Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block


Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block

If you haven't seen a review of the GTX480, then you have most likely seen a forum or news post commenting on how hot the card runs. Due to this heat there are many people making the jump to water cooling just to keep the heat down that the GTX480 generates.

One such solution is from Danger Den. Danger Den has been one of the favorites of enthusiasts for years and have a wide range of water cooling components from pumps to CPU water blocks to VGA water blocks like the DD-GTX480 we are looking at today. They also have radiators, cases, reservoirs, and complete kits. Everything you need to outfit your system with a custom water cooling loop.

Today we are going to be taming the heat from the nVidia GTX480 with Danger Dens's DD-GTX480 water block. The block comes in a couple different styles for your budget and taste. There is an all copper version for $134.95, nickel plated top and copper base for $146.85, and nickel plated top and bottom $159.95. The version we are looking at today is the all copper version. Let's take a quick look at the features and whats included per the Danger Den website before we get to the fun part.

Features:

Includes:

Packing

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block Packing

The DD-GTX480 comes well packaged in a sturdy cardboard box and sandwiched between two pieces of egg crate foam.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block mounting hardware

It comes with all the mounting hardware, Ceramique thermal paste, and thermal tape.

Looking closer at the DD-GTX480

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block

First thing I noticed taking the DD-GTX480 out of the box was its weight, man this thing is heavy. Weighing in a whopping 2lb 7.2 oz (~1.2 kg) there is now doubt its one big hunk of copper.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block finish

The finish on the top is very nice, polished to a mirror shine and a magnet for finger prints. On the lower front edge of the card there is the Danger Den double D logo engraved into the block.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block


Flipping the block over we can get a good look at the backside. Now even though you can see the path of the CNC machine that made the block. I love the look of this, but despite its looks it does have a very nice flat surface.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block


Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block capacitor cut outs

Since this a full cover block there are some large capacitors on the video card that need to be avoided/made room for. These are also areas to pay attention to when assembling the block onto the card. The block is closely made to match the card, and if you're not careful you could knock a capacitor loose.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block seating surface

The seating surface for the fittings is very nice as well. The DD-GTX480 comes with two plugs and a pair of hose barbs of your choice of 1/4“, 3/8", or 1/2" ID tubing. We received 1/2" barbs with our sample, but you can customize your order.

Water Block Installation


NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 Video 
Card

I will be installing the DD-GTX480 on my EVGA GTX480. Since I had to take it all the way apart I might as well walk you through the whole process. The front of the GeForce GTX 480 graphics card consists of a glossy black plastic shroud, the five heatpipe cooler and large radiating surface and the squirrel-cage fan.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 Video Card

The first step in taking apart the GeForce GTX 480 is to remove the fan shroud, which is easy to do as it is a tooless process. I really like this design as you can easily clean out the fins of the heat sink without having to remove any screws! You can just squeeze the plastic around the clips and they release and you can use compressed air to blow the dust out of the fins. Notice that once the fan shroud is removed you can see how ginormous the metal plate is on the heat sink!

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 Video Card
Next you can remove the four larger Philips head spring screws as they attach the heatsink to the video card. With the heatsink removed you can see the core for the very first time! The design of this cooler is great as once again you can change out the thermal paste in a matter of seconds.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block Removing stock cooler

The stock cooler and fan assembly is held on with 19 screws in all, 17 on the back and two on the end next to the DVI ports. At this point in time you can go ahead and remove all of them.

Danger Den made a disassembly video, if you have never taken a card apart or just want to have a nice video to show you how its well worth watching.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block Cleaning the card

With the card apart we can see where EVGA put thermal paste and where they put thermal tape. Now this will be different for the water block, but we will cover that in a second. 

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block stock cooler

If you have ever wandered what an excessive amount of thermal paste looks like, this is a prime example.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 Video Card

For now what is needed is the card cleaned. I did the bulk of my cleaning with isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs. Once the bulk was off I did a final cleaning with Arctic Silver ArctiClean two part cleaning system.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block card cleaned

With the card cleaned next step is to put on the thermal paste and thremaltape. Once that is done then it’s setting the card onto the block. It’s highly suggested that you take the card to the block and not the block to the card due to its weight.

Danger Den also has a video showing how to install the block to the card. Again, very handy if you have never done it before.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block mounting hardware

Once set you install mounting hardware into 7 places. The mounting hardware consists of a stainless steel screw, flat washer, and a rubber washer. The rubber washer acts as a spring providing tension and pressure adjustment. It is possible to bend the card. If the card is bent then you have to back off one or more of the screws. The rubber washer helps take up the slack.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block Check Thermal Paste

Danger Den suggest completely installing the block then removing it to see how the thermal paste spread as well as seeing if the thermal tape covers correctly. As you can see we have great coverage on the GPU, and the tape transferred from the card to the block. Now let's put the card back together and get some testing done!

