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Old May 10, 2012, 03:49 AM
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Default [Bundymania User Review] 9 Waterblocks for HD7970 - Roundup



Hello guys,

In this review I would like to give you a broad overview concerning the current watercooling-solutions for the beloved HD 7970 graphic card from AMD. Some of the coolers might fit to the smaller brother card 7950. You will find the information about the compatibility to this card in the well-known web shops. If you might have noticed (maybe not yet ;)) the summer is coming and your graphic card might need a fresh, cool breeze. Another positive aspect of a watercooling-solution is the very low noise level or - depending from your radiator and fan layout – the full silence.
As you might know my reviews, all popular producers with their current cooling-solutions are tested here. I will as well update this review, if a producer will release a new version of his cooler. A quite good information for the disassembly of the stock air-cooler: Run Furmark for at least 10 minutes. The produced heat contributes to the softening of the thermal grease and thermal pads, which makes the disassembly quite easier.





So let us take a closer look at the testing candidates:




EK Water Blocks EK-FC7970 - EN (Nickel)






The cooler from EK Waterblocks comes with slight re-desgin of its successful watercooling-solutions for graphic cards. The bottom of the cooler is in comparison to the older version is a little bit thinner and the cooling-structure is quite more filigree. The top is as well re-designed (which I like much more than the older design). Another feature, which is meanwhile a standard of EK Waterblocks, is the production of different designs of the EK-FC7970. In this review I will test the version with nickel-plated bottom and an acrylic-glass top.
The processing quality is on a good level, but you might find some little scratches in the inside from the milling. Some of them are as well on the bottom side of the cooler. You will find beside the installation manual in English language and the common installation material a small allen key for the assembly of the screw plugs.
The cooler comes well proteced in the well-known and nicely desgined orange-black coloured retail box.
The installation is as well for untrained constructors quite handsome. The customer just has to cut the thermal pads by himself for all chips except the GPU, for which you have to use thermal grease.
The re-design of the cooling-structure results in tight fins and catapults the cooler to the top positions in my charts (but not the first place ;-)).
The voltage controller are as well actively cooled by water and you can purchase an optional backplate for around 25 Euros.



Technical Details:

Material: Acrylic glass, copper (nickel-plated)
Threads: 4 x G 1/4"

To compatibilty-configuration

Click here for the englisch installation Manual.

Scope of supply:

Cooler without Fittings (G1/4 Threads)
Installation material
Thermal pads

Price: ca. 94 Euro







Aquacomputer aquagrATIx für HD 7970 (Tahiti XT)





The aquagraATIx from Aquacomputer fort he HD 7970 looks quite elegant and shiny. The outward appearance shows overall the usage of metal as a robust material. Only the connection port is made of delrin. The processing quality is – as the cooling performance - on a very high level. The parts of the cooler which have direct contact to the graphic card are polished to maximize the heat transmission. The cooler comes well protected to the customer in a nicely designed retail box with the common installation material and installation manual. The assembly of the cooler is very easy, which means you just need a few minutes for the whole procedure.
You can watch below the whole installation procedure in a video on youtube:
aquagratix HD7970 Installation - YouTube

The voltage controllers are actively cooled with water like the EK (Aquacomputer named this feature “3D Flow”). The cooler from Aquacomputer is the only candidate in this review, where you have to apply thermal grease on the RAM-Chips (thermal grease is not part of the scope of supply). An additional backplate can be bought for around 25 Euros. The cooler has no deficits and convinced me concerning all aspects. You have to pay around 90 Euros for the cooler (regular price I guess).



Technical Details:

Materials:

Body: Copper
Top: Stainless-steel
Conncetion port: Delrin

Scope of supply:

Cooler without Fittings (G 1/4" Threats)
Installation material including thermal pads
Two screw plugs

Price: ca. 89 Euro







Koolance VID-AR797





Let us take a closer look at the Koolance VID-AR797 which is designed in the USA and produced in Korea. The well-known company uses mixed materials for their coolers (dark nickel-plated copper for the bottom and delrin and stainless-steel for the top). The VID-AR797 cooler has a solid appearance and is very well processed. It comes in decent black retail package and is as the other coolers crossfire-compatible. The scope of supply contains the common installation manual and the installation material (including thermal grease for the GPU). You have to apply two different sorts of thermal pads to the RAM and the voltage controllers, which you will have to cut by yourself. The size of the pads is very well calculated, so you have enough material to assemble the cooler a second time. The voltage controllers are directly cooled by water. A special feature of the cooler is the usage of the fourside backplate including screws and springs from the stock air-cooler. You cannot purchase an additional backplate for this cooler. The installation procedure is easy, but a multilanguage installation guide would be helpful. The VID-AR797 is well processed, convinces with its cooling performance and the scope of supply is as well very good. You can buy this cooler for around 123 Euros.




