There's been a good deal of buzz around the Asus ROG Matrix GeForce RTX 4090 Platinum graphics card here at Computex 2023, thanks to its pretty awesome design and its built-in AIO cooler, but it turns out that it's not the only card that comes with a honking big radiator to help bleed off the ridiculous amount of heat these cards can generate.
In addition to the Asus ROG GeForce RTX 4090 Matrix, there is the MSI GeForce RTX 4090 Suprim, which also uses a fan to help keep things chilly. When I toured the MSI booth, I got to touch the copper pad that draws heat off the GPU die and the copper was cold enough to actually draw condensation out of the humid Taipei air.
There is also the Gigabyte Aorus GeForce RTX 4080 Xtreme Waterforce, which is the only RTX 4080 I've seen with an integrated AIO cooler, which might make it the only RTX 4080 actually worth picking up (especially if it ever goes on sale). There is also a RTX 4090 Xtreme Waterforce available as well.
Watercooling is increasingly the future of thermal management
Like we saw at Computex 2023 with the XPG Project NeonStorm watercooled SSD, a lot of the best PC components shown off at the event featured watercooled heat management.
This isn't surprising in the least, given how much power a lot of these components draw nowadays, and more power equals more heat, and heat is bad for electronics both in terms of performance and long-term durability.
While I definitely don't expect the RTX 4060 or AMD Radeon RX 7700 XT to be getting watercooling anytime soon, I think that it's inevitable that high-end graphics cards especially are going to need them. And even though Intel currently makes the best processors, it does so by just saturating its new CPUs with voltage, making watercooling essentially a de facto requirement of running a Core i9.
Of course, this all adds to the expense of the components, which isn't great, but given the number of fan coolers for CPUs I've seen on the show floor, watercooling might be the future but there is still a place for air cooled systems, at least for a little while longer.
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John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY.
Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.
You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.
Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).