Slapping a liquid cooler on a graphics card isn't a fresh idea, but factory-sealed setups are rare outside of the hottest-running pixel pushers around, like AMD's Radeon R9 295 X2. EVGA's new GeForce GTX 980 Hybrid brings a similar all-in-one cooler to a single-GPU card. A 120-mm liquid cooler chills the GM204 core, while a blower-style unit provides airflow for the memory and VRMs.
EVGA cranks up the clocks, of course, from the stock GTX 980's 1126MHz base and 1216MHz boost frequencies to 1291MHz base and 1393MHz boost. Those speeds are identical to the clocks for the company's air-cooled GTX 980 Classified.
According to EVGA, the Hybrid runs roughly 25°C cooler than Nvidia's reference design. Our testing shows that custom air coolers can greatly reduce the GTX 980's load temperatures, so liquid setups aren't strictly necessary to beat the stock config. That said, better cooling can open up additional overclocking headroom. I'd be interested to see how high one could push the clocks on the GTX 980 Hybrid.
The GTX 980 Hybrid isn't listed at the big online retailers just yet, but EVGA's online store is selling the card for $650. The identically-clocked GTX 980 Classified runs $680 on Newegg, so that's not a bad deal. For those who already own reference GTX 980s, EVGA is also selling the Hybrid cooler and fan shroud separately for $100.