EVGA GTX 480 Hydro Copper FTW Review

Article Index

Performance Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: Since its launch, NVIDIA's GTX 480 took over the throne as the most powerful single GPU-based graphics on the market. With the higher clock speeds offered by EVGA's Hydro Copper FTW Edition, we fully expected to see a performance increase and that's exactly what happened. Looking at the numbers, the extra 52MHz on the GPU provided measurable frame rate jumps in every test we conducted. On average, we recorded an 8% speed bump throughout testing. Even more impressive are the gaming results shown in FarCry2 and STALKER, where this card exceeded the HD 5970's performance.  And that's not even considering the significant additional performance headroom we saw when we overclocked the card to 944MHz core and 1125MHz memory frequencies.  Finally, the thermal characteristics of the GPU under load and at idle were dramatically improved, especially under load, which is a huge plus for any end user type, performance freak or otherwise.      


One of the advantages of buying a video card with a pre-installed GPU water block is that you'll usually pay less for the total package than you would when purchasing the card and water block separately. And from the looks of it, that's the case we have here. The Hydro Copper FTW GTX 480 has a street price of $650. Since EVGA doesn't offer an air cooled FTW GTX 480, we'll compare that to the SuperClocked+ GTX 480, which retails for $540. Add $140 for a comparable waterblock and you can save approximately $30 by choosing the Hydro Copper FTW edition, along with the time and effort it takes to replace the stock heatsink with the GPU block. In case you were wondering, EVGA already has the GTX 470 waterblock available for individual purchase at $140. Soon, we expect to see the waterblock used on the GTX 480 HC at a similar price point.   

In closing, let's start with the obvious. This card is not for most people. It targets a niche market of enthusiasts who water-cool their components, looking for the highest level of performance available. But consumers have a few choices available to them in this scenario. There's the do-it-yourself route, where you purchase a reference design GTX 480, a separate GPU waterblock, and replace the stock heatsink on your own. EK, Danger Den, Koolance, Heatkiller, XSPC, and Bitspower all make waterblocks specially designed for the GTX 480, which range in price from $85 up to $150. On the other side of the fence, there are a handful of high-end, water-cooled ATI cards on the market. PowerColor showed us liquid cooled 5870s and 5970s recently, at Computex 2010. But at the time of this review, EVGA is the only company offering water-cooled GTX 480s and 470s. 

Although it costs quite a bit more than a standard GTX 480, there is some value in purchasing Hydro Copper FTW Edition with a pre-installed waterblock. That's a convenience some enthusiasts may appreciate when putting together a high end build. Additionally, EVGA cranked up the operating frequencies to give users a performance edge right out of the box. And with this product's cooling ability, we estimate users will easily hit over 800MHz core clock, likely reaching 900MHz like our review sample did. And for peace of mind, we appreciate the lifetime warranty this card comes with. No, EVGA didn't make this card for everyone. But if you are in the market for a watercooled GF100 with sexy lines, cool temps, ridiculous overclocking headroom, and remarkable performance, we highly recommend the Hydro Copper FTW GTX 480.



  • Very low GPU idle/load operating temps
  • Silent
  • Massive OC headroom
  • Single slot PCI form factor
  • PhysX and CUDA Support
  • Useful OC utilities included
  • Lifetime warranty

  • Expensive
  • Requires additional liquid cooling hardware
  • Heavy
  • Power hungry

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