Extreme Air Cooling: Our Five-Slot (Quiet) Radeon HD 7970

Installation: Out With The Old, In With The New

Preparing For Installation

Installing the EKL Peter isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t exactly a simple task, either. The included installation manual consists of one page, it doesn’t really illustrate the features specific to AMD's Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition, and its schematic has several smaller errors. Even still, the process doesn't involve anything that can’t be overcome with a little bit of patience and our guide.

First, let's have a look at the bundled parts.

The two preinstalled brackets can’t be used with the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition; they need to be switched out for the ones with 54 mm holes. Once that’s done, the four shorter set screws (that look like threaded pins) are screwed in and tightened using the included tool. Just be very careful to avoid over-tightening the set screws. If you're concerned you won't be able to control your muscular forearms, we recommend that you use your fingers instead. You'll get ample torque from them.

Next, put the heat sinks for the RAM modules and VRM (along with the GPU cooler itself) aside, where they’ll be easy to access later. It’s time to start preparing the graphics card by taking off the reference cooler.

Installing EKL's Peter

Taking off the reference cooler is unquestionably the worst part of this entire install. First, remove the two screws that hold the card's back plate in place (they face outside the case). Then, take out all the screws on the back of the card that hold the cooler's frame in position. You don’t need to remove the six screws holding the card’s plastic shroud. Finally, take out the cross-shaped GPU cooler retention plate's four screws. Since these are spring-loaded, be careful as you turn them the last couple of revolutions, or you might have little parts flying around the room.

Now you should be able to take off the whole cooling solution with a slow, twisting motion. Just be careful not to yank it off too quickly; you you still need to unplug the fan’s power cable from the card.

Finally, it's time to clean up. Remove the remains of the thermal pads from the RAM modules with a soft rubber eraser and carefully clean the GPU with a paper towel.

The RAM modules have to be cooled; you can't leave them exposed or they'll overheat. Make sure to use the correctly-sized sink on each RAM module (use the picture below as a guide if you want; EKL's manual doesn't help with this at all). The flat heat sinks need to go on the two modules to the left and the module below the GPU, leaving enough room for the cooler's heat pipes.

Once you know the right spots for the heat sinks, use a bit of adhesive thermal paste on each RAM module and press them into place. There should be just enough paste on the memory chip to see a bit after pressing down, but not so much that you can’t see the heat sink’s bottom. We recommend trying this with one sink until you know the right amount to use. Once all of the heat sinks are installed, the card should like the following image:

Next, it's time to to cool the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition’s VRM. The MOSFETs aren’t all the same height, so we recommend applying thermal paste a bit more liberally than on the memory. Note that the heat sink’s screw holes don’t fit the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition. Once again, the only thing holding it in place is thermal paste, so be sure you're using the adhesive variety. The thermal pads that EKL includes simply aren't enough to hold the heat sink on their own.

Once you’re done, the heat sink should be positioned in the middle, like this:

Another point the manual doesn’t mention is that you also need to put a heat sink on a smaller MOSFET, found toward the top-left of the card.

Are you ready to install the GPU cooler? Put a 2 mm blob (about the length of a grain of rice) of the bundled thermal paste on the GPU, and set the cooler, sporting the correct brackets, on top of it. Then, attach the cross-shaped retention plate to the back of the card, tightening each screw a little at a time until they sit nice and tight. You can take a look at the manual for this step, since it’s reasonably helpful.

Note that the adhesive thermal paste only really sticks once it gets burnt-in. Until then, you need to be careful handling the card so that nothing falls off.

