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 Post subject: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 8:46 am 
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I will try to be so precise as possible. How powerful of a graphics card can i cool quietly, price is not so important, I can use 4 slots for the card and the cooling. I tried a MSI 6950 Twin Frozr, its ok at idle, but to noisy at load. I want something that can be cooled at around 700 rpm by 2 120mm fans, or similar. What is the best cooler for a gpu, and how about vrms, are they the limiting factor? I will probably wait for the 7-series, but i can use info from the 6-series to see how many watts i an cool quietly.


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 Post subject: Re: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 9:18 am 
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My guess as i dont own one, is the best after market GPU cooler is the Thermalright Shaman, but its being discontinued as Thermalright is getting out of the GPU market, it can cool a GTX480 with single 140mm fan, comes with single memory heatinks. Artic Cooling Accelero Xtreme is a good option also, but its not design for standard 120mm fans, but i bet you can mod/strap them with some zip ties. Zalman and Gelid also make after market gpu coolers, but i would go with the other two before.

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 Post subject: Re: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 10:37 am 
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Hi, I would suggest the "ultimate" air-cooled solution would be a GTX580 with an Arctic Cooling Xtreme Plus II on it. The heatsink is massive with 5 double ended heat-pipes spreading the heat across three 92mm fans. The fans are PWM controlled and should be possible to make them idle very quietly, and probably still be quiet(ish) under load too. You may need a BIOS mod to be able to set low idle fan speeds, I've done this on various Nvidia cards and it's not difficult.
This cooler can also be used on all ATI 6xxx cards, apart from the twin GPU 6990. See this thread. The new HD7970 is now the single GPU king, no idea what it's compatibility is with existing coolers, it does draw more power than the HD6970 but less than the GTX580 so potentially possible to cool it quietly(ish).

I think quiet air cooling with two, or more, powerful video cards isn't practical as there just isn't enough space for big coolers to operate effectively and the problem of one card heating the next one.
[but I could be wrong!]

If you go to water cooling then the limit is only the amount of money. Triple GTX580 SLi or probably 2x GTX590 (yes possible) should be do-able and with carefully chosen pump, radiators and fans quiet too.

On a more sensible level I have a GTX560 Ti with an Arctic Cooling Twin Turbo II on it. The original fans for it were broken when I got it and didn't get any joy from eBay vendor so replaced them with Arctic Cooling F9s and a BIOS fan speed mod. The result, for ~£200, is running Folding@home with 60°C core temp from 41% fan speed, that is two 92mm fans at 750rpm, ie very quiet indeed. Given the low temps I would think a GTX570 would also be ok with this cooler, that is half the cost of the xtreme plus II.

Regards, Seb

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 Post subject: Re: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 12:46 pm 
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Get creative and remove the fans of the cooler (even so called quiet aftermarket coolers) en strap on a good quiet 120mm fan or two. Lock it at 7v and hurray, quietness.

It works wonders if your case has a decent airflow and it's dirt cheap.

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 Post subject: Re: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2011 2:44 pm 
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Tanasssi, what cooler do you suggest putting 120mm-fans on, the stock-cooler?

I think i might go for an accelero xtreme plus 2, i get the impression from the thread that a 6950 might be possible to cool at around 700 rpm. It is pwm-cooled, what controls the fans? The bios on the GPU? Can the GPU-temp be read through speedfan and I can use speedfan to control it? Will gpus throttle as CPUs if they get too hot?


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 Post subject: Re: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:11 am 
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ATWindsor wrote:
Tanasssi, what cooler do you suggest putting 120mm-fans on, the stock-cooler?

I think i might go for an accelero xtreme plus 2, i get the impression from the thread that a 6950 might be possible to cool at around 700 rpm. It is pwm-cooled, what controls the fans? The bios on the GPU? Can the GPU-temp be read through speedfan and I can use speedfan to control it? Will gpus throttle as CPUs if they get too hot?


Any good quiet fan will do. I used Nexus fans. But tee are many good ones around.

My sollution only works with MSI Twin Frozr, Gigabyte etc kinda of coolers. So not the vanilla nvidia or ATI coolers.

Remove the fans and strap on the 120's with tiebinds/tierips. Connect them to any 12v source. I used an extra wire from my modular PSU. Downvolt both fans to 7v. So dont connect them to the GPU 4pin header. You dont need pwm. The good thing is that it will be a constant quietness :)

Make sure your case has good airflow. You might have to turn them up a notch (use your mobo's software for this).

Once it's all in place test it carefully. See what the peakload temp is (Furmark, Witcher2, etc). If its anything below 90c -> mission accomplished.

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 Post subject: Re: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 1:28 am 
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PWM is a good thing. 90°C is not a good thing (power draw is bigger, stable frequencies are lower, card's lifetime is less).


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 Post subject: Re: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 3:08 am 
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Klusu wrote:
PWM is a good thing. 90°C is not a good thing (power draw is bigger, stable frequencies are lower, card's lifetime is less).


I said below 90C. GPU's can go to 120C without damage. And it's at LOAD.. so only at certain peaks.

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 Post subject: Re: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:46 am 
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I got the Accelero extreme plus 2 for a GTX480, which is a power hog, but I undervolted the card a bit from 1075mV to 963mV. The fans spin up to 40% (1290RPM) at full GPU load in newer games. The temperatures dropped by almost 20° and 15° for GPU and PCB.

