GPU watercooling?

The alternative to direct air cooling

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bgibson
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GPU watercooling?

Post by bgibson » Sun Aug 28, 2016 5:45 pm

Hi all, I just did a search of this subforum for "GPU", both post titles only and first post body content, and got zero results. Am I doing it wrong or is there actually no discussion on liquid cooling of GPUs?

I ask because it seems much of the engine noise in high-performance rigs is coming from the small-diameter high-frequency onboard GPU fans. Whereas CPU fans can be replaced with much larger, slower but higher-throughput ones, it's more difficult to do that GPU fans, one because there's often no room in the PCIe expansion board area, and two b/c it voids the manufacturer warranty.

I see there have been a few SPCR articles in the past of GPU liquid cooling kits, but none very recent (NZT Kraken and Arctic Accelero from 2014 seem to be the latest). What's the current state of GPU liquid cooling and why the apparent lack of discussion on it?

edh
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by edh » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:26 am

Water cooling is generally not the best way to a quiet computer as a pump will always make some noise and this applies to graphics cooling too.

Also aftermarket air coolers are good enough that there is not much need. You can cool 130W passively with an Accelero S3 and if you need more, add fans. Why is it an issue that you might take up another expansion slot? What else might you do with the expansion slot?
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Abula
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Abula » Mon Aug 29, 2016 3:02 pm

Todays gpus, even high end, if you chose carefully, you will end up with quiet setup. Brands that have been quiet over last 3 gens have been MSI, to some point Asus, now a days EVGA, Palit and Zotac are doing good jobs on quiet operation on their latest gpus, but not on all models you do need to chose carefully.

Now is there are a place for water on quiet computing? definitely, but to me is on SLI of high end cards, where air starts to suffer due to the space restrictions and the heat building makes air not as efficient, i experience a lot of noise with SLI of Asus GTX970s, and then a lot lower with MSI GTX980Ti, but still on demanding games and hot days.... it was noticeble to say the least, i do think i would have ended with a much quieter setup if i were to have gone water with either setups, now im back to single gpu and its fine on air.

To recap, i do think watercooling GPUs is a good idea when you either going multiple gpus or if you plan to OC.
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Fire-Flare
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Fire-Flare » Mon Aug 29, 2016 3:20 pm

My rig is watercooled, CPU and GPU.

There are lots of options for GPU waterblocks, and there are PWM pumps these days that can run at low speeds. (Silently in my case)

EVGA makes video cards with waterblocks factory-installed (I believe they're EK rebrands) and they perform quite well.
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Derek Semeraro
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Derek Semeraro » Tue May 01, 2018 5:29 pm

Watercooling a GPU is viable, however, GPU's do not benefit from it as much as CPU's. The cost-benefit of watercooling on CPU's is already not very good, so it's especially not worth it for GPU's.

Olle P
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Olle P » Fri May 04, 2018 3:59 am

Derek Semeraro wrote:... The cost-benefit of watercooling on CPU's is already not very good, so it's especially not worth it for GPU's.
I disagree. Given that you do use water cooling for the CPU it's almost stupid to not also include the GPU in the loop.

I have a bunch of water cooling components waiting for installation in my computer. The passively cooled convector will be wall mounted (separated from the computer case) so I will need less air flow through the case.

Wild Penguin
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Wild Penguin » Tue Jan 22, 2019 2:53 pm

edh wrote:Water cooling is generally not the best way to a quiet computer as a pump will always make some noise and this applies to graphics cooling too.
Water cooling can be way more expensive than air cooling (and probably is EDIT: I meant to say, I haven't done any kind of extensive comparisons, this is just my gut feeling). But to say it is noisy - not true (anymore)!

That might have been the case previously (10 years ago?). PWM-controlled pumps (with a decently sized radiator) can be very quiet and way more quiet than an air-based setup at a W of heat dissipated. (Good?) pumps can be inaudible at light-to-medium loads - I've heard they are not all made the same, however. I have only a single experience: My EK loops pump starts to make noticeable at ~1000rpm, annoying noice at >~ 1400rpm (don't remember the exact readings). Overall, it cools my CPU and GPU way more effectively (temp/noise generated) than the previous air-only based solution.

In case a GPU is not high-end, granted, it can be cooled quietly even at load with the stock (third-party card layout) cooler. But higher-end / more powerdrawing GPUs are much more difficult to cool, and even aftermarket cards might be loud at full load. Aftermarket air coolers (or even stock third-party layouts) might be quite large and not fit in every case (EDIT: and getting a usable slot might be handy in, say, a mATX build). That's another reason why water cooling can be feasible (radiators, pumps and reservoirs take space, too, but they take it in a different place).

Bottom line: Water cooling can be a very viable alternative for a quiet computer setup. YMMV!

