Inno3D GTX 480 iChill Overview: Water-Cooled Fermi

Inno3D offers an impressive selection of graphics cards based exclusively on Nvidia GPUs. Because of this, we haven't seen much action from them in the past few months. With the delay of the GeForce GTX 400 series, Nvidia's exclusive board partners got stuck for a while. Although older GeForce models were still pretty competitive, ATI's successive launches have continued to drive the release of efficiency and price.

Either way, if that was reason enough to get manufacturers to look into custom board designs and cooling offerings right away, you won't hear us complaining. In addition to the reference-based boards, Inno3D has made a number of impressive GeForce GTX 200-based products including the GTX Accelero line and the flagship of them all, the GTX 295 Black Series, which added a large water cooling block for heavy overclocking.

Since then we have not added any similar products to the Inno3D Elite "Black Series". You can recall some of our thoughts from our original GTX 480 review. While the power output was certainly there, we had serious concerns about Fermi's power consumption and its most dangerous result, heat output. Without a doubt a perfect candidate for water treatment, today we present you the Inno3D GTX 480 iChill Black Series.

You assumed correctly that water cooling is the key component here and could make all the difference. As early as March, our GTX 480 reference card tests showed that this GPU was hotter under stress than the GeForce GTX 295 with two GPUs and consumed a similar amount of power compared to the Radeon HD 4870 X2 with two GPUs. Compared to a comparable Radeon, the GeForce was not the practical choice because we found it greedy, loud and hot.

Now, about two months later, and despite all of these obvious drawbacks, Nvidia's CEO claimed the company had shipped an impressive hundred thousand Fermi GPUs. This means either that there are large numbers of Nvidia fans out there (a claim we wouldn't argue about) or that Board Affiliates have a truckload of inventory in their warehouses.

Adding a water block won't make the product cheaper, but it will most likely improve the GeForce GTX 480's overclocking capabilities and, as a result, improve its performance.

A lot is being asked of the new Inno3D GTX480 iChill Black series and we are excited to see if they can deliver. Let's find out.

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