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Video Card Cooling Options With No Airlow Clearance

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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May 10, 2011 1:30:40 AM

I recently built my own computer for the first time. While I'm largely happy with the results, I did make a couple mistakes. The biggest of these by far is the video card situation.

I have two Galaxy GTX 460 cards on a Biostar TA890FXE motherboard in an SLI configuration using SLI Patch. The problem with this configuration is that the two x16 PCIE slots on the MB are two standard card slots apart from each other while the GTX 460s are both dual-slot cards. The result is that there is virtually no clearance between the two cards, and the top card overheats due to the lack of airflow.



When I'm doing nothing more intensive than surfing the internet, the upper card sits at about 50 to 60 degrees C. When I try running a game that actually uses the card, the upper card jumps up to around 80 to 90 degrees. This is with no overclocking at all in the system and two side intake fans blowing directly on the CPU and expansion cards.

I was hoping to get some advice before I start trying to make any changes and possibly botch it up worse than I already have. Are there any options for cooling the card despite the minimal clearance? Is it possible to maybe remove the plastic case over the video card to improve airflow? Perhaps some other option to improve the situation?
a c 153 U Graphics card
May 10, 2011 1:34:50 AM

Same configuration I have. Thats normal. Those temps are high, but they should work. What kind of side intake do you have on the case? I put a better fan there and it helpes a lot. It also looks liek the right side of the case can use a LOT of cable management.

If you remove the case, the fan won't be able to cool the GTX 460s heatsink as well. To top it off if you lookat the card the plastic shroud isn't much "higher" than the heatsink itself, it would only shave off a CM of room or so.
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a c 173 U Graphics card
May 10, 2011 3:25:20 AM

make sure you have a large rear exhaust fan to suck out all the hot air. Pumping more air into the case than it being sucked out can often increase temps. You could also try your two side fans as exhaust fans to see if there is any difference.
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May 11, 2011 1:57:54 AM

Thanks for the feedback. I have tried having the side fans arranged as exhaust fans rather than intakes, but that was less effective. I also recall reading somewhere that some testing showed that side intake fans were the most effective fan configuration available for system cooling. It does remind me though that I need to reverse the top fan still. Currently, the front, top, and both side fans are all intakes, with only the rear fan for exhaust. That's clearly not ideal, but I don't expect it will make a substantial difference.

I know the card isn't going to just completely fry at those temps, but I'm mainly disappointed that this virtually rules out any chance of doing much overclocking. Overclocking the video cards themselves is clearly out, and given that the overheating card is directly below the CPU, overclocking that would likely cause problems as well.

I guess the next question I would have is how I can make the best out of the situation. I can't afford to either replace the motherboard for a better card arrangement or get a single more powerful video card. The options I seem to have would be to either run everything as is at factory settings and just accept that one of the cards will have a shortened lifetime, or I could pull one of the cards out and start playing with overclocking with the single card. Could anyone offer any advice of which would be the better option?

Here's the rest of the main system:

AMD Phenom II 1100T Black (Hex Core, 3.3 GHz)
Biostar TA890FXE Motherboard
Galaxy GTX 460 video card(s)
16 GB RAM
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a c 153 U Graphics card
May 11, 2011 3:20:50 AM

It might make a bit of defference you ened to exhaust hot air out of that pc faster.

You could get better case, or mod the side of the case to have better intake fans (thats what I did).
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a c 363 U Graphics card
May 11, 2011 3:38:27 AM

Helltech said:
Same configuration I have. Thats normal.


Wow...really?