Wild Penguin
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Wild Penguin » Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:10 pm

bgibson wrote:What's the current state of GPU liquid cooling and why the apparent lack of discussion on it?
I'm not sure why there is quite a little discussion. A few guesses:
  1. Most gamer-oriented users don't care about quietness?
  2. Most GPUs (or chosen cards) are quiet when not gaming (i.e. light usage / desktop), and when gaming, there is usually loud noises from the game anyways (either trough headphones / HiFi / computer speakres etc.) - of course that does not apply to other workloads!
  3. It used to be the case (though I might certainly be wrong!) that pumps were quite noisy. This has deterred users from using water cooling previously, and people sill might have preconceptions?
  4. Aftermarket air coolers are good (enough)?
  5. And combined with above, price?

Alex11223
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Alex11223 » Wed Jan 23, 2019 1:32 am

Yeah, many MSI/Asus/Palit/... GPUs turn off the fans in idle and during gaming it doesn't matter much because of the sound/headphones.

Also most users don't want to mess with replacing the GPU cooler + some think that it voids the warranty (afaik it's not, though may depend on manufacturer, country).

Wild Penguin
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Wild Penguin » Thu Jan 24, 2019 5:29 am

Ok, I did some more googling because of this thread about quietness of water cooling pumps (sorry about long-ish post, but now there's some discussion here!).

I realized I had made a classic mistake: bought HW without proper research! :!: :shock: . But it was Cyber Monday when I purchased my cooling loop and things were on sale. But, I got lucky in the process and got a really quiet loop/pump 8) :D

After reading some forum threads elsewhere, it seems that some pumps are definitely not quiet. But in my case, my HDDs are more noisy than the pump (my Desktop is also a media server, and the media HDDs spin down if not in use for a long time). They are WD reds, not silent, but not that intrusive noise-wise, either (and they are mounted with rubber grommets, no direct metal-to-HDD contact in the case).

Also noticed this comment from this very forum:
SilverBullet wrote:That's the problem, it's a Pump.

PISTON , it pulls and pushes, pulls and pushes (want me to say it again) :roll:
So, are there two kinds of pumps: piston and waterfan based - used in PC water cooling???

Reading this guide on this very same site, although a few years old, I noticed that my pump definitely has more range than those tested! Makes me want to test again; and yes, the pump can be lowered to as low as 200-300RPMs (though it really is inaudible at even higher RPM, and I really think it doesn't do that much a good cooling job at those RPMs).

I did a rough subjective comparison for noise characteristics / annoyance:
  • at full speed (~2800RPM) it is roughly as loud as my quite quiet 120mm fans ~1000RPMs
  • it is practically inaudible at < 1400RPM, I can start to hear it ~1600RPM (and my fans start to emit noise ~600RPM);
  • pump get's annoying at ~1800-2000RPM (my fans do this at 800-1000RPM)
My case fans 120mm are Lian-Li branded (don't know the exact model, came with the case) and those which came with the radiator.

Which brings as to the most important piece of information: the loop components:
EK Phoenix series, modular pre-filled AIO. There is a 360mm radiator+pump+reservoir combination, a CPU block (4790k) and GPU block (Radeon RX Vega 64). (EDIT: Sadly, I believe EK is in the process of discontinuing this series; hopefully they make something similar in the future)

As for thermal comparison to air-cooling before watercoolin my setup: I didn't do any real comparisons to before-watercooling since I had better things to do =). Also, it would have made little sense since the Vega64 is a reference model and was in the computer only for a short while (testing) before liquid cooling it (upgrading from a GTX970). But I can tell this for certain: I have way better thermals now for both the CPU and the GPU while folding at ~180W of power (reported by lm-sensors) than I had before while folding with a GTX970 @ 144-160W AND the system is way more quiet now while folding!

Previously, I had to use software fan control since the system was not adequately cooled at full load (gaming/folding/compiling/whatnots) if at a quiet setting, the MB BIOS has no hysteresis control whatsoever. But with current setup, I can set it to a reasonably quiet level and not need to worry about things overheating.

Wakoo
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Wakoo » Thu Jan 24, 2019 3:17 pm

Wild Penguin wrote: As for thermal comparison to air-cooling before watercoolin my setup: I didn't do any real comparisons to before-watercooling since I had better things to do =). Also, it would have made little sense since the Vega64 is a reference model and was in the computer only for a short while (testing) before liquid cooling it (upgrading from a GTX970). But I can tell this for certain: I have way better thermals now for both the CPU and the GPU while folding at ~180W of power (reported by lm-sensors) than I had before while folding with a GTX970 @ 144-160W AND the system is way more quiet now while folding!

Previously, I had to use software fan control since the system was not adequately cooled at full load (gaming/folding/compiling/whatnots) if at a quiet setting, the MB BIOS has no hysteresis control whatsoever. But with current setup, I can set it to a reasonably quiet level and not need to worry about things overheating.
That's good to hear, at some point I was monitoring the watercooling solution to make a silent pc with good thermal unfortunately the WC community seems much more interested in raw cooling capacity and look rather than getting the most silent possible setup, the review reflect that and comparing the noise of each pump is an hassle. I ended up sticking to pure aircooling(and lower cooling needs) since I didn't want to gamble the silence of my future solution.

