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Installing a Water Cooled Graphics Card

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November 6, 2011 1:28:00 AM

Hello Everyone,

Let me begin by saying I'm not a guy that tinkers with my PC a lot. I bought a new machine about a year and a half ago off Cyberpower PC (system specs below), which is water cooled. I've had no problems with the machine. It's fast, quiet and very reliable.

CPU: Intel(R) CoreT i7-940 2.93 GHz 8M L3 Cache LGA1366
VIDEO: NVIDIA GeForce GTX285 2GB 16X PCIe
MOTHERBOARD: (3-Way SLI Support) GigaByte GA-X58A-UD3R Intel X58 Chipset
MEMORY: 12GB
POWERSUPPLY: 1000 Watts
CASE: Thermaltake Element-S Mid-Tower Case
COOLING: CoolerMaster Thermal Fusion 400 Extreme Performance CPU

I don't do a hell of a lot of high end gaming on it (Mostly Photshop, Flash, etc), but I would like to play the new Skyrim and maybe BF3 at 1920x1200 with bells and whistles (AA is not all that important to me). I suspect I'm going to need some more horsepower, so I was eyeing a few top end Nvidia cards such as:

So, let's say I go with this card. I have no idea how to install a water cooled card. As mentioned before, my system was built by CyberpowerPC. Is this something a person with average PC hardware skills can do, or should I just stick with a fan based card?

Some additional questions:

- If I stick with a fan based card, my case is watercooled and doesn't have a ton of fans. Is the fan on the card sufficient?
- If I try a water cooled card, is everything I need for installation included in the package? Will I need more tubing, or antifreeze water?
- On a scale of 0-10 (0 = beginner, 10 expert), how difficult a job is installing a water cooled card?

I've tried youtube for vids on installation, and general google searches, but I can't seem to find anything.

Thanks so much everyone,

-DRP
a c 109 U Graphics card
November 6, 2011 2:58:44 AM

5-7 in my opnion :) 
a b U Graphics card
November 6, 2011 3:13:29 AM

On dx 11 the new Gpus double the performance of the older ones with AA and that disabled. Unfortunately the older cards use vertex shaders to do the Tesselation.

Do you have the water blocks for the gpu? What you can do is to take it down a pc shop and ask them to fit it for you. Off course they're going to charge you for labour
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November 6, 2011 3:17:17 AM

Oh, sorry. Perhaps I mis-stated my situation. I don't have a water cooled GPU yet. I was wondering about buying an EVGA with one preinstalled like the link I provided. I just need to know how difficult (or how to at all) install the new water cooled GPU in my already water cooled machine. Make sense?
a b U Graphics card
November 6, 2011 3:31:40 AM

davidryanpaul said:
Oh, sorry. Perhaps I mis-stated my situation. I don't have a water cooled GPU yet. I was wondering about buying an EVGA with one preinstalled like the link I provided. I just need to know how difficult (or how to at all) install the new water cooled GPU in my already water cooled machine. Make sense?

so you still need to buy the card as well?
Why not get a newer series gpu that runs cooler with lower power usage?
a b U Graphics card
November 6, 2011 3:37:25 AM

To install the one for the gpu on a already installed cooling system is not difficult. Just follow this
Pump –> Radiator –> CPU block –> GPU block –> Back To Pump
November 7, 2011 5:08:35 PM

Gnomio, no I haven't bought a single thing yet. That's really part of the larger question. If I buy a water cooled card (water block preinstalled) do I need extra tubing, anti-freeze water, and supplies, etc, or should the card come with everything I need.

Also, in your reply above: "Why not get a newer series gpu that runs cooler with lower power usage?" Do you have an example of such a card you are talking about? I'm open to suggestions!

a b U Graphics card
November 7, 2011 5:52:32 PM

Hi davidryanpaul. Watercooling is something that can get very tricky very fast. If you buy a card that only has a waterblock installed (as opposed to a complete solution) then you will need to buy a reservoir, a radiator, and a pump (and tubing to go along with it) to create a water cooling circuit.

However there are some solutions that come with a sealed complete circuit that doesn't require any extra parts. Like this:

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

a c 125 U Graphics card
November 7, 2011 5:55:43 PM

If you're not a big gamer, a 285 is an excellent card. It doesn't have DX11 but honestly I doubt you'll even notice that. I'd say stick with what you've got until you try the games. Skyrim isn't even going to be all that demanding I'm sure you can max it when it comes out.

BF3 is a lot more demanding but still it looks great even at medium settings (though I'd expect you can do high settings if not ultra).

According to at least 1 review, it manages 37fps average in Crysis Warhead at max and 1920x1200. BF3 is equal or less demanding that Crysis I think.

http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/2723/galaxy_geforce_gt...
November 7, 2011 6:01:08 PM

Blade, thanks for the reply. I have a watercooled CPU pre-installed from Cyberpower when I ordered my machine. I don't have any experience with watercooling, other than knowing I love the reduced heat and no noise.

Thanks for that link too. That certainly is an option.

The GTX 580 Hydro cards come with a waterblock preinstalled, but not a complete solution. I'm assuming since my CPU is watercooled, I can use that system if I buy a card with a waterblock installed. Is that a fair assumption, or do I need another radiator/pump besides the one for my CPU. I'm sorry to all the experts here if my questions seem very green, but that is in fact my situation.

If I need an additional water pump and radiator, I will probably pass on this setup. But if I can run the card on the same radiator and pump I already have in the case, then this is an option. I just don't know *how* to do it or what additional components I need. That's why I was asking about the difficulty level. If it's out of my range (which it's sounding like it is) I'll probably go with another fan cooled card.

Thanks again everyone.
a c 125 U Graphics card
November 7, 2011 6:02:29 PM

You'll need another radiator but probably not a new pump.

Best solution

a b U Graphics card
November 7, 2011 6:16:36 PM
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You would likely be able to run your GPU in your current loop, but it would increase the temp of your fluid (since it would all be on one loop) If you found that your temps were getting too high, you could add another radiator like wolfram suggested.

As far as inserting it into the loop, you would need two hoses for in and out flow. You probably want to go from Pump -> CPU -> GPU -> radiator -> Pump. or switch CPU and GPU if your pump is at the bottom of your case.
November 13, 2011 10:55:37 PM

Best answer selected by davidryanpaul.
a b U Graphics card
November 14, 2011 2:22:55 AM

Pump –> Radiator –> CPU block –> GPU block –> Back To Pump
!