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A Word on Effective Video Card Cooling

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  • A Word on Effective Video Card Cooling

    Short of a liquid cooling solution of course. -and this only applies to video cards which vent their air openly out the side or front of the card, not the (more intelligently designed) ones which vent out of the expansion slot in the back of the machine.

    I'll update this thread later when I get home from work, with pictures. I just wanted to get this out there while I was thinking about it. This is a full page post with outline and solution, so if you're not interested in the Background, just skim to the Solution at the bottom.

    Background:
    For a short time while playing 2142, I was having occasional problems with lockups which I SUSPECT is due to either the CPU or GPU getting up there in temps; the GPU typically gets hotter than the CPU does. On warm days I keep standard clocking, on cooler days, I run mild overclocking on both.

    Mountain View is typically cooler than the rest of 'ol San Josie, so a lot of the apartments (including ours) don't have central A/C whether by design, or because of age. However, it's not to say that 90 degree days DON'T happen, and we had those heat waves a month or two back where it was nearly 100. We're lucky enough to have a window unit in our apartment, which is adequate enough to keep our 760 sq-ft place at about 75 degrees on a 85 degree day, with my computer, our flat screen TV, and the DVR (Vista MCE box) are running. However, I've had to keep a desk fan at the back of the machine to draw air out.

    -It sits in the computer desk hutch, and the top 1/4 of the machine is blocked by the wood support at the back but the rest of the back is completely open, and there is adequate venting to the side, back, and front.

    -The machine is in a larger Small Form Factor enclosure, with a single 120MM vent fan in back, a 65mm intake fan in front, and the air is drawn up from the 90MM fan inside the power supply enclosure, and also then vents out the back.

    Most people have a working knowledge of airflow and turbulence, and the oft-argued "which is better negative or positive case pressure". The confusion I was having in my configuration, is that heat from the CPU sink & fan is being drawn out the 120MM fan vent as well as airflow over the RAM with the assistance of the 65MM fan. The Northbridge has ventilation from crossflow due to this, and also being drawn up into the power supply exhaust fan. All expanson cards are cooled by venting heat up into this, also. So really, it SHOULD be adequately vented.

    Solution:
    My solution to this was purchasing an Antec Cyclone Blower-type thing .
    These can be had in various sizes. Attached it to the back where an open expansion slot is, and faced it toward my GeForce 8600GTS card... making sure the fan itself clears the GPU fan so the back of the fan doesn't rest on the GPU fan and prevent it from spinning. The intake of the Antec fan lines up well enough with the exhaust vent of the card's heatsink. (see here for reference pic of card: [media]http://images.frys.com/art/product/box_shots/5416549.box.GIF[/media]This effectively draws the air OUT of the vent portion of the video card, and out the back of the computer, while at the same time pulling air in and relieving some load off the GPU fan. Your alignment may vary due to case design and size as well as that of your video card.

    However, after I had done this, I now see consistently lower temperatures of both the GPU AND CPU (seeing as the GPU heat isn't venting into the case any more) by the tune of 20 degrees Farenheit for the GPU, and 20-25 for the CPU, under load, compared to before. Both allowing longer reliability for the electronics, and offering up less-stressful overclocking.

    I also use this solution in my DVR, where the CPU fan tended to ramp up high due to the design of the case not allowing much free flow when a PCI-e card is installed, and where the wires come out from the power supply, with the northbridge being very close to this tangle. I put this fan in (these cyclones are pretty quiet by the way). Since I installed the fan, facing the CPU and northbridge, in a single slot that is between the video card and CPU/wire/NB area. It now ramps up only when I load up a game on it... and never during it's normal show-recording dvd-playing schtick.

    So in conclusion, sometimes adding multiple high-speed/high-cfm fans, or even additional case fans in general, or having plenty to begin with... isn't always the most effective and EFFICIENT (or quiet) solution. Sometimes you just have to strike.... locally :) Both of machines have adequate cooling, even in a non-air conditioned environment, and are both quiet machines. When I play 2142 the fans ramp up a little bit, but certainly nothing close to a cacophony of jet engines.
    "But way back where I come from, we never mean to bother. We don't like to make our passions other peoples' concern." -Dar Williams
    Former Captain of the 55th Infantry Division

  • #2
    Re: A Word on Effective Video Card Cooling

    Is it bad that I turn my can of compressed air upside down and spray my video card periodically during gaming?

    Seriously, I've seen those before and I wondered if they worked, great writeup.
    Big-eye101: "A true catman post a day keeps the bad mood away"

    Please do not take any posts made by Catman seriously. If you begin to take his posts seriously, please seek psychiatric attention.

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    • #3
      Re: A Word on Effective Video Card Cooling

      Originally posted by Catman1975 View Post
      Is it bad that I turn my can of compressed air upside down and spray my video card periodically during gaming?

