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Help with noisy Sapphire X1950XTX card

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November 29, 2006 10:13:12 AM

Hi all,

First time post here - Got a small prob with my otherwise awesome gaming rig I would really appreciate your help with.

I've just bought a new PC with the Sapphire X1950XTX card. One of the main specs for my PC was that it should be quiet, and indeed it is until I start running games. The fan on the graphics card is quiet when it is running in Windows but when games are going it clocks up, and every 30 seconds the fan on the Sapphire card spins up like crazy making a lot of noise.

Catalyst Control tells me the operating temperature of the card is 66C when I'm noodling around in windows and after I drop out of a game to Windows it's up to around 73C. I've been running Oblivion mostly which as one would expect runs at full settings @ 1280x1024 very nicely :-)

I have tried upping the fans in the Antec case to full speed (making a helluvaracket) with the top of the case off and it made no apparent different to how often the fan on the X1950XTX spins up.

The other components in the box are:

Antec P180B case
Toughpower 650W
Asus P5W DH Deluxe
Intel 6600 Core 2 Duo
Samsung 400gb HD
2gb ram

It's a bit annoying because everything that I read about this card before getting it indicated it would run quietly. I'm wondering what is wrong with my configuration or whether it's just like this...

Cheers!

Matthew
http://www.mrtoes.net
November 29, 2006 10:54:49 AM

Good lord. This is almost exactly the rig I just got myself and this is exactly the problem I'm facing.

If the Radeon fan had at least stayed as noisy as it is for the duration of the gaming session then the problem wouldn't have been so worse. But as things are now I've started to anticipate the fan spinning up and it bothers the hell out of me. What's annoying is that it keeps spinning up and back down again.

Can anyone comment on the possibility of undervolting the fan to make it spin a little slower? Any other (software?) method to make it spin slower? I understand graphics card are built to withstand a great deal of heat (>100C) so will it possible to game with the fan at mid speed?

BTW, rig is Antec P180B, Seasonic 600w, Asus P5W DH, Intel E6600, Sapphire X1950 XTX, 2GB Corsair RAM.

Thanks.
November 29, 2006 11:33:58 AM

By default, the fan spins low rpm until it reaches approx 80C, then goes from 27% all the way up to 76% (VERY NOISY) - i'm not using exact figures.

No way around this, cos lower rpm will kill the gpu or decrease life expectancy.

You may want to get ATi Tray Tools or ATiTool, and using custom fan speed settings for certain temps. BUT, some games run lower temps than other, and demanding ones will push the card to a noisy state regardless.

If warantee does not concern you, have a look at custom cooling in the line of Zalman / Artic Coolign Accelero X2. Other than that, you are stuck with the leaf blower.

As much as I hate saying this: Thanx Ati, you might have just lost two more customers! :roll:
Related resources
November 29, 2006 11:34:08 AM

ATi Tray Tools will alow you to customize the fan speed based on the temperature of your GPU. So for example you can have it set to 50% when it hits 70C, but if it hits 80C up to 100%. the only thing about lowering the fan speed is that the ATi card is not stupid and it knows it needs to be cooled. i personally have only used the tools to up the fan speed because it didn't have it at 100% when it hit 80C and i didn't want it going any higher. Unfortunately ATi cards run hot so the only way to solve this would be an aftermarket.

So if you want lucky for you Tom's just did a review of the Thermalright HR-03 which was amazing in cooling a X1900XTX. if you really want quiet check it out. it should be able to almost passively cool your card and do just fine with a low rpm fan.

Here's the article

Thermalright's HR-03 Is A VGA Cooler Gorilla!
November 29, 2006 12:18:12 PM

An aftermarket cooler will set us back 50$, and most (all?) of them throw the hot air back into the system.

In any case I think I'd prefer the Aero-Case Condor passive cooler along with a 12cm fan blowing directly on it and through the back grill of the P180B. Problem is it costs around 70$ and with international shipping it'll probably be around 100$.

