Video Card Temperature Graph
We can see that the stock temperatures are atrocious: 89 degrees on the GPU and over 100 degrees on the voltage regulator! The Thermalright HR-03 does an incredible job cooling the GPU down to 65 degrees, but the voltage regulator is still incredibly high at 97 degrees!
The water block cools the GPU down to 59 degrees. This is a massive 30-degree improvement over the stock setup, but only a six-degree improvement over the HR-03, which looks even more impressive in this light.
However, the separate water block for the voltage regulator works wonders for that component. While the HR-03 has no means to cool the voltage regulator, the water block brings it down to 77 degrees, which is 25 degrees below the stock heat sink. This is a very positive result.
The results we recorded from liquid cooling our test rig are pretty clear: liquid cooling is vastly superior and more efficient than air-cooling.
Water-cooling is no longer just for a handful of hard-core PC engineers; it is becoming well within the grasp of the common enthusiast. In addition, today's water-cooling systems, like the EXOS-2, are very simple to set up and are essentially plug and play compared to the old-school methods of jury-rigging spare plumbing parts. And with illumination and stylized enclosures, modern water cooling kits can look great, to boot!
If you are an enthusiast and air-cooling has taken you as far as you can go, liquid cooling is the next logical step. Yes, there are risks, and the equipment will certainly cost you more than air-cooling equipment, but the benefits can't be ignored.
Water-cooling is one of those things I've avoided for a long time because I had assumed it might be more trouble than it's worth. Well, I can now safely say that I'm converted: it's a really great way to go, much easier than I thought to set up and the results speak for themselves. I'd also like to express thanks to Koolance for supplying us with the EXOS-2 kit to use in our water-cooling guide, as it was a real pleasure to play with.