Inno3D GTX 980Ti iChill Black Graphics Card Review

Introduction


Closed-loop liquid coolers have become extremely popular in the CPU market due to the cleaner build, and greater space around the CPU socket compared to traditional air cooling hardware. This means you can install an all in one liquid cooler without having to make concessions in terms of memory compatibility or worry too much about your motherboard’s PCI-E arrangement. As you might expect, all in one liquid coolers have progressively moved into the GPU sector to offer improved overclocking headroom and a lower noise output. There are some interesting parallels between CPU and GPU all in one liquid cooling though which needs to be addressed.

Firstly, many air coolers like the Noctua NH-D15 can outperform Asetek units, while being much quieter. It’s a similar picture with graphics cards because proficient air cooling setups including the Gigabyte Windforce X3 and Sapphire Tri-X provide a superb noise to performance ratio. Liquid cooled graphics cards have a price premium and involve a more complicated installation process. It’s important to remember that Maxwell is a very mature and efficient architecture which allows vendors to enable a 0dB idle fan mode. Despite my own qualms about closed-loop liquid cooling, it’s fantastic to see products which cater to a different target market. There’s clearly a demand for pre-assembled liquid cooled graphics cards, and their appeal is bound to grow in the next few years.

Today, we’re taking a look at the Inno3D GTX 980Ti iChill Black which utilizes a very powerful hybrid cooling solution. The GPU incorporates a traditional fan which only switches on during heavy load, in addition to a 120mm fan/radiator combination. The Arctic Cooling radiator fan is constantly on but has a very low RPM curve to maintain silent running. This impeccable hardware allows for an impressive core clock of 1203MHz and default boost reaching 1304MHz. The memory has also been increased to 7280MHz. As you can see from the chart below, this isn’t the greatest configuration we’ve encountered from the factory, but it’s exceedingly fast and should be a top performer. It will be fascinating to contrast this graphics card with the marvellous Inno3D GTX 980Ti X3 Ultra DHS which opts for a hefty air cooling design.

Specifications:

Packing and Accessories

The Inno3D GTX 980 Ti iChill Black comes in a huge box to properly house the closed loop cooler’s tubing and protect against leaks during shipping. Honestly, the picture doesn’t provide an accurate depiction of the packaging’s size. I have to commend Inno3D because they have taken the precautionary steps to reduce the possibility of damage occurring and utilized strong foam inserts as cushioning materials. The box itself features an attractive render of the GPU, and outlines its specification.

On the rear portion, there’s a brief synopsis of NVIDIA’s Maxwell architecture. I’m a bit surprised to see the back doesn’t contain any information about the liquid cooling solution and the acoustical benefits compared to NVIDIA’s reference cooler.

In terms of accessories, the graphics card is bundled with mounting screws, 6-pin PCI-E to molex adapter, case badge, DVI-D to VGA adapter and installation guide. There’s also a driver’s disk which you should disregard, a copy of 3DMark, and other documentation. This is a great selection of items and provides everything you need to get started! The mouse mat is surprisingly high-quality and relatively thick.

Inno3D GeForce GTX 980Ti X3 Ultra DHS Graphics Card Review

Introduction


NVIDIA’s GTX 980Ti has proved to be a very popular choice among hardware enthusiasts requiring extreme performance at demanding resolutions. Whether you’re opting for a 21:9 3440×1440 60Hz panel, 4K display or high refresh rate 1440P monitor, there’s very few single card configurations on the market capable of dealing with advanced AA, complex tessellation and other visually taxing effects while driving a large number of pixels. Technically, the Titan X is NVIDIA’s flagship product and its 12GB frame buffer initially appears like an enticing proposition. However, the price to performance ratio is quite poor especially when you consider the 980Ti is based on the same GM200 silicone and only exhibits a few cost saving measures. Most notably, the video memory is reduced from 12GB to 6GB and the shader units have been slightly scaled back from 3072 to 2816.

Barring a few exceptions, the majority of Titan X models utilize a reference design which results in reduced overclocking headroom and higher temperatures. In contrast to this, custom cooled GTX 980Ti SKUs feature very impressive factory overclocks and enable users to access a higher power limit percentage when tackling manual core and memory boosts. As a result, it’s not uncommon for 980Ti GPUs to outperform the Titan X in certain scenarios despite costing £300-400 less. This means it is the perfect choice for the higher end demographic and also provides an improved price to performance ratio.

Today we’re looking at one of the fastest GTX 980 Ti models on the market incorporating a pre-overclocked core of 1216MHz and boost reaching 1317MHz. Additionally, the memory is set at 7280MHz compared to 7010MHz on the reference design. Given the impeccable 3-fan cooling solution, and impressive factory overclock, I expect the graphics card to perform superbly and pull away from the reference 980Ti by a noticeable margin.

