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Need help with dual cards, and installing Zalman aftermarket cooler...

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August 14, 2012 2:03:16 PM

Hello all.

I've been having some heat issues running dual HD 5870's. I have them in Crossfire. I have two problems with my setup I need advice on.

The first one is the arrangement of the cards themselves. This is the motherboard I have:

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

The STRANGE thing about this board, is that it appears to have THREE GPU slots available, unless I'm mistaken. My original plan was to Crossfire, but only use the top and bottom slots, leaving the middle slot open, so that both card's fans would not be blocked and so there would be air ventilation in between.

However, the weird thing about this board is, if you look at the bottom most slot, the third one. There is a row of cable connections right below the third slot, directly in the path of where the video card would go. There is NO way to put a GPU in that slot without completely squashing, bending, and damaging that whole row of cables up against the board.

Consequently, I was forced to use the two upper slots. But now my cards are sandwiched, the top card's fan is blocked by the card underneath, and it's not getting proper ventilation. the HAF X case does have a GPU spacer/supporter, which I am using. But that only provides like perhaps 1/8 of an inch of space between the cards, they are still very close together.

I'm really confused by this whole process.

I am planning on resorting to additional cooling. I'm thinking that if indeed I have to keep the cards the way they are configured, I will add additional cooling to the upper card, and let the lower card utilize its own stock fan, since that fan is blowing out into open space.

This is what I'm planning on putting on the top card:

http://www.amazon.com/Zalman-VF3000A-Dual-Bearing-Coole...

Can anyone who has gone through this process of dual or triple cards give me any advice or insights into this, this is all new to me.

Currently both GPU's ARE working properly, and Crossfire is up and running, but I want them cooler.

Thanks,
Oinkus
August 14, 2012 3:27:09 PM

I would not use that 3rd slot anyway (the white one). You only get the full bandwidth of this slot if you only had 1 video card. With 2 video cards, you should be using the two dark blue PCI slots. Even if this makes them run a little warmer.
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August 14, 2012 3:56:59 PM

I've got that cooler on my 6950, there's no way at all it's going to fit your rig, it needs 3 slots, its that big!
You may find 90 degree adaptors for the cables, allowing you to use the bottom slot. Or you may find you've misjudged the clearence, you've nothing to lose and much to gain by trying.
At this point, plenty are going to say you'll get x16 and x8 connections and only half the bandwidth. I say you'll lose a few FPS, not enough to notice by eye. The evidence M'lud:
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/AMD/HD_5870_PCI-Expr...

Why 'boad makers insist on putting SLI/CF slots so close together eludes me, it causes nothing but cooling problems.
Some use a small liquid cooling loop for the top card BTW.
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August 14, 2012 4:08:06 PM

There are many mobos that have better pci-e setups. Your best bet is to upgrade the mobo to one that will hold 2 triple slot gpus. Another option would be to sell the 5870s and get a GTX 670/80/90 or HD 7970/50.

As you can see, there is plenty of room for a 2nd 3 slot gpu. :) 

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August 15, 2012 11:42:00 PM

magikherbs said:
There are many mobos that have better pci-e setups. Your best bet is to upgrade the mobo to one that will hold 2 triple slot gpus. Another option would be to sell the 5870s and get a GTX 670/80/90 or HD 7970/50.

As you can see, there is plenty of room for a 2nd 3 slot gpu. :) 

http://img.techpowerup.org/120703/P6230338.jpg




Magikherbs,

Hey there....thanks so much for responding and for showing a shot of your rig, much appreciated! However, your post only leads me to more perplexing questions!

You said that there are other mobos that have better pci-e setups. Are you referring to how far apart the GPU slots are arranged? Because if so, I cannot find the mobos that you are referring to. All m.boards, from 2009 to now, seem to all be pretty close dimensions. And they all seem to suffer from the same GPU spacing issue, no matter how much geared the board is for gaming or how advanced it is. Can you give me some links to show me what you are referring to?