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block assembled

And here we have everything assembled and ready to be put in the system and leak testing.

The test system


Legit Reviews Core i7 Watercooling test bench

All of the CPU temperatures were obtained by using Core Temp v0.99.6 after the system sat at idle for 30 minutes and then again under 100% load while running Prime95 (64bit) v25.11 for 30 minutes using the blended test. The room temperature was kept a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22C) for all benchmarking. All of the coolers were tested with Arctic Silver Lumiere as the thermal interface material.

All of the GPU temperatures were obtained by using GPUz v0.4.2 after the system sat at idle for 30 minutes and then again under 100% load while running Furmark 1.8.0 stability test with default settings and resolution set to 1440x900. The room temperature was kept a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22C) for all benchmarking. All of the coolers were tested with Arctic Silver Lumiere as the thermal interface material.

The Legit Reviews Core i7 test bench consists of the following parts:

Intel Test Platform
Component Brand/Model Pricing
Processor Intel Core i7 930 Click Here
Motherboard ASRock X58 Extreme 3 Click Here
Memory Kingston HyperX 6GB KHX1600C9D3K3/6GX Click Here
Video Card EVGA GeForce GTX 480 015-P3-1480-AR Click Here
Hard Drive Seagate 250gb SATA Click Here
Power Supply Corsair TX650 Click Here
Chassis Microcool Banchetto 101 Click Here
Operating System Windows 7 ultimate 64bit

CPU Cooling Loop
Component Brand/Model Pricing
Radiator Swiftech Quiet Power MCR320-QP Click Here
Fans 3x Scythe SlipStream 120mm Click Here
Pump Swiftech MCP355-DDC3.2 Click Here
Pump Top XSPC Acrylic Click Here
Reservoir EK-Multioption RES 150 Rev 2 Click Here
CPU Block Swiftech Apogee XT Click Here
Hose 7/16"ID x 5/8"OD
Fittings 1/2" barb

GPU Cooling Loop
Component Brand/Model Pricing
Radiator Swiftech Quiet Power MCR320-QP Click Here
Fans 3x Scythe SlipStream 120mm Click Here
Pump Swiftech MCP355-DDC3.2 Click Here
Pump Top XSPC Acrylic Click Here
Reservoir EK-Multioption RES 150 Rev 2 Click Here
GPU Block Danger Den DD-GTX480
Click Here
Hose 7/16"ID x 5/8"OD
Fittings 1/2" barb

Overclocking Performance


Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block stock nVidia GTX480 GPUz

First we will start off with a dead stock EVGA GeForce GTX 480 video card and put it through the paces to see how it does stock and how far we can push this particular card, as all will act differently. Once that is done repeat with the Danger Den DD-GTX480 installed. In its stock configuration the GTX480 has a core clock of 701Mhz, Memory 924Mhz, and Shaders at 1401Mhz. Since not to many enthusiasts leave things stock anymore lets overclock the card.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block EVGA’s Precision graphics tuning tool

To do this we need to install EVGA’s Precision graphics tuning tool. You can get it from EVGA’s website. To make changes its just as simple as moving the slider, hitting apply, and testing.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block EVGA’s E-LEET tuning tool

EVGA also just recently released a new version of E-LEET that allows for voltage adjustment to the card. So we will be using that as well, it too can be found on EVGA’s website.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block nVidia GTX480 830Mhz GPUz

I first wanted to see how far I could push the card with the stock cooler. By adjusting only the Core, Memory, and forcing fan speed to 100% I was able to get the card to 830Mhz.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block nVidia GTX480 900Mhz GPUz

Once I had the Danger Den water block installed I was able to push the card harder. Reaching 900Mhz on the core and 1100Mhz on the memory. To do this I also had to bump the voltage from 1.000v to 1.1125v, but the extra power allowed it to be stable and run perfectly. Let's see how the card performs!

