The performance of modern video cards is very much dependent on the cooling system, which we have repeatedly observed in the tests of GeForce GTX 1080 and GeForce GTX 1070. And in the case of the current generation of Pascal video cards from NVIDIA, this dependence is even more evident. Today in our test lab downgraded graphic card Caseking KingMod GeForce GTX 1080 FE with a pre-installed water block EKWB.
We have already published a separate study on the effect of the cooling system on video card performance. In it, we compared the Founders Edition model with a video card equipped with an alternative cooling system Gigabyte. The results can easily be transferred to other video cards with proprietary cooler manufacturers.
Of course, the water cooling system removes heat much more efficiently than any air cooler. In addition, there are hybrid solutions that combine the advantages of water and air cooling. For example, we tested MSI GeForce GTX 1080 SEA HAWK X (Corsair Hydro GFX GTX 1080), Inno3D GeForce GTX 1080 iChill Black Edition and Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 ArcticStorm. All these models under load could withstand a GPU frequency of more than 2.000 MHz, and some even noticeably higher.
But so far we have not tested the GeForce GTX 1080 with a full-fledged waterblock. We correct this shortcoming and present the KingMod GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FE test.
In our section of the video cards there are reviews and tests of various models of the GeForce GTX 1080. But most of them are equipped with a classic air cooler, even with its own design.
Caseking used the Founders Edition model, in this case from Gigabyte, to install the water block. But this is not so important, since all the Founders Edition video cards are identical. They work with a base frequency of 1.607 MHz, in Boost mode the minimum bar is 1.733 MHz. Memory 8 GB GDDR5X runs at 2.500 MHz. However, these levels of frequency are of little interest to us, since with the installed water block the video card is capable of more.
If you are interested in Pascal architecture, we recommend that you review our overview of the GeForce GTX 1080 reference version. In it, we looked at the Pascal architecture, the new 16-nm FinFET technical process and other details.
We’ll change the structure of the review a bit, first we’ll look at the video card, and then we’ll move on to the overclocking theme.
First, let’s consider the main specifications of the video card.
Dimensions of the video card correspond to other models Founders Edition, the cooler does not protrude beyond the PCB, so the video card does not seem too long. But the height of the connection block with G1 / 4 “fittings.” The water block needs to be integrated into the contour of the existing SVO. Below we will consider the components installed on the video card.
Caseking for installation on Caseking KingMod GeForce GTX 1080 FE used the water block EKWB EK-FC1080 GTX, which is compatible with all models of video cards with the reference PCB Founders Edition. A full-coated water block removes heat from all the main components of the video card: GPU, memory and VRM. The water block is made of copper, channels are laid over all important sections along which the liquid flows. In our case, we chose a coolant with a red pigment, so that it could be seen better. In some places, the surface of the water block is covered with nickel, but only to improve the appearance.
The water block is closed with a cover of Plexiglas, but it not only closes the channels of the water block, but also goes to the back of the video card, protecting the components. The usual Founders Edition video cards at the rear are fitted with a radial fan.
Depending on the viewing angle, lenses and reflections appear on the cover of Plexiglas. But if you choose the right angle, you can see the traces of the CNC milling machine, which was used for laying channels. The cutter passed through the entire water block to within a fraction of a millimeter.
Of course, the main task of the water block is to remove heat from the GPU, although it also cools the memory chips and VRM components. But since the GPU allocates heat much more than the other components, the EKWB paid most attention to it. The producer of the water block installed small tubules in the center, called the Split Flow Cooling Engine. They increase the area of the contact surface between the metal and the liquid in order to transfer the accumulated heat faster.
Equally important in water-cooling systems is the fluid resistance in the water block. EKWB tried to make the resistance as small as possible, so that the pump did less work and pumped more liquid through the water block. In the case of the EKWB EK-FC1080 GTX, the direction of flow of the liquid does not matter.
The G1 / 4 “fittings are located on both sides of the mounting plate, they allow connecting the water block to the circuit of the SVO.If required, it is possible to use fittings on both sides, in complex contour configurations.
In our test configuration, we installed the handset on the back of the video card. We did not install the back plate, but Caseking offers a complete set with an EKWB plate.
