Gigabyte's Waterforce cooler chills three GTX 980s

— 6:00 AM on November 12, 2014

Gigabyte's GeForce GTX 980 lineup starts like one might expect, with a stock-clocked reference card. One step above that sits an amped-up version with a triple-fan cooler, which is in turn topped by a beefier G1 Gaming variant with even higher clocks—all pretty standard stuff.

The next item up the line switches to liquid cooling, which is fairly logical, but Gigabyte takes the concept to an unusual extreme. Instead of sticking with a single card, the GV-N980X3WA-4GD combines three.

Source: Gigabyte

The product page isn't terribly detailed, but as far as I can tell, each card has its own closed-loop cooling system with independent fan and pump control. Liquid cooling chills not only the GPUs, but also the memory and MOSFETs. There's at least one fan per radiator, and there may be room for a second set of spinners underneath.

At 1228MHz base and 1329MHz boost, the GPU clocks are well above stock frequencies. The 7 GT/s memory transfer rate matches the reference design, though, and so does each card's 4GB GDDR5 allotment.

Powering this Cerberus requires a PSU with at least 1200W and six eight-pin PCIe connectors. And don't forget a motherboard with three-way SLI support. Gigabyte kicks in the requisite bridge connector, plus a support bar for the graphics cards and a 5.25" bay insert to channel the external plumbing into the case.

Routing the tubing through a 5.25" bay looks a little awkward. Even Gigabyte's own promotional shot shows the potential for obscuring front-panel ports, and threading cards into the case could be tricky in some chassis. (I don't see any mention of quick-release fittings, which would seem to be contrary to the closed-loop design.) That said, the chunky external unit should at least ensure compatibility with a broader range of cases than equivalent internal hardware.

There's no word on availability or pricing, but we've asked Gigabyte about both. We'll update this post when we hear back from the company.

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