Be Cool, Man - Taming the GPU Inferno with a drink

So, here I am, 2021, with a grandiose plans to upgrade – actually build, on my own – a new flight sim PC (cuzz that’s all it would really do anymore). Need the latest GPU. Every 3-4 years this plan has worked. Ya’ll know the rest…

In a nutshell: Water cooling your GPU worked for me, showing a significant reduction in temps.

My nVidia 1080 is doing okay. But it’s been running hot, to me, for some time now and the associated noise from the fan is mildly disconcerting. In VR of course I can’t hear it but, well, it’s a symptom I guess. So, I start digging.

Come across the idea of water cooling your GPU. Not being a hardware techie never stopped me from trying.

In a surprising moment of forethought I actually documented the temperature numbers before I made the modification.

Before mod

  • DCS World running in 2D (while I work on some scripting in another app)
  • No GPU overclock from MSI Afterburner running
  • In the Mission Editor window, not flying
    GPU Temp = 63
    *NOTE: It idled at Windows startup in the mid-high 40’s © with default settings for voltage, fans, etc

I’ll save you all the other scenarios and skip to the finale:

  • DCS World running, in VR
  • ‘Mild’ over-clock via MSI Afterburner

I didn’t actually get a screen grab of this (you’ll have to trust me :slight_smile: )
GPU Temp = 39c

Nice.

There are several YT videos on this so I’ll just go over the bare basics.

What you need:

  1. This, or something similar

https://www.amazon.com/NZXT-Kraken-G12-Mounting-Compatibility/dp/B06XXF4Q68/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=nzxt+kraken+g12&qid=1615312078&sr=8-3

I found one for $29.99 but I can’t seem to locate that one anymore?

  1. A compatible AIO: that’s techie-speak for “All In One” - CPU/GPU Water cooler. The G12 (above) supports a lot of them. I dug the AIO out of the box I’m using to store my new PC parts. Figure I’d just ‘revert’ this PC back when I build the new one. After the experience I might not. Which leads me too…

An example, NZXT ‘Kraken’ G12 (I chuckle at the name the marketing types give to these kinda of things…but I digress):

image

Installation tidbits

  • Make sure your case can support the radiator. Do you have the real estate to mount the radiator and fans? I barely did and my case is sorta large? 21x21x9-ish inches.

The above has 2 fans (called a “240” - short for 2 X 120mm [fans] - I never measured it) but they make single fans - “120’s”. And that I’m sure would have been fine. Again this was re-purposed (pre-re-purposed?).

  • The hoses on the cooler must reach from the GPU, as it is mounted in your PC, to the radiator without interfering with any of the other ‘guts’ inside your box. For me this got a little tricky. If the hose on the cooler was about 2 inches longer it would still have been tight but, as is, it puts a tiny bit of ‘pull’ on the end of the graphics card. Maybe a 1/16th of an inch of ‘bend’. Just something to think about.

  • You’ll need to know where to find some extra ‘fan headers’ (more techie stuff: where you plug the tiny fan power wires into your motherboard). Consult your motherboard owners manual for this. The cooler came with connectors that handled that issue (split connectors so you could just plug into and share an existing header). But then you need another one for the fan on the G12 (Kraken mount)

  • Disassembly of the GPU wasn’t a big deal really. I have a set of jeweler screwdrivers (though I had to get them back from my better half). 90% of the bulk of these things are simply for cooling anyway, leaving you with not much to show for your bazillion bucks [that you likely paid for the graphics card].

  • SATA connection for the cooler power. The cooler has an additional connector for RGB silliness (I’m old school) but that is not used. You must have this SATA connection open. It’s a long skinny thing; I found one on the snake of cables from my power supply to the hard drives. So look there.

Any questions and I’ll be happy to share. It’s kind of amazing how much cooler, and quieter, this is now. In fact after a 45 minute flight in DCS the temps never got above 39c! Used to be in the 70’s, with the fan running full tilt.

All I know

6 Likes

Cool stuff! :sunglasses:
I just bought a GPU with a hybrid fan/liquid cooler, but this looks like a nice solution.

2 Likes

Yeah, after this I’m thinking that’s the way to go, based on the engineering of the card…

…every time I think of this [water vs air cooling] I recall a crusty old timer I used to ride with (motorcycles). The day I pulled up in my shiny new 99’ Yamaha R-1 he looks at the radiator and goes, “huh, they used to engineer them so you didn’t need radiators…”. I was kinda hurt (not really, but that response stuck with me).

2 Likes

Awesome! Watercooling is definitely the ultimate GPU cooling solution, and this AIO adapter setup is the only reasonably priced way to do it. Very cool😉, thanks for sharing!

As you say, this is a hybrid solution, where the GPU core is cooled by the liquid cooling loop, but the rest of the components are cooled by the fan on the adapter. Unlike those full PCB waterblocks that require a 400€+ custom loop.

How does the air cooling part of the cooling solution perform? How is the noise level and what are the temperatures of the VRMs? I guess on most GPUs and monitoring software you can’t see that, but it would be interesting to know.

Seems fine. I’m guessing it can’t be worse [than the OEM parts - a ‘blower’ style fan]. HWMonitor doesn’t give me the VRM temps. As for noise, something is slightly louder than before, so I’m guessing it’s that fan, but under load it remains the same. The OEM fan was really loud under load. I guess do the the very significant reduction in temps. I’ve yet to see higher than 39c (in DCS + VR), even after an hour+.

Now, the card was 3+ years old so perhaps the thermal paste was getting a bit…errr…pasty. Maybe dried out? It’s been too loud for at least a year - if the fan didn’t boost the temps would be over 80c pretty quick.

1 Like

I read that as Fahrenheit for a split second and thought you had finally cracked the beer cooling / gaming rig dilemma that has plagued us for years.

Now we need @fearlessfrog to break out his implements and de-lid a GPU…

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de-lid!

let i hate everyone GIF

3 Likes

Wanted to post it right away, but you asked for it @BeachAV8R

ok, here you go guys :slight_smile:

°C

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Yes!

Alt+0176 for °
Or on an iPhone keyboard, press and hold down 0 to get the degree symbol!

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Ah yes, the same problem I had in my GPU cooling mod adventure. Was it the paste or the other stuff that did the trick? We’ll never know.

Considering that your card had one of those old blower style coolers, anything is better than that really!

For those of us who want to make their older GPU quiet and don’t have a bunch of fans or AIOs lying around, replacing thermal paste will probably get you 7 °C or more on a 3-4 year old GPU.

1 Like
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