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

We couldn't resist going where no man had before (or where no board partner could in time for Nvidia's launch): building a passively-cooled GeForce GTX 750 Ti. In the end, it took a bit of customization, since there aren't any compatible coolers yet.

First, I have to apologize to both Nvidia and Sapphire. On one hand, I'm about to build something from Nvidia that doesn't exist yet (and might not any time soon, according to the board partners). On the other, I'm going to sacrifice one of Sapphire's cards to get the spare parts I need for the project. But resistance is futile. I have a 60 W GPU in-hand. I have to see if it'll operate stably without active cooling.

The foundation I'm starting with is Nvidia's reference GeForce GTX 750 Ti. In the event you missed our launch coverage, check out GeForce GTX 750 Ti Review: Maxwell Adds Performance Using Less Power.

In the end, we're going to be talking about the reference board with a passive heat sink, the kind you typically see on Radeon HD 7750 and R7 250s.

On paper, the match-up should be pretty close; those cards are fairly similar in their power consumption. But will our contraption work? There are more variables than just power to consider. For example, the Maxwell GPU has a smaller surface area than AMD's Cape Verde. Furthermore, Nvidia ensured that none of the current thermal solutions fit by changing the distance between the screw holes. Mainstream GeForce PCBs typically measure 53.2 x 53.2 mm or 58.4 x 58.4 mm, while Radeon cards are either 53.2 x 53.2 mm or 43 x 43 mm. It only follows, then, that the 44 x 44 mm GeForce GTX 750 Ti would be incompatible with today's most common cooling solutions

As a result, none of the board partners were able to launch using existing heat sinks. Instead, there will need to be new designs specific to GeForce GTX 750 Ti.

We figured out how to make this work though, and we're going to show you how on the next few pages. Just be forewarned: we're really tinkering here. Be careful with your own card so as not to render it worthless.

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  • 0217422356
    The temperature is alittle too high
  • rmpumper
    Passive cooling is irrelevant these days when fans are whisper silent (mostly).
  • 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.
  • blackmagnum
    Can a gaming/htpc video card get any better than this? AMD, please respond.
  • Cons29
    i'm not comfortable with these temps, a low speed fan should be enough to lower it while still keeping the noise down
  • merikafyeah
    That looks awesome!
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Blazer1985
    False! The resistance generated the heat you had to dissipate, it was all but futile! :-D Sorry, nerd joke :-D
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • outlw6669
    I like the trend of returning to more techy articles. Good Job Tom's Team!
  • 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.
  • ferooxidan
    I like the Tom's hammer logo on the heat-sink, very clever and very neat.
  • 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?!?!
  • 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
  • slyu9213
    Well if you have 3-7 quiet fans the computer gets loud
  • ojas
    Might be nice in a case that allows intake from the bottom and the side and exhausts out the top.
  • 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!
  • tslot05qsljgo9ed
    Quote: Passive cooling is irrelevant these days when fans are whisper silent (mostly).Fans can still fail.
  • KateC
    How is the dissipation affected? Less power since no fan to power, but this will be offset against more leakage current at higher temperatures. Inquiring minds want to know.
  • RedJaron
    My wish: take the HIS iSilence cooler, slap it on a 750 Ti, and drop those in a Raven-like case that has full airflow front to back over the card. Call it quasi-passive cooling. You get a little active airflow over the cooler but with no additional fans than you already have.
  • nukemaster
    While 80c sounds bad. My GTX 670(reference cooler) would run at that all the time anyway.90+ for the VRM's is within the 150c spec for most mosfets.So I think this was a great success. A case with even a small bit of airflow should pull those temperatures down a bit as well(passive cards to not need much air to cool down).

    @azuso I have an old Athlon XP cooler on the VRM's of my video card as we speak :)

    On that topic. My old 4200ti fan did die. Should have done that.