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Sapphire TOXIC X1950XTX

Sapphire TOXIC X1950 CrossFire Edition
Liquid cooled X1950XTX and X1950 CrossFire Edition

Sapphire has announced the release of its new TOXIC X1950XTX and TOXIC X1950 CrossFire Edition graphics cards catered towards enthusiasts and silent PC aficionados. The new TOXIC X1950XTX and TOXIC X1950 CrossFire Edition do away with ATI’s stock red blower and replace it with a water cooling solution. Water cooling is provided by a customized Thermaltake Tidewater system. The water cooling system has a variable speed fan that has two modes of operation—quiet or higher efficiency. In quiet mode the fan is rated to produce 18dBA of noise and spins at 2000 RPM. When performance is desired the fan spins at 2500RPM and produces 26dBA of noise.

In addition to the water cooling solution, the TOXIC X1950XTX and TOXIC X1950 CrossFire Editions come overclocked from the factory. Instead of ATI’s stock 650 MHz core clock Sapphire has cranked the core clock to 695 MHz. Memory speed remains unchanged at 1000 MHz though. Other notable features include dual-link DVI and HDCP compliancy for high definition HD-DVD and Blu-ray playback.

Pricing for the TOXIC X1950XTX and TOXIC X1950 CrossFire Editions is expected around $549 with availability in a couple of weeks. TOXIC X1950 CrossFire Edition cards will have limited availability though.

In other Sapphire news, Sapphire is holding a Halloween contest. The prize is a Sapphire PURE CrossFire 3200 motherboard, TOXIC X1950XTX and TOXIC X1950 CrossFire Edition graphics cards.

*Update* The TOXIC X1950 CrossFire Edition will only take up two slots.

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in this case I think watercooling is a gimmick
By johnsonx on 10/12/2006 4:34:35 PM , Rating: 1
Would someone please explain to me how this cooling setup is better than a traditional heatsink and fan? Because I sure don't understand why it would be. Water doesn't magically reduce the amount of heat, all it does is move it from one place to another.

The usual reason watercooling works on a CPU is that you pump the heat to a radiator that is larger than what you could attach directly to the cpu, you can use a larger, quieter fan to move air over the radiator fins, and you can exhaust the hot air directly out of the case rather than recirculating it and relying on other case fans.

A standard two-slot GPU cooler already offers the direct exhaust aspect, so what else does this extra-slot water cooler offer?

The radiator in this setup is no larger than the heatsink that could be attached directly to the GPU, and in fact it's probably smaller given the width restriction and the space in the cooling unit taken up by the fan and water pump. The fan is the same size at best, or even smaller since it has to be completely contained in the width of one slot, and the fan doesn't spin any faster or it would be louder defeating the purpose. How then does the water help?

I'll bet at least even money that this setup will run hotter than an equivalent card with a two-slot heatsink and fan.

The only benefit at all I see to this is that you don't necessarily have to put the GPU cooler unit right next to the GPU; you could move it down a slot or two, or even put it above the GPU if you have the space.

I suppose if this unit isn't overly expensive, or if the water cooling part is sold separately, then getting a GPU with a factory-installed water block might be convenient for those doing 'real' water cooling, assuming the hose barbs fit the standard size tubing.

Aside from the select few who might actually benefit from the above two points, I suspect this card will be sold to idiots who think anything water-cooled is automatically better than anything air-cooled.

RE: in this case I think watercooling is a gimmick
By cgrecu77 on 10/12/2006 4:37:58 PM , Rating: 3
for one it's quiet ... 18dB is inaudible

RE: in this case I think watercooling is a gimmick
By FITCamaro on 10/12/2006 6:25:35 PM , Rating: 3
Not only that but its better to move the heat off the GPU core and dissipate it elsewhere than try to dissipate it while its still on the GPU core itself.

