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Is VGA watercooling worth it?

Last response: in Overclocking
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February 7, 2013 8:28:44 AM

So first of all, quick intro. I'm planning on my first custom watercooling loop, now that I've completed my upgraded my PC.
I am using a Corsair 650D which does restrict my watercooling options a little, but I have couple parts in mind and hopefully you guys can help me decide on the best parts for my watercooling loop.

I'm planning a complete watercooling loop so I don't have to worry about upgrading any further, and I have currently a 500$ budget, so any recommendation on using this 500$ as efficiently as possible will help me a lot :) 

Let me tell you guys my PC specs before I start:

i7 3770k on stock cooler
Corsair Dominator Platinum 2x4 GB (2x4 GB more to come, my only planned future upgrade)
MSI z77 Mpower Big Bang
850w Cooler Master Silent Pro M
Corsair 650D
XFX Double Dissipation 7970 Ghz Ed. 2x (crossfire)


So I have couple questions about VGA watercooling.
1. Is trying to watercool my 7970s really worth it or should I just overclock my cards through air? I would really want to overclock my 7970s to the furthest number possible, but I also want to watercool them for the aesthetics. I heard the Double Ds weren't really the best air cooling cards, but I'd return it for something like a Vapor X if I had to give up VGA watercooling.

2. Because the XFX Double D Ghz Ed do not use a reference PCB, is there a waterblock that fits it or do I have to go with a universal VGA waterblock and passive cooling for the VRMs?

3. The reason why I bought the Double Ds were because I heard they weren't voltage locked, and while I would have preferred to go with non Ghz 7970s and overclock, I heard most of the non Ghzs are voltage locked now. I also remember a thread here saying that if I'm planning on overclocking, I shouldn't be looking at reference cards anyways, but I can't find a non reference card that use a reference PCB while being unlocked. If there is one that supports VGA blocks, can you please give me a link? :) 
ALSO: I heard many newer cards are all voltage locked including the Gigabyte's 7970/7970 Ghz, while Sapphire's cards aren't meant to be locked but AMD's features are locking its voltage and Sapphire is getting ready for a new Trixx 4.4 release (read on sapphire forums)

4. If I'm planning on watercooling, would rather buying a regular reference 7970 be better? (Although I do understand that a watercooled 7970 may not overclock as well as a aircooled 7970/7970ghz depending on if you got an unlucky card)




And for those of you who are ready for more blocks of text, can you guys also take a look at the watercooling parts I'm thinking about, try to make my 500$ budget go into the best use? :) 
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XSPC D5 Dual Bay Reservoir (I really like the idea of using my 5.25" bays instead of modding/mounting other types of reservoirs)
Swiftech MCP655-B pump
Koolance 370 SI waterblock (just because it looks sleek, I personally think the new Apogee HD looks ugly. Should I go with EK instead?)
XSPC 3/8 x 5/8 compression fittings
XSPC EX240 rad (Corsair 650D doesn't have huge room for thick rads, not even room for EK's 240 rad)
Primoflex tubing

So first of all, I definitely feel that I would need a second radiator for something like this if I'm gonna do add a VGA waterblock:
http://cdn.overclock.net/9/97/97e6e404_IMG_02392.jpeg

So if you guys know of a 7970 waterblock that I can use, I would love you guys so much :) 

More about : vga watercooling worth

a b K Overclocking
February 7, 2013 2:48:23 PM

Are you running your computer on air right now? What sort of temps are you seeing on the GPUs when at full load, non-OCed?

Quote:
1. Is trying to watercool my 7970s really worth it or should I just overclock my cards through air? I would really want to overclock my 7970s to the furthest number possible, but I also want to watercool them for the aesthetics. I heard the Double Ds weren't really the best air cooling cards, but I'd return it for something like a Vapor X if I had to give up VGA watercooling.

If temps are the limiting factor (usually are in a XFire setup), watercooling will help. Airflow usually isn't enough once you start increasing the voltage because VRMs get quite hot. So yes, a proper loop will increase your OC capacity.

Quote:
2. Because the XFX Double D Ghz Ed do not use a reference PCB, is there a waterblock that fits it or do I have to go with a universal VGA waterblock and passive cooling for the VRMs?

I'm not aware of any blocks specifically for the DDs but I haven't been up to date on my parts for a while. I have used universals (MCW82) and they aren't bad. They will be 1-3 degrees warmer than full cover blocks, but rads and fans are usually the limiting factor.