How about shoving a 12cm fan in front of the stock cooler (== directly beneath it) or maybe at a slight angle. On a low speed it will hardly add to the overall noise of the system and might complement the GPU fan running at low/mid RPM. Will this be any good or is it a fast route to a burned card?

[rant]It's a pitty us 24" monitor owners can't really combine high end gaming with low noise nowadays. On a side note I find it very aggravating that Half Life 2, a game with great graphics without a doubt, runs flawlessly at absolutely max settings (AAx6,AFx16,HDR) at 1920x1200, and NWN2 seems to lag no matter how low I go with the details.[/rant]
November 29, 2006 12:29:44 PM

A fan blowing onto the cooler itself won't help much, as there is not contact between plastic and copper. A fan blowing into the intake of the cooler, that will help alot, providing that you have cool air coming into the case, from which this fan can suck from.

I'd say, try the ATi Tray Tools app, and adjust fan speed according to something similar as below:
0-50C -> 27%
55-65C - > 55%
65-75 -> 65 %
75-80 -> 75 %
80-85 -> 85
85+ -> 100%

Before doing this, get the ATT app, and once installed, right click ATT icon in the task bar, select option and then OSD (on screen display). Enable it in first tab, then on the second tab, select GPU temp and env temp along with fan duty cycle - select OK and start a demanding game (NWN2.... LOL)

In game, you can then see the temps, and what fan speed. MAYBE, the card is going to 80% plus for a high temp, and you can trap it on lower temp with less fan speed.
November 29, 2006 12:38:16 PM

Great, thanks for the help everyone! Glad it's not just me having the problem, but a bit annoyed that none of the reviews I read mentioned this - except for this one which I have just stumbled upon http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/ATI/X1950XTX/7

I think first port of call is to play with the fan settings, perhaps having a higher RPM at lower temperatures might help to stop it heating up in the first place. Bit nervous about playing with this though, presuming I can do a better job than ATIs engineers. Let you know how it goes. At the moment I'm using ATITool to DOWNCLOCK the card when I'm playing HOMM5 which really doesn't need all those MIPS! Running at 500MHz core and 600MHz RAM keeps the temperature low but also completely defeats the point of having a top range gfx card :| Otherwise I might look into getting another cooler.

I wonder whether it is possible to run this card without having the spin-up cycles? Maybe it's possible to solve this by playing with the case cooling.

Cheers

Matthew
http://www.mrtoes.net
November 29, 2006 1:29:25 PM

I have an x1950xtx as well and it's not a problem it's really by design.
It runs "quiet" until it ramps up, and even then it runs considerably quieter than many other cards at full speed.
This, is why it's considered "quiet" at times, especially compared to the chainsaws that the x1800 and x1900 sounded like.
I forget where I saw it but there is a video, maybe even on youtube of an x1900 running oblivion... that is what it sounded like until Ati improved the cooler to be much quieter.
It is no 7900GTX cooler, which from what I can tell is even quieter yet, but if you heard some 7800 and 7900 cards rev up all the way they can be quite noisy.
Or, get the $200 7900GT XFX on newegg... rather nice card and cheap, but you'll be spending another $50 on a zalman cooler because that thing is exceptionally loud.
Also, with the exception of the water cooling crowd, other high-end gamers and especially OC'ers run with relatively noiser air-cooling and, if I ran my case fans at full speed, which I would eventually "get used to" I probably couldn't distinguish the X1950XTX at full speed over the rest.
The thing is, "quiet" is very relative :p 

Also, yeah there are other factors that can keep the gpu temperature relatively high or low, ambient case temperature and how much "work" the card is doing. For example my card gets much louder playing Condemned with maxed out settings, than it does with, say, Battlefield 2.
November 29, 2006 1:31:53 PM

Its sucks to spend more more money after laying down $$$ for an x1950xtx...

but the thermalright hr-03 will be silent and keep your load temp under 60C.
November 29, 2006 2:26:33 PM

I just installed the KuFormula VF1 Plus and it works GREAT. My card temps dropped like a rock. I should fit on your card. Great investment for $29.

