Whereas once upon a time water-cooling was the territory solely for the well-heeled or mad, nowadays it's pretty much a given that any enthusiast system will be liquid cooled rather than air.
Not only for the temperature benefits, but also for the vastly reduced noise that you obtain. As more and more systems move from offices and bedrooms into the lounge, silence is a key component. Let's not kid ourselves though, a well-designed water-loop just looks much cooler than air too. No matter how much we try and remain aloof and deal with hard facts, we're enthusiasts and hardware nerds too here at OC3D, and there is always a level of glee from a nicely laid out system with bright coolant humming through it.
If you're one of the lucky people and have managed to get your hands on the nVidia GTX Titan, then today's review will be of particular interest. We're looking at the XSPC Razor GTX Titan waterblock.
Waterblocks aren't the most inspiring visual feast, but the XSPC number is at the very least simple. This allows it to be sleek inside your case or, if you have some artistic flair, a plain surface to express yourself. We're especially fond of the backplate, an area of the GTX Titan we thought could do with bolstering.
What is less obvious from our photos is that the fin density has been doubled. Fin density is a major component in the surface area available, and so this should dramatically enhance the available performance. With 7 ports enabling you to fit it into your loop in the manner most aesthetically pleasing, and the acrylic top allowing for LED lighting. And who doesn't love a bit of glow...
Gainward GTX Titan
Intel Core i7-3960X @ 4.6GHz
ASUS Rampage IV Extreme
Corsair Dominator Platinum
Corsair Neutron GTX
Windows 7 x64
The water-cooling side is handled by the full range of XSPC component plumbed together with Bitspower fittings and kept cool with Corsair fans. Although you can mix and match your water-cooling setup, the quality of their parts is such we don't need to look past XSPC for our loop.
XSPC GTX Titan Water block
XSPC RX360 Radiator
XSPC Raystorm CPU Block
XSPC D5 Pump
XSPC D5 pump tank reservoir
Corsair SP120 Performance edition fans with fan speed reducer
One of the big selling points to the Titan, and the reason we wanted to water-cool it, is that the overclocking is heavily reliant upon the thermal limits. Retaining the stock voltage and core speed we managed to obtain an extra 575MHz on the memory. Returning the memory to stock the GPU maxed out at an extra 150MHz. However, we couldn't get the card stable with any memory overclock, even 100MHz, and this GPU speed.
Backing off by 10MHz enabled us to put an extra 500MHz on the GDDR5, for a final overclock of 1016MHz Core and 3504MHz GDDR5. Memory clock speed is especially important in high resolution scenarios, so we're looking forward to the benchmarks.
Naturally the primary reason for water-cooling your graphics card is to keep it cool and keep noise levels down. Despite the quality of the reference air-cooler, it's no match for the XSPC setup. A maximum of 40°C is excellent, especially as the loop is having to cool the entire system.
Gaming @ 1080
Certainly the initial impressions are that the extra overclock allowed with the XSPC equipped Titan has given a big boost to the scores. Only the poorly optimised Batman Arkham City and the extremely demanding Crysis 3 don't give a noticeable increase. Far Cry 3 and Hitman Absolution move from good to fully playable and smooth.
Gaming @ 1440
The increase in resolution is the thing we were most looking forward to testing, and the XSPC Titan comes up trumps. Only Batman AC doesn't show a big improvement, and that's already at the 61FPS hard limit. Every other title shows between a 10 and 20% improvement.
Away from the gaming benchmarks the consistent improvement continues in 3D Mark. Every test from the simplicity of a Vantage Performance, to the insane image quality from the Fire Strike Extreme test, the GTX Titan with the XSPC waterblock gains around 10% over the air overclocked tests.
Such are the demands of the Unigine suite of benchmarks that we don't see the same performance boost across the board that we saw in 3D Mark. However, it's worth noting that the newer of the two, Unigine Valley, does give the same improvement and it's only the ultra-high-resolution Unigine Heaven results that lack the extra oomph.
Sometimes we struggle to contain all of our thoughts about a particular product within the natural concentration limits of our busy readers. The XSPC Razor waterblock gives us the exact opposite problem. It's so simple, and so good at what it does, that if you're in the market for a waterblock for your GTX Titan, then this is the one you should buy.
You want more?
Well, there isn't much else we can say. It looks fantastic. There is a cleanliness to the design that we admire. Rather than go for a big logo or some flashy graphic, it's taken the minimalist 'none more black' approach. Not only does this allow your GPU to harmonise with the system rather than dominate it, but because XSPC have wrapped the all-metal construction in an acrylic cover we can see a lot of talented artists treating it as a blank canvas to customise their systems still further.
The back-plate is something that we've been crying out for, and we feel that all high-end graphics cards should come equipped with one. It's worth noting that if you're planning to stick with your air-cooled card but want the benefits of the back-plate, you'll need to source some screws as it doesn't fit to an air-cooled card with just the standard ones. It's these things that we test so you don't have to.
All in all there is little to add. It unlocks the performance of the GTX Titan to new levels, especially in higher-resolutions, whilst keeping the card cool and looking fantastic.
Sometimes simplicity is best and the XSPC Razor GTX Titan Waterblock does it all and we have to award it our OC3D Gold Award.
Thanks to XSPC for supplying the water-cooling kit for today's review. Discuss it in our OC3D Forums.