New CoolIT GPU Liquid Cooler Designed For Current, Future Video Cards

New CoolIT GPU Liquid Cooler Designed For Current, Future Video Cards

One of the annoying realities of buying aftermarket coolers for CPUs or video cards is that the heatsink component of the cooler can end up with a relatively short lifespan, particularly if you prefer to upgrade at a fairly quick pace. This is arguably more of an issue for GPUs than CPUs, and the cost of keeping one's system temperatures and/or acoustics at the desired level can easily tack an extra $100-$200 on to periodic update costs.

CoolIT Systems claims to have designed its way around the need for such replacements through the use of what it calls a universal cooling plate. We reviewed a BFG-built GTX 295 that uses a CoolIT-designed liquid cooling system last month—the company isn't kidding about the thermal benefits of water or the improved overclocking it makes possible—but this new ATI cooler is particularly interesting. According to the company, the GPU cooler is also designed to fit future cards that have yet to launch. There was no information on which cards these might be, or whether the future-proofing is locked to further iterations of the HD 5000 series.

Water cooling. It's kinda like that.

"I think the implementation of the universal design has addressed the need for performance cooling in the GPU space with the added benefit of upgradeability," said Dr. Gamal Refai-Ahmed, AMD fellow and lead thermal architect, AMD Graphics Product Group. "Using the liquid system has a tremendous cooling advantage over traditional air cooling, allowing our enthusiast community to push the limits of our latest architecture."

Oddly, the only "photos" available are actually 3D renders of the product.

CoolIT Systems CEO Geoff Lyon gave additional color on why the company had set its sights on designing a cooler with a longer lifespan. "Since starting our work with AMD several years ago, one of the challenges has been the fast succession of technology advances. By working hard to develop a solution that can keep up to the pace of technology advancement as well as providing the end user the flexibility to upgrade their cards while keeping the cooling system intact, we feel this is a winning combination. The solution showcases an ultra-reliable, brazed heat exchanger to ensure that it will provide excellent performance for years to come."

CoolIT isn't sharing pricing information yet, but the company's self-contained liquid cooler for the Radeon HD 4870 has an MSRP of around $135, so it's reasonable to think the new HD 5870 unit will debut in this range (possibly with a premium tacked on top). That's not cheap—third-party GPU heatsink/fan combos typically run $30-$50 at the upper end—but depending on just how future proof CoolIT's new design is, the larger up-front investment could save money over the long run. There's no realistic danger that a later card will exceed the cooler's heat-transfer capabilities—water stomps all over air in this regard—and it's quieter as well.


Everything you'd expect to find in a factory-built radiator system, minus the exhaust fan. The speed toggle for said fan is presumably hiding on the other side of the device (or would be regulated via the motherboard BIOS)

If you're the type of enthusiast who grits his teeth over high GPU temperatures, hates fan noise, or are looking for a multi-generational cooler, this new liquid cooler could be quite interesting. Hopefully CoolIT will provide additional color on the time frame they're targeting for future compatibility—knowing that the company intends today's system to still be relevant in 2-4 years would doubtlessly help leery consumers overlook the high price tag (or justify the purchase to their wives).
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Nothing fancy here, and I doubt it's future proof.  Especially since you don't know what will happen in the future for computers.

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Yeah, "futureproof" is an odd term, though I imagine it's more of a spectrum than an absolute. "More likely to be useful on future generations" is a better way to put it. If CoolIt has been privy to ATi plans, though, the chances are good that this unit will work with at least the next few years' worth of designs. (Which isn't as impressive as it sounds. ATi's prospective releases have a lot of low-end and mainstream cards, none of which is going to be terated to a water cooler.)

I take it also that this is just a GPU cooler. I wonder can this be hooked into a CPU cooling block? I was planning on air cooling, but if the premium is not that much, I'd look into water.

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Clem,

I'm going to make predictions on future models based on ATI's 4000 series.

The 5870 launched in September. We can reasonably assume that ATI will refresh the 5870 at some point with a "5890," (aka, same architecture, faster single-card offering). If the company follows roughly the same launch schedule as it did with the HD 4K cards, it'll launch a 5890 6-9 months out from now. (The 4890 launched just under nine months after the 4870, but I'm allowing for the appearance of a competitive Fermi product, and the possibility that AMD would drop a 5890 in the channel to counter it.)

I'm not going to try to predict exactly when we'll see the HD 6000 series (or whatever they decide to call it), but again, we can assume it'll drop at least six months after the 5890, which puts it at December 2010 at the very earliest.

If we assume that ATI future-proofed its GPU physical placement and whatnot, and was able to at least tell CoolIT what the 6K series would need, then we're good through June of 2012 or so--assuming a full 18 months for ATI to launch again.

I think there's a good chance this particular cooler design could be relevant past that timeframe.

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Water cooling does beat the heck out of air, but GPU performance is getting to be so striking right out of the box that I wonder if OC'ing is even necessary any more. The factory cooling solution may be good enough at stock speeds considering how the newer cards available today function.

For many of us,....the performance is that good.

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Realneil,

Good enough is always relative. I, for one, loathe jaggies, which means I don't just want to play the latest games--I want to play them at 8xAA (jaggies are the bane of my existence) with 16x AF *and* all game detailed maxxed and if DX10 if I can get it. (This last is not a real concern, DX10 being about as valuable as a goat in a tornado, but hey).

If I have to turn those settings down, for whatever reason, then the video card isn't fast enough. I don't buy games for their graphics--Immersiveness, plot, and design count for 10x more than shiny pictures--but if I can't crank everything up 100%, then I'm compromising. Granted, like everybody else, I end up compromising. ;)

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>I, for one, loathe jaggies,

Joel-- They prefer to be called "Jaguar-Americans."

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