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 Post subject: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:43 am 
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Location: Bucharest, Romania
I am interested to buy a 7970 (or 7950 if power draw is significantly lower) in about 3-4 months,
for my new (planned) Ivy Bridge system. I have already bought a Thermalright Shaman and
an Alpenfohn Peter as stock cooler replacements because I thought they should be compatible.
Today I found something quite worrisome, some new versions of existing coolers are going to be
launched for the 7970, and they appear to have a bump in the base for proper contact with the GPU.
It seems that the 7970 GPU is unaccesible to older gfx card coolers, that don't have the bump.
Can anyone confirm this for me? If it's true, it sucks for me, since I won't be able to use the
Shaman and neither the Peter, at least not on a 7970. Thank you in advance for your inputs.


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:38 pm 
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I can't confirm it but it sure looks like that's the case. Apart from the fact that the GPU is rotated by 45 degrees there's a frame that surrounds it, I suppose that to avoid the frame and ensure proper contact with the GPU there need to be a bump in the base of the cooler.


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:33 am 
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Nice catch! I already got mine and I still have a Thermalright cooler I wanted to use, but now I'll have to send it back. Waiting for Kepler...

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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:39 pm 
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I have an HD 7970 already, so I'm curious if there are any aftermarket heatsinks that are known to be compatible. I know about the Accelero that will be coming out soon, but it's $100 (!).

I might actually have a Thermalright HR-03 GT sitting around in a closet somewhere, if I never sold it, so I'm thinking about taking apart the stock cooler to see if there's a way to strap that on.


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:10 am 
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It seems you haven't read my OP carefully. You may be able to attach the HR-03 to the 7970, but I doubt it will
make contact with the GPU. Testing it in such a condition will most likely lead to a fried GPU.
Of course, you may try to fill the large gap with thermal paste, but thermal performance would suck.
I estimate the bump's height to be 1.5 - 2 mm, which is huge for thermal interface conduction.
But if you do take the card apart, please report here what the actual height of the bump is.
I thought about growing a bump out of silver, using electroless plating (electroplating uses cyanide solutions,
which are poisonous), but the maximum thickness would be about 50 microns after repeated applications.


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:36 am 
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Can you explain your wording here? "some new versions of existing coolers are going to be launched for the 7970..."

I understood that to mean that some newer editions of the 7970 will be launched with the bump, while the first batches may not. Did you just mean that AMD reused an older cooler design (e.g., from the HD 6-series), but with the bump, in the 7-series? That makes sense to me now... I was surprised that AMD would change the reference cooler design so quickly after introducing a new card. :)

One thought I had, by the way - what about some thicker thermal pads/tapes? E.g., this one is 1.5mm. (That's just a random one that I quickly found... I'm betting a good search can yield thicker and/or better ones). Is it safe to say that they wouldn't be conductive enough?


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:22 pm 
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I certainly did not mean that AMD changed the reference cooler design overnight.
But I was lazy and didn't bother to link to the new versions of aftermarket coolers with 7970 compatibility. Here they are:
http://www.techpowerup.com/158977/Aeolu ... -7970.html
http://www.arctic.ac/p/images/articles/ ... e9c449049e
And a custom cooler on 7970: http://www.techpowerup.com/158948/Yesto ... 0-PCB.html
A thermal pad does work for memory cooling, but definitely not on a hot GPU like the 7970.
If I could find somehow how to solder a small silver plate, about 1.5 mm thick to my Shaman's or Peter's base, that might work.
That is assuming the bump height is 1.5 mm, my estimation could be wrong.
Initially I believed that the bump is because of the use of vapor chamber technology, but I now doubt that.


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:21 am 
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I confirmed with Thermalright that their current line of products can't support HD 7970, but that they'd have a new cooler in the near future (to be announced on their Facebook page).

I guess I shall wait until a suitable and cheap-enough aftermarket cooler appears on the market. Something like properly soldering a silver plate is not too easy (obviously), and I have a feeling that a jeweler would charge quite a lot to get that task done right.


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 5:56 am 
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Arctic Cooling have updated their compatibility list for VGA coolers.
While it's now clear that any 7970 / 7950 cooler MUST have the bump in the base,
the good news is that the bump is not needed for the 7870 and lower cards.
At least, according to the AC site: http://www.arctic.ac/en/p/cooling/vga/3 ... tml?c=2182


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:16 am 
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I noticed someone recommend this thingy on another forum as a sort of workaround for 7970 compatibility... However, given that you're supposed to put thermal grease on both sides, I'm sure a lot of conductivity is lost.


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:41 pm 
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Interesting find, but I also believe that a significant amount of thermal conduction would be lost.
It depends how thick is the overall thermal paste layer, I doubt it matters if it's one layer or two.
After all, nVidia GPUs (mid to high end) have heatspreaders on them, and they don't overheat too much.
Instead of this solution I'd rather use Arctic silver A+B to glue (very thin) a silver plate on the Shaman.
But 0.5 mm thickness is a lot less than my visual estimation, maybe they thought the thermal paste
would add a significant amount of thickness, or they are wrong on the 0.5 mm thickness?
BTW, does anyone know of a thermal glue that's a lot better that Arctic silver A+B?


