XSPC 290X & 290 Razor Waterblock Review and Fitting Guide

XSPC Razor R9 290 290X Review and Fitting Guide


The XSPC Razor water block and back plate completes our round up of tests for aftermarket GPU coolers.  A quick look at the graphs on page eight will show you just how well this solution performs when combined with a decent radiator such as the XSPC RX 360v3. 

Before we get too engrossed in the overall results though let’s first have a look at the Razor in a bit more detail.  Essentially what we have is layer cake of materials.  At the business end there’s an all Copper CNC machined contact plate.  This is then topped with a Steel layer to aid rigidity.  Overlaid on this we get into the aesthetics of the clear acrylic layer which, with its included blue LEDs will enable you make your GPU glow just like the Raystorm series of CPU water blocks.  The top most layer, and the icing on this particular cake comes in the form of a sliver of elegant brushed Aluminium and the inclusion of a simple two tone XSPC logo.  Now don’t go thinking that all XSPC have done is just tart up an old tried and tested recipe, there’s a fair bit more going on here than that, not least of  which is the move in the heat exchanger from 1mm to 0.5mm fins and the inclusion of active VRM cooling.  The acetyl flow block mounted on the Razor also has seven G1/4 ports and offers the facility to hard mount Crossfire bridges as well as tubing routes to other water blocks.  Both Build quality and attention to detail are also present in spades, with no marks, defects or scratches of any sort, and thanks to the robust inner packaging, although the outer box had taken a few hits the contents arrived totally unscathed.

If you haven’t previously dismantled an expensive GPU and fitted a water block we appreciate that the very thought of it may cause your bum to twitch like a bunny’s nose.  Thanks in no small part to clear instructions, with good use of colour diagrams, and concise simple engineering the process of mounting the Razor on our test R9 290 was simplicity itself.  Everything you need to accomplish the task is included in the box, with XSPC (and of course our fitting guide leading you every step of the way).  The only area where we would encourage you to use additional caution is in the fitting of the barbs to the G1/4 ports as there seems to be more than a little bit of a tendency for the fittings to want to tip off to one side which may lead to cross threading.  At the very least you’re going to get a leak, and at the very worst you’re going to be left with a useless water block.

In use the Razor performed exceptionally well when combined with the RX 360 Radiator and stock 1650RPM XSPC fans.  It managed to cool the otherwise toasty GPU down to a very respectable 40 degrees under load, which is even more remarkable when you consider that with the stock cooler the “at rest” the temp was only three degrees cooler at 37.  Granted we are using a large 360mm radiator, but by the same token we must also consider that included in this loop, unlike the other GPU cooling solutions we have looked at, is a roasty toasty Socket 2011 i7 3960X.  It’s fair to say we were pretty impressed.

The Razor is also something of a winner from an aesthetics stand point.  With the Raystorm CPU block a big seller XSPC have extended the Acrylic LED lighting theme to the Razor GPU series.  What this means is that it is now possible to have both your CPU and GPU water blocks emitting the same subtle blue light.  If LEDs aren’t your thing then all you have to do is not wire them in, and if blue’s not your bag and you can spare a few minutes with a soldering iron it’s not exactly rocket science to solder on different coloured LEDs to suite the theme of your case.  Carrying on the modding theme if you’re willing to put in a bit of time and effort, a bit of judicious masking tape application and a few hours of prep and spraying will garner you a custom coloured GPU water block and Back plate.

From a Price standpoint the Razor does cost a bit more than the majority of solutions on the market, but is by no means the most expensive out there.  That said if they’d dropped it a tenner or so we think it would dominate sales.

If you’ve already got a custom loop and are thinking of extending it, or are perhaps plucking up the nerve to get wet we think you could do much worse than to nab yourself a Razor water block and couple it with a referrence R9 290 or 290X.  The reference cards can be picked up for not too much cash these days thanks to the reputation they acquired at release for running way too hot.  If you’re on a tight budget and are willing to go second hand then there are some real bargains to be had now that the people are starting to take apart their mining rigs, although do be aware that some of those cards may have already been run too hot for too long.  Choose wisely and you’ll have secured yourself a very strong graphics card, which when partnered with the XSPC Razor will see you with a card and the cooling solution it deserves.


Thanks to XSPC for the block and radiator used in the review, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.