I do not understand what you mean by upgrading to a board that can "hold 2 triple slot gpus". Don't I have that ability NOW? I was looking at the screenshot you sent me of your rig, where you say there is plenty of room for a 2nd 3 slot card. I'm not trying to be a wise guy but ummm.....your motherboard is exactly the same dimension as MINE is. And they have the same distance of slot spacing!

In addition, the problem I have is exactly the problem that you appear to have as well! See where your bottom slot, the 3rd GPU slot is? See that row of tiny connectors and cables coming out of the bottom row of your board? That is EXACTLY the same dimensional problem that I have. That third slot you have there, if you were to put a GPU in that slot, it would SQUASH those connectors, and probably cause them to fall out or break off!

THIS is what I don't get about these boards. I know you suggested upgrading my board.....but for what purpose? The board I have is a gaming board, and it's pretty darn advanced in terms of features, including the ability to have 3 GPUS's. Yes, it is about three-year old technology, but we're talking about dimishing returns here. I mean my board IS designed for advanced gaming AND for Crossfire. Which is why I absolutely do not understand why they don't design these things with the GPU slots further apart for better ventilation! For all intents and purposes, it's a gaming board with more than enough power for what I need.

Upgrading is a redundancy in my opinion. You can only advance so far for what you need. I've got an i7 processor, 12 Gigs of RAM, a huge hard drive, two pretty darn fast GPU's, with a third 5870 in reserve as a backup. Upgrading to me is a waste.

And as I said, I do not know what board you are referring to when you say there are others that have "better PCI-e setups." They all look the same to me.

Thanks again for your response.

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August 16, 2012 12:08:55 AM

mmaatt747 said:
I would not use that 3rd slot anyway (the white one). You only get the full bandwidth of this slot if you only had 1 video card. With 2 video cards, you should be using the two dark blue PCI slots. Even if this makes them run a little warmer.


Thank you for the response!

So, what you are saying essentially, is that for the motherboard to be able to utilizie the full processing potential of both GPU's, they need to be in slots directly next to eachother, yes?

If one WERE to utilize the top and bottom slot, and leave the middle slot open for ventilation purposes, what kind of performance loss would be talking about with Crossfire? Significant?

After reading all of your answers, I am only more confused. NOT because of your answers perse, but because of the way these boards are designed!

WHY on earth would they not make the boards BIGGER so that the slots could be FURTHER apart??? And what is going on with that THIRD slot? Magikherb's Gigabyte mobo has exactly the same problem mine does! Yeah, there's plenty of VERTICAL SPACIAL room for a card there, but how do you install a card in that third slot without mangling all the delicate connectors along the bottom edge of the board????

This of course brings up the whole issue of GPU's and what are the acceptable temperatures to run them at. Perhaps I am being paranoid and I'm fine with the configuration I have now. Of course, you're always going to get gamers who have so much advanced cooling that their cards idle at 20 degrees, and never get above 45 under load lol...... I'm not that extreme. Today's GPU's are designed to run with some degree of heat, it's just a matter of not crossing the danger point I guess.

I guess it would be helpful here to share exactly what my temps are, and why I was concerned. Right now, with both GPU'S sitting on top of eachother, utilizing stock cooling, I am getting: between 39-43 c. at idle. Using the internet normally, with flash videos running, and playing Youtube videos, etc. they run between 45-50 c. Under load it depends what game I'm playing. WoW gets up into the upper 60's and low 70's within a minute of playing, and keeps creeping up to the high 70's as I play longer, until it breaks 80 c. Empire Total War gets into the mid 70's. Battlefield 3 was the most alarming. With Crossfire, I can easily play this game at Ultra settings and get 125+ fps. HOWEVER, when I started B3 at max settings, within minutes the top GPU was at 85 degrees c.

It's the top card that is getting hot. The bottom one has never gotten out of the low 60's under load. But the top one is running about 20 degrees hotter than the bottom one, and I'm not comfortable with that, which is what led me to come here and ask about ways to cool them better.

I apologize for my long-windedness(I type 75 words per minute, so I can rattle off these long posts in a matter of seconds), I really apprecitate everyone's help on this!