By johnsonx on 10/13/2006 5:49:03 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, that doesn't add up. The entire cooling loop will be close to the same temperature. The coolant will be slightly cooler coming out of the radiator, and slightly warmer coming off the GPU block, but the difference will be at most a few degrees. It's a closed-loop system. The coolant only spreads the heat around, it still has to be disappated somewhere.

By KorruptioN on 10/12/2006 8:52:07 PM , Rating: 2
It's a Thermaltake unit (as seen on the labelling on the hoses). Thermaltake is not to be trusted when it comes to noise ratings, 18dBA is likely optimistic.

By MonkeyKiller on 10/12/2006 5:06:58 PM , Rating: 2
Not that I am defending Sapphire's choice to use liquid cooling, but I think it may not be as gimmicky as you make it out to be. Sapphire as a company has been putting out better and better products, and I doubt they would put out a high end product with a "gimped" cooler on it. But again, it could turn out to be an awful product, no one knows. =)

One thing to keep in mind is that they may be using the term "water" in their marketing releases, but it could possibly be slightly different to that... It could be a hybrid liquid with cooling properties that are the same/better than water and will cool down without needing a giant radiator. Of course I could just be reading in between the lines here as well.

By johnsonx on 10/13/2006 5:54:45 AM , Rating: 2
Doesn't really matter whether it's water or not. In my analysis I didn't even consider the coolant being anything less than perfect (which of course no coolant actually is). In other words, even assuming the coolant is 100% efficient, the heat is still removed from the system by air blowing on a heatsink. The fact that the heatsink is not in direct contact with the heat source only makes the system LESS efficient.

Again, water cooling only works better than direct air cooling because you can use a larger radiator with a bigger fan. Since this system appears to have neither, I don't see the advantage.

RE: in this case I think watercooling is a gimmick
By Goty on 10/12/2006 6:07:50 PM , Rating: 2
Water is a more efficient conductor of heat, that's another reason why water cooling works better. If what you're saying was true, then there would be no way for this cooler to perform any better than the stock cooler supplied by ATI, but if you go look at any number of reviews on the tide water you'll see that does in fact do a much better job than the stock cooler.

RE: in this case I think watercooling is a gimmick
By johnsonx on 10/13/2006 6:00:44 AM , Rating: 2
Well I will have to look into the reviews on the Thermaltake Tidewater.

What I'm saying is true though: laws of thermo-dynamics can't be superseded by clever packaging.

RE: in this case I think watercooling is a gimmick
By Seer on 10/13/2006 8:55:02 PM , Rating: 2
What's funny is that the self same laws you quote are what will do you in...

Because the specific heat of water is ELEVEN times greater than that of copper, the deltaT to the equillibrium point of whats taking the heat off the core and the core itself is 11 times less. IOW, your temperature only rises 1/11 times as much.

RE: in this case I think watercooling is a gimmick
By johnsonx on 10/13/2006 10:08:59 PM , Rating: 2
Nope, sorry, wrong, not even close.

It's a closed system. Therefore once the small volume of water reaches the equilibrium temperature, it's specific heat doesn't matter (well ok, it does, but not at all in the way you think it does). The heat is still being transferred out of the system by air moving past a heatsink. So the water still plays no part in the actual cooling, it only serves to spread the heat into the heatsink (aka radiator).

Next contestant?

RE: in this case I think watercooling is a gimmick
By Seer on 10/14/2006 11:03:34 PM , Rating: 2
This is totally not a closed system, what are you talking about?!?!? It's the exact opposite!! I think you meant open system, that makes more sense for your argument.

And yes, once the "small volume" reaches the much much lower equillibrium temperatur, its Cp doesn't really matter. Note that it is the mass that matters. .5 GPM = 30 g Water / Sec. 50 CFM = 30g Air / sec. 50 CFM is actually high for a small gfx fan, as 50 cfm is good for a 120 mm fan. And .5 gpm is a conservative estimate. You're moving mroe mass over the core. Of course, air is a secondary cooler, and water is the primary cooler, so it's not really an apples to apple comparison. And both use air in the end.