I would call that a thermal design deficiency. In other words, a poorly designed motherboard.
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May 11, 2011 3:43:15 AM

The best thing to do in my opinion for cooling what you already have is to change the top fans to exhaust as well and see if that helps the temps. you could even see if there are any bost on fan coolers that are better for your 460s. the twin frozor 2 came on my cards and even with them right next to each other and OCed to 900mhz, the top one only gets up to 75 or so degrees under full load. Also a better case with higher air flow might help. i have a cooler master haf x and this thing has amazing cable management built in and insane air flow.
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May 11, 2011 4:24:44 AM

Well this may sound crazy and may look like crap but with the cable management I see maybe it wont matter. A friend of mine had a similar situation. My idea was to direct as much airflow directly to and from the gpus. What I made was 2 small ducts that pointed directly to the cards from side case.(he also had a full size case)

These ducts were used as a push/ pull, the most important one and the one we ended up sticking with was the one that pulled from the GPUs and blew that air out of the case. Kinda like sticking a vacuum hose(but abit larger around-fan size) upto the GPUs. I had also punched/drilled a several holes in the outer cover to suck the air out I have explained this to other folks and have seen them use soda cans, modified the old green duct from the dell PCs and such. It really will help if you can also blow air in the GPU's general direction. I was able to make the duct for him as I have all sorts of epoxy resins and plastic. It had dropped his temps quite abit but can't remember the exact numbers and way better than any other normal push/pull case airflow

I dont like the use of anything metal as it can short things outif it touches the wrong place. With your case it appears (maybe)if you clean up some of those cables and put a fan in the front of case blowing in towards the gpus(if possible) and install another fan in the side of case blowing out(right at GPUs.

I hope this makes sense to you as sometimes I'm horrible at trying to explain things like this. Just remember if you drill holes in your GPUs outer cover you pretty much void your warranty. But if you can run with out the cover then you can use either the double or single duct with a 120mm fan or larger and duct you may be able to notch around cards. If you need I may be able to draw a crude drawing for you
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a c 153 U Graphics card
May 11, 2011 4:35:55 AM

jaguarskx said:
Wow...really?

I would call that a thermal design deficiency. In other words, a poorly designed motherboard.


Yeah even on the Asus Rampage II its like that.



It's all becuase my Rampage came with a hard SLI bridge instead of the flexible cable style, or I could move the second card down a slot. Not really a motherboard design flaw as much as its a flaw in that hard bridge.
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May 11, 2011 4:44:15 AM

You may also be able to use a AeroCool VM-101 Fanless VGA Card Cooler modified slightly to work for your situation. I'm listing 2 links one from Newegg and one from a site that has better pics. You can also google for more pics
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.directron.com/vm101.html

w/some tweaking of the bars and a fan blowing at it or pulling from it-it just may work. You may also want to look at some of the memory heat spreaders or sinks to help dissapate some heat
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May 11, 2011 4:50:18 AM

Helltech said:
Yeah even on the Asus Rampage II its like that.

http://i269.photobucket.com/albums/jj48/Helltech/100_0002.jpg

It's all becuase my Rampage came with a hard SLI bridge instead of the flexible cable style, or I could move the second card down a slot. Not really a motherboard design flaw as much as its a flaw in that hard bridge.


Why don't yu just get a flexable SLI bridge, they go for around $10?
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May 11, 2011 5:08:37 AM

Here is pne more for you. The heat pipe are able to be modified/bent to suit your application needs This may not be the exact model you need but they have one. Again you would then need another fan to remove heat.

With this unit you would remove gpu housing/cover and fan. Bend heat tubes so heat cor and spreader/radiator are at 90% Attach heat core to gpu heat sink, then use side case fan or fan attached to spreader

http://www.frozencpu.com/products/7248/vid-109/Arctic_C...


Some of these are just to show you that there are many products out there. I think one of my nephews friends made a youtube video show the duct(with soda can) idea I had
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a c 153 U Graphics card
May 11, 2011 5:16:55 AM

technoidgit said:
Why don't yu just get a flexable SLI bridge, they go for around $10?


Becuase I don't have heat issues with the fans I use as my intake side fans. My friend gave me some really nice ones, so yeah.
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May 11, 2011 5:21:47 AM

Helltech said:
Becuase I don't have heat issues with the fans I use as my intake side fans. My friend gave me some really nice ones, so yeah.


