For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Seasonic Power Angel. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers, we measured the peak wattage used by the system while running a pair of games at 1280×1024 with the graphics quality settings used in the previous benchmarks.
Power Consumption Results: The ECS GeForce 9800 GTX+ Hydra consumes a fair amount of power at idle as the newer GTX series has an improved idle state. While playing games at full load the graphics cards use less power than say a pair of GeForce GTX 260’s in SLI. The entire system peaked out at 400W, which isn’t too bad considering the test system was running two water coolers and all the rest had just the CPU water cooler running.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions:
The ECS GeForce 9800 GTX+ Hyrda SLI kit is a very innovative product that brings together SLI and water cooling very nicely. The bundle comes complete with everything you need to get started and that is very important for a kit of this size. Coming with the full version of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2 video game is a nice touch as it is a $20-$30 game and not too many graphics cards come with games any longer. Installation was so simple the directions didn’t even need to be used, so this kit will get you into water cooled graphics cards setup with SLI in minutes.
As great as the kit is and how simple it was to install, there were a few things that left me scratching my head. First off, for a water cooled kit why are the cards not factory overclocked? I would have figured that ECS would have the overclocked from the get go, but they are not and no software was included to overclock them. Secondly, I have to question the quality of the water block that Thermaltake made for the 9800 GTX+ series as it doesn’t make proper contact with all the memory ICs on the graphics card. The cooling fan is on the card to help cool the memory ICs, but if the heat sink isn’t making contact with them then what is the point? Lastly, the first Hyrda kit that we got had a faulty water pump in the Thermaltake Bigwater 760is water cooling kit and we had to get a replacement. The build quality of the Thermaltake Bigwater 760is and the water blocks do not seem up to par and that is a shame as ECS had a really good idea here.
When it comes to pricing, the ECS GeForce 9800 GTX+ Hyrda SLI kit has an MSRP of $519.99, which is pricey if you think about it. A pair of GeForce GTX 260 graphics cards can be found for $199 each after a $40 rebate from Newegg and offer better gaming performance at a lower price as a pair in SLI would be just $400. A standard GeForce 9800 GTX+ can be had for $159 after a $30 rebate from Newegg, so a pair of these cards air cooled would be $318. That means the ECS GeForce 9800 GTX+ Hydra SLI kit is roughly $200 more than a couple standard GeForce 9800 GTX+ cards and $120 more than a pair of GeForce GTX 260 graphics cards. With the poor build quality of the Thermaltake parts and the level of performace from these cards it makes it hard to recommend them. If the cards were factory overclocked and the Thermaltake water cooling kit was better designed then it might be a different story. ECS had something good going here, but their quality control should have noticed the water blocks didn’t fit properly and source them from another company.
I’ll give the ECS GeForce 9800 GTX+ Hydra video card kit the innovation award as ECS took a risk and tried something a little different that few companies would be willing to do. Hopefully ECS will do some factory overclocking and make certain the water blocks fit perfectly the next time around! If the Hyrda ever gets any mail in rebate offers or goes down in price it would be something worth looking at.
Legit Bottom Line: The ECS GeForce 9800 GTX+ Hyrda SLI kit is pretty sweet, but a high price tag and a couple of issues that were overlooked put a damper on this one.