Quote:
3. The reason why I bought the Double Ds were because I heard they weren't voltage locked, and while I would have preferred to go with non Ghz 7970s and overclock, I heard most of the non Ghzs are voltage locked now. I also remember a thread here saying that if I'm planning on overclocking, I shouldn't be looking at reference cards anyways, but I can't find a non reference card that use a reference PCB while being unlocked. If there is one that supports VGA blocks, can you please give me a link? :) 
ALSO: I heard many newer cards are all voltage locked including the Gigabyte's 7970/7970 Ghz, while Sapphire's cards aren't meant to be locked but AMD's features are locking its voltage and Sapphire is getting ready for a new Trixx 4.4 release (read on sapphire forums)

If you're trying to do some serious OCing, keeping the voltage unlocked cards would be beneficial. If you're looking at OCing, non-reference cards can usually be better because the manufacturer will add more/better components to help stabilize power delivery, etc.

Quote:
4. If I'm planning on watercooling, would rather buying a regular reference 7970 be better? (Although I do understand that a watercooled 7970 may not overclock as well as a aircooled 7970/7970ghz depending on if you got an unlucky card)

It's really card dependent, and it's hard to predict which cards will be good and which will be bad. The GHz Editions use higher binned chips that perform better than the normal 7970 GPUs, so that is something to consider (though for $100 more).

Watercooling is easier on a reference 7970, yes. However, you should be looking a the GPU first since there's a way to basically make everything work.


Quote:
XSPC D5 Dual Bay Reservoir (I really like the idea of using my 5.25" bays instead of modding/mounting other types of reservoirs)
Swiftech MCP655-B pump
Koolance 370 SI waterblock (just because it looks sleek, I personally think the new Apogee HD looks ugly. Should I go with EK instead?)
XSPC 3/8 x 5/8 compression fittings
XSPC EX240 rad (Corsair 650D doesn't have huge room for thick rads, not even room for EK's 240 rad)
Primoflex tubing

You're probably going to need a second rad. I don't think an EX240 will be able to dissipate enough heat for 2 GPUs even with extremely fast/noisy fans. You may have to do some modding to get this to work in a 650D.
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a c 190 K Overclocking
February 7, 2013 3:03:06 PM

**but I can't find a non reference card that use a reference PCB**
You won't, Non-reference means it does not use a reference Pcb,
If you are happy to mount rads outside the case then more rads is very possible (as well as recommended),

The W/c sticky is a first reference point, you can figure your TDP out and calculate how much rad you need, and from there how much you actually want,
blocks are most likely going to be uni's with sinks as you already know, I'm unaware of any DD compatible f/c blocks
Moto
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a c 330 K Overclocking
February 7, 2013 4:17:41 PM

GPUs typically benefit from watercooling more than CPUs these days. A normal flagship GPU can easily log 80C temps at load where you can very realistically see load temps lower than 35-40C just by watercooling appropriately.
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February 7, 2013 6:22:18 PM

While gaming (TERA on full details) on a single card, I get around 50C.
I haven't seriously overclocked it yet, just a very small 1150/1600 on stock ghz voltage 1213.
So I think I'm going to use a universal waterblock then, what are some heatsinks that goes with this particular VGA?

Thank you for all the answers.

Also, would a thin 240 rad + thick 120 rad be enough for a crossfire system?
Or should I do simple modding and fit in a 200 rad instead of the 120?
kinda like this:
http://cdn.overclock.net/f/fd/fd7fb78f_Watercooling.jpe...
I heard the 200 rad on front doesn't need modding if you just want to attach it to the case with double sided tape >.>
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a c 190 K Overclocking
February 7, 2013 6:56:01 PM

A 240+200 would be preferable in that situation
although I'd personally opt for a 360+240 at least on a Cpu/Gpu loop,especially for CF, I like silence :) 
I reckon that rad is pinned in by the screws from the fan in front behind the bezel, giving pushpull

and heatsinks are pretty much bogstandard, choose from stubbies or ones with longer fins,
http://www.frozencpu.com/cat/l2/g40/c21/list/p1/Air_Coo...
remember you need enough for each card and don't neglect airflow, I modded my cards to keep the shrouds and fans as well as the Waterblocks
enough rad and your cards will be at the same temps as your Cpu,
My cards on air can cheerfully poke 80'c, mine however don't see past 40'C
don't be scared of modding to get the W/c results you want/need, its half the fun of it :) 
Moto
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a b K Overclocking
February 7, 2013 7:48:23 PM

This is what it will look like with a universal block + heatsinks. I bought the heatsinks that go with the Arctic Cooling mounting kits (has a bunch of the silver ones in the pic) simply because it was more economical. For OCing, I would definitely get copper ones for the VRMs and VRAM because it will conduct heat much better than aluminum.



The VRMs are under the vertical line of heatsinks on the right. I did not orient these in a smart way; the ridges should go with the direction of air flow...*doh*
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