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Graphic Card Design

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a b B Homebuilt system
a c 210 U Graphics card
February 17, 2013 4:24:36 PM

One thing that has always had me scratching my head about the design of all graphic cards, is that they always end up installed so the best looking side is facing down and the ugliest side is facing up into view. Kinda defeats the purpose of having a great looking card. Now, I realize there are a few PC case's out there that are mirror image, if you will... case's that open for access on the opposite side, and therefore the motherboard ends up being mounted processor end down. But those are the exception.

My first thought was that maybe with the fan side up, a gfx card would be subject to something dropping down onto the fan. But that doesn't seem to be a good argument, since I'd rather have something accidentally drop across the fan than the PCB's exposed solder points. And it would seem heat removal wouldn't be the reason. Face up, the card would better at heat dissipation if anything. Does anyone have a thought on the reason gfx cards are always designed to be mounted 'best looking side' down out of view?

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February 18, 2013 10:04:40 PM

Maybe it's to suck in cooler air from the bottom of the case, and then push it up the case where the exhaust is.
Just a theory but it would make sense with heat rising.
a c 136 B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
February 18, 2013 10:10:09 PM

axleh93 said:
Maybe it's to suck in cooler air from the bottom of the case, and then push it up the case where the exhaust is.
Just a theory but it would make sense with heat rising.



Makes sense to me . The graphics card air intake is as far away from the heat of the cpu as possible
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a b B Homebuilt system
a c 210 U Graphics card
February 18, 2013 10:53:41 PM

I don't buy that. Sitting over a warm PSU can't be too terrific either for pulling in warm air. Besides, the CPU cooler's warm air is pulled out of the case by the exhaust fan that sits right adjacent to it in most PCs. On top of that, today's cards are mostly open cards that exhaust most air back into the case anyway. Only reference designs are enclosed to direct all air out the back.
a c 136 B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
February 19, 2013 3:27:50 AM

The layout of ATX boards pre-dates bottom mounted power supplies by about 20 years

and since air is usually moving in from low in the front and moving to the top and back axleh93 does make sense IMO
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 81 U Graphics card
February 19, 2013 3:36:13 AM

Outlander_04 said:
Makes sense to me . The graphics card air intake is as far away from the heat of the cpu as possible


This is most likely the right answer.

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a c 105 B Homebuilt system
a c 119 U Graphics card
February 19, 2013 4:52:44 AM
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Its more to do with the PCI standard and form factor. When it was designed, there weren't any PCI cards at the time that required the cooling a graphics card does, so support for large heatsink's on the cards was never integrated into the design.
Thats why our 77W CPU's can have massive Noctua NH-D14's on them, while 200W graphics cards have to deal with their allocated 2 PCI slots of space. Its not that graphics card are inherently hot, its just their cooling ability is limited by the form factor they have to fit.

To put the cooler on top of the card would require the card to go up from the slot, not down like it is currently. Most motherboards wont be able to handle this as the top 16x slot is too close rear I/O, would get in the way.
So to have it configured like that would limit compatibility, less people who can buy it means lower profits. Makes no sense from a business perspective.
To change the motherboard to accept this would require a change in the ATX standard, which would have a knock on effect with other components as they have to adapt. Too much work to accommodate a new system when the old one isn't exactly broke.
Even if Nvidia and AMD were too demand such a change, they would get nowhere. For them its as simple flipping the card around, for everyone else its a massive task as they have to redesign everything.

TL;DR
PCI was never intended for devices that would require a lot of cooling, so its been done in a non-optimal way to make it work. And now we are too far in, its too difficult to change it now.
a c 136 B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
February 19, 2013 5:30:36 AM

Good points Monofchalk but the double slot cooler was not on anyone horizon when the graphics card was invented and the ATX format standardized .

Even pci-e was not on any ones horizons . For nearly 15 years the AGP slot was the standard graphics slot
a c 105 B Homebuilt system
a c 119 U Graphics card
February 19, 2013 5:56:41 AM

Wasn't implying dual slot coolers were intended, just that's what graphics cards now have to work with.
And whenever triple slot cards come out, always get slammed because they don't fit on any motherboards in a Crossfire/SLI config.

If only we had some kind of system where it would be easy to just slap a 212 EVO onto a graphics card :lol: 
Hell, turn the PCI-Express interface into one cable (Thunderbolt on steroids?) and we can mount our graphics card wherever we want. Size wouldn't be an issue anymore, so awesome cooling will abound.
a c 136 B Homebuilt system
a b U Graphics card
February 19, 2013 8:45:35 AM

Right , I get you .
Even if you wanted to you couldnt change it around so the fan was on top

And I have seen pics of a guys adaption of an old athlon cpu cooler onto a 6600 GT .
Blocked three or four slots , and was held in place with cable ties .
It also dropped his gpu temps massively
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 210 U Graphics card
February 25, 2013 11:10:31 PM

Best answer selected by clutchc.
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