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Liquid Cooling/Bottleneck

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July 26, 2007 4:12:42 AM

I built my first computer a year or two ago, an Intel SLI, but something went wrong. SLI performance is indistinguishable from single-card performance, and in spite of my heavy specs, games like Oblivion run choppy even on 1024x768 (with good detail settings).

Then I discovered the NB fan was broken, maybe all along. Could that be the cause of this problem? But no matter.

Specs:
A nice, more than sufficient power supply
Good thermal compound
2 BFG GeForce 7800 GTX OC
2GB Corsair RAM DDR2
Pentium 4 3.2 GHz
MSI P4N Diamond motherboard
XtremeG modded 94.20 drivers
Latest drivers and BIOSes
Windows XP 32bit

Now I'm buying a liquid cooling kit, Swiftech H20-220-APEX-GT, and I plan to use it with NB, both cards and CPU. I want to overclock my system as much as possible. But trying to figure everything out to get an optimal arrangement made me dizzy. Can you help me?

I want to be able to cool both cards, but I'm worried that the water blocks will be too big to fit between them. Can you recommend a good water block that will fit? And a good video RAM heatsink?

What should I not cool? I've heard of people cooling RAM, video RAM, the VRM (whatever that is), and power supply. What can I omit without making a bottleneck, and what must have good cooling?

Should I switch to Windows XP 64? Last I tried it, it was insufferably incompatible.

Can you recommend the best coolant? And finally, can anyone shed any light on my performance issues?

More about : liquid cooling bottleneck

July 26, 2007 4:59:29 AM

Dont bother with NB water. A simple sink+fan will be MORE than enuf.
NB water block will just add heat and resistance to an already loaded loop.

DangerDen make some good stuff check them out, but DONT get a gpu block with ram cooling, simple stick on sinks are fine. Get some decent components too, adjustable pump and GOOD HOSE!!! Good hose wont leak. and get a BIG rad too, that way u dont need to blast it with 50,000RPM fans, something that will take 3x120mm fans would be ideal. Remember those 3 components can dump a LOT of heat into the loop.

Go 32bit.
As for ur sli woes... well... to begin with the 7800s are not great cards, and they dont scale well, also sli does (i think) benifit more with a fast cpu c2d-type fast.
July 26, 2007 5:19:47 AM

mrmez said:
but DONT get a gpu block with ram cooling, simple stick on sinks are fine



why?
are you saying it by generalization or because of that certain card?
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July 26, 2007 7:03:06 AM

listen friend, your cpu is bottlenecking with the vga cards. just get a core 2 duo and things will go well.
July 26, 2007 8:25:25 AM

Nope.
Its got nothing to do with any specific card, or any brand/design water block.

A gpu+ram block will cost ~$124USD compared to a gpu only for ~$43.
Times $124 by 2 (for sli) and u have a $248 bill. A little extreme for me.

More importantly...video RAM does not need that sort of cooling power. Those simple stick-on ramsinks without a fan do a fantastic job. Hell, even if u just had a fan blowing on the naked ram chips they would be fine.

Then u have the problem of adding heat to the loop... any useless heat source like NB, ram, vram, hdds can add a LOT of heat, which u need to get rid of (=bigger rad/more fans). These 'useless' heat sources increase resistance in the loop too (=better/faster pump)

So yes u can add all this to the loop which either gives u higher temps, more noise or both. Which begs the question, if ur sys is running hotter or louder, why spend all that time and money on water???

Also vga+ram blocks tend to be card specific, so if u sell those 2x7800's u can only use those particular blocks on 78/7900 cards. The $43 blocks can be used on just about any NV/ATI card.

ALSO... (lol) the gpu+ram blocks dont do a good enuf job of cooling the gpu as the water doesnt spend enuf time over the gpu and there isnt enuf turbulance either.

Just as a side note... after selling my 1950xt and getting a gts320, i decided NOT to get the $135 '8800gts ONLY' block. Why, at max load in games i cant hear the fan at all, and temps are fine :) 
July 26, 2007 8:56:15 AM

Lordszone is right, no amount of overclocking will fix that. You starving those GFX cards that why is so choopy. Spend your money on a Core 2 mobo & an E6600, there real cheap right now. The money that you would spend on a water cooling would be enough for a new mobo & CPU.
July 27, 2007 5:21:18 AM

Thanks! The effort, time and money it took to build this thing was enormous, and I wince when I see it running slow, a cripple. You done good telling me how to fix it.

Thanks mrmez for your recommendations, I will follow when I get liquid cooling. But first it's dual core.

Now that that's said, since I'm getting a new motherboard and CPU, that means I can switch to AMD, right? Or is my 667MHz RAM incompatible?

