Passively Cooling Nvidia's GeForce GTX 750 Ti...With An AMD Sink

Measurement Data And Performance

Temperature in a Closed Case

This heat sink's fin alignment is optimized for vertical operation, and it benefits from cases with some airflow. My idea here was to go completely noiseless. I wanted to test a true passive solution. So, we're once again using our Enermax Fulmo ST, testing in a closed case.


It takes just 20 minutes for the Maxwell-based GM107 to hit an 80 °C ceiling. Then, the chip gets some help from Nvidia's GPU Boost technology and its ability to back off clock rate to duck under certain power and thermal situations. Even the voltage regulators continue working within their specifications. Their roughly 93 degrees after an hour of work still falls within the safe zone.

Clock Rate And Throttling

Nvidia might not have been considering passive operation when it designed this card, but what we see from it (including GPU Boost performance) is still impressive.

What follows is a 40-minute loop of Metro: Last Light. Boost clocks do drop, but they also stabilize after the card hits its thermal target zone.

In the end, GPU Boost to around 1136 MHz, though as a percentage, performance drops more noticeably. Remember, the actively-cooled card reached a GPU Boost clock rate of 1162 MHz, occasionally dropping to 1150 MHz.

The base frequency of these cards doesn't change. You're guaranteed at least 1020 MHz, regardless of your cooling solution.

Our passively-cooled GeForce GTX 750 Ti loses about two percent of its performance compared to the reference model. To better hammer that point home, the aggressively cooled and factory-overclocked Gigabyte GTX 750 Ti Windforce OC achieved 1.3 percent-higher performance than the reference card. In the end, we're talking about about a three-percent performance loss in the quest for passive cooling.

This is for Cautious People

If you're not willing to trust Nvidia's 80 °C temperature target (the company says 95 degrees is the GPU's thermal threshold), you can of course set a lower target of, say, 70 °C. That's going to give up a lot of performance though, and we're not sure such a compromise makes sense. At that point, you might as well buy a Radeon R7 250, which you don't have to build yourself. They already ship passively-cooled.

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    Top Comments
  • outlw6669
    I like the trend of returning to more techy articles. Good Job Tom's Team!
    15
  • s3anister
    Excellent article; very unique take on what seems to be another future possibility for 750 Ti in the retail channel. I would have however, loved to see some thermals for the passively cooled card in a case like Fractal's Define R4 or Nanoxia's Deep Silence.
    12
  • merikafyeah
    That looks ridiculous...ly awesome!
    11
  • Other Comments
  • 0217422356
    The temperature is alittle too high
    -18
  • rmpumper
    Passive cooling is irrelevant these days when fans are whisper silent (mostly).
    -11
  • s3anister
    Excellent article; very unique take on what seems to be another future possibility for 750 Ti in the retail channel. I would have however, loved to see some thermals for the passively cooled card in a case like Fractal's Define R4 or Nanoxia's Deep Silence.
    12
  • blackmagnum
    Can a gaming/htpc video card get any better than this? AMD, please respond.
    7
  • Cons29
    i'm not comfortable with these temps, a low speed fan should be enough to lower it while still keeping the noise down
    0
  • merikafyeah
    That looks ridiculous...ly awesome!
    11
  • FormatC
    The temperature target of 80°C was set by Nvidia for Kepler too - all reference boards were designed to handle this w/o problems.
    9
  • emad_ramlawi
    interesting, i reckon it would been a perfect match for the GTX 750, i dont know why people overlook it, its only a tad slower than GTX 750 Ti
    2
  • Blazer1985
    False! The resistance generated the heat you had to dissipate, it was all but futile! :-D Sorry, nerd joke :-D
    6
  • de5_Roy
    very interesting little project. i read from reviews and comments how this gpu might be suitable for passive cooling. this may be the most powerful passively cooled card i've seen so far.
    3
  • CaedenV
    I love passively cooled cards! I modded my old 9800GT to be passively cooled back in the day, and it was amazing! I installed an aftermarket cooler to my current GTX570, but it is not passive... still an improvement, but simply not the same.I am really hoping that there are passive options for some of the upper-mid level 800 series cards. I would love to have a more silent rig again.
    7
  • arthos
    I am a kind of person who'd not try to experiment something like this with newer models. If anything that ran hot in my college days are to be experimented I won't say no :D
    -3
  • outlw6669
    I like the trend of returning to more techy articles. Good Job Tom's Team!
    15
  • JeanLuc
    I would like to see you test a R290X with Geforce 780Ti heatsink and compare it's performance to that of the standard AMD HSF.
    -2
  • ferooxidan
    I like the Tom's hammer logo on the heat-sink, very clever and very neat.
    6
  • bemused_fred
    "This is for Cautious People

    If you're not willing to trust Nvidia's 80 °C temperature target (the company says 95 degrees is the GPU's thermal threshold), you can of course set a lower target of, say, 70 °C"

    So, taking the card and voiding its warranty by custom-rigging it with a heatsink that wasn't designed for it is fine, but running it at 80c? OHHHH HEELLL NAAAWWWW!!! That's just too dangerous! Won't someone think of the CHILDREN?!?!
    6
  • DryCreamer
    the correct term, at least in Indiana, for the modification made to the screw holes is: waller. You got to waller out those holes so the new heat sink will fit.Dry
    1
  • slyu9213
    Well if you have 3-7 quiet fans the computer gets loud
    3
  • ojas
    Might be nice in a case that allows intake from the bottom and the side and exhausts out the top.
    0
  • pazuso
    I remember putting an stock AthlonXP heasink/fan on my geForce 4200 Ti, and another stock AthlonXP heatsink (without fan) on the motherboard's nForce northbridge!
    3