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August 16, 2012 12:19:10 AM

coozie7 said:
I've got that cooler on my 6950, there's no way at all it's going to fit your rig, it needs 3 slots, its that big!
You may find 90 degree adaptors for the cables, allowing you to use the bottom slot. Or you may find you've misjudged the clearence, you've nothing to lose and much to gain by trying.
At this point, plenty are going to say you'll get x16 and x8 connections and only half the bandwidth. I say you'll lose a few FPS, not enough to notice by eye. The evidence M'lud:
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/AMD/HD_5870_PCI-Expr...

Why 'boad makers insist on putting SLI/CF slots so close together eludes me, it causes nothing but cooling problems.
Some use a small liquid cooling loop for the top card BTW.


Coozie,

Thanks for your response! I totally agree with you, and I was saying the exact same thing to magikherbs. WHY, if these boards are designed for gaming and designed to be used with multiple video cards, WHY do they not make the board bigger so that the darn slots are FARTHER APART??? Seems to me like a money making ploy to force people to buy additional cooling, because they know that the crowded cards will heat up.

I wanted to ask you about what you said with regard to to that secondary cooler not fitting into my rig. Can you please elaborate? I do not understand why it would fit in your rig but not mine.....

I have the HAF X gaming case, which is simply one of the biggest gaming cases available out there. It's a mountain. Right now, with the top and middle GPU slots filled with cards, there is a ton of room above the top GPU card, there is NOTHING that could block that secondary cooler. I've got a good TEN INCHES from the top of the video card to the ceiling of the case where the case fans are! Nothing but empty, black space in all directions, with the motherboard screwed up against the side panel wall where it usually is. This cooler can sit on top of the top card, and it totally clears the motherboard, which would be above and behind it. My CPU fan and CPU are far above where that cooler would be.

Do you mean that in order to fit that cooler, you need more VERTICAL space, and that you can only have ONE video card installed in order to have enough vertical space to fit the cooler? How big is this cooler? When I got it from Amazon, it says the height dimensions are only about 3" or so high. You may be right, but as I said, from looking inside my rig, I think there is plenty of room for this.

Surely you can't have a case that is bigger than the HAF X, I don't think they make one bigger, unless I'm mistaken.

Thanks again for your info and help!
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Best solution

August 16, 2012 2:40:43 AM

Oinkusboinkus said:
Magikherbs,

Hey there....thanks so much for responding and for showing a shot of your rig, much appreciated! However, your post only leads me to more perplexing questions!

You said that there are other mobos that have better pci-e setups. Are you referring to how far apart the GPU slots are arranged? Because if so, I cannot find the mobos that you are referring to. All m.boards, from 2009 to now, seem to all be pretty close dimensions. And they all seem to suffer from the same GPU spacing issue, no matter how much geared the board is for gaming or how advanced it is. Can you give me some links to show me what you are referring to?

I do not understand what you mean by upgrading to a board that can "hold 2 triple slot gpus". Don't I have that ability NOW? I was looking at the screenshot you sent me of your rig, where you say there is plenty of room for a 2nd 3 slot card. I'm not trying to be a wise guy but ummm.....your motherboard is exactly the same dimension as MINE is. And they have the same distance of slot spacing!

In addition, the problem I have is exactly the problem that you appear to have as well! See where your bottom slot, the 3rd GPU slot is? See that row of tiny connectors and cables coming out of the bottom row of your board? That is EXACTLY the same dimensional problem that I have. That third slot you have there, if you were to put a GPU in that slot, it would SQUASH those connectors, and probably cause them to fall out or break off!

THIS is what I don't get about these boards. I know you suggested upgrading my board.....but for what purpose? The board I have is a gaming board, and it's pretty darn advanced in terms of features, including the ability to have 3 GPUS's. Yes, it is about three-year old technology, but we're talking about dimishing returns here. I mean my board IS designed for advanced gaming AND for Crossfire. Which is why I absolutely do not understand why they don't design these things with the GPU slots further apart for better ventilation! For all intents and purposes, it's a gaming board with more than enough power for what I need.