KuFormula VF1 Plus

ATI X800XL All-In-Wonder PCIe 256MB
Core: 400MHz (OC to 443 MHz)
Mem: 1000 MHz (OC to 1048 MHz)

Stock Fan with card under load:
GPU: 74*
Mem: 46*

VF1 on Medium setting with card under load:
GPU: 52*
Mem: 41*

VF1 on Medium setting with card under load and overclocked:
GPU: 56*
Mem: 42*
November 29, 2006 3:17:27 PM

Quote:
everything that I read about this card before getting it indicated it would run quietly.

I guess it depends where your rig is - it is not right on the table beside you is it?
My rig is on the floor under the table and I can't hear too much vidcard fan-spinning in my situation.
You are aware that the vidcard increases both its core and memory clocks when it detects a 3D-acceleration gaming application, right? The increase in fanspeed is in response to this. I can detect this fullspeed fan operation when I first startup my rig, but it then quickly goes quiet...
I have a new Zalman VF900-Cu cooler here, but the stock cooler works okay and I can't be bothered to swap the coolers, heheh.
Maybe you should concentrate on physically removing your case from near your hearing, just a suggestion, and keep the stock ATI (or Sapphire, whatever) cooler clean - I have found my ATI cooler clogs very easily on its intake and must be vacuumed at least ~1/month. (At least!)
Oh, and I used to use the ATItool on my 9600XT and even my X1600Pro, but these new high-end vidcards that change speeds and timings on demand should probably not have their fanspeeds arbitrarily set,
Regards
November 29, 2006 4:08:05 PM

Well it scares me to think what the 1900 must sound like if this is quiet!! I had a play with the fan speeds on ATITool and really all I could get it to do was to be noisy ALL the time which isn't really an improvement :roll: And um yeah the box is right next to me on the table just because I've been opening it up and fiddling with fans and things but you're right sticking it under the desk will help somewhat.

So is it fair to say this is normal, fiddling with the air-flow in my case and turning up the case fans is unlikely to help (I put them into 747 mode and it didn't help) but sticking a cooler on the graphics card will, if I have enough ventilation to shift the heat away? After spending so much on this setup I don't mind spending a bit more on a cooler. Are they easy to attach?

Thanks again folks your advice is appreciated :) 

Matthew
http://www.mrtoes.net
November 29, 2006 6:21:54 PM

You can just get a new cooler, it's kind of scary doing the job on it because obviously you don't want to break the expensive vidcard heheh or zap it with static or whatever...
But the big joy is in disassembling it and cleaning it all up, perfect. I use alcohol or I have a little tin of Zippo lighter fluid to battle heavy gunk (of course always apply only to cloth and never directly onto product). Then you can carefully rub a touch of Silver into the new cooler and also into the surface of the X1950 chip - nice vidcard by the way - and then mate them :D 
Also it takes the fan power right away from the vidcard and changes it to just a normal 3-pin. You could even go molex 4-pin to get the vidcard fan power right away from the mobo and onto the the powersupply directly I s'pose, LoL - but it's all good, better than the stock.
Otherwise, just put it away on the floor - putting it to the left side of you can be much quieter - and run it stock, no vidcard O/C (you don't need it!)
Your casefans will flow ~80% on full silent as they will on full noise, so case exhaust fans are still good even when they're quiet too.
So just use it, everything nice/default, and keep the intake clean like I said.
Otherwise a new cooler is great and makes you feel custom. It's trick, looks kewl (Zalman LED coolers are awesome) and works well. Do you have a window in your case?
I think the dual-slot bracket would be okay with the use of a custom cooler. It would just use 2 slots and provide a little ventilation grill in the 2nd slot...
I'm not too excited about the direct-exhaust OEM cooler thing because I have excellent case exhaust myself, with negative pressure inside my case.
This actually battles against the ATI OEM cooler by design, so you find you have to think out and integrate your cooling strategy as a whole to get best overall cooling performance.
Me? I just want to get heat off of my vidcard tout suite and I want it to run full all the time. Let me worry about getting the heat out of my case, thank you anyway. So I'll change my cooler when I eventually get tired of vacuuming it every coupla weeks I'm sure. Bit of a waste, I don't even have a window in my case LoL.
But I don't work it overly hard, I'm a 1024x768 kinda guy myself and my games are the usual older stuff like Doom3, FarCry, NFS, Halo, HalfLife(s), Quake4... no Oblivion.
Would I like Oblivion? It's not first-person perspective is it...? :oops: 
Anyway, L8R
(back to work heheh)
November 29, 2006 9:56:16 PM

