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Sapphire HD 7970 OC with Boost Vibration Issues

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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October 15, 2013 2:35:45 AM

Hi there. This is my first post here and I am having a rather perplexing issue. I've just purchased an HD 7970 OC with Boost for inclusion in my new self build. Its been a while since I've put a machine together but everything seems to be going well. The HD 7970 was running ok for the last week but last night it began making a horrid vibrating sound when under heavy load. This sound is noticable whilst playing Tomb Raider. Whilst this was happening I removed the side panel from the chassis, gently touched the cooler mounted to the card and the sound stopped. It seems the cooler has begun vibrating and later today I will be doing some tests to see at which speeds this happens.

The card is only a week old so is this something I should contact the retailer about? Would an RMA be something to consider or is this kind of behaviour to be expected under load? My aim is to build a quiet, cool running system and this vibration is unacceptably loud.

Asus Z87-Deluxe | Sapphire HD7970 OC Edition with Boost (@ 1175/1500 MHz) | i7-4770k (@ 4.6GHz) | 16GB Crucial Ballistix Tactical DDR3-1600 (CAS 8) | Hitachi 1TB 7200rpm | Seasonic Platinum x1050 Watt | Noctua NH-D14 | Nanoxia Deep Silence 1
a b U Graphics card
October 15, 2013 2:42:30 AM

The graphic card should not make such vibrating noises under any load or any game that you play, even during the Stress Test... Kindly check that if the GPU is installed properly, with screws tighten sufficiently.. Other wise contact your retailer and have it replaced!
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October 15, 2013 2:53:36 AM

Thank you for that reply. I was thinking much the same thing particularly as the sound only started yesterday evening. I'm at work now for the next few hours but once I'm back near the machine I will try removing the card and reseating it then ramping up through the fan speeds using CCC. It's looking likely the card will have to go back at this rate.
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a b U Graphics card
October 15, 2013 3:28:11 AM

That's frustrating to hear about that GPU. I was thinking of buying the same one. Also, I live abroad so it'll have to work right away or I'm f'd.
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October 15, 2013 3:41:27 AM

envy14tpe said:
That's frustrating to hear about that GPU. I was thinking of buying the same one. Also, I live abroad so it'll have to work right away or I'm f'd.


It is a cracking card don't get me wrong. With AA set to FXAA and all graphics set to their highest, high or ultra settings, I can run Tomb Raider in 1080p at an average of 56 fps. Heaven benchmark averages around 25 or 26 fps if I remember correctly. I am generally very pleased with the card particularly as I got it for £230 on an offer from Ebuyer. I was even planning on adding a second one. It's just this vibrating that is the issue. I'll report more fully once I get a chance to test it methodically.
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a b U Graphics card
October 15, 2013 4:38:39 AM

Absolutely...
7970 is an excellent card. So do not underestimate the performance of this card.
The little problem that showed up in manfacturer's or the suppliers fault, maybe the card is not installed properly, ca occur in any card..

Also, if you find the solution to your problem, please mark it as the best solution so others could benefit from it.

Thank You.
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a b U Graphics card
October 15, 2013 5:41:18 AM

Yes, please update what you have done to solve it on your own unless you must RMA it.
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October 15, 2013 5:59:35 AM

Absolutely guys. There is nothing more frustrating for someone suffering an issue than reading through loads of unresolved threads that go dead. I'm about to head home so I will remove and reseat the card before methodically testing the fan speeds to check any vibrations. I'll report back once I have more.

Thanks for all your help thus far.
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October 15, 2013 9:03:08 AM

Right so I'm home and have just taken the side off the PC and run the GPU fans all the way up to 100%. So far they aren't making the same noise so next I'm going to run Heaven on loop for a while and if that doesn't do it I'll throw Tomb Raider at it again.

Is it possible for an issue like this to be intermittent? Could it result from a combination of the GPU and chassis fans? I was expecting to be able to repeat the effect. Curiouser and curiouser.
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a b U Graphics card
October 15, 2013 9:10:23 AM

The sound can be produced by either of the fans, but if the fans were faulty, the noise should be persistent.
Heat up your gpu by running these stress test, see if the sound is again produced.. If it does, claim your warrenty!
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October 15, 2013 10:26:33 AM

Ok so after some more testing I'm even more bemused. The vibration only seems to happen when I'm playing Tomb Raider and only when the side is on the case. Using TRIXX and Asus Fan X-pert 2 to ramp case fans and GPU fans to 100% fails to replicate the sound.
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a b U Graphics card
October 15, 2013 10:33:00 AM

Tomb raider is not "such" a graphic demanding game..

