By now, it’s fair to say that NVIDIA’s GeForce 8800 GTX needs very little in the form of an introduction. It’s currently the fastest video card on the planet, and it not only delivers the best gaming experience, it does so with the highest image quality available at this moment in time. Back at the start of November, we covered NVIDIA’s latest and greatest in some depth – if you’re unfamiliar with GeForce 8800 and the architecture behind it; we recommend you give that article a read before you go any further.
Today, we have a very special video card on our test bench – it stood out above all other GeForce 8800 GTX cards announced on launch day. It’s the only card we’ve seen that has moved away from NVIDIA’s reference cooling solution so far (that’s not to say that GeForce 8800’s with aftermarket cooling solutions won’t turn up later). By now, you’ve probably guessed that we’re talking about BFGTech’s Water Cooled GeForce 8800 GTX – we’ve been fortunate enough to have the chance to spend some quality time with it over the last couple of weeks.
BFGTech surprised many of us with the announcement of its Water Cooled GeForce 8800 GTX on NVIDIA’s big day in November. This was because no other partner had been able to differentiate itself from the volatile horde of NVIDIA board partners all eager to put their latest and greatest product right under our noses. Typically, a big NVIDIA launch has been a day where the company’s board partners fight to the death (well, not quite – Ed.) for the crown of fastest video card on the planet – or at least the fastest video card in the green fields in NVIDIA’s happy camp site.
Obviously, this time around NVIDIA effectively banned overclocking from the outset because of the mass of problems surrounding the pre-overclocked GeForce 7900-series cards that just kept on falling over. While we were in Santa Clara, we asked about the situation but NVIDIA didn’t openly admit that this was indeed the case. However, the seemingly imaginary ban didn’t lift until XFX announced that it had been given the licence to overclock both GeForce 8800 GTX and GeForce 8800 GTS with the two XXX Edition cards that launched just before the Christmas break.
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The box is a familiar sight – we saw an almost identical design with BFGTech’s GeForce 8800 GTS last month. Everything that you’ll need to know about the product is on display – either front or back – and we think the box art is a definite improvement over BFGTech’s previous attempts. The card was packed in an anti-static bag, which was in turn packed inside a padded plastic sleeve and then surrounded by some fairly hefty pieces of foam to ensure the card doesn’t get damaged during transit.
BFG includes what could be described as its standard bundle with a couple of extras that are required to get the card up and running. The following comes in the box:
2x DVI-to-VGA converters;
2x 6-pin PCI Express power adapters;
HDTV dongle with Component Out;
Driver/Utility CD (with soft copy of full manual);
Quick install guide;
Water Cooling quick install guide;
2x Standard removable barbs (1/4”, 3/8” or 1/2”);
1x mini removable barb for SLI (1/4”, 3/8” or 1/2”);
2x Removable stoppers (1/4”, 3/8” or 1/2");
2x Hose clamps (1/4”, 3/8” or 1/2");
BFGTech fun stickers;
BFGTech Teflon Slick Pads;
Unfortunately, the T-shirt isn’t a custom design that only comes with this particular card. On top of the standard bundle, you’ll notice the parts required for watercooling the card. BFG makes it clear that this card requires you to supply your own watercooling kit in order to cool the card – the company makes it very clear that it won’t honour the warranty if you try running the card without a watercooling loop attached to it.
One area where BFGTech excels above most other NVIDIA board partners is with its warranty service and after sales support. The company offers a ten-year warranty with all of its cards in Europe, and a lifetime warranty to its customers on the other side of the Atlantic. The reason for the lower warranty term in Europe is EU legislation, but that shouldn’t worry you.
BFGTech also offers its customers free 24/7 technical support, albeit on an American 1-800 number (it’s free via SkypeOut), although if you don’t have SkypeOut or don’t live in America, BFGTech also offers free 24/7 support via email too. In the past, the downside of BFGTech’s RMA process was the fact that all RMA’s were handled by the company’s US office. Recently though, BFGTech opened an RMA Centre in the UK, meaning that there will be much shorter turnaround times for UK customers.