Technical Details:

Material: Nickle-plated copper, Acetal
Threat Size: G 1/4"
Sizes (LxBxH): 15,9cm x 14,6cm x 1,6cm
Weight: 680g

Scope of supply:

Koolance VID-AR797 Cooler
Thermal grease
Installation material

Price: ca. 123 Euro







XSPC Razor 7970





The next cooler in my comparison is the Razor 7970 from XSPC. This cooler is quite thin and lightweight. The bottom is made of copper. The top is made of stainless-steel. On the sides of the cooler you will find cooling-elements, which are made of aluminum and fulfill the function to cool the voltage controllers passively. The Razor 7970 comes in a black retail package with an XPSC Logo on the front. The cooler is well protected from any damage, because it is wrapped in bubble-foil. The scope of supply contains the common installation material and an installation manual in English language. The cooler comes as well with thermal grease and thermal pads, which are already cut in the correct sizes, so you can just start the assembly of the cooler out of the box (quite nice J).
I think the crossfire-compatibilty is in this days a standard-feature. You cannot purchase an additional backplate for this cooler. The processing quality of the cooler is on a good level and the installation is quite easy. The cooler performs well but does not show the best results (but is still much better than the air-cooler). You can buy this cooler for around 93 Euros.

Technical Details:

Material: Bottom = copper, Top = stainless-steel
Threats: G 1/4"
CNC milled copper
Sizes: 220 x 142 x 9mm
Crossfire-ready with 4x G1/4" threats


Scope of supply:

1x XSPC Razor 7970
1x thermal grease
2x screw plugs
Thermal pads
Installation material

Price: ca. 93 Euro






Watercool HEATKILLER® GPU-X³ 79X0





The Heatkiller for the HD 7970 comes from the northern company Watercool. The cooler comes well stuffed in a nice retail package to the customer. The scope of supply contains, besides the cooler, the common installation material and an installation manual in German language. Unfortunately there is no thermal grease, which should be applied only to the GPU. Nevertheless the thermal pads are already cut in the correct sizes (nice!). The cooler looks quite elegant and has a copper bottom with a polished stainless-steel top. The installation of the very well processed cooler is quite easy and done without any problems. The voltage controllers are actively cooled by water. You can purchase an additional backplate for the Heatkiller for around 25 Euros, which contributes to the nice look. The price is on a standard level and the cooler shows the best cooling performance in this comparison!



Technical Details:

Material: Copper, Stainless-steel, POM
Sizes: (LxBxH) 184 x 117 x 14,2mm
Weight: 1000g
Threads: 4x G ¼ Zoll (DIN ISO 228-1)
Pressure tested: 5 bar
Compatible with: AMD Radeon HD 7970 (reference design)

Scope of supply:

1x HEATKILLER® GPU-X³ 79X0
1x Installation material
1x Installation manual

Price: ca. 94 Euro







Swiftech Komodo™ HD7970 Fullcover Waterblock





Swiftech, the well-kown pioneer for watercooling-solutions has as well released a new cooler for the AMD 7970. The Komodo HD 7970 Fullcover watercooler comes in a simple white package and is well wrapped in bubble-foul. Therefore the cooler is very well protected from any damage. The scope of supply contains besides the cooler the common installation material and a Multilanguage installation manual. The cooler comes as well with a nice black backplate and black coloured single-slot-cover. There are as well the needed thermal grease and two black screw plugs.
Another nice feature of the Swiftech cooler is, that the thermal pads are already applied to the cooler, so the customer just has to remove the protection-foil and apply thermal grease to the GPU to get ready for the assembly. The bottom of the cooler is chrome-plated and the top is made of black Acetal and shows a nicely designed patch. An second special feature is the additional led in the connection port, which enlightens the Swiftech Logo in red. The Led receives the power from the Fan Header of the graphic card.
The Swiftech Komodo is very well processed and has a very flashy design. The scope of supply is as well very nice, but the cooler could not reach the absolute top position for its cooling performance (but the difference to the top levels is still very small).
There is as well a certain feature concerning the assembly of the cooler: Swiftech uses the small backplate of the stock air-cooler. If you do not want to use the small backplate, you can as well install the cooler with four screws, that are a little bit longer than the other ones. Therefore the scope of supply is quite perfect, but it would have been completed with a small screwdriver, which is needed for the installation.