Specifications:

Packing and Accessories

The Inno3D 980Ti X3 Ultra DHS is packaged in a hefty box which does an excellent job of protecting the GPU, and bundled accessories. On another note, the box adopts a really striking design which emphasizes the extreme level of performance on offer.

The opposite side includes a brief synopsis of the GPU’s capabilities and outlines the modern features incorporated into this particular model such as High Dynamic Range (HDR).

In terms of accessories, the product comes with interchangeable cover plates, an installation guide, 3DMark digital code, power supply guidelines, driver disk, and the usual array of adapters. Please note, the 3DMark code is not pictured to prevent the serial from being used.

Another highlight is the extremely high quality elongated mouse pad. I love extended mouse pads because they allow you to neatly position your keyboard and mouse while opting for a clean, sophisticated appearance. Despite being a free addition, the mouse pad is remarkably thick and should last a long time without becoming too frayed.

Fractal Design R5 Chassis Tested in The World’s Quietest Room

Fractal Design’s unbridled commitment to constructing silent, high-quality cases with a focus on good airflow has earned a great deal of respect throughout the technology sector. The Define R5 applied a number of subtle tweaks from the previous model and progressively enhanced the chassis’ sound-deadening materials. Fractal Design constantly strives for perfection and conducted a wide array of interesting noise tests in the world’s quietest room.

From the graphs, we can see the Fractal Design R5 is virtually silent at idle and reported a 14 dB figure. The majority of people would struggle to distinguish audible noise between 1-10 dB, so 14 is remarkably quiet. Even under full load, the case only ramps up to 21.2 dB and well within an acceptable range. To put this into perspective, the case when benchmarking is even quieter than a library or normal conversation.

The R5 competes exceedingly well against an open test bench and provides a much better PC experience. Under idle, the R5 and R5 windowed edition only recorded a 1.3 and 1.4 dBA acoustical noise level while the test bench hit a maximum of 16.1 dBA. The figures under 50% load remain fairly constant with an increase of approximately 1 dBA. However, notice how the gap slightly increases between the solid and windowed side panel version. When 100% load was applied, the standard R5 reached 21.2 dBA and the side-panel case only increased this figure by 0.7 dBA. Honestly, I expected there to be a much larger gap between these models. Finally, the Test Bench wasn’t ridiculously loud but enough of an increase to exemplify the R5’s excellent build quality.

This was a rather intriguing experiment and illustrates how quiet a modern, custom-PC can be. Perhaps the research conducted will allow Fractal to improve their silent ratings even further in future products.

AMD Revises R9 Fury X Water Pump

Since the launch of the R9 Fury X, multiple reviews, news and general consumers have all noted the extremely loud pump noise coming from the AIO enclosed unit that tames the beast of the Fiji XT GPU core and HBM memory. In the most recent turn of events, AMD seems to have released a revised version. We noted the pump noise during our review of the card, something which was a massive downside to an otherwise great unit.

Thanks to a forum user over on the AnandTech forums, we can now see that AMD have changed the pump to an updated version. This came after the user reported the pump noise and requested an RMA from his local retailer; resulting in a brand new revised until to be sent out.

While the units look relatively the same, with just a logo change, reports have already started coming in that this new pump has in fact lowered the overall noise levels of the unit. We must note that this model is the Sapphire Fury X, but all other manufacturers will be receiving the same unit immediately.

If you are one of the lucky ones to get your Fury X before stocks ran out and are curious to know what model pump you are running, you can simply remove the top case cover with the use of a small allen key or Hex tool bit; this will not void your warranty. If you have access to a 3D printer, why not add a little flair to your Fury X with some customer covers.

All is not Well With the AMD Fury X

Since the launch of such a hugely anticipated card with heaps of new technology, it was expected that some were going to be faulty/ problematic at first. Since the media had their samples, some noted in the independent reviews; a noise coming from the GPU, which could be coil whine or water pump buzzing. AMD had then confirmed that this issue was only in the initial batch of media sample cards and that the consumer cards would not suffer from this fault.

Well, now it seems that is not the case at all. A new Fury X owner has received his card and seems to have the same or similar sound.Here is the with and without Fury X videos for you to hear yourselves.

Without Fury X installed:

https://youtu.be/FfminqAIl_4

With Fury X installed:

https://youtu.be/XfyQzroYnrI

It’s not totally clear what that sound is, it doesn’t seem high-pitched enough to be coil whine, but the user didn’t adjust the pump speed to rule out pump noise. If it is either of those issues, it could make what has already come across as somewhat of a flop of a launch even worse. Let us know what you think that sound is in the comment section.

UPDATE: We have reached out to AMD for an official statement, and if they respond, we will be more than happy to add it to the article to get both sides of the story.