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    Top Comments
  • ShadyHamster
    how about comparing this with other aftermarket coolers? such as arctic coolings accelero extreme
    28
  • jossrik
    Seems to me if you're willing to go 140$ or whatnot to cool your Gfx card, you might be interested in water cooling. 80$ for a Noctua and 100+ for this put you into cheap water cooling territory, and while you could easily spend double or more water cooling, that seems the route to take. Just my two cents.
    27
  • amuffin
    I'd rather have invested the money spent on this into watercooling!
    22
  • Other Comments
  • Maximus_Delta
    Love it !! Fantastic bit of kit.
    3
  • mayankleoboy1
    this cooler is the Double FF equivalent of geek pr0n.
    14
  • Hazle
    that is so sexy... too bad it's not compatible with a 6870, pointless as it seems (to me, at least) , but goddamn, them temps and noise make it hard not to consider the idea....
    -4
  • jossrik
    Seems to me if you're willing to go 140$ or whatnot to cool your Gfx card, you might be interested in water cooling. 80$ for a Noctua and 100+ for this put you into cheap water cooling territory, and while you could easily spend double or more water cooling, that seems the route to take. Just my two cents.
    27
  • ShadyHamster
    how about comparing this with other aftermarket coolers? such as arctic coolings accelero extreme
    28
  • esrever
    Even tho this is a little extreme, it is still extremely badass.
    11
  • bak0n
    I wonder how it'll fix on my ITX motherboard? /joke off
    1
  • amuffin
    I'd rather have invested the money spent on this into watercooling!
    22
  • JOSHSKORN
    what a waste...unless a manufacturer comes up with a motherboard and case specifically made for this so you don't waste expansion slots.
    3
  • memadmax
    Wowzers
    -2
  • JebbyC
    Why is there an empty slot between the fans and the heatsink? Looks like there could be some space and efficiency savings there. Also, why did you test 120mm fans when 140mm fans are supported?

    Where do the additional two fans you haven't tested fit? I guess they might go in the empty slot, but that seems strange to me - why have a fan blowing directly into another fan.
    2
  • monkeymonk
    jebbycWhy is there an empty slot between the fans and the heatsink? Looks like there could be some space and efficiency savings there. Also, why did you test 120mm fans when 140mm fans are supported?Where do the additional two fans you haven't tested fit? I guess they might go in the empty slot, but that seems strange to me - why have a fan blowing directly into another fan.

    its called push/pull you see it on cpu coolers and watercooling all the time. There are 120mm fans available
    -1
  • FormatC
    @jebby:
    This looks just like an empty slot, but it is not enough and the mounting rail will not fit.
    You can still mount up 2 fans horizontally or 140mm fans, but that brings no improvement.
    1
  • JebbyC
    Push/pull implies fans on either side of the heatsink - it doesn't look to me like there's enough clearance between the main heatsink and the VRM heatsink.

    Quote:
    There are 120mm fans available

    There are 140mm fans available too, why are you telling me that?
    3
  • JebbyC
    @FormatC I see what you're saying, but compare the picture on the benchmarks page to these:

    http://extreme.pcgameshardware.de/luftkuehlung/182842-ekl-peter-lueftermontage-update.html#post3578374
    http://www.hardwareluxx.de/community/f136/alpenfoehn-peter-821451.html

    It looks like the bracket overlaps the heatsink, so the fans are much closer. Maybe it's just the angle.

    Edit: They're on different cards, (a 570 and a 480, if my German isn't too bad), my mistake.
    0
  • FormatC
    This is a HD 7970 problem - the GPU sits higher on the PCB.

    Quote:
    it doesn't look to me like there's enough clearance between the main heatsink and the VRM heatsink.
    < 10mm ;)

    Edit:
    I've experimented with different VRM coolers (on some photos you can see a slightly lower silver VRM heatsink) and slim fans but only the big black one (original from EKL) gives you the full performance.
    1
  • JebbyC
    Cool. It looks like this is a better solution than the GB Windforce X5? Is there any chance of getting an English translation of that review?
    0
  • freggo
    Kinda sad that a manufacturer is not able to do this in the first place. Gives the impression that they simply do not care as long as your check clears.
    -5
  • FormatC
    @JebbyC
    The Gigabyte thing is in translation (I hope so) :)

    The Windforce 5X @1,25 GHz is (under full load) quieter (!) than a Sapphire Toxic 6GB (1,2 GHz, Tahiti XT2) - thats fact. In a few minutes I will try a showdown between this two cards on 3840 x 3240 (6 cheap monitors, DVI only) and 3 active splitters.

    Who wants to bet, can transfer me the money to my private account (which is unfair because I know the result - already) :D
    2
  • xxplosiv88
    When I see something like this behemoth, it reminds me that we really have a long way to go in terms of technology. I think you can tell silicone/transistor technology is really starting to hit a brick wall when 5 slot aftermarket VGA coolers come onto the scene. For that matter, stock 3 slot products like the ASUS Mars II go without mentioning too.
    4