Water cooling a graphics card isn't a new thing by any means, but it's not really a common solution to the heat problem. Yes, AMD did do so on the Radeon R9 295X2, which was quite a gutsy move, because it never really happens that a vendor opts to cool a graphics card with a closed-loop liquid cooler. We do see it happen occasionally that a block comes out with a water-block pre-installed, but that's a much bigger chore to install to your system, and it requires a separate loop.
EVGA, however, decided that it was time to do this again and announced the GeForce GTX 980 Hybrid, which is exactly what you'd expect it to be: a GTX 980, with the GPU cooled by a CLC. The rest of the components, such as the VRM circuitry and the memory, are cooled by the blower-style cooler. The best part is that the fan comes from the reference-style NVTTM cooler, which is a very silent, drum-style fan.
This combination yields a graphics card that offers quieter and cooler operation, improved performance, remains as easy to install as ever, and doesn't break the bank in the way that custom water cooling would.
EVGA opted to clock the GTX 980 Hybrid at a respectable 1291 MHz, and it will see typical boost clocks of around 1393 MHz when the thermal headroom is available. (Which it should be, unless you live in the desert without AC.) The memory remains clocked at the standard 7.0 GHz effective frequency.
EVGA also announced that the cooler featured on this unit will also be available as a standalone aftermarket cooler. It comes with the closed loop you need and a shroud, and it will work on all reference GTX 980 graphics cards. It simply uses the fan from the reference cooler. You’ll know you have a reference GTX 980 when it looks like this.
The GeForce GTX 980 Hybrid is available immediately with an MSRP price of $649.99, while the standalone cooler will go for $99.99.