Yeah kinda like I was trying to describe in that mess I posted, We did get a little better cooling with the duct but it could have been because all the parts were old used ones. But normally like in your case 2 side fans(intake) will do the trick aslong as you have equal or more cfm exit fans. Yours also works well because your GTX 260 intakes are on the side and not on the top like th OPs

If you goto this link for the Cooler Master Haf X you can get the idea of how ducting that may work for you. You need to view the video of the case and it shows the ducting on the side cover which can be used in either a push or pull application. Just remember that you should have equal or more cfm airflow exiting the case otherwise the whole inside of the case will raise in temp. That increase of case temp may be small but in some cases that's all it takes

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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May 12, 2011 6:12:44 AM

technoidgit said:
Yeah kinda like I was trying to describe in that mess I posted, We did get a little better cooling with the duct but it could have been because all the parts were old used ones. But normally like in your case 2 side fans(intake) will do the trick aslong as you have equal or more cfm exit fans. Yours also works well because your GTX 260 intakes are on the side and not on the top like th OPs

If you goto this link for the Cooler Master Haf X you can get the idea of how ducting that may work for you. You need to view the video of the case and it shows the ducting on the side cover which can be used in either a push or pull application. Just remember that you should have equal or more cfm airflow exiting the case otherwise the whole inside of the case will raise in temp. That increase of case temp may be small but in some cases that's all it takes

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


http://www.coolermaster-usa.com/product.php?product_id=...

This has a good diagram of how the HAF-X airflow and ducting works for this particular case and pretty much how to get optimal cooling (in my opinion anyway. i may be a little biased because this is the case i have and love it). If you set up sufficient airflow like this or similar i believe the temps should drop significantly.
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May 12, 2011 7:11:38 AM

I agree with iam2thecrowe, heat rises so you should flip that top fan round and make it an exhaust fan, thats how atx cases are designed, for air to flow from the lower front to the upper back.

Perhaps buying an aftermarket cooler for that upper card could be a good idea too, just depends how much money you weant to spend.

That duct idea from technoidgit sounds like it could be good too, technoidgit are you talking about placing an intake fan on one side of the case, and blowing air through the duct, and exhausting in the same place on the opposite side of the case?
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May 16, 2011 12:22:45 AM

RoboTree said:
I agree with iam2thecrowe, heat rises so you should flip that top fan round and make it an exhaust fan, thats how atx cases are designed, for air to flow from the lower front to the upper back.

Perhaps buying an aftermarket cooler for that upper card could be a good idea too, just depends how much money you weant to spend.

That duct idea from technoidgit sounds like it could be good too, technoidgit are you talking about placing an intake fan on one side of the case, and blowing air through the duct, and exhausting in the same place on the opposite side of the case?



Basically yes but it depends on the case and how much room you have. The heat will rise so you can also take out the back/top of case. Another time we had made another duct and sucked it out one of the front intakes. You just always need to make sure that if you steal an intake you need to make one some where else unless like some cases there are a ton of them(more than enough)

As someone mentioned about flipping card-I'm not sure that is possible due to the panel(outputs). Just blast the sucker w/air like mentioned and make sure you have enough exhaust towards top of case.

This is why I like double spaced PCI E 2x16 slots
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May 19, 2011 3:45:40 AM

Thanks again for all the comments. I've been too busy to even fire the computer up much in the last week, so I haven't had a chance to fully digest all the information in here yet.

I did mess around inside the case some the other day. I found out I was actually mistaken. The top fan has been an exhaust fan all along. I somehow convinced myself it was an intake when I first got the computer up and running, but once I paid attention to it, that clearly wasn't the case. :sweat: 

The other thing I did was to clean up the cables some. Not so much for cooling purposes, but just so they would be out of the way as I continue to poke around inside the case. As I expected, there was no noticeable change in temps after I got all the cables tied down. My overall system temps are fine. My issue is very specifically due to the lack of clearance between the two video cards. Even with two 120mm fans blowing directly onto the cards, there's just not enough space to get any significant airflow to that top card.

Hopefully I'll get some time in the next couple days to go through some of the links that have been posted here. I figured there had to be other cases of this problem, and so some solution for it. I just didn't know where to start looking. I really appreciate all the advice. :) 
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