ASUS EN8800GTX AQUATANK
- Good gaming bundle, HDCP compliant.
- Performance wasn't as good as we'd hoped it would be, Doesn't leave enough room in a case for an SLI solution.
The ASUS EN8800GTX AQUATANK didn't produce stellar results in our tests and so we recommend buying ASUS' regular non-water cooled 768MB GTX instead, which will leave enough room in a PC case for an SLI solution, too.
Price$ 1,249.00 (AUD)
The ASUS EN8800GTX AQUATANK has been designed to take the danger out of liquid cooling. It's based on a GeForce 8800GTX graphics card and it comes with a Thermaltake Tide Water cooler already attached. It's aimed at enthusiasts and is a limited edition product, which ASUS claims can provide an overall boost of 11 per cent during gaming over a similar non-liquid cooled card.
The card ships with a GPU frequency that is much higher than the norm for a GeForce 8800GTX-based card (630MHz compared to 575MHz) and it also comes with a faster memory speed (2060MHz compared to 1800MHz). It's safe to say that this card will play any game you throw at it at high resolution and detail settings, but during our tests, the card didn't live up to its maker's claims.
Using NVIDIA's Forceware 97.94 version drivers under Windows XP, the card was found to be 6 per cent faster than a standard 760MB 8800GTX-based card in 3D Mark 2006 - 12,471 compared to 11,765, respectively. Using the nTune utility to overclock it, we were only able to get a further 2 per cent performance boost to 12,711. The card was stable at a GPU speed up to 660MHz, but crashed our system when we went faster. We tested on an Intel quad-core-based system with 1GB of RAM. During tests with Quake 4, we gained one frame per second in performance for every 10MHz increment in the overclocking process, while in FEAR we gained a total of six frames per second by overclocking from 630MHz to 660MHz. These results aren't too encouraging considering the card's price and consumption of real estate in a PC case.
The cooler is about the size of the graphics card and is a self-contained unit consisting of a reservoir, pump, radiator and cooling fan. Flexible rubber tubing about 35cm in length is used to cycle the coolant through the cooling block on the GeForce 8800GTX GPU, but the liquid doesn't pass through the heat sinks on the memory chips. The Tide Water is designed to sit in an unused expansion slot next to the graphics card, and while this means many expansion slots are blocked off, it is a more compact solution compared to kits that have separate reservoir and radiator units.
Noise from the card is moderate when the Tide Water's fan is on low (1500rpm), but is understandably loud when set to 'high' (3000rpm). The water cooler's presence isn't there to make the card run more quietly, but rather to help manage the heat production from the already high factory-default speed of the GPU.
If overclocking is taken out of the equation, then the AQUATANK is an interesting proposition, especially considering that it comes with Ghost Recon and GTI Racing as its gaming bundle. In addition, all the cables (Component) required to take advantage of its high definition output are provided and the card is even HDCP compliant over a DVI connection.
The ASUS EN8800GTX AQUATANK is quite expensive and we think, at the end of the day, the non-water cooled ASUS 768MB EN8800GTX is a better option, especially considering that it leaves room in a PC case for a second GTX to be installed in SLI mode.
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