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 11:31 pm 
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For now, I only know that Accelero Xtreme 7970 is compatible with HD7970 card. It is selling at 83.99 in newegg but is out of stock now.


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:30 am 
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I caved in and ordered the Accelero. It looks like Performance-PCs currently has the best price. It was ~$92, including shipping. Newegg would probably be just a little bit more for me, after tax+shipping, and they don't have it in stock.

With the stock cooler, the card is actually not bad at idle, but quite awful at load. We'll see how the Accelero works out... should be OK.


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:29 am 
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shleepy wrote:
I caved in and ordered the Accelero. It looks like Performance-PCs currently has the best price. It was ~$92, including shipping. Newegg would probably be just a little bit more for me, after tax+shipping, and they don't have it in stock.

With the stock cooler, the card is actually not bad at idle, but quite awful at load. We'll see how the Accelero works out... should be OK.


Let us know how it works out for you.

I'm actually ALSO interested in the Accelero's idle noise. I find that with the stock cooler and at 20% fan speed (the minimum allowable), I can still hear the graphics card. I really want it to be completely inaudible.

I've also heard of people using Accelero coolers and not using the included fans, but rather strapping on even bigger and quieter fans to reduce noise even more. I'm hoping for an ultra-silence enthusiast with great hearing to really let people know if it's possible with this Accelero.


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:20 am 
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It seems that the Asus 7950 DirectCu is having overheat issues due to improper contact to the GPU:
http://www.behardware.com/news/lire/24-02-2012/
My guess is that the direct-touch approach is not working well with the bump in the base.


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:11 am 
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I finally installed the Accelero this weekend. Installation was pretty annoying. I recommend waiting for the adhesive (for the RAMsinks) to dry for ~5 hours before proceeding with the main cooler installation.

Performance has been good. The card now idles at 30 +/- 2 C, with the fans at 15%, and I don't think I've seen it go above 45 C or so when gaming. Unfortunately, I can't tell what the automatic video card fan speed % really translates into, as far as RPM goes, since the fan tachometer is now crazy.

Fan noise is not too conclusive so far. If I'm not mistaken, I hear coil whine more than fan noise when gaming, but I do think there's noticeable-but-fairly-quiet fan noise at any speed. I might try out a single 120mm fan sometime in the future. I have a strong suspicion that it will significantly help.


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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:10 am 
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I got tired of waiting for Thermalright or Other solutions.

I had taken the cooler apart to see if I could modify the stock cooler and replace the radial fan with a 120mm case fan but it would have been alot of work.

So I caved and ordered an xtreme 7970. (only store at the time in Canada was memoryexpress)

Install was fairly tedious. I made certain to clean all traces of grease with eraser then with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I then followed the recommended 5 minute mixing + 15 minute to install heatsinks. I finished with 3 minutes to spare.

I also recommend to let the epoxy cure for longer than 5 hours. I left it overnight (~14hours). I had epoxied two leftover heatsinks together and pulled them apart after 5 hours as a test. Then decided I'd leave it overnight.

Temps are good. Noise is ok at 20% fan speed. If I listen very closely (ear to fans) I hear a tick tick. At first I thought it was a wire hitting something. In my closed case I've seen the fan speed reach 45% with auto fan profile. This yielded ~75degree core ~80degree vrms. Not bad.

Here's are before after pics in a Solo II.

Image
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:17 am 
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Ohh that cards is sagging a bit too much for my liking.

There arer many cards around with good heatsinks on the vrams (being all GPU's with an aftermarket cooler: Gigabyte, MSI, etc). Its easier to install a AC custom on a card like that. Also, you get much better results if you get creative and strap on quiet 120mm fans with tierips etc. Its much cheaper and it outperforms an AC custom cooler.

Love your XAI mouse BTW, I have one too and its my fave components :)

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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:30 am 
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Location: Ontario
I purchased the 7970 the first day it was available. Hence why I got a reference card.

As for cards with non reference coolers they usually vary alot and it's hard to gather information on which ones have good vrm cooling. (i.e. http://joinpgn.com/hardware/cooling/03262012703-arctic-accelero-xtreme-7970 Asus DCU II)

I tested my FPS in multiple games with sagging and without sagging and did not notice any performance penalty. When my case is closed off and under my desk I don't see it. So I'll leave it as is.

If I find cooling is inadequate during the summer when it's 30+celcius in the room I might play around with 120mm fans instead of the 3x92.

I do own a Xai, but in the two pictures it's my sensei + kinzu v2 pro (with glossy paint finish removed). I agree, the steelseries kinzu, kana, xai and sensei are pretty awesome. I keep switching between them. I do use the modded kinzu v2 pro the most.

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 Post subject: Re: Radeon 7970 aftermarket compatibility?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:21 am 
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Apparently, the 7970 and 7950 dies are recessed below the metal border (no one knows why) so regular coolers not specifically designed for these newer cards will not work with them as they will not make contact with the die. Given that I also have the Shaman, I bought the shim and will report back in a couple of weeks when I get everything set up.

btw, those Asus cards are a disgrace. It's like they didn't even test them.

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