X1950 Fan of Doom! [Solved]
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Author:  nightmorph [ Fri Dec 26, 2008 12:41 am ]
Post subject:  X1950 Fan of Doom! [Solved]

Okay, so I just installed the HIS Radeon X1950 Pro that I won on eBay. It doesn't come with the stock cooler; it has HIS's IceQ3 heatsink, the one that so impressed me when I (briefly) owned a RadeonHD 4670. I thought, hey, this thing will be quiet enough for me to not notice.

Wrong. Oh, the noise. Death to the fan! Death, death, death. Death, I say! This is the first real noise issue I've ever had with any component, the first time I wanted to break something out of frustration and lack of sanity.

So, how can I go about quieting this sucker? It has an annoying, constant, whiny sound, and some bearing noise. It never really ramps up, even during gaming, though this is a mixed blessing, since the noise level is hard-wired to "Insidious Aggravation." (Though it is a veritable jet engine at bootup, at least it's over quickly.)

Sure, a passive heatsink to replace the IceQ3 would be nice, but a quiet fan is even better for my purposes. That way I don't have to load up the rest of my case (Antec Solo) with fans to keep reasonable temperatures.

Also, there are a few hard dimension limits. Any replacement cooler, combined with the card itself, can occupy only two slots. My sound card is on the last PCI slot on the motherboard, which means that the dual-slot X1950 is right up against it. Yes, there's a free PCIe x1 slot immediately above the graphics card, but I've always hated wraparound coolers that occupy top slots. Too close to the CPU heatsink; they get it all hot 'n' bothered. Finally, the cooler can't exceed the length of the card itself. The card already shoves up against the hard drives.

Author:  Matija [ Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:03 am ]
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Aren't there any Linux apps that can control fan speed on graphics cards?

Author:  nightmorph [ Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:15 am ]
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Not that I've ever come across. If I recall correctly, not even the proprietary Catalyst driver can control fan speeds on older cards like mine.

The card does appear to have a standard fan header, and I do have an open plug on my FP-33B, so I can experiment with manual fan control. One potential problem is that the noise character itself of the fan is just nasty. I'm not sure if bringing down the volume will really help much.

Author:  edh [ Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:51 am ]
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You may be able to do a video BIOS mod to change the fan speeds. I have not done this with an ATi card but using RaBit you can do this for some ATi cards. There are threads on BIOS modding for the X1950:
http://forums.techpowerup.com/showthrea ... 01&page=57

Unsurprisingly many of them have a very different view on hardware modification!

You may also be able to drop the voltages to lower temperatures and therefore cooling requirements.

Have you considered getting an Accelero S1? It should be able to cool it passively. It will take up the second slot but also will stick out quite a long way so it depends on the width of your case.

Author:  SebRad [ Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:06 am ]
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Hi, I have an X1950pro and can very much control the fan speed with software (ATItool in my case) My card is Sapphire Toxic that came with Zalman VF-900 fitted. I've since changed the Zalman fan for a Noctua NF-R8 and modded the BIOS for different default fan speeds. Use ~20% upto 60C which is only broached under load and then ~30% 60-70C. Steep ramp beyond 70C but it never gets up there. Fan speed isn't reported at 20%, but 30% is ~1000rpm and pretty quiet.
http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/vi ... hp?t=41942
Regards, Seb

Author:  maf718 [ Fri Dec 26, 2008 3:02 pm ]
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Hi, I had (actually still have but not using) the HIS IceQ 1950pro and successfully used Rivatuner to control the fan speed profiles.

However the noise at idle was never as bad as you seem to be experiencing. I have heard reports of the fans on these cards not ageing well and eventually becoming very noisy, it sounds like your card has been similarly affected.

Due to the resistance of the heatsink and the plastic covering, these coolers don't actually dump that much heat outside the case anyway, so maybe you could get away with a passive aftermarket cooler as long as you have a decent 120mm fan on the back of your Solo. Because of the type of fan used I don't know of any like for like replacements to enable you to keep the heatsink and just change the fan for a new one, although this might be a possibility if you can find such a fan.

Author:  nightmorph [ Fri Dec 26, 2008 9:42 pm ]
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@edh, SebRad, and maf718:

Unfortunately, none of your software ideas can solve my issue. I run Linux, so Windows utilities like Rivatuner, ATItool, or RaBit just won't work.

About the most I can do is enable DynamicClocks (the Xorg term for PowerPlay) in my xorg.conf setup, to gain a bit of power control. It might spin down the fan a bit more, but it still has a freakishly aggravating noise character.

The interesting thing about this card is that I purchased it "new in box"; the previous owner had never used it; all the cables and whatnot were even still sealed in their bags. I dunno if a fan can go bad just sitting on a shelf, or if it's more likely it just came from the factory like this.

I looked at a couple of Arctic Cooling solutions, but the ones with fans all seemed rather pointless. On one of them, the fan sticks so far out above the top of the card that there's no way I could possibly close the side panel on my Solo!

The other heatsink/fan occupied two or three slots, plus it had room for two or three fans to blow downward. What's the point in that, besides wasting space? Not useful for my situation.

The Accelero S coolers also look a little too tall for my Solo. Also, they don't seem to be very effective in the reviews I found, certainly not for cards with the thermal envelope of the X1950.

Author:  angelkiller [ Sat Dec 27, 2008 10:06 am ]
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nightmorph wrote:
The Accelero S coolers also look a little too tall for my Solo.

nightmorph wrote:
Also, they don't seem to be very effective in the reviews I found, certainly not for cards with the thermal envelope of the X1950.
I ran a X1950 with a passive S1. Idle was around 48C and it loaded (in games) at 70C. And that was with nearly no airflow. Recently I added a fan (800rpm S-Flex) to blow towards the PCI slots and idle dropped to 40C and load to 60C. Also, in the link above, that guy is running a 4850 + S1.