Theoretically, GeForce GTX 1080 with EKWB waterblock turns into a single-slot video card. Indeed, the thickness of the water block fits into one slot. But in the case of the GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition, there is a DVI port that goes to the second half of the slot stub, above the three DisplayPort outputs and one HDMI. Therefore, the slot plug occupies two slots.
Power to the Founders Edition is fed through the 8-pin connector. According to the specifications, the power is 150W, together with 75W through the PCI Express slot we get 225W. When we put the Power Target at maximum, the power was 216 watts. However, in practice, an 8-pin connector can supply a higher power level, so we do not see any limitations.
Together with the water block, we used the EK Water Blocks EK-XRES 100 SPC-60 MX PWM and the MagiCool Copper Radiator II heat exchanger. The length of the tubes is sufficient to install the heat exchanger under the housing cover, for example.
Installed reservoir with a pump. It has a diameter of 60 mm, in height we get 121 mm together with the pump. The pump is controlled by PWM.
Our kit was called EK-CoolStream PE 240 (Dual). The dimensions of the heat exchanger are 280 x 130 x 38 mm. In the radiator, there is about 165 ml of liquid, although not so much the volume as the rate of pumping is important. Two 120-mm fans are provided for heat dissipation.
Noiseblocker fans have a diameter of 120 mm. Fans NB-BlackSilentPRO operate at speeds from 400 to 1,500 rpm with a rather low noise level. Compared to the air cooler, we expected a much lower noise level, despite the presence of two fans. They rotate slowly, but the air flow is still enough to cool the circuit.
Of course, we did not test the KingMod video card with the Founders Edition default settings. We broke up the video card. To do this, we increased the Power Limit bar by + 20%, which gave a maximum power of 216 watts instead of 180 watts. This one measure enabled the video card in Boost mode to work stably at 2.024 MHz. Due to low temperatures, the graphics card did not overheat, so it always worked at maximum Boost frequencies.
Then we manually increased the frequencies manually, checking the stability. The last step was to increase the Boost frequency to 1.863 MHz, which in practice produced 2.154 MHz. As a result, we were able to increase the clock speed of the video card by just over 6%. We broke the memory from the frequency of 1.250 or 2.500 MHz to 1.325 or 2.700 MHz. With this level of frequencies, we conducted tests, to which we now turn.
We substantially updated the software in the form of games and tests, but the hardware remained, for the most part, the same. In order for our test system to be as close to practical conditions as possible, we conducted tests in a closed case. Operating system Windows 10 was installed on SSD, but for games we used a hard disk. This does not affect the test results.
Our test system contains components of Intel, ASUS, Fractal Design, Corsair, G.Skill, OCZ and Seasonic. We express our gratitude to all the manufacturers who provided us with the accessories!
Let’s pass to an estimation of noise level, power consumption and temperature.
In the idle mode, we mean that the Caseking KingMod GeForce GTX 1080 FE is cooled only by the contour of the SVO, there are no active components on the video card itself. Therefore, we consider the operation of the video card to be noiseless, by our method we can not compare its work with other video cards.
The same applies to the situation under load, although the two fans on the heat exchanger rotate slightly faster. But to bring the values of the noise level is still incorrect, because the video card Caseking KingMod GeForce GTX 1080 FE comes only with a water block. Pumps and heat exchangers with fans are selected by users, so the results in different configurations will differ.
Even after several test runs, the temperature in idle mode did not exceed 33 ° C. It should be remembered that this value depends on the installed OWS. In any case, the temperature 33 ° C for the Caseking KingMod GeForce GTX 1080 FE can be called low.
Under load, the potential of the cooling system is clearly visible. The temperature of the GPU does not exceed 52 ° C, although we have dispersed the video card to 2.154 MHz. Of course, the temperature is very much dependent on other components of the SVO.
In the regime of inactivity, we did not find anything unusual. We measure the energy consumption of the entire system, including the components of the NWS. The difference of several watts can hardly be considered sufficiently significant to draw any conclusions.
What can not be said about the power consumption under load. We received a power consumption level of 397.7 W, a record value among the tested GeForce GTX 1080 graphics cards. But we get high clock speeds that are maintained for a long time.
With the connection of two monitors, there is no problem. Power consumption is slightly increased, but there is nothing wrong with that.