Temperature Testing

Legit Reviews Core i7 Watercooling test bench

First we have the card running the stock settings and voltage.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block stock temps

With the card loaded up and the card controlling the fan speed the temps sat at a toasty 92*C. Using EVGA precision utility you can over ride the auto fan control and make the fan run at 100%. In doing so the temps dropped to 76*C, but at the cost of having something that is almost as loud as a hair dryer running all the time. The Danger Den tamed the beast to very nice 49*C, that's hair shy of 50% cooler then the stock cooler with the stock fan profile.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block OC temps

Next I pushed the stock cooler as far as I could and it topped out at 830mhz core, 1028 on memory, 1660 on the shaders with stock voltage. With the card under full load the temp was at a very toasty 100*C. With the Danger Den block it was a very nice 52*C again almost half that of the stock cooler.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block OC temps

With the Danger Den block running so nicely you can really OC the card. With the core pushed to 900Mhz it was running at a very nice 56*C, that is still 20*C cooler then the stock HSF could do with stock settings for the card with the fan running full speed.

3DMark Vantage & Power Consumption

3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware. 3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

The Performance settings were used for testing, so a resolution of 1280x1024 was used.

3DMark Vantage Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The GeForce GTX 480 video card really wakes up when overclocked as you can see the 3DMark score went from P20155 to P22688 by just pushing the card by overclocking it on air. By using the Danger Den water cooling block we were able to lower the temperatures enough to push more voltage to the core, which allowed us to get another 70MHz from the core clocks. This frequency boost was enough to get us to a score of P24216, which is 20% more performance than the card with stock clocks! Not bad for a 28% overclock!

Now lets see what the power consumption looks like.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water block power 
consumption

By overclocking the card we get an increase in performance, but we also get an increase in power consumption. The Wattage the system isn't the only thing you need to be concerned about with these cards as they also have a fairly high pull when it comes to amperage. With a single card system that has been overclocked to the max we found the system pulling nearly 5 Amps of power at the outlet. It also shows that by just increasing the voltage on the video card and raising the clock speeds that the test system consumed nearly 130 Watts more power at full load. This was a bit of a shock to us as we didn't know overclocking just the video card would as nearly that much power draw.

If you house has old wiring or if you are at a LAN party it would take just three systems like this to trip a traditional 15 Amp circuit breaker that is found inside most homes.  If you are running a triple or quad SLI rig you can see that you will be pulling well over 900 Watts and 10 Amps!  These cards are going to change the power arrangements at LAN parties!

Final Thoughts


Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water Block



Danger Den’s GTX480 is one very nice addition to my EVGA GeForce GTX480 video card. Not only did it help cool the card better, but it also managed to eliminate the noise from the horridly loud stock fan. That in and of itself warrants the $135 price tag the all copper version we tested today carries. When it came to performance by water cooling the GeForce GTX 480 we were able to drop stock load temps from 92C to 49C, which is a drop of 47%. Reducing your temperatures by nearly half is amazing and anyone that is thinking about getting a GeForce GTX 480 should consider water cooling as an option as it really is nice.  You get lower noise levels, possibly improve the longevity of the video card and are able to overclock it farther than you could on air for even better performance.  Danger Den has done a great job on these blocks and you can tell from the second you pick the water block up that it you made a solid investment. Heck, with copper prices going up you can always cash it in down the road!

Only couple things you need to worry about with the DD-GTX480 water block. First is as with any watercooling part leak test, leak test, leak test, nothing like losing good hardware to water. This all copper water block is also very heavy.  It weighs in at just shy of 1.2 Kg, which is much heavier than the NVIDIA reference design heat-pipe cooler for the GeForce GTX 480 as it weighs 337g. Now coolers this size is not rare for CPUs, take the Cooler Master V10 for instance, it’s well over 1 Kg. So with this mounted to a card on should take care to support the card when transporting or moving your PC. Some case manufactures like the Lian Li have cases with expansion card supports to help relieve the stress on both the card and the motherboard.

I tested the Danger Den DD-GTX480 with separate water cooling loop from the CPU to isolate it and remove the heat from the CPU as a variable. You could run both on a Single triple or quad radiator, but your temps could go up a little. Even if it went up 10*C it would still be quieter and cooler then stock.

Danger Den currently has 4 versions of the DD-GTX480 water block. An all copper version for $134.95, satin all copper version for $134.95, nickel plated top and copper base for $146.85, and all nickel plated $159.95. So based on your style and budget Danger Den should have you covered for you GTX480 cooling needs. You really can't go wrong with any of the finishes and the performance should be the same on all of them according to Danger Den.  The non-nickel versions will just tarnish and age over time.

Legit Reviews Editor's 
Choice

 Award

Legit Bottom Line: The Danger Den DD-GTX480 water block for GeForce GTX 480 video cards is worth every bit of its asking price and is a must have for enthusiasts and gamers.

Danger Den DD-GTX480 Water