So. I've thought about it some more, and I think you're right. I think it's the ability to spread the heat into the radiator better that helps. I think most of a regular heatsinks inefficiency comes from not being to spread the heat well to all the fins. Pumping water through them helps this. Also, having an off card cooler probably allows a bigger fan / radiator than on the card.

By johnsonx on 10/14/2006 11:54:18 PM , Rating: 2
This is totally not a closed system, what are you talking about?!?!? It's the exact opposite!! I think you meant open system, that makes more sense for your argument.

I meant that the portion of the system that includes water is a closed system, so talking about the amazing cooling properties of the water or other liquid is pointless, as the liquid isn't doing any cooling. The water is only cooled as much as the air can cool it, so it's the air doing the cooling.

I think it's the ability to spread the heat into the radiator better that helps.

Indeed, but is this advantage enough to counter the fact that the radiator in this particular application is clearly much smaller than the heatsink that could be applied directly to the GPU (presuming a 2-slot card)? Most of this advantage could be countered with heatpipes which are most assuredly cheaper than this water-cooling system, and have no moving parts.

Also, having an off card cooler probably allows a bigger fan / radiator than on the card.

Ah, but that's just my point. The radiator in this 'off card cooler' is clearly smaller. It can't be any wider than a single slot, while a two-slot GPU heatsink can be about 1.5 slot wide. It also isn't any longer: note the fan and water pump take up about half of the length of the card. Finally the fan is thinner, for the same reason the radiator is: it has to fit within a single slot width.

In the end, I stand by my original assertion that water cooling a GPU with a water cooling system that fits in a single slot is a gimmick. I'm not saying it can't work, just that it can't work better than cheaper, less complicated alternatives.

By johnsonx on 10/13/2006 6:11:11 AM , Rating: 2
I will allow that a radiator can be more efficient than a equal-sized metal heatsink because the liquid coolant spreads the heat more evenly throughout the radiator, whereas in a metal heatsink the heat has to be conducted into the cooling fins from the point of contact with the heat source. This is the reason for the use of heatpipes on modern high-end CPU coolers: they help conduct heat from the solid base of the heatsink to the fin area.

If this watercooling system really does have any advantage over a regular 2-slot heatsink/fan, it probably isn't a huge advantage and could be equalled with a well designed heatpipe application.

By Poximex on 10/12/2006 1:46:28 PM , Rating: 3
So the X1950 Crossfire card still takes up two slots, with an additional one for the blower? If you really do have two of these cards then count 6 of your slots goodbye.

RE: Slots?
By ForumMaster on 10/12/2006 1:53:07 PM , Rating: 3
i was thinking the same thing. they didn't change anything except the cooler. it's dumb for the CF edition to be two slot if the cooler is on it's own slot. a 3 slot card? no thank you.

RE: Slots?
By rultin on 10/12/2006 2:21:46 PM , Rating: 2
Looks to me it would only be 5 slots (hate to nit pick). 3 for the Crossfire version and 2 for the regular. But still...5 slots just for thanks.

RE: Slots?
By OrSin on 10/12/2006 2:25:32 PM , Rating: 2
That many slots is just dumb. I would like to see them come in a set of 2 with just 1 water cooler. That might make it worth it. Also if they was really thinking why not jsut make the tubs longer and make the water cooler fit in a DVD slot in the case . Let it blow the hot air out the front. Not sure if that increase the noise, but it would definately save alot slot space.

RE: Slots?
By feelingshorter on 10/12/2006 2:36:33 PM , Rating: 2
That is a lot of slots to take up, but i think you can just cut off the extra slot cover thats on the card since it doesnt seem to have a function anyways.

