Watercooled GeForce GTX 280 Showdown

Written by Harry Butler

November 25, 2008 | 08:30

Tags: #coolant #gt200 #gtx-280 #overclocked #overclocking #radiator #review #water #watercooled

Companies: #bfg-and-msi #nvidia

Drowning in the bundle

However, the rear of the card uses just a standard GTX 280 back plate, rather than the special heatsink Danger Den ships with the retail version of the Tieton waterblock, to cool the remaining eight memory modules fitted to the other side of the card. While the improved cooling afforded by the large waterblock will still allow us to set the memory clocks much higher than those of an air-cooled stock card, it’s these eight less well cooled memory modules fitted to the other side of the card that will inevitable hold us back.

Having said that, BFG is obviously very confident of the waterblock’s ability to cool the card’s 1 GB of GDDR3 memory, overclocking it to a whopping 1,225MHz (2,450MHz effective), an improvement of over ten percent in comparison to a stock GTX 280.

BFG have also heavily overclocked the core and shader clocks, running them at 680MHz (600MHz stock) and 1,458MHz (1,296MHz stock) respectively. While these aren’t too much higher than a top end air-cooled GTX 280 like BFG’s GeForce GTX 280 OCX, the overclocking and noise level advantages gained from using watercooling will always be the real attraction here.

Watercooled GeForce GTX 280 Showdown BFG GeForce GTX 280 H₂OC - 2 Watercooled GeForce GTX 280 Showdown BFG GeForce GTX 280 H₂OC - 2
Click to enlarge - the cooler is very well made and all milled from a single piece of copper

Connectivity wise, The BFG GeForce GTX 280 H₂OC has a fantastic layout, with the barb fittings widely spaced out and easily reversible with the help of wrench. The card’s bundle includes a very comprehensive array of barb fittings with chrome barbs for 3/8” and 1/2” inner diameter tubing, making the card compatible with almost any existing watercooling loop, as well as two smaller barb connections and a small length of diagonally cut 3/8” internal diameter tubing to support two of these cards in a watercooled SLI configuration. BFG has even included plastic clips for securing tubing to the barbs – it's a very complete package.

Elsewhere in the bundle it’s very much the same excellent array of kit BFG includes with its GeForce GTX 280 OCX, with a dual PCI-E six pin to PCI-E eight pin and dual Molex to PCI-E six pin connectors, DVI to VGA and DVI to HDMI adapters, an HDTV component breakout cable, a small internal S/PDIF cable and a six foot gold plated HDMI cable, as well as the standard quick install guide, warranty info and driver disc. It really is an amazingly comprehensive hardware bundle, and while lacking any sort of game to try out your new hardware, we’ve always felt that having the bits to get the most out of your hardware was more important than a throw away game to utilise it.

Watercooled GeForce GTX 280 Showdown BFG GeForce GTX 280 H₂OC - 2 Watercooled GeForce GTX 280 Showdown BFG GeForce GTX 280 H₂OC - 2
Click to enlarge


As usual, BFG excels with its fantastic warranty. The company offers a ten year warranty on its products in Europe (because of EU legislation) and a lifetime warranty across the Atlantic in the USA and Canada. The only downside is that the warranty does require activating directly with BFG within 30 days of purchase in order to get the full term, otherwise you'll just be limited to a statutory one-year warranty – that's a fair shake in our opinion, but it's something you need to be aware of.

In addition, BFG also offers its customers free 24/7 technical support via a free 1-800 number, (it's a USA number, you'll need to use SkypeOut to call it free of charge from elsewhere), or via email. The RMA process itself is all handled by UK/USA based RMA centres, so don't worry, you won't have to pay for a FedEx to the States should you have problems with your card.
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