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Upgrade Planned, Seeking Input

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March 30, 2009 7:10:03 PM

I recently had my video card burn out, and I was considering buying a core i7 build, but thought that instead I might try my hand at a home build upgrade. This is a build that I bought from someone else who seemed like he knew what he was doing, but given my knowledge level I don't really know). Any thoughts would be much appreciated. The critical upgrades are video card and case, which I suspect is not getting sufficient airflow to cool my video card (and hence the burnout), and also has had the front USB inputs break:

Case: Antec p180/Swiftech Water Block
MB: ASUS Striker Extreme (would ike to keep this if possible, but it has had difficult recognizing more than one stick of ram)
CPU: Intel Qx6700 (currently not overclocked, though I would like to experiment) watercooled with Swifttech waterblock) Unless others think otherwise, this is not something that I think needs to be upgraded.
Ram: 1x2GB DDR2 800 (I have had trouble getting the MB to recognize more than one DIMM)
HDD: 1x150Gb WD 10k Rpm drive, 1x250Gb 7200 Rpm storage drive
Video Card: Nvidia 8800 Ultra (now burned out -- I think I will upgrade to a GTX 280 or 295)
Sound: SB X-fi Fatal1ty
PSU: Coolermaster 1000w

Whether I stay with the current mb and watercooling system or switch to air cooling, I need to apply some arctic silver, because I don't think the current thermal paste is getting it done with load temps in the high 50s. Note that this is primarily a gaming rig, and I game at 1680x1050. I am currently running Vista 32 bit.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated, and if there is helpful information that I have left out, please let me know.

Cheers, Matt
a c 136 B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
March 30, 2009 9:19:07 PM

I'd flash the mb BIOS to see if your RAM starts being recognised .

At your resolution you dont need a GTX295 . The GTX 280 is older tech , so compromise and get a GTX 285 maybe . That will be plenty for a 22 inch monitor .

I like your case .

Is the radiator internal or external?
March 30, 2009 10:22:44 PM

Thanks, that's a good idea. I haven't flashed the BIOS for about a year, so maybe that problem has been solved.

The radiator is internal. You can see good pics of how the radiator is set up here:

http://www.swiftech.com/products/qpower-p180.asp

I suppose that a USB hub is a better solution to the broken USB ports than buying an entirely new case. I'm still concerned about the heat level, though. Maybe a better solution would be to install some more fans. The radiator is at the upper rear of the case, blowing out the back, and there is also a fan directly above the cpu through the top of the case, but there does not appear to be any airflow below. There is an adjustable fan that I have pointed at my video card, but some of the airflow is blocked by the sound card.

Thanks again for the reply.
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a c 268 U Graphics card
March 31, 2009 3:12:02 AM

matthrice said:
Thanks, that's a good idea. I haven't flashed the BIOS for about a year, so maybe that problem has been solved.

The radiator is internal. You can see good pics of how the radiator is set up here:

http://www.swiftech.com/products/qpower-p180.asp

I suppose that a USB hub is a better solution to the broken USB ports than buying an entirely new case. I'm still concerned about the heat level, though. Maybe a better solution would be to install some more fans. The radiator is at the upper rear of the case, blowing out the back, and there is also a fan directly above the cpu through the top of the case, but there does not appear to be any airflow below. There is an adjustable fan that I have pointed at my video card, but some of the airflow is blocked by the sound card.

Thanks again for the reply.


1) DON"T flash your bios unless it will fix a problem that you have. If the flash fails, your motherboard can be rendered useless, with no hope of recovery.
If you do update the bios, research the procedure very carefully.

2) There should be no reason that 2 sticks of ram won't work in your mobo.

Download and run memtest86+ for a couple of full passes to verify that each stick is good, then run good sticks in each of the slots to verify that the slots are good.

Go to the ram vendor's web site and access their configurator. Enter your mobo, and verify that your ram is on the supported list.

You may have to manually set the bios to an increased level to get your particular ram to run properly.

