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GTX 480 Water Block Roundup

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Posted October 4, 2010 by Jake in Cooling

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by Jake
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Analysis and Summary

There’s much to digest here in the roundup, so let’s start with aesthetics.  Aesthetics are certainly subject to personal preference but if you like to show off your PC hardware then the Koolance VID-NX480 and EK Water Blocks EK-FC480 GTX are probably the ones for you.  They are each definitely sleek and unique, and could be used as a showpiece inside your case. The Danger Den block has a unique shape and design, and the 100% copper styling is eye-catching, but it’s going to oxidize over time and lose that appeal. The XSPC Razor has a rather ordinary aesthetic, but it is the slimmest block of the bunch if minimalism is your preference.

In terms of ease of installation, the Danger Den block was the easiest, as there were no extra steps; it was just lock and load. The EK block was the most cumbersome since it required cutting the thermal pads yourself and using spacers prior to installation. The Koolance and XSPC blocks were straightforward, not too tough but not as simple as the Danger Den solution.

Looking at the build quality, the EK block was the best, with an attention to detail that was impressive. The Danger Den block was also very well done, as was the Koolance block, while the XSPC had a noticeable quality control issue with machine cut marks on the block itself.

Looking at the thermal performance results, what’s the most surprising is how the different designs all produced excellent temperatures. When heavily overclocked, there’s just 3°C difference between all blocks for the GPU temperature, a very minor separation between them.  However, there is a much larger 11°C variance in the VRM temperature which starts to more clearly identify the performance differences between the contenders, with the XSPC Razor coming out on top.

Lastly is price. The Danger Den block, as tested today, costs $135, though different finishes are available that can run up to $165. That is indeed the most expensive block in the roundup. The Koolance block comes in at $120, while the EK block is a bit lower at $115, and these two products are offered at what we consider competitive prices. But the XSPC Razor comes out of nowhere with a price tag of only $85, trouncing the bunch and sitting as an outstanding value in the roundup. If price isn’t a consideration, then the Danger Den block with a black chrome and nickel-plated finish will cost you a small fortune but the aesthetics will be gorgeous. However, if you’re on a more modest budget, then the XSPC Razor is the clear winner for the pocketbook, with a price tag of 40% lower than the Danger Den as tested, and about 30% lower than the Koolance and EKWB blocks.

The reality is that any one of these water blocks will work wonders on the GTX 480, and all are very impressive in their own right, no question. We can’t really fault any of them, but since this is a roundup, we have to split hairs. That being said, here’s the breakdown summary for each.

Summary

We had high hopes for the Koolance VID-NX480 and EK-FC480 GTX blocks, but in the end we were slightly disappointed to see the VRM temperatures fall short of the other blocks.  We must remember, however, that temperatures of 60°C to 65°C for VRMs are very good nonetheless. We double-checked the contact surfaces to ensure proper contact, remounted, and still yielded the same results.  This may be due to flow restriction at the VRM region that is hindering the VID-NX480’s performance.  The EK-FC480 GTX has the highest GPU temperature in the pack but still good overall, and we’re certainly very impressed by the aesthetics and build quality of each block.  They’re also the best looking of the bunch in our opinion, so if you want a solid performer with flashy appeal then the Koolance or EKWB are solid choices. 

The Danger Den DD-GTX480-CC did extremely well to keep the the temperatures impressively low across the board. The build quality is excellent and installation is very easy.  The unique aesthetics are great but the copper can oxidize over time, so purchasing a black chrome and nickel-plated version can solve this issue.  But the excellent performance and aesthetics are tempered by an expensive price tag.  Going upwards of $160 for the top model is tough to stomach when viewed against the other capable blocks in this roundup that cost considerably less. An excellent all-around block, the Danger Den stumbles at the finish line due to its price.

One of the biggest surprises from our testing was the performance of the XSPC Razor GTX480.  Don’t let the ordinary design fool you; the Razor is the slimmest, lightest, least expensive, and best thermal performer of all the blocks. What it lacks in flashy aesthetics, it makes up for in every other manner of criteria that matters. We must say the Razor GTX480 is a remarkably functional and well-priced full coverage block that rose to challenge and topped our roundup.

Koolance VID-NX480

EKWB EK-FCGTX 480

Danger Den DD-GTX480-CC

XSPC Razor GTX 480

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