It has a PWM connector which can be plugged in directly into the GTX480 and I can control it in Afterburner. It has no motherboard connector, only another 3pole for a graphics card's PCB and a 2pole adapter for a PSU connectors added.

I got this 480 for a good price and before I had never considered such a card because of noise concerns. The cooler really isn't noisy in my system, maybe one with a fanless setup could complain. My case and CPU fans run at 700RPM, CPU spins up to 1100RPM under load (Noctua 140mm downblowing model). My PSU is the Enermax Modu87+ reviewed here.

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Last edited by Tetreb on Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:07 am 
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Hi Tetreb, thank you for the feedback. I was posting above based more on what I've read and what I think, it's good to hear from someone that's used it that the A.X.P.II is a good product.
I suspect you could use MSI afterburner, or similar, to reduce the fan speed in exchange for higher temperatures as I interpret your post to mean it's now 15~20°C cooler than the stock cooler?
Of course if other things in your PC drown the graphics noise then there is no point.

Anandtech's Bench has the GTX580 as ~30w less than the GTX480 under Crysis yet 10w more under Furmark. Whatever, on 200w+ GPU few watts either way makes little odds so I still think it would be great on GTX580 (or GTX570) if you have the money and space for it.
I believe the KFA2 GTX580 comes with the AXPII [or it's something very similar] fitted to it.

Regards, Seb

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 Post subject: Re: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:56 am 
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SebRad wrote:
Hi Tetreb, thank you for the feedback. I was posting above based more on what I've read and what I think, it's good to hear from someone that's used it that the A.X.P.II is a good product.
I suspect you could use MSI afterburner, or similar, to reduce the fan speed in exchange for higher temperatures as I interpret your post to mean it's now 15~20°C cooler than the stock cooler?
Of course if other things in your PC drown the graphics noise then there is no point.
Regards, Seb


Hi, I did compare the temperature to the stock cooler, which is insanely loud by the way. It's an EVGA using the reference design by Nvidia I think. I wasn't expecting silent operation at all with such a card, but I got it for a low price and I like to play games with supersampling. :)
I'm pretty picky about my system being very silent, and I haven't lowered the minimum fan speed through BIOS. At 30% PWM this cooler is not audible. The loudest noise for me is the air rush of the CPU cooler.

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 Post subject: Re: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 4:30 am 
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This baffles me. Inaudiable at 30%? I had to mod it down to 10% on a 580 for the AXII to be quiet. Either my card's bios was different from the start (i.e. my 10% was your 30%) or we all have very different ears :)

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 Post subject: Re: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:49 am 
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I think we all have different ears... and certainly different background noise environments
What seems quiet to me during the day with traffic and other back ground noise seems very different at 1am...

My suggestion to approximate one PC noise to another is to multiply the rpm of a fan by it's blade diameter.
If one of these is significantly more than the others then it's the noise level for the PC, if they're all similar then add few % for each additional to the highest one. Obviously this disregards the hard drive and any restrictive vents and poor fans/bearings etc but to get some idea of one PC to another.

I find in quiet environment that anything over 90,000~100,000 "rpm mm" starts to be audible. (ie 120mm fan with 110mm blades @1000rpm = 110*1000 = 110,000 rpm mm)

My PC has [under CPU + GPU Folding@Home]
CPU fans: TY-140 x2 @ 800rpm = 104,000
Rear case fans: F9 x2 @ 1000rpm = 84,000
Lower case fan: F8 @ 1150rpm = 82,800
GPU fans: F9 x2 @ 700rpm = 58,800
PSU Fan: F8 PWM @ 900rpm = 64,800

We can ignore the drives as SSD OS drive and storage drive is WD Green in a Scythe Quiet Drive sitting on soft foam.

CPU fans +10% for 2 of and -20% for being inside the case = 91,500
Rear case fan + 10% for 2 of + 10% for lower one = 100,800
GPU fans +10% for 2 of and -20% for inside case = 51,700
PSU Fan = 64,800

This all seems right to me, the GPU fans don't seem to make any difference idle to load, neither is the PSU noticeable. Also increasing the case fans increases the noise more noticeably than the CPU fans, unfortunately with the amount of heat inside they have to work hard...

From the above figures I'd ignore the GPU and PSU and as the CPU fans are close in noise to the case fans add something for them to give my PC a rating of 110,000 "rpm mm"
So I'm saying my whole PC is about as noisy as a single 120mm fan at 1000rpm, hmmm will have to find one and compare :)

Idle is all fans 600~700rpm for ~80,000 and virtually inaudible, even at night.
Seb

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 Post subject: Re: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:41 am 
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I didn't write about my enviroment. I tested at night, where no cars drove by and it's silent. My case is a Revoltec Sixty 3, which is perforated on all sides, so all noise comes through easily. It is on the floor next to my feet, no carpet.

I'm very intent on silent operation, I like to listen to music through open-can headphones, so every bit of noise bothers me (at night). That's why at first I tried to go for fanless even. This cooler is unbelievably noise free at 30%, Afterburner says the fans spin at around 950RPM. I guess it has to be the wider fin spacing, because my CPU cooler becomes that silent at below about 750RPM.
If I stick my head next to the case, which has lots of holes in it, I can hear a clicking noise by the Arctic cooler, but on my desk I can't hear it at all.

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 Post subject: Re: How powerful graphics card can i cool quietly?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:25 am 
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I guess it depends on many things (ambient noise, ears, rig, etc) but I also get the feeling that there are some bad AXII's around. Maybe problems with the PWM signal?

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