Introduction

Every once in a while we see some very unique approaches to graphics card designs, even more so than just a slightly modified or fan-less heat sink (like ASUS's silent 6600 GT). Many times, HSF alterations on reference designs are to cut down on heat or noise that's generated during the card's operation, but some solutions are a bit more dramatic than others.

Liquid cooling with GPUs has been around for a while now and there is a lot of debate over how practical and effective it really is. It can definitely be impressive to see a gaming setup with its processors massively overclocked and cooled with liquid nitrogen systems, but for most people this type of system is very much out of their reach. Water cooling is a little more practical, but in order for it to be anything more than a novelty (i.e. used only be a small number of enthusiasts), it has to yield practical benefits without a lot of extra cost and trouble.

In principle, water cooling has some very nice benefits. For one, there is potential for these cards to run much cooler than air cooled cards, which would allow for high overclocks. Fan noise could also be cut down drastically, as water moving through small tubes is generally far quieter than a fan blowing air. However, one thing water can't get you is temperatures lower than the ambient room, but for most people that means 25 C or less, so that should be sufficient.

Today we are looking at two cards using ATI's current top-performing solution, the X1900 XTX. One of the cards is made by Sapphire, a company known for its innovative graphics card designs. This card features a slightly different take on water cooled graphics solution, and it aims to address the address the issues many people have with assembling water cooling systems. The second card is a more traditional design from Connect3D, using the same X1900 XTX chipset. It will also as something of a baseline performance metric, since absent special cooling configurations most X1900 XTX cards will perform similarly.

These two X1900 XTXs are very different from each other and show how much variation there can be between two versions of the same graphics card, and that should make things interesting. While the Blizzard X1900 XTX may overshadow its Connect3D competitor in terms of design, performance will still be similar in many areas, provided clock speeds are the same. We'll look at overclocking potential as well as noise levels, though, and there at least we should see some more substantial differences.

Connect3D Radeon X1900 XTX
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  • haelduksf - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    Because a well-designed water-cooling setup is more efficient than any heatpipe-based air cooler. See any overclocker's forum on the internet for proof. Reply
  • NullSubroutine - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    i could have been mistaken, but i thought the x1900xtx and the 7900 gtx xo edition from evga were pretty much tied? Reply
  • z3R0C00L - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    Not really..

    The x1900XTX has more features, performs better in newer games and also support HDR+AA. There are no extra's over the x1900 series that you can get with the 7900GTX.. save maybe 5FPS more in OpenGL games... but not many people play those games.

    The x1900XTX is the better card for HighEnd buyer's.. better drivers, better performance and more features.
    Reply
  • NullSubroutine - Monday, April 10, 2006 - link

    i know it was the inquirer, but the did an article on the overclocked 7900 and it showed they pretty much tied in most situations. granted, it came factory overclocked. i still personally would take x1900xtx for a single card solution, but would take the 7900 for sli (if you can actually find two cards). Reply

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