Gigabyte's GTX 980 WaterForce 3-Way SLI Kit Pricing Revealed: $2999

When we last saw Gigabyte's GTX 980 WaterForce 3-Way SLI Kit, we were puzzled about exactly who the company hopes to sell it to, but we decided to withhold judgement until we knew more about what it would actually cost. Well, now the kit has been officially announced and listed on NewEgg, so it's time to re-evaluate it.

The GTX 980 WaterForce 3-Way SLI Kit is a set of three GTX 980 graphics cards that comes with an external liquid cooling box. The idea is that you place this box on top of your tower PC and route the water tubes for the graphics cards into your PC through the top optical drive bay with an adapter. (It kind of makes your PC look like Bane.) Inside the external water box are three 120 mm radiators with fans, each of which cools a single graphics card.

For multi-GPU performance, it brings an interesting proposition to the table: You have three liquid cooled graphics cards, meaning they won't suffer from suffocation like air-cooled graphics cards may in multi-GPU setups, and the heat is dissipated outside of the PC enclosure, meaning that it won't affect the other components in your PC. It is, however, a rather bulky and space-eating solution.

The GTX 980 graphics cards in the kit are clocked at 1228 MHz base, with a GPU Boost 2.0 frequency of 1329 MHz. The 4 GB of memory on each card runs at the reference frequency of 7.0 GHz. To power them, Gigabyte recommends that you have at least a 1200 W PSU.

But the big question is what will this thing cost? Currently, it's listed on for $2999.99.

Let's break this pricing down. Without even looking for the best price on the market, you can grab yourself a GTX 980 for $550, so that's $1650 total for three cards. Subtracting that from the original $2999.99 means Gigabyte is charging you $1350 to liquid cool these GPUs, which is a huge premium, especially considering each card only gets a single 120 mm radiator.

Building your own custom loop to cool these cards costs less than that premium. Heck, you can get an entire computer with three air-cooled GTX 980's from many custom PC manufacturers for less than three grand. Sure, that doesn't necessarily include liquid cooling, but that's the cost for an entire computer.

Would the price have been closer to $2000, we might have been able to understand this product, maybe even recommend it because it would mean water cooling with a warranty. At $3000, though, we just don't see it making sense for anyone at all from a cost perspective, unless you really need that suitcase it comes in.

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Niels Broekhuijsen

Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.

  • Lutfij
    This should be a must have for those driving more than a standard set of wheels or aficionados in the PC industry.

    3K for a set of GPU's in watercooling...more than what a custom loop for GPU's alone would cost inclusive of the GPU's and that too with a 360mm surface area.
  • George Mulligan
    Silliness...and on a card that runs so cool to begin with. smh
  • soccerplayer88
    Not going to lie that looks a bit excessive. $1600 for the cards alone, I'm sure people could whip together a better/cheaper cooling for the rest of the $1400.
  • 10tacle
    I have to wonder what Gigabyte is thinking with this. There has to be a next to zero market for this type of extremism. Real PC enthusiasts will be building their own triple 680 waterblock setup on their own, and those who would rather not deal with that hassle likely can't fork over the money it costs to begin with.
  • FunSurfer
    This kit and the price should have been for the 8GB VRAM 980s
  • dovah-chan
    I'm doing my own custom loop soon and for just one GPU and CPU in my loop it's going to cost me $500. This includes the cost of: fittings, both blocks, pump, tubes, and reservoir.

    Now let's see how much it would cost for 3 cards. First off 3 980s would be in the ballpark of $1650. Let's make a list of parts and their prices a user would need for a custom set up. (based on average prices for components)

    (3) GPU Blocks: $360

    Tubing: $30

    (12+SLI Bridge) Fittings: $180

    Pump: $60

    360mm Radiator: $100

    Resevoir: $40

    (3 gentle typhoons) Fans: $60

    So altogether that's about $2480.

    Now add in all of the R&D and design costs as well as manufacturing and assembly. Then imagine trying to make a profit off of such a niche product. Not many of these are likely to be sold so adding in the extra $500~ to cover the extravagant costs they went to to provide this isn't that much. As much as this was unneeded or unnecessary, it's no different than an Ares card. It's all just because they can. (also external heat exchangers can cost you upwards of $1000+ alone)
  • Cryio
    For 4K gaming, 3x 290Xs are still better than 980s in SLI. And for 3000 $ ? Pointless. Setting up your own cooling system, even for 3 GPUs, would make it far cheaper.

    You could find 295x2 for 1500 $ at one point, lol.
  • fatboytyler
    Is it expensive, yea, but outrageously over priced? Not really. 3 of the cards would be $1800 +- $100 depending on exact model. $180 in cheap EK waterblocks for the cards. You're up to $2100-ish without liquid, a reservoir or pump. Not to mention you won't have to go through the hassle of doing it all yourself.

    It is more than I'd ever pay, but then again why the hell would I ever need 3-Way SLI with 980s? I don't plan on 3 way 4K setups...
  • vmem
    So who're they targeting with this?

    With a pricetag at $3000, their only possible customer would be rich tech enthusiasts who want a show-piece to drive their 4k monitor or 4k surround.

    but IF that is the target audience, why is it so "ugly"? and I don't mean that as just my personal opinion, but Gigabyte's poor choice of materials, namely plastic shrowds, lack of programmable LEDs (sure not everyone likes them, having a choice to turn them on and off, or better, full range RBG, would be nice), further limit their audience to an insanely small group of people who likes the current design.

    Sure you can argue that if I don't like the looks, I can mod it, but if I were to get into modding (which I do), why would I buy this system to begin with?
  • thundervore
    Why would someone need this? don't the cards run cool already?

    If they had made the cards as individual cards to begin with maybe they would have a market. To have a single watercooled 980 with full back plate would be good but not 3 of them with that ridiculous bane helmet.