacturer: BFG Tech
UK Price (as reviewed): £453.50 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $556.49 (ex. Tax)

Core Clock: 680MHz
Shader Clock: 1,458MHz
Memory Clock: 1,225MHz (2,450MHz effective)
Memory: 1GB GDDR3
Warranty: Lifetime (10 years outside USA and Canada)

Just as it did with the 8800 GTX watercooled, BFG has once again turned to watercooling specialists Danger Den to provide the GPU waterblock for its watercooled GTX 280. This time, the company has used the awesome looking Danger Den Tieton copper waterblock to cool Nvidia’s infamously hot-under-the-collar GTX 280 with a genuine single slot solution.

Looking like some kind of Klingon weapon with its curved edges and aggressive styling, the block’s thermal contact surface is made entirely from well machined copper, finished to a smooth finish on the thermal contact side and to a rougher sandy finish on the top side. Bizarrely, Danger Den has chosen not to treat the copper with any sort of anti-corrosive finish, leaving the exposed areas very susceptible to fingerprints – as we found out.

Watercooled GeForce GTX 280 Showdown BFG GeForce GTX 280 H₂OC Watercooled GeForce GTX 280 Showdown BFG GeForce GTX 280 H₂OC
Click to enlarge

The copper plate itself is very chunky at 5mm thick and extends to 8mm where contact with RAM modules and PWMs is required. The block has been specifically designed to make contact with every heat producing component on the card. Danger Den has done a great job of milling the single copper block to accomplish this, with individual extensions for the PWMs and memory modules, indentations for the low profile chokes and even an extension for the NVIO chip and indentation for the resistors.

The block itself is as weighty as expected being made almost entirely of copper, tipping the scales at 680g, but is securely mounted to the card using the GTX 280’s standard mounting holes and fittings. Nevertheless, we’ve seen too many heavy cards rip PCI-Express slots clear off motherboards during transit, so if you plan on transporting a system with this card fitted, be sure that it’s sufficiently supported.

Watercooled GeForce GTX 280 Showdown BFG GeForce GTX 280 H₂OC Watercooled GeForce GTX 280 Showdown BFG GeForce GTX 280 H₂OC
Click to enlarge - the bundle and waterblock are both excellent, but you pay a premium

Topside, the BFG GTX 280 H₂OC’s waterblock is covered with an acrylic plate screwed over the water channel that bears the BFG logo rather than the Danger Den branding found on the block if you bought it separately. We're a little disappointed though, as BFG has decided to fit the card with a matt, rather than a transparent acrylic water channel covering – there's just something so cool about seeing the coolant flowing inside the waterblock that we love to see and it's a shame that it's been left out.

The coolant channel beneath the cover has been designed to have a high surface area to cover the maximum amount of heat producing components and crucially partially covers every single memory module on the front side of the card, with six of the eight modules receiving full coverage from the water channel – vital for achieving high memory overclocks. The channel has also been specifically designed to generate low pressure resistance, allowing coolant to flow easily though without being excessively slowed by an overly tight channel, which can impact on overall loop performance in larger set-ups by reducing flow rate.
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