Well, is the gpu working fine when idle??
And the temps?? are they normal during gameplay??? if yes, you ignore the sound, and finish the game :) 
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October 15, 2013 10:51:47 AM

Yes the temps seem fine. Around 70c max when either benching or playing TR. At idle it works fine, no complaints and during non intensive tasks it's fine.

I've just reset the GPU overclock back to the BIOS 2 stock settings (1000/1450 MHz) and put the side back on the case. So far it seems to be ok and isn't vibrating at all. I'm wondering if perhaps a certain combination of case, CPU and GPU fan speeds may be resonating at just the wrong frequency to create a vibration? Seems bizarre to me but then I'm hardly experienced in these matters.

Thanks guys, I'll post back if anything else develops and if not I'll mark the topic solved.
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a b U Graphics card
October 15, 2013 11:02:28 AM

Good luck! :) 
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October 15, 2013 2:39:19 PM

Well I just played TR and Far Cry 3 without incident. It seems it was down to the overclocking. Temperature related I guess. I don't feel this is solved but it'll have to do until I work out the exact cause.
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a b U Graphics card
October 15, 2013 2:40:13 PM

How high did you OC??
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October 15, 2013 2:47:01 PM

It was set to 1175MHz core, 1500Mhz memory, VDDC 1237 and Board Power Li set to 20. Anything higher would cause TR to bomb and Heaven would lock up. The temps seemed fine at a fairly constant 70C. My thinking is that as the load increased the chassis and CPU fans ramped up and eventually it hit a frequency that caused the Dual-X cooler on the GFX to vibrate enough to become noticeable outside the case.
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a b U Graphics card
October 15, 2013 3:05:35 PM

I doubt the chasis fans could shake the whole darn card up...
The OC is fairly done though.. So dont you worry, get your case cooled up with proper and sufficient air flow...
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a b U Graphics card
October 16, 2013 1:12:46 AM

It's good to hear that it is from overclocking.The card is fast at stock so you don't really need to overclock much that's what interested me in that GPU.

So how fast were your fans working? In tomb raider. 40%? 80%? I've never had a gpu that needed to go over 50% in games.

Are you happy with stock speeds?
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October 18, 2013 2:43:33 PM

To be honest I wasn't monitoring the fan speed during TR. I'm now wondering if perhaps the issue was due to me not creating a fan profile for the overclock and keeping it set to auto. It's possible the vibration I experienced was from the GPU fans repeatedly ramping up and down. I'll get around to testing this properly but for now I'm happy running the OC BIOS 2 that comes as stock. The performance increase for a stable OC was only a couple of FPS at best so it hardly seems worth it.

Reckon I'll just add another one and chainfire the bad boys ;) 
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February 11, 2014 1:10:57 AM

Hello again everyone. I thought I'd post an update. Whilst playing The Witcher 2 this problem presented itself again. Since posting before I've been running MSI Afterburner (great bit of software) and in an attempt to diagnose this vibration issue I ran fan temp, fan speed and fan tachometer stats on the OSD.

The vibration comes from the fan shroud and occurs when the fans are spinning between 62% and 67%. Think of it as the opposite of a sweet spot ;) 

To overcome this I have set a custom fan profile in Afterburner which ramps the fans from 60% straight to 70%. Because my 7970 seems to sit at around 70°C under heavy load no matter what cooling I throw at it, I have set this to occur when the GPU hits 60°C thus avoiding sudden drops and spikes as the temps fluctuate.

Sorted. Kind of.
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a b U Graphics card
February 11, 2014 5:48:15 AM

Is the noise tolerable? I like to game with speakers and prefer not to hear noise from my system. When I break the 55% fan speed barrier I then notice the Sapphire 280x sound and it gets louder. Luckily I haven't hit 70%.

Have you thought about Return Policy?
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February 11, 2014 6:59:09 AM

envy14tpe said:
Is the noise tolerable? I like to game with speakers and prefer not to hear noise from my system. When I break the 55% fan speed barrier I then notice the Sapphire 280x sound and it gets louder. Luckily I haven't hit 70%.

Have you thought about Return Policy?


I'm aiming for a quiet system and whilst no affordable PC will ever be silent under load the noise of the fan shroud vibrating is unacceptable to me. It is very noticeable even over the sound of gaming. Luckily, it occurs in a small frequency of fan speed so it's easily sorted with a cheeky fan profile.

I did consider RMA but apparently a lot of these cards do this and it's otherwise perfect.
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