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why is it so hard to find a reference design GPU?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
everywhere i look i find all kinds of aftermarket cards with big fancy coolers on them, and can hardly ever find a reference card for sale. and i've never seen one that outright says it IS a reference design.

all the while, different waterblocks are for this or that reference card. or i find a good deal on a card, but no waterblock to match it. and when i DO find a reference card, it's almost always more expensive than the ones with the big coolers like vapor-x or twin frozr.

does anyone have a list of 7950/70 cards that are made with reference based PCB?
post #2 of 5
I'm not a wc fanatic nor an expert but from my readings in thw forum seems like frozen cpu have some blocks for many cards. Check it iut

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post #3 of 5
Try MSI I know that almost all their AMD cards are reference design even the OC ones too yay! They are also on the cheaper end too the MSI Radeon HD7970 3GB OC is definitely reference I am getting one myself and did the research to make sure it is reference as I am water cooling it too.

It is the Rev. 2 reference card and I also checked with heatkiller that the GPU-X3 79x0 water block is compatible with it too as long as it is made after November 2012, (and yes I am getting that too) I emailed both Heatkiller and MSI about this so I know for sure that this combination will work.

Where I am it is $409 for the card and $120 for that waterblock ($138 for the nickel version) so it's pretty reasonable

BTW it is almost impossible to get the original Rev. 1 cards unless you try second hand

FYI
Rev. 1 = RED PCB
Rev. 2 = BLACK PCB

Usually if it looks like the stock cooler on it It will probably be the reference card but beware there are also a lot of cards have a cooler that looks exactly like the stock cooler but do not have reference boards like a lot of the HIS cards so be careful about that.

Manufacturers never really say if their cards are reference or not so to find out it usually involves a lot of googling, forum questions and emails which is a PITA. they really should make it mandatory for manufacturers and resellers to state which PCB the card uses. Sorry that I don't have a list of cards but that was the only card I could come up with that had the reference board and I couldn't put myself through that kind of research again, it took me nearly a month to find out for sure

Hope this helps
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post #4 of 5
Go to the EK site and look for a waterblock to match the type of card you want ie 7970, GTX 680. They have compatibility lists.

http://www.coolingconfigurator.com/waterblock/3831109856703

Make sure to pay attention to revision numbers as well because some cards that were once reference are not any more.

Manufacturers change the cards as prices fall so they can build them for less. When cards first come out they are almost all ref.

Most companys don't advertise if the cards are ref or not because if you remove the standard cooler the warranty is void. Watercooling is an enthusiest hobby, it takes enthusiest knowledge. If in doubt ask on the forums.
You could always buy a card with a block factory fitted but they cost the earth.
Edited by Jakusonfire - 4/3/13 at 4:03pm
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post #5 of 5
This ^
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