Damn sounds complicated! 3 pin? 4 pin? Direct exhaust? I just want my video card to be quiet! :? At the moment it's not so much a question of not overclocking it rather underclocking it when I'm playing anything but Oblivion (which is awesome btw and yes FT perspective but no FPS). Nope no window in the box and actually I like my PC to be dark no leds otherwise just I'm replacing noise pollution with light pollution. You reckon the Zalman VF900 CU will make it quiet? I can get that here for not too much - everything is so damn expensive in the UK...

Matthew
http://www.mrtoes.net
November 29, 2006 11:50:20 PM

Progress!

I have been playing with the fan settings in ATITool and I think I have found the sweet spot. First of all I downclocked to 500MHz core and 600MHz ram, cool but slow :)  Now I have it running at full speed (650MHz core 1000MHz ram) with this fan configuration:

0-70C - 31%
70-75C - 38%
75-80C - 44%
80-85C - 56%
85-90C - 69%
90-95C - 81%
95-100C - 88%
>100C - 100%

And I'm running Oblivion and it's pretty quiet and hovering between 70 and 75C, about the same as it was with the default fan configuration and a damn sight quieter. In other words, the fan doesn't need to go above 40%. This is good because above 40% the noise increases rapidly with just a few more rpm.

With the ATITool "scan for artifacts" demo it ramps up to 80C before being beaten down again - with a significant and noticable increase in noise. This has yet to happen in Oblivion.

So I'm going to run with it and see how it goes but so far so good! :D 

Matthew
http://www.mrtoes.net
November 29, 2006 11:58:50 PM

Anyone out there know of the video clip I'm talking about? I can't find it, it was kinda funny how loud that damn thing is.
November 30, 2006 3:52:46 AM

Just make sure that your temps are in range. I don't know the sweet spot with the 1950xtx, but my 1900xtx was 73% fan speed. Seldom the temps went over this. The 1950 has a revised cooler (smaller air inlet to break the reverb of the fan spinning aswell as more copper to dissipate heat), so it should perform better than the 1900's. But if you play for long periods, use ATiTool and check the temps in the app itself using the graph function (main window) every now and again. A quick 1 hour session might yield 70C, but two hours might yield 75C etc.

Heat build up in the case, and room temp (the 1900/1950 can really heat up a non ventilated room) will play a role, so intial fan settings might need to be revised.

I'm moaning about this, cos I don't want to be blamed for a card that pops two months down the line :lol:  So be warned. Luckily, playing with fan speed ratios does not void your warantee, as opposed to removing the cooler.
November 30, 2006 12:54:46 PM

There are worse things...
I paid for $280 after rebate (430 standard) (which I got ;)  ) for the x1900xtx 512mb that were being sold off, right after the 1950s came out. Had it for about a month when it started making an awful electrical noise.
Didn't have the receipt so, luckily I had registered it, and had to send it to the manufacturer...
They sent me a much quieter and sliiiiiiiiightly faster x1950xtx instead :p 
Full retail box w/ games cables etc. too.
How nice of them. :D 

AND.... when I got it in the mail I had the fastest single GPU card available!
... until about 2pm when the 8800s officially went on sale :p 

Still... I'm not complaining about $280 for an x1950xtx 512
November 30, 2006 1:10:48 PM

Neither would I.... 8)

Wish we had some of that service here in ZA
!