ECS GeForce 9800 GTX+ Hydra, Liquid Cooled SLI

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When we think about ECS and their product lines, we typically expect a budget-minded approach.  Solid products at reasonable prices that don't exactly wow the consumer, but don't hit them hard in the wallet either.  The ECS X48T-A motherboard that we looked at a few weeks ago was one of the first steps by ECS to change that image, although a few missteps with the construction as well as some overclocking issues didn't overly sway us to their new way of thinking. 

Thus, we were a bit surprised when we first heard about the ECS GeForce 9800 GTX+ Hydra - a twin pack of high-end graphics cards consisting of two GeForce 9800 GTX+ cards combined with liquid-cooling.  The 9800 GTX+ is the upper level of the 9xxx series, with the plus denoting an extra bump in the clock speeds to get better peformance in the most demanding applications.  Two of these used in an SLI configuration would be a gamer's dream, although the noise and heat output could be an issue.  ECS has solved these problems by providing the customized liquid cooling unit from ThermalTake using the BigWater 760is.  ECS hopes to make a big splash here with the Hydra pack, possibly the first of its kind to include all three components in one box.  First, we'll take a look at the specs of the GeForce 9800 GTX+ and then move onto a closer look at ECS' take on it and finally the BigWater 760is.


NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX+
Features & Specifications
GPU Engine Specs:

Processor Cores 128
Graphics Clock (MHz) 738 MHz
Processor Clock (MHz) 1836 MHz
Texture Fill Rate (billion/sec) 47.2 

Memory Specs:
Memory Clock (MHz) 1100 MHz
Standard Memory Config 512  MB
Memory Interface Width 256-bit GDDR3 
Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec) 70.4 
Feature Support:
NVIDIA SLI®-ready* 2-Way  / 3-Way
NVIDIA PureVideo® Technology* HD
NVIDIA PhysX™-ready*
NVIDIA CUDA™ Technology
HybridPower™ Technology*
GeForce Boost  
Microsoft DirectX 10 
OpenGL 2.1 
Bus Support PCI-E 2.0 x16 
Certified for Windows Vista
Display Support:
Maximum Digital Resolution 2560x1600 
Maximum VGA Resolution 2048x1536 
Standard Display Connectors Dual Link DVI
Multi Monitor
HDMI* Via adapter
Audio Input for HDMI S/PDIF 
Standard Graphics Card Dimensions:
Height 4.376 inches 
Length 10.5 inches 
Width Dual-slot 
Thermal and Power Specs:
Maximum GPU Tempurature (in C) 105  C
Maximum Graphics Card Power (W) 141  W
Minimum System Power Requirement (W) 450  W
Supplementary Power Connectors 6-pin x2 

Note that we included the basic specifications of the GeForce 9800 GTX+ above because ECS hasn't changed anything here.  In our eyes, we see that as a bit of a let-down.  With the availability of more advanced cooling methods, ECS could have really put out a killer product spec with the Hydra. Combining the power of running two of these cards in SLI and having a faster clocked product that's running along significantly cooler and quieter than the rest, would have put ECS and the Hydra more prominently on the map.  Of course, we can always set out on our own to overclock these cards, and we do later on in this review.  However, we'd like to see ECS as well as other manufacturers put their own engineering skills to the test as well. 

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nelsoncp21 6 years ago

 can't say that I have ever had a trust in ECS products. They are definatley not in the top 5 companies and not worth the risk for me. However if a larger number of people give them a chance and they're reputation for reliability increases then maybe I might consider them in the future. As of right now I consider them an off brand version so to say. I am also not a fan of watercooling kits but for someone who doesn't want the hassle but wants the extra's this may be a very good option. Kudos for trying to target to a certain category of enthusiats but I don't think this will take hold for most enthusiats who already have their list of companies they trust and who usually prefer to do it themselves anyway. Who knows what the future brings though

bob_on_the_cob 6 years ago

My girlfriends 9600gt is a ECS. I also had a ECS motherboard a few years back that was alright. Not a great overclocker, but it was a solid board. I think they have stepped it up a notch in the last few years. That said I'm not sure about these cards. They still take up 4 slots on the motherboard. They just seem to take up way to much space and do not provide the performance to justify such time consumption.

gazdone 6 years ago

Well he has it pretty well right about the shoddy workmanship,copper plate peeling away from the chips is not my idea of a try out.Try having a review of EVGA's GTX 280 HC16 of the clear or the plain black.I've seen that what's his name gurus site with his review and I reckon you can out do his review.

gazdone 6 years ago

Sorry about the ending of my last reply,I have not learnt how to use smiley yet.

recoveringknowitall 6 years ago

It's ironic that Elite Group has trouble making elite products... let alone those of the standard variety. lol 

amdcrankitup 6 years ago

Ive used Elited Group in the past but more geared toward customers basic needs than a performance PC.Im supprised than they went out on the limb to create a performance based component in addition throwing in a thermaltake product and doing a less than adequate job on the card itself!Kinda of useless even to go through the paces!Usally cutting corners like that means NO Sale!

ice_73 6 years ago

i had an ecs motherboard long ago in the socket a times. it was good imo, i falshed the bios to a hacked version, overclocked my athalon and was more than happy for the overclock the budget board gave me!!! it did not fail me and last many years 

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