We're finally reviewing the real EVGA GTX 1080 Hybrid ($730), having built our own several months ago by using a liquid cooling kit. The EVGA version, though, is more official – and it's also using an FTW custom PCB rather than the 5-phase reference board we relied upon. The FTW Hybrid has better power management and delivery, in theory, alongside a far more advanced cooling solution than we instituted on our own DIY Hybrid.
In this review, we'll primarily and most heavily be focusing on thermals between the Sea Hawk X and the EVGA 1080 FTW Hybrid, but will also look at FPS and overclocking performance. Noise and power testing are additionally available, along with some unique Boost functionality discussion.
The Titan X (Pascal) DIY “Hybrid” project has come to a close, and with that, we've reached our results phase. This project has yielded the most visible swings in clock performance that we've yet seen from a liquid cooling mod, and has revealed significant thermal throttling in the reference nVidia Titan XP design. What's more, this card will not feature the market saturation created by AIB partners with lower end cards, and so more advanced coolers do not seem to be available without going open loop or DIY.
Our liquid-cooled Titan X Pascal Hybrid has increased the card's non-overclocked frequency by an average of nearly 200MHz – again, pre-overclock – because we've removed the thermal throttle point. The card has also improved its clock-rate stability versus temperature and time, provable during our two-hour endurance run.
We've just finished testing the result of this build, and the results are equal parts exciting and intriguing – but that will be published following this content. We're still crunching data and making charts for part 3.
In the meantime, the tear-down of our reader's loaner Titan X (Pascal) GPU has resulted in relatively easy assembly with an EVGA Hybrid kit liquid cooler. The mounting points on the Titan XP are identical to a GTX 1080, and components can be used between the two cards almost completely interchangeably. The hole distance on the Titan XP is the same as the GTX 1080, which is the same as the 980 Ti, 1070, and very similar to the GTX 1060 (which has a different base plate).
Here's the new video of the Titan X build, if you missed it:
With thanks to GamersNexus viewer Sam, we were able to procure a loaner Titan X (Pascal) graphics card whilst visiting London. We were there for nVidia's GTX 10 Series laptop unveil anyway, and without being sampled the Titan X, this proved the best chance at getting hands-on.
The Titan X (Pascal) GP102-400 GPU runs warmer than the GTX 1080's GP104-400 chip, as we'll show in benchmarks in Part 3 of this series, but still shows promise as a fairly capable overclocker. We've already managed +175MHz offsets from core with the stock cooler, but want to improve clock-rate stability over time and versus thermals. The easiest way to do that – as we've found with the 1080 Hybrid, 1060 Hybrid, and 480 Hybrid – is to put the card under water cooling (or propylene glycol, anyway).
In this first part of our DIY Titan XP “Hybrid” build log, we'll tear-down the card to its bones and look at the PCB, cooling solution, and potential problem points for the liquid cooling build.
Here's the video, though separate notes and photos are below:
The EVGA Hybrid closed-loop liquid cooler has been the center of attention for a few of our DIY “Hybrid” mods, and for good reason: It was the best-performing CLC for GPUs that we tested last year, largely due to the protrusion in the coldplate and the dense microfins. The EVGA Hybrid cooler ($100) uses Asetek's supply, so we resurrected our old Corsair H100 (torn apart years ago) to compare a Generation 3 Asetek cooler to the new generation on EVGA's unit. You'll see that the setup is largely the same, though.
The EVGA Hybrid cooler we're tearing down today accompanies the GTX 980 Ti Hybrid, 970 Hybrid, and the forthcoming 1080 Hybrid. We managed to drop thermals of the GTX 1080 down to 18C (delta T over ambient) from ~57C by mounting an EVGA Hybrid cooler to the card, and even got an extra 100MHz out of our OC. Let's look at why that was the case.
The GTX 1060 Hybrid series has come to a close. This project encountered an unexpected speed bump, whereupon we inserted a copper shim (changing the stack to silicon > TIM > shim > TIM > coldplate) to bridge contact between the CLC and GPU. This obviously sacrifices some efficiency, as we're inserting two layers of ~6W/mK TIM between ~400W/mK copper, but it's still better than air cooling with a finned heatsink.
Our previous Hybrid projects (see: 1080, RX 480) axed the baseplate, thereby losing some VRAM and VRM cooling potential. For this project, we filed down the edges of the GPU socket to accommodate the protruding EVGA coldplate. This allowed us to keep the baseplate, granting better conduction to the VRAM and VRM. The blower fan is also still operating, but by removing the cover from the shroud (“window”), we're losing some pressure and air before it reaches the VRM. After speaking to a few AIB partners, we determined that the cooling was still sufficient for our purposes. An open air bench case fan was positioned to blast air into the “window” hole, keeping things a little cooler on average.
The GTX 1060 Hybrid tear-down went smoothly. We were able to remove all of the components with relative ease, look things over, and make a loose plan for part 2 – the build, which also seemed to go smoothly.
Until it didn't.
We were able to re-secure everything and, despite some very close clearance, even got the shroud back onto the card. Unfortunately, plugging it in revealed high idle temperatures, and a 30-second test led us to nearly 90C almost immediately. We terminated the test and cooled the card down, then re-evaluated the installation.
The final part of our AMD Radeon RX 480 Hybrid build is complete. We've conducted testing on the RX 480 with liquid cooling, successfully yielding additional overclocking headroom and reducing temperatures by 59%. We also ended up hitting 1.15V to the core when overvolting and overclocking, something we talk about more below.
The first part of this AMD RX 480 liquid cooling guide tore-down the video card, the second part built it back up with an Arctic Accelero Hybrid III and liquid cooler, and our new video and article explore the results. The short of it: Liquid cooling an AMD RX 480 significantly improves the temperatures, the noise output, and provides marginal extra overclocking room.
This video is a follow-up to our popular GTX 1080 Hybrid series, if you missed that.
We're putting the AMD RX 480 under water. Our GTX 1080 Hybrid project revealed significant improvements to overclock stability and lowered the 1080's thermals by 100%, an important boost versus the Founders Edition ($700). This endeavor opened our eyes to new means of testing component limits, and makes for a fun DIY project to push new hardware to its absolute peak performance – or make it die trying.
Following our RX 480 endurance and thermal findings, we believe it's possible to improve thermals, reduce overall power consumption (by eliminating the need for a fan spinning at 4000+ RPM), and significantly cut noise output. The overclocked RX 480 was able to sustain its 1340MHz core only because we ran the fan so fast, and by switching to a liquid cooler (powered externally, not by the video card), we'll free-up some power for the core and memory. This will also allow us to reduce overall fan RPMs on our mod's VRM fan, hopefully cutting noise levels to something lower than the ~55-60dB output experienced in our overclocking test. Our overclock, although reasonable, is entirely unbearable because of its high noise output and would be unacceptable for any real-world user or home.
We're fixing that.
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