The 3Dmark test from Futuremark is one of the most popular synthetic tests, it allows you to conveniently compare different systems or individual components. Individual modes (Preset) allow you to evaluate various aspects of the system – up to the resolution of UltraHD / 4K. The test was originally developed under DirectX 11, but today 3DMark also allows you to evaluate the optimization for DirectX 12, analyzing the number of Draw calls.
Luxmark 3.0 is a rendering test that relies on the OpenCL interface and a wide hardware base of video cards. Luxmark was developed as a test for determining the performance of LuxRender. LuxRender 2.x API is used to calculate the scene. The result is given in samples per second.
The GPUPI test calculates the number of pi via different interfaces. Programs such as SuperPi have long been used to evaluate the computing performance of hardware, it is possible to calculate through processors and video cards. As you can see from the GPUPI name, this test is based on the GPU calculation. We used the OpenCL API and calculated the number of pi to 500 million or 1 billion characters. GPUPI allows you to conveniently appreciate the 64-bit performance of hardware.
Probably, the Caseking KingMod GeForce GTX 1080 FE will be the latest GTX 1080 (non-Ti) graphics card in our test lab. Together with Founders Edition, we tested 15 GeForce GTX 1080 models from different manufacturers. Of course, Caseking KingMod GeForce GTX 1080 FE takes a special place, although we have already tested several video cards with a hybrid cooler. In this case, a full-featured water block EKWB with full coverage is installed on the video card.
The EKWB water block can be purchased separately and installed on the video card independently. But in this case, you do not have to bother with the installation, the manufacturer has already done everything for the user. In addition, the video card is provided with the warranty of Caseking.
The cheapest video card GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition today will cost from 575 euros. The water block from EKWB costs about 100 euros, for the pump with the tank it is necessary to lay out another 120 euros. A double heat exchanger costs 30 euros, as a result, we get a budget of 825 euros. Caseking sells KingMod GeForce GTX 1080 FE for 879.90 euros, but the price will soon be lower for sure, as GeForce GTX 1080 cards are cheaper after the announcement of GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. Whether it is worth paying an impressive amount for a finished video card with a water block – decide for yourself. But there are users for whom such a sum is not a problem.
Of course, most of our readers will certainly prefer to install the water block on their own, and the money saved will be invested in other components of the system.
If you decide to purchase Caseking KingMod GeForce GTX 1080 FE, connect a water cooling system and be satisfied with the default settings, then the GPU under load will already work at a frequency of more than 2.000 MHz. Therefore, the video card will be faster than many models with alternative air coolers, and the GPU works with much lower temperatures. However, buyers of such a video card are unlikely to be content with the regular mode. So let’s talk about overclocking.
We ran overclocking tests and managed to squeeze out 2.154 MHz in Boost mode from the video card, which brought this model to the leaders in terms of performance. Among the GeForce GTX 1080 there are simply no competitors. In some cases, the video card bypasses even GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, although only in situations with low resolution and low quality settings. If the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti requires high GPU GP102 performance, Ti is once again the leader. In general, Caseking KingMod GeForce GTX 1080 FE perfectly demonstrates the potential of Pascal architecture in case a powerful cooling system is installed on the video card.
A lot depends on the cooling system, but even air coolers are becoming more effective today. Therefore, the scope of use of water cooling systems is narrowed. The EKWB EK-FC1080 GTX water block draws heat not only from the GPU, but from all important components of the video card. But also air coolers now cool not only the GPU. In any case, SVO can remove heat from the GPU faster than any air cooler. As a result, the temperature of the GPU in our tests has never exceeded 52 ° C. And we did not encounter overheating of the video card. It is also important that smaller GPU temperatures result in lower leakage currents, so lower voltages can applied for the same clock frequencies as with an air cooler.
The low temperatures of the GPU paired with the water cooling system provide an excellent overclocking potential. In our tests, we were able to overclock the GPU to 2.154 MHz. The performance gain compared to the standard model GeForce GTX 1080 is quite noticeable.
In general, the video card Caseking KingMod GeForce GTX 1080 FE showed impressive results in our tests. This concerns not only the performance, but also the cooling of the GPU. In addition, you can add CPU to the video card’s circuit. As a result, you can effectively overclock not only the graphics card, but also the processor, instead of noisy coolers, only the fans on the heat exchanger and the pump will work in the system, so we will also get a pleasantly low noise level. But are you ready to give for it 879.90 euros – the question is different.