EVGA GTX 480 Hydro Copper FTW Makes Some Noise (Quietly)

By now, you know NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 480 is the fastest single GPU videocard money can currently buy. But you may also know of the heat and noise complaints that many journalists have levied on NVIDIA's new flagship product. As expected, it didn't take long for one of NVIDIA's largest AIB partners, EVGA, to offer a solution to those problems and provide water-cooling enthusiasts an enticing option that's sure to shake things up. We just got our hands on one of EVGA's GTX 480 Hydro Copper FTW cards and will soon post a must read, comprehensive review. Until then, here's a taste of what's to come. 

The GTX 480 Hydro Copper FTW replaces the reference design heatsink fan with a Swiftech full coverage waterblock. There are no moving parts on this cooling solution, and therefore, the card runs dead silent. The only noise related to the card will come from fans mounted on the radiator, and the low hum of the pump circulating the coolant within the loop.

Stock speeds listed, though  overclocking headroom is plentiful for the EVGA FTW card.

A quick look at the specs reveal a 52MHz GPU core clock speed increase, along with a 26MHz memory bump. Combined with the full cover waterblock, this card will run you $650, a premium of around 30% more than the typical GTX 480. So how much of a performance boost do you get for spending the extra cheddar?  

Our first 3DMark Vantage run got us an overall score 23K, with the GPU netting well over 18.5K. Since this test was being run on an NVIDIA graphics card, we left Physx enabled, which provided us that ridiculous CPU score of 84K. In our full review, we'll turn off Physx in order to compare the scores with ATI products that don't have it built into their drivers.

Our initial overclocking results were just plain nasty. By raising GPU core voltage to 1.15V, we hit a remarkable 945MHz and memory speed of 1150MHz. In case you were wondering, that's a 35% overclock on the core and a 24% memory speed increase over reference clocks (700MHz / 924MHz). And keep in mind these frequencies were accomplished with the notoriously hot GF100 graphics processor at a nippy 37°C under full load. 

                               2560X1600 Resolution - 945MHz Core OC, 1150MHz Memory

If you're spending this kind of dough on a videocard, you want to see where it all went. In Battlefield: Bad Company 2, we maxed out every possible setting and recorded a 17% boost in average frame rates by overclocking the HC FTW, going from 35 to 41 FPS. Minimum FPS increased as well, marked up by 20%.

At this level of performance, we're excited to see where this bad boy stands when compared to the pricey and powerful HD 5970, as well as the latest overclocked HD 5870 offerings. No worries, those results are coming. For now, we'll continue to our testing but make sure to keep an eye out for the full review launching very soon.