Hybrid Card vs stock card with Hybrid Cooler8/9/2015 9:46:53 PM

Pros: Cool. Quiet. Excellent performance. Cheaper and easier than installing a Hybrid Cooler on a reference card.

Cons: Radiator placement may be tricky depending on your case, doubly so for SLI.

Overall Review: I bought a single Hybrid card in June 2015, and at the same time ordered a second for SLI. After 6 weeks of waiting, I gave up and instead managed to get a reference EVGA GTX 980 Ti, Hybrid Cooler and Backplate. So I am now in a position to compare the factory Hybrid card versus the DIY-installed Hybrid cooler on a reference card. My observations are: - Removing the stock cooler from the reference card was quite tricky. There are several extremely small Philips head screws that need to be removed (000 Philips bit). Even with the correctly sized screwdriver, I ended up damaging the screw heads and could not get them out. In the end I used a dremel cutting wheel to cut a notch in the screw head, which enabled me to get the screws out using a flat screwdriver. Luckily none of these screws needed to be reused to install the Hybrid Cooler. Overall buying a Hybrid Card is preferable to the DIY approach, if only to save the hassle associated with disassembling the stock cooler. - The Hybrid Card is cheaper than the DIY approach. At USD RRP, the Hybrid Card is $750. Compare this with the DIY parts, namely reference GTX 980 TI ($650), Hybrid Cooler ($110) and Backplate ($20), which comes to $780. Where I live (Australia), the difference is even greater, as the Hybrid Cooler and Backplate are very hard to find and often a premium is charged by anyone who has stock. So if you can find a Hybrid Card at RRP, that is the best way to go. - I flashed my reference card with the Hybrid Card bios. This isn't strictly necessary, but has the advantage of setting the default clocks of both cards the same, so any overclocking offsets are numerically identical. I know that in SLI you end up with the same clocks on both cards anyway, but I liked to have both cards present as hybrid cards to the system. This also has a nice effect of having the reference card display a "hybrid" logo in EVGA Precision, which it didn't do before I flashed the hybrid bios to it. I used NVFlash to save the Hybrid Card bios to my system, then flash it to the reference card. - If you do take the DIY approach, there is no benefit buying a reference-cooled "Superclocked" card, as it ends up being exactly the same as a stock-clocked card once the hybrid bios is flashed. - Any warranty issues on the DIY card would require disassembly and RMA of the relevant individual component. Conversely, a warranty issue with the Hybrid card would require no disassembly. This is another reason why the Hybrid Card is preferable to the DIY solution. - With the Hybrid Cooler and Backplate installed and bios flashed, for all intents and purposes both cards are now identical in appearance and functionality. However, the increased cost, assembly hassle and increased hassle if warranty issues arise mean that buying a Hybrid Card is preferable to the DIY approach. - Accommodating the two radiators of a Hybrid SLI setup can be difficult. You may need a new case. But the results

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