RE: Slots?
By creathir on 10/12/2006 3:03:51 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, if you look carefully,
the card has the traditional 2 slot plate, BUT the liquid cooler does not have a full bracket. It looks like maybe you put the cooler up to the vent holes on the card bracket, using a single screw for the vent portion of the card's bracket to hold the bracket and the cooler in place. Just a guess. This would take the required slot count back down to 4, as it is now. I could be wrong, but this is what it looks like to me.

- Creathir

RE: Slots?
By johnsonx on 10/12/2006 4:10:42 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're wrong. The cooler goes in it's own slot; height of the bracket and the spacing of the screw hole would have to be different if it were meant to mate up with the bracket on the Crossfire card; and then it would HAVE to mate with that bracket, and wouldn't fit right in another slot.

My guess is that promotional picture was made using an engineering sample card that still has the old two-slot bracket. Shipping cards will probably have a single slot bracket.

RE: Slots?
By btxmonty on 10/12/2006 4:26:39 PM , Rating: 2
It seems like the cooling card takes a PC-E 1X slot, you can actually see what im talking about in the picture.

RE: Slots?
By johnsonx on 10/13/2006 5:38:15 AM , Rating: 2
I'd bet those plastic tabs on the bottom of the cooler will fit into either a PCI-E slot or a PCI slot. They're just there to support the bottom of the card and keep it from torquing against the bracket.

RE: Slots?
By Lonearchon on 10/12/2006 4:20:59 PM , Rating: 2
Even thought it could take up 4 slots you could mount the cooler else were in the case so it does not take up the extra 2 slots and use only 2 slots for crossfire. Case makers may make it so you could do that

no memory cooling
By semo on 10/12/2006 4:29:08 PM , Rating: 5
why is everyone discussing slot counts when the real issue here is that even with stock liquid cooler the memory is still left bare.

am i the only one in the whole internet that finds liquid cooling systems that do not cool the gddr ram extremely annoying and sometimes pointless. in all the reviews about liquid cooling systems i remember reading, the authors don't even attempt to discuss the lack of cooling for the memory, let alone reduce the overall score of the subject under scrutiny.

i am aware of some blocks that enclose the whole card but there are not many of them and are expensive most of the time.

we all know, from tests, that gddr ram overclocks really make a difference so seeing cards like the ones mentioned in the article just confuses the heck out of me (i.e. overclocked core but stock speed memory).

RE: no memory cooling
By Goty on 10/12/2006 6:10:17 PM , Rating: 3
If you actually look at the picture, you'll notice that there are RAMsinks on each RAM chip on the board. GDDR3 and GDDR4 run at low enough voltages anyways that anything more than simple passive heatsinks aren't worth the cost. They simply don't require the same amount of cooling.

RE: no memory cooling
By mindless1 on 10/12/2006 6:25:13 PM , Rating: 2
No you're not the only one but you also overlook another problem, that the fan is also helping to cool the onboard power circuitry components. At least to their credit, in this case (hard to tell for certain but the pics seem to suggest) they've almost, if not entirely, done away with electrolytic capacitors which would've tended to be one of the earlier failure points (besides the conventional cheap, thin fans of course).

4 slots, not six
By FITCamaro on 10/12/2006 2:36:01 PM , Rating: 2
The card takes 1 slot, the cooler takes 1 slot. The vent "slot" cover on the card assumes you're mounting the cooler right below (or above depending on case), the card. So 4 slots for Crossfire.

Anyway, I have an X1950XTX and it runs really quiet as it is. At stock clocks it gets a little toasty but nothing insane. At 700MHz yeah it runs around 90C. But the difference in performance really isn't worth the extra speed. The card can already put down 45 fps avg (lowest I've seen is 30) in Oblivion @ 1280x1024 with HDR and everything turned on in the .ini file.

RE: 4 slots, not six
I don't know, but...
By Howard on 10/12/2006 4:18:10 PM , Rating: 2
I could have sworn DailyTech reused the article title.

RE: I don't know, but...
By thescreensavers on 10/12/2006 7:18:29 PM , Rating: 2
hey look now it cost 2 times the price

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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