First Look At Asetek's 9800GX2 Waterblock: Water-cooling For The Masses


San Jose (CA) - Water-cooling and mainstream are words you typically don't mention in one sentence. But what is typically an expensive technology for enthusiast is getting much more interesting for a greater range of gamers with an affordable waterblock that will be offered by Asetek soon, TG Daily learned.

Asetek is mainly known for its VapoChill series of products, but there is also a cheaper water-cooling series dubbed "LCLC" (Low-Cost Liquid-Cooling). This design has enabled OEM and ODM vendors such as HP to offer water-cooling in computers by default. Now the company is moving into graphics card cooling with a new water-cooling product for Nvidia's GeForce 9800GX2.

Asetek claims that the existing systems are easily upgradeable from their previous ATI/Nvidia solutions to this one. Given the fact that majority of GPU waterblocks are a "one-off design" and not reusable for future graphics cards, OEMs are not keen on implementing water-cooling products in their products. Sadly, this fact also isolates the majority of users: If you are not a hardcore overclocker or a deep-pocketed enthusiast, the motivation and finances to purchase a new waterblock for every graphics card will come to an end sooner or later.

Asetek's idea is to cool down the GPUs with water in combination with a slow-spinning fan to produce airflow over the memory and the PWM parts of the card. This could turn out to be a great solution as this approach pushes hot air from the inside to the outside of the case.

To find out more about this new product, TG Daily sat down with Andre Sloth Eriksen, founder and CEO of the Danish company. What we saw is an off-the-shelf HP Blackbird 002 system equipped with an Intel Core 2 Extreme Q9650 processor, 8 GB of system memory, a couple of hard drives and other components you can order from HP's website. However, Asetek had replaced the standard water-cooling core for the 8800GTX/Ultra card with its dual-GPU 9800GX2 cooler. The setup was SLI-ready, which means you could run four GPUs in this PC.

In order to fully load the both GPUs, we started 3DMark06 in 1920x1200 resolution, 8x AntiAliasing (Transparency SuperSampling, Gamma Correction on), 16x Anisotropic Filtering and full precision mode. All optimizations in the Nvidia driver panel were disabled. We ran several tests with an air-cooled 9800GX2 board, and then repeated them with the same card, but this time with the LCLC water-block.

The air-cooled EVGA 9800GX2 heated up in idle mode to 59 degrees Celsius (C) for the lower GPU, and 68 degrees C on the top GPU. Running 3DMark06 resulted in a temperature jump to 78 degrees C for the lower GPU and 92 degrees for the second one.

After seeing the heated performance of the air-cooled card, we removed it from the system, waited until it cooled down, disassembled it and installed the water-cooling system. Yours truly had the honor of assembling the card, and I have to admit that it is a really straightforward and easy process. After mounting was done, we installed the card back into the system and ran the same tests again.