EVGA says that it has compared the performance of iCX vs. ACX whilst keeping the PCB the same: the ACX cooler was placed on to an iCX board. The results, as shown above, even with asynchronous fan speeds, indicate that temperatures are reasonably better than the previous generation, which it claims is performance-comparable to most other AIC coolers in the marketplace.
As a direct consequence of an issue occurring on certain EVGA cards at the back end of last year, where a few boards' VRM components overheated and caught fire, due to insufficient cooling - perhaps the very reason why iCX exists - EVGA is now integrating a safety fuse on every iCX model. The company says the original problem only affected a very small number of cards, with it providing free thermal pads for all relevant models, and now having a safety fuse is a 'world's first'. If it happens to blow, the card will be saved though it will require a free RMA.
Better cooling usually means that the manufacturer is able to raise frequencies due to greater efficiency. The iCX line, however, will ship at exactly the same core and memory frequencies as ACX. The cost of a new PCB, new cooling, and multiple onboard sensors is a price premium of around $30 compared to the previous cards, so this new range makes most sense if you are looking at the high-end GTX 1070, GTX 1080 and rumoured GTX 1080 Ti GPUs. We expect the pricing of the ACX-bearing models to drop by $10 or so to make room for iCX.
Pragmatically, the SC variant becomes SC2, the FTW becomes FTW2 and so on and so forth. The major version that doesn't receive the iCX upgrade is the niche Classified card. EVGA supplied us with the GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 for the purposes of this article.
Any customers who have purchased ACX-based GTX 1060, GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 boards and are left feeling miffed that a new, improved cooler is out so soon afterwards will be able to upgrade to the equivalent iCX model for $99/€99, though you have to pay shipping to the EVGA service centre. The warranty is then reset and the new iCX card considered a brand-new purchase, which means it is eligible for the 90-day stepup program, too.
How it ties in with Precision XOC
Here is how the new card is reported in EVGA's in-house Precision XOC utility. Notice the extra line for GPU, Power and Memory temperatures? The first is taken from the diode implanted by Nvidia, which is the figure you see in every reporting utility, whilst the latter two are the highest figures reported from the sensors. Their colour changes based on settings in the thermal LED tab. If the four RGB lights are too much, they can all be turned off.
Speaking of sensors, here is what's shown when you click on the tab specific to the iCX cards. Three sensors on the front and six on the back show near-identical temperatures when the card is idle, and both fans are switched off.