iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ECS Hydra and Zotac Zone

<< Previous page

     Next page >>


Let's examine ECS Hydra first. It's a SLI kit of two identical cards with a shared Thermaltake cooling system. The kit requires a motherboard on NVIDIA chipset that has two PCI-E x16 slots. (An external SLI configuration, i.e. with two standalone graphics cards, won't work on other platforms.)

Both cards feature liquid-cooled heatsinks as well as optional fans. Each has its own power cable to be connected to a power supply unit.

The card from Zotac comes with a huge unit that contains the heatsink, the pump, and the liquid capacity expansion container.

Zotac GeForce 9800 GTX Zone Edition 512MB

As we have already mentioned above, a part of the cooling system installed on the card itself includes a heatsink, a pump, and a liquid container. Tubes from the card go to the external cooling block, which can be mounted on the rear panel of a PC enclosure (inside) instead of a standard fan. Dimensions of all blocks and parts must be taken into consideration, of course. This card can be installed into relatively large PC enclosures. The pump on the card works very quietly, just like the big fan on the cooling block. So the cooling system is generally quiet, its noise level is acceptable even for those people who love quiet system units.

ECS Hydra 9800 GTX+ 2x512MB

The same operating principle: the pump drives liquid around a closed path, which channels the heat from the graphics cards and then cools in a special heatsink. But this device is more complex, because it has to cool two cards.

The cooling block is designed for a 5" bay inside a PC enclosure. It takes up two slots, which must be taken into account before you buy Hydra. The pump and the liquid container are installed in that block. And the heatsink is cooled with a large fan, illuminated blue, which looks great through cut-outs on the front panel.

Tubes from the external unit must be connected to special bundled splitters, which in their turn connect to tubes from the heatsinks on the cards. All tubes have In and Out marks, so it's impossible to assemble the system in the wrong way.

Fans on the cards are optional (it all depends on core temperatures and overheating). The external block has a single power cable to be connected to a PSU (molex).

This pump is noisier than in the previous product, so the cooling system is generally a tad louder. But this fact is irrelevant, as the product is designed for enthusiasts.

There is another difference between these two solutions. In case of Zotac, liquid is already inside the cooling system, and there is no authorized access to it. But in case of Hydra, coolant comes in a bottle. It must be poured into the liquid container before using the card. Moreover, you must not install the external block into a PC enclosure, until the liquid is pumped through all tubes (they are transparent, so you can see the process). You have to add liquid to the block in the process until all the tubes are filled and no bubbles remain in them.

We used RivaTuner (written by A.Nikolaychuk AKA Unwinder) to monitor operating temperatures.

ECS Hydra 9800 GTX+ 2x512MB (each card from the kit)

Zotac GeForce 9800 GTX Zone Edition 512MB

The cooling system from ECS Hydra is expectedly more efficient -- operating temperature of the cores did not grow above 55°C even though these cards operate at a higher frequency. Maximum temperature of the card from Zotac reached 74°C (that's not a critical level). I tried to overclock the cards to a higher level, mind it. In case of ECS Hydra, the maximum level was reached at 820/1950/2300 MHz and 70°C. What concerns the Zotac card -- it was 760/1860/2300 MHz and 88°C. We can see excellent results in the first case, but even in the second case such cooling system shows its advantages.

Write a comment below. No registration needed!

<< Previous page

Next page >>

blog comments powered by Disqus

  Most Popular Reviews More    RSS  

AMD Phenom II X4 955, Phenom II X4 960T, Phenom II X6 1075T, and Intel Pentium G2120, Core i3-3220, Core i5-3330 Processors

Comparing old, cheap solutions from AMD with new, budget offerings from Intel.
February 1, 2013 · Processor Roundups

Inno3D GeForce GTX 670 iChill, Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti Graphics Cards

A couple of mid-range adapters with original cooling systems.
January 30, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1

An external X-Fi solution in tests.
September 9, 2008 · Sound Cards

AMD FX-8350 Processor

The first worthwhile Piledriver CPU.
September 11, 2012 · Processors: AMD

Consumed Power, Energy Consumption: Ivy Bridge vs. Sandy Bridge

Trying out the new method.
September 18, 2012 · Processors: Intel
  Latest Reviews More    RSS  

i3DSpeed, September 2013

Retested all graphics cards with the new drivers.
Oct 18, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, August 2013

Added new benchmarks: BioShock Infinite and Metro: Last Light.
Sep 06, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, July 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 and AMD Radeon HD 7730.
Aug 05, 2013 · 3Digests

Gainward GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB Golden Sample Graphics Card

An excellent hybrid of GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GeForce GTX 660.
Jun 24, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

i3DSpeed, May 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770/780.
Jun 03, 2013 · 3Digests
  Latest News More    RSS  

Platform  ·  Video  ·  Multimedia  ·  Mobile  ·  Other  ||  About us & Privacy policy  ·  Twitter  ·  Facebook

Copyright © Byrds Research & Publishing, Ltd., 1997–2011. All rights reserved.