Now that GPU temperatures are exceeding CPU temps, water-cooling has become a much more appealing way to deliver exceptional cooling to your videocard without a lot of noise. The problem is, no one has built stand-alone GPU water-cooling kits—until now. Thermaltake’s Tide Water is an innovative product that indeed succeeds at cooling your GPU in silence. Trouble is, the omission of RAM heatsinks means that while your GPU will be chillin’, the rest of your videocard will be suitable for grillin’.
Installation is relatively easy. You install two posts to whatever card you have (the kit fits both ATI and nVidia cards). Then you place the water-block on top of the GPU core and secure it with two screws that attach to adjustable arms. While this isn’t the best design, the straightforward directions, if followed, will prevent you from causing any damage to your GPU.
Next, you attach the radiator/fan assembly to two empty PCI slot covers. The cooling unit is rather large, but it’s well-designed and includes a massive copper heatsink, a central fan that sucks air out of the fins and then exhausts it from your case. The last step is to select whether you want the cooler to operate in “quiet” or “normal” mode by toggling a small switch. The Tide Water comes prefilled with coolant, so you needn’t mess with that aspect, and a water-level indicator lets you monitor the coolant level.
As stated previously, the Tide Water’s GPU cooling performance is exceptional, registering 46 C at idle and 57 C under full load. These results are considerably better than the stock cooling apparatus achieves on our 6800 Ultra test card. The absence of any heatsinks for the board’s RAM, however, is a major problem. Our card’s capacitors and memory chips became so hot during testing we feared for the safety of our board. Running your card at these temperatures for prolonged periods is sure to decrease its life span. Thus, we cannot recommend this product unless you use aftermarket heatsinks for the memory chips.
As it stands, the Tide Water is a decent way to water-cool your GPU, but it costs twice as much as the Zalman VF700, but performs worse, so we’re not big fans.