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How hard is it to change the thermal grease on an Nvidia 7950 GT?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 19, 2011 7:55:25 PM

I did a quick search for any advice on this but came up empty, sorry if this has been answered before.

I've had this PC for going on 5 years, recently changed the thermal paste on the processor which now runs cooler than it ever did. Feeling brave from my successes I've got my eye on my graphics card, which runs at a pretty staggering 110C + whilst under full load, according to nTune. Are there any guides out there to applying fresh thermal compound to the graphics card's heatsink? Or is it pretty intuitive to do? Cheers!
a b U Graphics card
September 19, 2011 8:19:00 PM

its pretty straight forward depending on how practical a person you are--some heatsinks have thermal tape pads that stick them on--sometimes they can be quite tough to remove as they are well stuck on--other times its easy

make sure if theres a fan on the graphics card that its free of dust and spinning properly first as that may be why its so hot
a b U Graphics card
September 19, 2011 8:35:28 PM

If the card is running ok I might clean the fan with air, and then use a program like MSI afterburner to make a custom fan profile. Just crank the fan. I think there is a bit of risk here, even if your careful.
I have never done a 7950 but I have done a ton of cards over the years, such as x1650, fx5500, 8800gt, 8800gts, hd4850. They are all the same.
Remove the front plate where the DVIs are.
Unplug the fan if you can reach it.
Unscrew the heat sink from the back of the card. There are like 15 screws.
Carefully pull the board off the heat sink. In your case with 2 gpus this might be hard to do, and if your card is hitting 110, the thermal paste has most likely turned into cement. With say a 8800gt you often have to twist the heat sink a tiny bit to break it off the gpu.
Be careful when you do get the heat sink off not to damage the thermal pads on the ram and the mosfets.
Carefully clean the gpus with rubbing alcohol. Many times this thermal paste is very hard to get off. Just keep at it with a q-tip or something being very gentle.
Allow to dry
Put a good sized pea of a good thermal paste in the center of each gpu. I do not like to spread but to each his own.
Lay the heat sink on the work surface with the mating surface point up at you
You can look through one of the screw holes as a sight to line up the card as you set it down on top of the heat sink.
Finger tighten all screws starting with the 4 corners of the gpus.
Once all screw are finger tight, tighten them a bit more using a star pattern. Sort of like tighten the wheels on a car.
Plug the fan in. Some times you have to plug the fan in before you reseat the heatsink so be aware of how it came apart.
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September 19, 2011 9:00:30 PM

Oddly there were only 4 screws and it wasn't at all difficult to get the heatsink off -- thermal paste was like concrete though, whoever had done it had sloshed it on like they were laying a road. It wasn't screwed on particularly tightly either, I think it might have been a bit of a rubbish job to start with. It seems extraordinarily simple to put back together, the entire fan/heatsink is one neatly designed unit so it's a case of screwing the four screws back on and job done.

On the inside it was hilariously filthy, it looked like the card was growing a fine, fine beard. I'm actually surprised it didn't spontaneously combust out of protest. I'll go and apply the paste now and report back with my findings.
a b U Graphics card
September 19, 2011 9:05:49 PM

Sorry for the segue... but 110 Celsius!!! 0_0
September 20, 2011 11:24:14 AM

I'm still getting ridiculous temperatures, so either I applied the grease wrong or the sensors aren't reporting right. Is using already opened thermal grease a problem? I.e. I'd used some beforea few weeks ago and reapplied the lid tightly.
a b U Graphics card
September 20, 2011 1:55:44 PM

the thermal paist should not go bad if the top is on.
What are you using to monitor the temps? GPUZ is a good program for logging temps.
You can try msi afterburner and crank the fan to 100%. Maybe the fan is worn and is not spinning at full speed.
September 20, 2011 1:58:15 PM

I gave Nvidia's own monitoring program and Speedfan a go, they both reported the same temperatures. The thing is, I can hear the fan whirring away so I don't know if it's a case of it not spinning fast enough. It's a BFG card, will the MSI program work with it?
a b U Graphics card
September 20, 2011 2:00:01 PM

yes afterburner works on non msi cards no problem--it will show the fan speed as well as the temps
September 20, 2011 2:08:46 PM

Using Afterburner now, same heat results. It was at 70C idle, I set the fan to 100% output and the temperature is slowly going down. It's hovering just under 60C now, so perhaps the fan is done for? Barely 12C difference with the fan at full blast is awful.
September 20, 2011 2:09:45 PM

I also can't change the core voltage at all, whether that's related?
a b U Graphics card
September 20, 2011 2:12:22 PM

i think theres a box in the settings you have to tick before it lets you use voltage control--cant quite remember where
!