Upgrading The Gigabyte GeForce GTX Titan Black
A Step-by-Step Guide to Upgrading the GeForce GTX Titan Black
We’re ripping apart a thousand-dollar GeForce GTX Titan today. Obviously, the operation requires deliberate movements and a heaping dose of caution. Tearing off the reference cooler and bolting down Gigabyte's is not the way to approach this.
First, the reference cooler needs to be unscrewed. Gigabyte does include a universal tool for this, but using your own screwdriver is both faster and easier. Fortunately, the bundled manual is comprehensive enough to walk you through the process without any confusion that'd lead to mistakes.
If only because the original reference cooler should be saved, I collected all of its tiny screws into a small bowl. From there, it's easy to lift the heat sink up and off. Don't rush; you need to unplug a connector up top and another down below before the heat sink clears the card.
From there, Nvidia's cooler can be removed, greeting you with a bunch of gunk. The company doesn't shy away from blanketing its GK110 GPU with thick, heavy, and hard-to-remove thermal paste.
Gigabyte must anticipate this for each of its GeForce GTX Titan Blacks, so it provides a cloth for cleaning up the compound. That's a solid idea, though we'd also recommend using the right cleaning solutions.
As mentioned, the reference cooler (which is actually quite valuable) and screws are stowed away just in case warranty-related issues necessitate sending the card back. You're better off safe than sorry.
I chose to set aside the thick thermal paste Gigabyte bundles with its GeForce GTX Titan Black GHz Edition. There are higher-end solutions out there, after all. You want a non-electrically conductive compound that doesn’t need a lot of burn-in, is easy to apply and spread, and performs well. After quite a bit of comparison testing, I standardized on Gelid’s GC-Extreme for my graphics card reviews, so I lean on that compound to normalize one more variable as I compare Gigabyte's card to other modified graphics cards in the lab.
It’s time to install the new cooler. Remove the protective covers from the thermal pads, and pull off the big warning label. I took the extra step of cleaning the copper surface with Arctic’s purifier solution to make sure any remaining remnants of glue were gone.
First, the four washers are glued to their respective holes. Then, plug the fan connector into its socket on the bottom, and rest the cooler on the graphics card. The WindForce logo LED connector is attached next. Fasten the heat sink using spring-loaded screws tightened in a cross pattern.
Next, three small screws are secured into place around the voltage transformers. Finally, you'll find yourself with just one screw left. It requires a nut, which is also included. With it in place, the cooler installation is complete.
It’s a little disappointing that Gigabyte doesn't include a backplate. The cooler is fastened securely and solidly in seven places, and the card seems safe from flex, but additional cooling under the voltage transformers and rear-mounted memory modules would have been nice as well.