The cooler cannot be purchased in germany, but hopefully this will be possible in the further future. The price is with 155 US Dollar quite high, but if you take back in mind that the scope of supply is quite big, the height of the price is quite relative (Scope of supply contains additional backplate around 20-30€ and a single-cover).




Technical Details:

Threats: G 1/4"

Top: POM Acetal
Bottom: chrome-plated copper
Backplate Material: Aluminum
Sizes: Länge: 269mm x Breite: 120mm x Höhe 14,9mm
Weight: 1059 g

Price: ca. 155 US Dollar / ca. 118 EUR (current price)







Testing system:





Banchetto 101 Bench Station
Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 Mainboard
Kingston HyperX DIMM Kit 12GB
Watercool Heatkiller 3.0 LT
i7 920 @4Ghz @1.40V (lief IDLE!)
Cougar GX 1050 power supply
Magicool Slim 280 Radiator + 2x Noiseblocker Black Silent PK2 Lüfter (600 U/Min.)
Aquaero 4 VFD control unit
Laing Ultra with Alphacool Acetal Top
Alphacool Cyclone Reservoir
Aquacomputer Flow-rate-sensor "High Flow"
Koolance VL3N Quick-connection-coupling & CPC Metall Quick-connection-coupling
Masterkleer 16/10mm Tube + 13mm Fittings
Waterfilter from Aquacomputer
3x Sensors for watertemperature (2x T-Line, 1x Reservoir)
Thermal Grease: Phobya HeGrease
Additional Water-mixture Innovatek Protect
ArctiClean was used to clean the GPU and the Rams



Testing procedure:




I used Furmark v.1.8.2 for stress-testing the GPU in order to reach a high temperature (settings: 1280x1024, 8x MSAA). The stress-test ran for thirty minutes. To quantify the maximum temperature of the GPU I used GPU-Z. CPU ran in idle status.

I used the Phobya Hegrease thermal grease. Every cooler was assembled for three times and the best result took part in my statistics. I controlled the correct fit of the coolers and every cooler was flushed before testing in order to remove certain rest from the production









Testing results:





Delta-T / Difference GPU to Water temperature. – lower is better












Litre / h.











Price in Euro









Scope of supply:











Awards:

The Bundymania Gold Award goes to the coolers from von Watercool, Koolance and Aquacomputer for the very good processing quality and cooling performance.







The Silver Award goes to the coolers from Swiftech and EK for the well cooling performance and the big scope of supply.






The Bronze Award goes to the XSPC Razor 7970 for a solid processing quality and cooling performance and the good scope of supply.











Conclusion:

In my opinion the most important result of my review is, that all coolers do not differ very much from each other concerning the cooling performance. Because mostly all of the coolers use the same cooling structure I cannot give any advises for the “ultimate-cooler”, but you should take additional details like the price, optics and scope of supply in mind, if you like to buy a cooler. One thing is for sure: Every Fullcover-watercooler fulfills his job better than the stock air-cooler! The Swiftech Komodo takes up a special position, because it cannot be bought at this time in Germany (the scope of supply is great!). All in all, it will be a nice feature, if every producer applies thermal grease and screw drivers or allen-keys to their scope of supply. I think this parts are quite low-price options, which can be expected from the customer, if you pay up to 120€ for a fullcover-cooling-solution.






Thanks:

I would like to thank the following companies for supporting my reviews:
Aquatuning, Aquacomputer, Phobya, Watercool, EK Waterblocks, Swiftech, Koolance, XSPC, Noiseblocker, Gigabyte, Alphacool, Cougar, Microcool and Kingston
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