Edit: My X1950 Pro has the revised design without the hot VRMs.

Author:  maf718 [ Sat Dec 27, 2008 10:41 am ]
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Ok, my card was never the quietest, but it wasn't "freakishly aggravating" either. The fan on yours must be damaged or worn, maybe the previous owner cleaned out the dust and put it back in the box with the unused accessories?

The S1 certainly will fit in a Solo and the manufacturer rates it as suitable for cooling a 1950pro. The only possible fly in the ointment with this passive approach is keeping the VRMs cool enough, I *seem* to remember someone on these forums having great difficulties with this issue on a 1950pro, but others have had no problem (see above :)).

Author:  edh [ Sat Dec 27, 2008 12:59 pm ]
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Are you running any front fans in the Solo? I run an S1 on a 9600GT with a 120mm at 800rpm in front of it which helps massively. If you were to use an S1 on the X1950 then you might find a set of front fans at 5V would make a big difference to graphics card cooling over no fans.

Yes, the programs we all suggested aren't Linux programs. I find it a real problem too. These programs are financially without obligation but not free which is such a shame. If they were open source then I've no doubt they would be better and would be half way to porting to Linux. Nvclock is the only graphics tweaking program I can think of for Linux but it does nothing like as much as RivaTuner.

If however you are able to get hold of an MS DOS bootable floppy you could grab the BIOS from the card using Atiflash, transfer it to a Windows system, then use RaBit to fiddle with the voltages/speeds/fan speeds before transferring the modded BIOS back onto the floppy and reflashing.

Is the card much good under Linux? My previous experiences with fglrx have been appalling. Is the proprietary driver better now? The general consensus still seems to be that nVIDIA is better under Linux.

If VRM cooling is a concern, I'm sure you can cut something to the right size. I cut off part of my 9600GT stock cooler to cover mine.

Author:  Matija [ Sat Dec 27, 2008 1:24 pm ]
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maf718 wrote:
The only possible fly in the ointment with this passive approach is keeping the VRMs cool enough, I *seem* to remember someone on these forums having great difficulties with this issue on a 1950pro, but others have had no problem (see above :)).

That person with the problems would have been me :(

Author:  nightmorph [ Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:56 pm ]
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After a long shipping delay, my Accelero S1 rev2 finally arrived today. I spent about half an hour installing it on the X1950 Pro. I used the pre-applied Arctic Cooling thermal paste on the S1; no need to get out my AS5.

AC has made some changes to the mounting hardware that's not yet reflected in their installation manual. The plastic clips for the top edge of the card to the heatsink are no longer L-shaped brackets. Instead, it's a block that you slide over the edge of the card, between it and the heatsink. Then you thread a long thin black post right through the HS fins until it clicks into the block. So instead of clamping on to the card from the outside, with a (weaker) angled bracket, it's a straight-through-the heatsink affair. I like it, though the snaps make it almost impossible to get off if you slide it between the wrong pair of fins. Make sure that the block is snug against the edge of the card! I had to redo one block, as it was one fin too far, and provided inadequate support.

I didn't use any of the included RAM sinks or misc. coolers, as the OEM RAM/MOSFET/etc. wraparound cooler is sufficiently low-profile, and works just fine. This way I don't have to worry about AC RAM sinks falling off as other users have reported. The downside is that one of the clip-on blocks has to be shoved out to the front of the card, partly biting on to the card, and partly on to one of the Crossfire connectors. Because of the block's design, it can't squeeze onto the main body of the card at that end. The wraparound RAM sink goes too close to the top edge of the card at that end, forcing the clip-on block to a slightly less secure position than the one at the opposite end.

But, since I have no intention of running Crossfire, this isn't really a problem . . . as long as that Crossfire connector doesn't snap off!

The Accelero + card fit just fine in my Antec Solo. There's a fair amount of compression and crowding at the power cable end. The 6-pin cord and cooler itself nudge up against top and middle suspended hard drives. The bottom drive is out of the way. I imagine right-angle SATA cables would relieve some of the crowding; it's a tight fit with standard cables.

I rebooted my system -- no heat-related shutdowns in the first few minutes the way some S1 users have recently reported. Now, I don't have any accurate temperature sensors besides the CPU core temp. There's a sensor chip on the graphics card itself, but as far as I know there's no way to access it (yet) under Linux. IIRC, not even Catalyst Control Center for Linux has temperature readouts. So I've stuck with the FOSS xf86-video-ati driver, version 6.10. It does support dynamic clocks, so it has some power management.

At first boot, the CPU temp read 24C. This was with both 120mm Nexus fans on the rear exhaust and Ninja running at 5V. The front-mounted 92mm Nexus in the top slot was running at about 12V. After a few minutes, temps crept up to 25C. When doing any light desktop work (all 2D), temps are around 26 to 27C. I turned the front fan down to minimum, and temps are generally in the same range, now and then drifting up to 28C.

This is perhaps 3C higher than idle/light load temps for the previous card, the passively cooled nVidia 7600GT (Gigabyte SilentPipe II), with about the same fan speeds. That's pretty good, considering that this is a higher-wattage card. The "official" graphics card requirements chart lists ratings of 24W-36W-66W for the X1950 Pro, and 15W-23W-36W for the 7600GT.

Now, I've only had the S1 and card installed for a few hours, but already I'm extremely impressed. Blissfully silent computing.

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