      Seriously, I've seen those before and I wondered if they worked, great writeup.
      Uh, considering the added stress of expansion and contraction of the metals when you do that, and stress on the electronics? :P hehe.

      They DO work, but they're really better for putting in front of an expansion card to draw air over it, or to extract hot air from more constricted areas of your case (as I said, localized), than they are for general case cooling. In which case, another chassis fan would work better.

      Also, if you position the Cyclone fan over the video card fan, in a bad alignment, there's a good possibility that the pressure of pulling air from an intake fan will ADD stress to your GPU fan and slow it down, overheat it, or even prevent it from ramping up from a stop, and cause... um... a meltdown :)
      "But way back where I come from, we never mean to bother. We don't like to make our passions other peoples' concern." -Dar Williams
      Former Captain of the 55th Infantry Division

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      • #4
        Re: A Word on Effective Video Card Cooling

        I actually used a antec fan just like that in my old case to help with cooling. But to make it work you really need a space between the card and the fan, like 1 expansion port or so. That way air can move through better.

        And NO you should not be spraying a can of compressed air upside down on electronices. If you read the lable, it warns not to do that. Upside down it can acctually spray supercooled liquid out and fry your card.

        Look what you can do with a can of air upside down.
        http://www.autoblog.com/2007/05/29/v...ompressed-air/

        Do you really want that in your Case?

        LINKS

        * *


        Stoop and you'll be stepped on; stand tall and you'll be shot at.

        -Carlos A. Urbizo-

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        • #5
          Re: A Word on Effective Video Card Cooling

          Originally posted by Bamboo View Post
          I actually used a antec fan just like that in my old case to help with cooling. But to make it work you really need a space between the card and the fan, like 1 expansion port or so. That way air can move through better.
          Amazing video! I need to try that on a couple of dents on mine...

          yes, for cooling most expansion cards, that is true. Good to note.

          On my specific configuration, I have about 2mm appx of clearance between the fan casing, and the card. It doesn't need the clearance for fresh air, because it's pulling in mechanically expelled air through an exhaust vent on a covered heatsink on the card. Otherwise it pulls the majority of it's intake air from the exhaust air through the cooling vents on the case.

          I know that's plainly obvious to you, Bamboo, I just want to make sure I also re-iterate my configuration so people don't get too confused between airflow over a passively-cooled or un-cooled card, and an actively-cooled graphics card :)
          "But way back where I come from, we never mean to bother. We don't like to make our passions other peoples' concern." -Dar Williams
          Former Captain of the 55th Infantry Division

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: A Word on Effective Video Card Cooling

            Just do this to your pc!!
            [media]http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4529389469097212553&ei=L3SbSJrwBIq 64gLokKgm&q=mineral+oil+pc&vt=lf&hl=en[/media]

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: A Word on Effective Video Card Cooling

              Originally posted by machineofdeath View Post
              Just do this to your pc!!
              [media]http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4529389469097212553&ei=L3SbSJrwBIq 64gLokKgm&q=mineral+oil+pc&vt=lf&hl=en[/media]
              I've seen that. Pretty wild stuff.
              "But way back where I come from, we never mean to bother. We don't like to make our passions other peoples' concern." -Dar Williams
              Former Captain of the 55th Infantry Division

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: A Word on Effective Video Card Cooling

                Actually, I have read some articles that show if you put that add on cooling fan right up against the card, it can interfere with the gfx. card's ability to pull in fresh air on its own, causing it to run even hotter. Of course it depends on how your gfx card was made, but for example


                If you had a card like that, a add on fan like the one above right up against it won't let the fan on the actual card suck in air. I have also read that some people think that in some setups, the two fans being near each other can cause some kind of like wind vortex, like if they are spinning in opposite direction or something, and cause the cooling to go down. I never bothered playing with it to see, I just left a space between the card and the extra fan to make sure.

                You also have to consider that with a card like this:


                If you have the add on fan right up against the card, the fan will just be stuck up to that plastic and sticker part, and be pretty much useless.

                But, if you look at your card and determine that you both have room in your case and you have a card that can benefit from it, as Spulat said, it can help keep your GPU a bit more chilly. Just make sure you check out the noise ratings on newegg before you buy. I don't think you want a mini shop vac sound coming out of your case.

                LINKS

                * *


                Stoop and you'll be stepped on; stand tall and you'll be shot at.

                -Carlos A. Urbizo-

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: A Word on Effective Video Card Cooling

                  Bamboo - right on target, thanks for posting that and the pictures. Those two cards are two perfect examples of situations where either this fan will interfere with airflow (first picture), or simply.... won't do anything because it already vents it out the back of the expansion card slot (second picture)
                  "But way back where I come from, we never mean to bother. We don't like to make our passions other peoples' concern." -Dar Williams
                  Former Captain of the 55th Infantry Division

                  Comment

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