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8800 GPU block Round Up Swiftech MCW60 vs. Danger Den Full Cover vs. D-TEK FuZion GFX

by Misoprostol     |     July 4, 2007





Hardware Canucks GPU Block Round Up






D-TEK FuZion GFX MSRP: 49.99USD
Danger Den DD-8800GTS MSRP: 134.99USD
Availability: Available Now
Warranty:
Swiftech - 1 year manufacturing defects
Danger Den - 1 year manufacturing defects
D-TEK - Limited Lifetime


Table of Contents
1- Introduction
2- Danger Den DD - 8800 GTS Full Coverage Block
3- Swiftech MCW60 GPU Block
4- D-TEK Customs FuZion GFX GPU Block
5- Block Internals
6- Testing Hardware and Methodology
7- Results
8- Conclusion



Introduction

Today we'll be looking at graphics card coolers from the 3 heavyweights in the North American water cooling industry: Swiftech, Danger Den, and D-TEK customs. All three of them entered the water cooling market around the same time in the late 90's and early 00's and have been constant innovators ever since. Today we'll find out which is the most effective for keeping your 8800 video card (or for that matter any other video card) running cool (when integrated with an appropriate water cooling setup).


Danger Den DD - 8800 GTS:

The DD-8800 GTS is Danger Den's current generation full coverage block (water block that cools ALL components on the video card with one piece) for the 8800 GTS. There is also a version for the 8800 GTX.

Full coverage blocks used to be quite unpopular due to their lack-lustre performance, high pressure drop, and prohibitive cost, but Danger Den has refined their full coverage manufacturing and design processes to bring better performance, and less restriction than their initial designs for nVidia's 6800 series cards.

One other new advantage that full coverage blocks enjoy is the fact there are becoming more and more heat generating components on video cards today. Every additional thing that needs to be cooled means another little heatsink, so using a full coverage block means better peace of mind because you don't have to worry about a RAMsink falling off in the middle of a gaming session.



Inherent in the full coverage design is the advantage of not needing anything else to use your block other than what's included in the box. Danger Den includes some Arctic Silver Ceramique, a couple of thermal pads, basic instructions, Danger Den Chrome barbs (ours are 1/2"), and the screws you will need to fasten your block to your video card.



The base of the Danger Den block is not as shiny as I would like to see, especially compared to our other blocks, but it remains to be seen how much of an effect this has on our card during testing...

*edit* Danger Den has brought it to my attention that on a multi-level product like this, it's not possible to machine lap the base before hand lapping and polishing, and that there shouldn't be a very significant performance decrease due to this difference in the manufacturing process. It's just one of the limitations of full coverage blocks.


Swiftech MCW60

The Swiftech MCW60, the successor to the MCW50 and MCW55 is based on the Swiftech venerable APOGEE water block base. The APOGEE has since been replaced by the APOGEE GT/GTX line-up, so the MCW60 is the only block left in Swiftech's water cooling line up to use this proven base plate.

Swiftech recommends their MC8800 SMC cooling kit for the rest of the heat-generating components on your card



One advantage Swiftech's retail package (the MCW60-R) has over the other blocks in this round up, is that it can be easily integrated into any water cooling system you may currently have, whether it's a 1/4", 3/8", or 1/2" system. The MCW60 includes 3 sets of inexpensive plastic barbs. The MCW60-R package also include some Arctic Silver Ceramique, detailed instructions, legacy mounting hardware, and the G80 hold-down plate, which is necessary for installation on 8800 series cards.


Here we can see Swiftech's manufacturing experience very clearly. The bottom of this block is extremely flat and reflective.



D-TEK Customs FuZion GFX



The FuZion GFX is the second block in D-TEK's FuZion series. Based on the same design as the very popular FuZion CPU block, and with a very cutting edge aesthetic look, the only thing left to see is how well it performs.



D-TEK recommends their UNI-SINK product for cooling the rest of the components on your video card




The advantages of the FuZion GFX lie in the inclusion of D-TEK's beautiful new barbs, aesthetics, and excellent out-of-the-box compatibility with current video cards. The D-TEK box includes basic instructions, barbs, and mounting hardware for most current cards


Here we can see the bottom of the FuZion GFX. The base appeared to be very flat, and as you can see, the finish is very shiny. One exclusive D-TEK feature is the anti-corrosion coating they put on their blocks to keep them shiny over time. I've found this also makes the copper more fingerprint resistant.






So how does the FuZion GFX base compare to that of the FuZion CPU block that fared so well in our CPU water block round up?



As you can see, the FuZion GFX (right) has less surface area than the Fuzion CPU (left) because it's missing the copper channels around the middle pin design. The pins also are not as clearly recessed in the middle of the block, but it's unclear whether or that that will affect block performance.

