Cooler Master recently presented their water cooling solution for the fastest graphics cards currently available on the market. Of course, we're talking about water blocks for Nvidia Geforce 8800 Ultra/GTX and ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT cards.
While some prefer ATI, others prefer Nvidia, and the rest simply ask themselves which one of these cards is faster? Cooler Master has wasted no time and made a liquid-based cooling system that will replace the noisy and heat producing reference air coolers. Nvidia's Geforce 8800 Ultra/GTX coolers aren't that noisy, but ATI's HD 2900 XT ones are, and they're first in line for a Cooler Master Glacier 600 water cooling system.
If you want to know more about Cooler Master water blocks for Nvidia cards, named Hydra 8800, you can do so here.
Glacier 600 is specially designed for ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT graphics cards, and we must admit we're impressed. It looks even better when it's mounted on the graphics card, and you'll see that for yourself later on. It's made of aluminum and weighs 390 grams. It looks quite large, and it is. It’s intended for cooling the GPU, memory chips but also MOSFET transistors, so the length of 197mm shouldn’t surprise you. The height of the water cooler is 125mm, while the girth is just 13,8mm.
Turning it sideways, we see that the profile of the water block is exactly the same as the referent design used by all the vendors, so placing it on your Radeon HD 2900 XT should go without a hitch.
On top of the block you can see two rotating pegs used to connect the pipes for the water cooling system. The liquid taken in has a circular flow, after which, depending on your water cooling system, it is most likely routed to the radiator to cool down. The pegs can be rotated by 360° so you won’t have any trouble setting up the cooling system.
In the box you’ll find everything you need to mount this baby.
3/8’’ and ½’’ fittings on the rotating pegs (360°) are available. Our block came with a 3/8’’ fitting that wasn’t quite compatible with our Innovatek water cooling system. The pipes were too tight, so we had to stretch them a bit after plunging them into hot water; after that, they fit like a glove. In the bag you'll find some Cooler Master thermal paste for the GPU, and a special tape that’s already perforated and ready to use on the memory and MOSFET.
The instruction manual covers everything in detail; they even provide sketches, so no matter the experience level – you’ll have no trouble setting this contraption up.
Removing the reference cooler isn’t a tough job, either. In the picture below you can see a dissected Radeon reference cooler; notice that it is comprised of many sections.
The copper block leaning on the reference card's GPU is quite massive, and it uses two heatpipes in order to route heat to the copper fins as quickly as possible.
The fan is in charge of blowing away the heat, and when the card is in 3D mode, the fan is unbearably loud. Although capable of adequately cooling the card, the high noise level is not something ATI should be proud of.
Let’s get back to installing our Glacier 600 water block. After applying the special tape to the memory modules and thermal paste to the GPU, it is time to mount the cooler. However, it’s advisable to connect the water cooling pipes to the rotating pegs of the water block.
The memory modules on the front of the card are touching the Glacier 600 water block, but they are exposed in the back.
The reference card uses a metal block that leans on the memory, and we’ve had no success in trying to mount it. As you can see from the picture, metal is touching the valves, and it can’t be fixed to its designated spot. If you buy Glacier 600 and decide to mount it on a HD 2900 XT card, you should have a small saw handy. All you need is a little cut in the metal and you're good to go.
If you don’t want to burden yourself with this, don't worry, since you won’t have any trouble even if you don’t cool the memory. The memory on most graphics cards does not heat up much, so in most cases, you won’t need cooling, anyway.
You’ll get the exact number of screws and springs you need, and you also get the isolators, whose job is to prevent unwanted electrical contact on the graphics card. One or two additional screws should be included, since they’re quite tiny and easy to misplace.
The card on the picture below is a reference Radeon HD 2900 XT card with the metal part that we, due to the above mentioned trouble, failed to mount. In the picture above, you can see the back of the card with Glacier 600 mounted on it, and the picture below shows how it looks when you set it up on the motherboard.
The PCIe x1 slot is free again, in case anyone needed it in the first place. To us, the most important thing was to get rid of the noise, and then to lower the core temperature for running and overclocking. The Cooler Master logo really looks cool, doesn’t it?
If it wasn’t for that pesky, annoying and noisy little fan on our motherboard’s Northbridge chipset, we’d be enjoying the sounds of silence right about now.
Before mounting the Glacier 600 water block, we measured the GPU’s core temperature. We did it in idle mode, load mode, during gaming, 3DMark testing, and after we’ve overclocked it.
As you can see in the table, in idle mode the core was 9°C cooler with Glacier 600, and the result ended up being the same after overclocking. We were a bit baffled by Load mode because the temperature stayed the same.
The default cooler caused us some problems on speeds greater than 845/933MHz, while with Glacier 600, we easily reached 870/955 (effective 1910MHz memory). With a couple of tries, you can probably squeeze out a couple of MHz more.
Glacier 600 is excellent if you want to get rid of the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT reference cooler. Cooler Master probably kept in mind that after the new cards are out, R600 prices will gradually drop, which means you can save money buying the card and also buy yourself a water cooling set for quiet gaming hours.
Mounting it is easy, and the overclocking results are good, and we definitely enjoyed the silence. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t recommend it to HD 2900 XT owners looking for a better or quieter cooler, and, although a complete water cooling system is a prerequisite, it’s still worth it.
Even at an 870MHz overclock, the card runs at 71°C, which is 10°C lower than the temperature measured with a reference cooler at 845MHz, and you shouldn’t overlook the quiet factor, either. With the water block in place, even better results are probably possible, but this depends on the rest of the system, as well. This is a nice product for anyone looking to get more out of their card, and if you've already got a watercooling system in your PC, there's really no reason not to go for it.
As we just got this product for US$56.90 retail price, we can easily recommend this cooler since it doesn't cost a fortune. It will silently cool your R600 and allow you to overclock it to at least 870MHz.