After the initial installation the heatsink was immediately removed and the contact area was inspected. The contact is excellent, you can actually see the ATI logo shine through on both the waterblock and the core. Near the edges some thermal paste has been sucked in because of the suction force when removing the waterblock.
For the overclocking tests I used my ATITool overclocking utility version 0.25 Beta 8. ATITool has the unique ability to detect artifacts, or flaws, in a rendered image. As defined by ATITool, the maximum stable overclock on a card is the speed at which it is able to consistently (15 minutes in this test) produce no errors, or artifacts. ATITool detects ANY artifacts, even ones which will not be visible in game. Using the human eye to detect artifacts introduces subjectivity into the test, so despite the fact that an ATITool tested overclock will be characteristically lower than a human one, I will use this.
Temperature was measured with one case side open by reading the on-die thermal diode of our X800 Pro PCI-Express. Idle temperature was measured after letting Windows sit one hour at the desktop. Load temperature was measured after running 3DMark2003 looped for one hour. Both at the card's default clock of 507 / 520 Mhz.
We will be comparing the Thermaltake Tide Water against this stock cooler of the X850 Pro. As you can see, the stock cooler has a copper base, is big and has memory cooling as well. Its cooling performance is comparable to an Arctic Cooling Silencer (just much more louder). The fan speed is varied based on temperature. For all temperatures below 65°C it is 54%. To have another value to compare to, I used ATITool to force the stock fan to always run at 100%.
Arctic Silver Lumière was used as thermal interface material for the GPU core in all installations. Lumière is a specially engineered testing compound - it needs no settle in time to reach its maximum performance, but it's not designed for permanent use.
|Radeon X800 Pro PCI-E||Maximum Core Clock||Sound level||Temperature Load||Temperature Idle|
|Stock cooler - dynamic fan||579 Mhz||48 dbA||58°C||32°C|
|Stock cooler - fan 100%||582 Mhz||62 dbA||52°C||31°C|
|Tidewater Low||584 Mhz||49 dbA||47°C||32°C|
|Tidewater High||591 Mhz||62 dbA||42°C||30°C|
At both settings the Thermaltake Tide Water performs great. The load temperatures are far ahead of the competition. Overclocking gains are there, but are very slim. This is mostly because the other coolers are doing quite a good job already. However, many video cards are shipping with much worse stock coolers, so you can expect bigger gains there.
Given the low temperatures of the Tide Water, a voltmod to increase the GPU voltage sounds well possible to me. This will further increase your overclock.
I tried running the Tide Water completely passive with the fan disconnected and saw load temperatures in the 80° range. Talented modders could sure take the unit apart, put a very slow running, super-silent fan in front of the radiator and drop the cooling noise even further.