One thing that D-TEK appears to have refined since the FuZion CPU block is the seal that they use. The seal on the FuZion GFX stayed in place better and sits in a recessed groove in the block itself. This is an excellent feature.


Block Internals:

Here's a comparison showing the internal designs of all three blocks together. The top block is the Danger Den DD-8800 GTS with the MCW60 on the bottom left and the FuZion GFX on the bottom right.



The Danger Den block is designed less for maximum performance, and more for convenience and appearance. With the Danger Den block it's not necessary to use other small heatsinks all over the rest of the card, and you also are able to use only a single slot for your high end video card. The grooves over the GPU are quite shallow, and we'll see in our performance testing what impact that has on real-world GPU temps.

The Swiftech and D-TEK blocks are both designed for maximum performance directly on the GPU so our focus for these blocks will be more about which one performs better. The MCW60 is is designed for flow to go from top to bottom (in our photo), whereas the FuZion GFX is a central impingement design, something that's very rare to see in a GPU block. It'll be interesting to see how these design differences impact their real-world performance.




Testing Hardware and Methodology:

The System

Danger Den Torture Rack
Foxconn 975X motherboard
Intel Pentium D 805 w/ stock cooler
2x 256MB PC2-4200
BGF 8800 GTS 320MB Overclocked Edition
Samsung 80GB SATA hard drive
Lite-On DVD-ROM
600W modular PSU


Water Cooling Parts Used for Testing


Danger Den DD-8800 GTS
Swiftech MCW60
D-TEK Customs FuZion GPU Block
Clearflex 1/2" Tubing
Swiftech MCP655 @ full speed
Hardware Labs Black Ice GTS Stealth 240
2x Yate Loon D12SL-12 @ 1350 RPM
Swiftech MCRES-MICRO for quick bleeding between blocks.

Testing Methodology

All blocks were run with their included barbs and with Arctic Cooling Ceramique and/or included thermal pads. MC14 and MC21 RAMsinks were used on hot spots when testing GPU-only blocks.

Blocks were reseated twice and the results were averaged. Room temperatures were constant throughout testing at 22.5 degrees centigrade.

GPU load temps were found to be the highest when running the SM3.0 tests in 3Dmark 2006. Temperature logging was performed with Rivatuner. The load temp was taken as the highest peak temperature during testing for each card. Idle temps were taken running 2D desktop applications in Windows XP SP2.



Results:

Just to reiterate from the Testing Methodology section. These temps were taken at 22.5 C and load was achieved by running the SM3.0 tests in 3Dmark 2006 several times to heat up the water. Idle temps were achieved by leaving it idle in a 2D environment for 10 minutes to let the water cool.


As you can see, the performance of the MCW60 and the D-TEK FuZion GFX is near-identical, with the DD-8800 GTS trailing the other two under load.


Conclusion:

The MCW60 and FuZion GFX performed within margin of error of each other, and both offered excellent performance compared to stock cooling on the 8800 GTS, which can go as high as 60-65C under load.

The DD-8800GTS offered performance that was about 5C higher than the GPU-only blocks, but also gives the convenience of not having to fuss with RAMsinks and coolers for the MOSFETs on your video card. More and more this is becoming an issue as each new generation of video card seems to have more heat generating points in its surface.


Swiftech MCW60

Pros:

- Industrial appearance
- Excellent Performance
- Well-lapped base
- Broad compatibility with different sized tubing
- Compatible with industry standard G1/4 barbs
- New adapter plates can be released for new video cards
- Excellent instructions and Swiftech support forum


Cons:

- Block must be disassembled to install adapter plates
- Plastic barbs
- G80 mounting system less refined than other blocks in this round up
- 2 slot cooling solution



D-TEK Customs FuZion GFX

Pros:

- Far-Out "Blingy" appearance for those who like that (myself included - I loved the look of this block)
- Excellent Performance
- Well-lapped base
- Excellent quality metal barbs included with recessed O-ring
- Compatible with industry standard G1/4 barbs
- Hold down plates very easy to re&re
- 8800 installation so easy a baby could do it



Cons:

- Although we don't have equipment to test exact flow rate, this block was more restrictive than the MCW60
- Price is about $10 higher than the Swiftech MCW60-R
- 2 slot cooling solution



Danger Den DD-8800 GTS

Pros:

- Appearance is subdued, but practical looking(my girlfriend liked this one best)
- Good performance compared to air cooling
- Good quality metal barbs included
- Compatible with industry standard G1/4 barbs
- Installation was fairly easy
- Cools all components on the video card
- Single slot cooling solution

Cons:

- Base was not as shiny as I'm used to seeing in >$100 cooling products
- Much more expensive than both other products in this round up
- Cannot be reused on future video cards unless they happen to use the same layout as the 8800*


*this has happened in the past. Full coverage 6800 blocks were compatible on all cards up 'til the 7950GT and 7900GTX)








Review by: Misoprostol