Upgrading is a redundancy in my opinion. You can only advance so far for what you need. I've got an i7 processor, 12 Gigs of RAM, a huge hard drive, two pretty darn fast GPU's, with a third 5870 in reserve as a backup. Upgrading to me is a waste.

And as I said, I do not know what board you are referring to when you say there are others that have "better PCI-e setups." They all look the same to me.

Thanks again for your response.


What I meant was, 'hold 2 triple slot gpus and run them both at 16x.' And looky. :)  Our boards do not have the same spacing lol..



If the gpu doesn't have heatpipes jutting out the side, then it will/should clear the mobo connectors. You may have to bend/tie some of them down, depending on the gpu's design. Its highly unlikely that the VF3000 will cause any problems that way.

Since upgrading is not an option, I say get the VF3000 and install it on the 2nd 5870. This way, you'll be able to keep both cards running at 16x, and the primary gpu will run alot cooler because this (in theory) will significantly reduce most/all of the heat that normally comes off the back of the 2nd gpu's core.

Btw, you will not regret buying the VF3000. After a while, you'll get used to gaming at what used to be idle temps. :p 
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August 16, 2012 11:23:16 AM

@ Oinkusboinkus: I think we're a little at cross purposes here.
What I ment was the VF3000 will not fit the top card because there's not enough space between the two cards; VF3000 sits under the card, where the reference cooler currently is and cannot be inverted.
I agree with Magikherbs: there should be enough clearence between the lower connectors and the GPU cooler so if you have long enough CF bridge I'd suggest you grab a copy of the Heaven benchmark and see how much impact a x8 slot will have.
The article I linked to earlier shows no worthwhile falloff in performance between x8 and x16 speeds, althoughI'm not sure how Crossfire will respond.
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August 18, 2012 8:36:15 PM

Best answer selected by oinkusboinkus.
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August 18, 2012 9:00:27 PM

magikherbs said:
What I meant was, 'hold 2 triple slot gpus and run them both at 16x.' And looky. :)  Our boards do not have the same spacing lol..

http://ca.gigabyte.com/fileupload/product/2/3901/4451_big.jpg

If the gpu doesn't have heatpipes jutting out the side, then it will/should clear the mobo connectors. You may have to bend/tie some of them down, depending on the gpu's design. Its highly unlikely that the VF3000 will cause any problems that way.

Since upgrading is not an option, I say get the VF3000 and install it on the 2nd 5870. This way, you'll be able to keep both cards running at 16x, and the primary gpu will run alot cooler because this (in theory) will significantly reduce most/all of the heat that normally comes off the back of the 2nd gpu's core.

Btw, you will not regret buying the VF3000. After a while, you'll get used to gaming at what used to be idle temps. :p 




OMG.....it is a true moment of idiocy for me. No WONDER you and others said to upgrade to a motherboard that has better GPU slot spacing....

I'm screwed. The motherboard I have does not have enough spacing between GPU slots to fit the VF3000 cooler! Why? Because the d**n cooler fits onto the BOTTOM of the video card! On the same side that the stock cooling fan does! Facing DOWNWARDS!....there isn't enough room for it with the 2nd card being right in the way.......

And unless he was mistaken, a friend of mine looked at my ASUS board specs and, according to him, my board does NOT support three cards, only two. He said that the third slot, the white one, does not support a GPU? Is he right about that? Here it is again:

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

If he's right, and that third slot the white one isn't meant for a video card, then I'm screwed.

The ONLY way I could fit this cooler is if I leave the middle slot open, otherwise there ain't enough room, and that's all she wrote.

I can't believe this. You would think that would have been something I would have checked ahead of time? Which side of the card the cooler goes on? Nope! Not me! (SMACK)

There is not enough space between slots.

Are there any other cooling options available that would work with my motherboard slot spacing?

I'm seriously thinking of taking your advice, which is upgrade motherboard, OR simply abandon this crossfire nonsense, and just get a single newer, current ATI or Nvidia card, they're relatively cheap enough now.

Sincerely,
A moment of idiocy :pt1cable: 
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