Liquid Cooling the PNY GeForce GTX 580 Review

While PNY is not a name we have talked about when it comes to graphic cards since 2001, these guys are still around. For the most part there is nothing special about its cards, but today we have something that is special from PNY, an out-of-the box water cooled GTX 580. Let's see what it does for us.

Introduction

Over the past few years we have seen every size and shape of heat sink cross our site. Big, small, water, and air. We have tested all types of coolers for CPUs and even a couple for GPUs. The only kinds we haven’t tested are GPU aftermarket coolers included by the manufacturer. Today we fill in that gap in a big way. PNY offered us a chance to test its water cooling solution for its GTX 580 and we jumped at the chance to test it out.

To ensure a level playing field we made sure they sent us a bone stock version to compare to as well. We are going to test the cards from a few different angles including, power consumption, noise level and even the impact on CPU temps. Why? Because when you are spending over $400 on a video card you should have every bit of info available.

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System Setup

Today's testing takes place on our [H]ard platform. The test bed consists of the GIGABYTE X58-Extreme motherboard, six gigabytes of Corsair DDR3 RAM and the Intel Core i7 920 housed inside of the NZKT Tempest chassis.

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Test Methods

CPU

For today's testing the CPU will be kept at stock speed and cooled by the Thermalright Archon air cooled heat sink.

Temperatures for the CPU will continue to be measured using our Sperry Digital 4 Point thermometer.

GPU

We will test the GPU at three different levels.

Level one will be at the stock settings of the air cooled version. GPU - 772MHz. Mem - 1002MHz. Voltage - 1.025v

Level two is the highest overclock at stock voltage. GPU - 860 MHz. Mem - 1002MHz. Voltage - 1.025v

Level three is the highest overclock using any means necessary (i.e. Moar Voltage!)

Temperatures

Ambient temperature will be kept at 25C for the duration of the tests and measured with a MicroTemp EXP non-contact infrared thermometer and cross referenced with the Sperry Digital 4 Point thermometer. Any variance greater then 0.2C will halt the testing until temperatures return within spec for fifteen minutes.

Since we are dealing with water cooling we will allow extra time for each test to give the water in the loop enough time to reach equilibrium.

Drivers

We are using NVIDIA ForceWare driver 263.09. After doing some research this version was chosen since it does not contain the limiter NVIDIA implemented to curb power output when running the Kombustor application. Testing confirmed newer drivers resulted in lower power consumption and heat. Also, the newer drivers resulted in an unreasonably high overclock that was not truly game stable but would be stable during testing.

Idle

Idle temperatures will be recorded after a fifteen minute period of inactivity. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes.

Load

Load temperatures will be recorded after a fifteen minute period of 100% load. To obtain this load we will be using the MSI Kombustor application set to a resolution of 1600x900 with no AA. This software is built off of the FurMark engine but results in a higher power draw. The resolution was chosen for the same reasons. It gives us the highest amount of power and heat load.

Sound

Sound levels will be measured with a Reliability Direct AR824 sound meter from a distance of four feet away. With everything turned off and the room completely silent the meter registered a sound level of 38dB(A). This is a very quiet room where a simple pin drop could be heard. All sound measurements are recorded in the very late evening to further reduce any ambient noise.


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