We used a water cooling kit with 3/8″ tubing, so we installed the correct high-flow barbs and blocked off the side that was inconvenient for our test system. Water should flow in the ‘E’ of EVGA and out the ‘A’ and direction does matter. Since our card came without the manual, initially we had this reversed and performance slightly improved by just changing the direction of the coolant.
The back of the EVGA GeForce GTX 280 Hydro Copper 16 features an innovative heat sink that has a heat pipe in it to better dissipate the heat from the core and memory IC’s. The top of the heat sink is machined to line up with the water block and thermal compound used to make sure the two surfaces mate together to transfer heat in an efficient way. You can’t see the heat pipe in the picture above, but you can clearly make it out in the picture below.
The EVGA GeForce GTX 280 Hydro Copper 16 requires the same power connectors as the reference card from NVIDIA and since both the 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe adapters are included you’ll be able to use nearly any power supply. Just be sure to have at least 40A on the +12V rail as this card has a total power consumption of 236W and needs power! Unlike some cards in the past, (ATI Radeon 2900 XT for example), you have to use an 8-pin PCIe power cable. If you plan on running SLI or 3-way SLI, keep power numbers in mind as three GTX 280’s would mean that they would consume 708 if all three cards reach peak power levels at the same time.
Speaking of SLI, the GeForce GTX 280 supports SLI and 3-way SLI for those that want the ultimate in gaming performance or to run some CUDA applications with multi-GPUs. The connectors work just like those found on the GeForce 8800 GTX/Ultra and 9800 GTX series cards. No SLI bridges come with the cards as motherboard companies bundle them with most boards these days.
It would be hard to do a review on the EVGA GeForce GTX 280 Hydro Copper 16 without taking things apart. We pulled off the waterblock and should note that our card was a very early prototype and has one of the very first blocks made. The block is made from solid copper and they weight of the block leaves no doubt as to this.
Just for fun, we broke the warranty seal on the block to take a peak inside to see what EVGA was up to and what we found actually shocked us a bit. We were expecting to see thin cooling fins above the GPU and possibly the memory IC’s but found something that looked familiar. The water channel inside the waterblock was machined with letter E’s that match the E in the famed EVGA logo. The above image shows the retail box and the E compared to the E’s inside the water block. This is something most people will never see, but now you can say that you’ve seen it.
EVGA did some radical things with their card as the $879 price tag would indicate. This card has all the bells and whistles that one would expect from the fastest desktop graphics card in the world.