And can you recommend a motherboard with a lot of forwards compatibility? Like for 45nm processors, DDR3 1333MHz (or more) and whatever Nvidia throws? My information is a little out of date, and I don't want to have to replace it next time I want an upgrade.
July 27, 2007 6:04:34 AM

Even AMD uses DDR2 now, DDR is dead. Would you like a CPU that overclocks like a demon and runs cool and only costs (E6600) $198.-to $220.-? Or you could go with an ok overclocker thats a little behind Intel's newer tech processers that cost about the same? Even if you go AMD you'll want at the very least DDR2 800. Last, why would you want to switch to AMD with Intel's HUGE success in performence the market right now???
July 27, 2007 7:52:10 AM

As i say to anyone buying a new sys right now. "Its pretty hard to go past a C2D system"
The 6000+ is an awesome chip dollar for dollar with Intel, but as soon as u OC Intel pulls clearly ahead, with the humble e4300 reaching 3ghz easily.
Mobo... i got a p5b-D, not a current board ne more but it (apparently) will support quads when i upgrade next year. Im pretty sure u can use ur current ram, case and psu.
Also... ur ram will allow u to OC an e6600 (for example) from 2.4Ghz to 3.0Ghz without overclocking ur ram. :D 
In terms of 'how much faster' it will be... Intel went:
P4 -> dual core or "D" -> C2D.
I went form a 925D @ 3.6Ghz to a 4300 @ 1.8Ghz and it was faster. So.... any C2D will SMASH ur current P4 :D 
July 27, 2007 8:03:07 AM

mrmez said:
Any C2D will SMASH ur current P4 :D 


That about sums it up.
July 27, 2007 8:24:47 AM

The NB on Intel motherboards has two primary functions - it coordinates between the CPU AND the various PCI lanes and it also coordinates the memory functions between the CPU, cache and your ram. It is affected by any overclocking that you might do. So, as to whether or not you would water cool it - that would depend on if you do heavy o'clocking A decent HSF would suffice. In an AMD situation, since the memory controller is on the CPU, that relieves the NB of alot of function used on the Intel boards. In most cases here, absent of MAJOR o'clocking, a HSF would probably suffice in most cases.

The worst GPU waterblocks you could use, in terms of maintaining a consistent and strong water flow, are the "full body" waterblocks whereby the coolant pathway encompasses both the GPU core AND the video memory.

The best GPU waterblocks, in terms of those least resistant to to the coolant flow, include: MCW60, Fuzion, Aqua Xtreme, Silverprop Cyclone Fusion, Maze4, etc.

In the full body waterblocks you have a number of bends that influence the coolants flow pressure. The former blocks I listed are designed in such a way that the coolant runs into little impedence.
July 27, 2007 10:14:43 PM

This information is gold. I shudder to think what would happen if my lazy self tried to do all his own research...

I'm getting an E6600 with a new SLI mobo, then. Thanks.
July 27, 2007 11:01:44 PM

Don’t bother with Sli...
1 good vid card destroys 2 mediocre vid cards. Unless you plan to buy two 8800GTX it is just a waste... but even then, silly.

You can get a good overclocking MB/ddr2/c2d/vid card/aftermarket heatsink for the price you were going to pay for the water cooling.

*** forget AMD for a year or two… hopefully one day they will b good again but for now Intel is embarrassing them.

Post a budget...
July 28, 2007 5:57:50 AM

In my opinion its a waist of money to get two 8800 GTX cards so you can have 200+ FPS. You only neeed 60 FPS to play any game.
July 28, 2007 12:27:20 PM

systemlord said:
In my opinion its a waist of money to get two 8800 GTX cards so you can have 200+ FPS. You only neeed 60 FPS to play any game.


Unless you have a huge monitor!!
July 28, 2007 1:12:23 PM

phreejak said:
The NB on Intel motherboards has two primary functions - it coordinates between the CPU AND the various PCI lanes and it also coordinates the memory functions between the CPU, cache and your ram. It is affected by any overclocking that you might do. So, as to whether or not you would water cool it - that would depend on if you do heavy o'clocking A decent HSF would suffice. In an AMD situation, since the memory controller is on the CPU, that relieves the NB of alot of function used on the Intel boards. In most cases here, absent of MAJOR o'clocking, a HSF would probably suffice in most cases.

The worst GPU waterblocks you could use, in terms of maintaining a consistent and strong water flow, are the "full body" waterblocks whereby the coolant pathway encompasses both the GPU core AND the video memory.

The best GPU waterblocks, in terms of those least resistant to to the coolant flow, include: MCW60, Fuzion, Aqua Xtreme, Silverprop Cyclone Fusion, Maze4, etc.

In the full body waterblocks you have a number of bends that influence the coolants flow pressure. The former blocks I listed are designed in such a way that the coolant runs into little impedence.


I absolutely agree that full body blocks are very restrictive, problematically so even. However, and this is a big however, they are becoming increasingly important. The 8800's GRAM, Vreg, and I/O chip all need some sort of cooling, and you have to be extremely careful when using passive sinks. I've seen a ton of stability problems result from inadequate airflow over passive sinks, or improperly applied sinks. So what can you do to get the best of both worlds?

D-Tek has a passive sink that covers EVERYTHING on the board for $29. That is, IMO, a fair price. Couple that with a Fuzion, which is one of the best performing blocks, and you'll have low GPU temps AND peace of mind. I would recommend either this solution or going with a full-coverage block in a seperate loop.
July 28, 2007 10:58:57 PM

grieve said:
Don’t bother with Sli...
1 good vid card destroys 2 mediocre vid cards.

Oh ya? Well 7800 GTX OCs are not mediocre. They still sell for $300. With my 17in monitor (which fills my whole glasses anyway), I figure the only drawback is I won't have DirectX10 for a while.
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