You want to run with 4gb of ram. Even with 32 bit XP. Any speed will do. Here's why:
http://www.corsairmemory.com/_appnotes/AN804_Gaming_Per...

3) Antec is very good about sending you parts to fix your case. Fill in the online questions under customer support, and they will likely ship you what you need to fix the usb port.

4) The P180 case can cool as much as you need. There are two 120mm input fans in front. Make certain that the filters are clean. You can even remove them if you wish. The 8800 ultra was a hot card that let some of the hot air back into the case, causing both the vga card and the cpu to heat up.

5) Newer cards like the GTX285 are built using 55nm parts which are cooler. In addition, the GTX285 reference cooler is better. It will send all the hot air directly out the back. At your resolution, a GTS250 might serve you just as well.

6) Cpu temps in the high 50's under load are not bad. Don't fix a problem you don't have.

7) Onboard HD 7.1 sound is very good. If you think your sound card is a problem, try removing it.

8) Cooling happens when you get heat out of the case as directly and efficiently as possible. Directing an internal fan at components will not do much, and can possibly hurt by disrupting the natural front bottom to top back airflow path. To test the cooling efficiency of your case, remove the side panel, and direct a small house fan at the innards. If you get a dramatic benefit, then some work on cooling is in order.

Is your cable management neat?
March 31, 2009 5:19:13 AM

Thanks very much for your reply. I think I have diagnosed the main source of the problem -- the front 120mm fan is dead (why I did not notice this, I do not know), which means that the video card was getting next to no airflow. I will replace that fan.

Your cable management question is a good one also. It looks like a mess to me, though I am no expert. It is such a mess that I find it difficult to get the side door to stay flush to the case, which I'm sure also hurts the airflow. Much of the cable management nightmare comes from the radiator tubing. Do you think I could get away with getting a good aftermarket heatsink instead and just removing the water cooling apparatus altogether?

So, I will plan to replace the front 120mm fan. Possibly add a 120mm fan in the hard drive bay (which currently has none), and replace the video card. I'll also figure out what is wrong with the ram.

Thanks for the heads up on the GTX 285. I'll go for that over the 295.

Thanks again, really appreciate your response.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
a c 268 U Graphics card
March 31, 2009 2:02:07 PM

matthrice said:
Thanks very much for your reply. I think I have diagnosed the main source of the problem -- the front 120mm fan is dead (why I did not notice this, I do not know), which means that the video card was getting next to no airflow. I will replace that fan.

Your cable management question is a good one also. It looks like a mess to me, though I am no expert. It is such a mess that I find it difficult to get the side door to stay flush to the case, which I'm sure also hurts the airflow. Much of the cable management nightmare comes from the radiator tubing. Do you think I could get away with getting a good aftermarket heatsink instead and just removing the water cooling apparatus altogether?

So, I will plan to replace the front 120mm fan. Possibly add a 120mm fan in the hard drive bay (which currently has none), and replace the video card. I'll also figure out what is wrong with the ram.

Thanks for the heads up on the GTX 285. I'll go for that over the 295.

Thanks again, really appreciate your response.


Water cooling is good, in the sense that it efficiently extracts the heat from the cpu. But, where is the heat dissipated? If the radiator is inside the case, it is not very efficient. If the radiator is outside the case, it is better.
I think current air based coolers are very good, simpler, and more maintenance free. If you are so inclined, look at Xigmatek which makes good ones that are not expensive. I do not think your cooling will suffer, and you can probably market the water cooling parts on e-bay.

I think Antec may have changed the grill covers on the P180 to allow more airflow. Contact them to see if you can get the new version. Or, just remove them.
April 4, 2009 7:28:43 AM

Thanks for the help. Replaced the case fan and video card (GTX 285...yikes, that card is big!), and with the case closed and the adjustable fan out of the way my video card temp dropped several degrees at idle. Motherboard is still not recognizing both sticks of ram, but that is a problem for another day. Thanks again.
!