Olle P
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Olle P » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:18 am

Wild Penguin wrote:So, are there two kinds of pumps: piston and waterfan based - used in PC water cooling?
No, only centrifugal pumps are used here.

Reducing the pump speed can be a viable option, but how far down you can/should go depends on your flow rate.
The youtuber JayzTwocents claim that "Pump speed doesn't matter at all!" and "prove" it by comparing a D5 pump on setting 1 vs setting 5.
The D5 is one of the most powerful pumps on the market ,and even on its lowest setting it outperform most others. If pump speed wasn't an issue he should be able to switch it off completely and not see a difference...

So, start with your pump at full speed.
Run some stress program until the temperature stabilise.
Then reduce the pump speed incrementally and see how the temps change, until you reach a temp level you don't want to exceed.

Wild Penguin
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Wild Penguin » Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:11 am

I've noticed something similar about the pump speed on my rad. The response is quite steep compared to traditional cooler + fan, but this is just a rough impression I've noticed - haven't done any kind of testing / measurements trying to be objective. There certainly is some RPM at which flow is completely stopped and if rised just above this, cooling effect increases dramatically. What you suggest here:
Olle P wrote: So, start with your pump at full speed.
Run some stress program until the temperature stabilise.
Then reduce the pump speed incrementally and see how the temps change, until you reach a temp level you don't want to exceed.
is interesting, I think I'll see how the system fares.
Olle P wrote:No, only centrifugal pumps are used here.
I've noticed this now that I've done some research - I'm not sure what SilverBullet was referring to in the other thread.

I've also noticed that many pumps have no decoupling whatsowever with the attatching mechanism they come with - which is a bit daunting, as these devices are not that cheap and are a great source of noise (if not decoupled). I've seen (10-15years ago?) many users doing some kind of ghetto-modifications and putting their pumps over some foam etc.. FWIW it seems EK Revo line is always decoupled, but I haven't found any other pumps being decoupled OOTB yet.

Olle P
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Olle P » Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:30 am

Wild Penguin wrote:I've also noticed that many pumps have no decoupling whatsowever with the attatching mechanism...
The impellers are free floating within the housing, but I guess you mean the housing isn't decoupled from the rest of the surrounding?

Wild Penguin
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Wild Penguin » Sat Feb 16, 2019 3:46 am

Exactly. I believe the pump housing still (despite the impeller being suspended) still resonates somewhat (I guess depending on the speed of the impeller and the pump housing and possibly individual pump / batch / manufacturing tolerances and whatnot - also, just sheer water turbulence could cause some resonance). As with anything which resonates, it makes sense to decouple it from the PC case to reduce vibrations / generated noise. The downside is that these components might overheat since part of the heat is dissipated by conducting it into the case - but with pumps, they should - at least hopefully - be circulating water which is cooler than the pumps operating temperature, and that way dissipating some heat.

I saw some noise comparisons (screenshots of noise measurements) somewhere, and the generated noise was doubled in dB if the pump was directly mounted to the case, versus it being decoupled. But I don't remember where I saw it and what was the exact decoupling method, but I do remember there was a DDC and a D5 pump being tested.

But inspired by this thread, I made a very simple / crude test for cooling effect vs. RPM with my pump. All fans were set at 100%, GPU folding (180-190W) and i4790k running 8x burnK7 processes. After this I started manually decreasing my fan RPM. This is the result, in case you are interested:

Image

Some conclusions I've made (about my system):
  • There is no effect on cooling until decreasing pump speed ~1700rpm
  • There is only slight rise in GPU temp while decreasing pump speed to ~900rpm
  • GPU temps rise slightly more quickly while decreasing RPM to 900...500rpm
  • It seems flow stops (?) around 300-400rpm on my loop (CPU+GPU), as a sharp rise in temperature was seen (and the experiment was aborted)
Indeed, this is in stark to a fan, which typically has a range where the effect is gradually rising / decreasing with the fan RPM. With a pump, there is a wide range where cooling is almost constant - in my loop, at least 1700-2700 (MAX) rpm , ro even 1100RPM if you don't care about the slight rise in GPU temp. I have no idea about the flow in my loop, since I don't have a flow meter.

EDIT: I should probably add, that the loop order is pump-> CPU -> GPU -> radiator. The observation that the GPU started to rise first makes sense, and is in line with the link to the post at TomsHardware by Olle P. The rise would most probably be probably vice versa if the order was reversed.

Abula
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Abula » Sat Feb 16, 2019 7:46 am

@Wild Penguin is your setup is inaudible under a quiet room, like a late night no ones awake?

I kinda want to try, specially with todays gpus, with nvidia allowing higher boost at lower temps. Given that im happy with my Asus RTX2080ti, would be interesting to see if the pump noise is not audible to consider a switch.
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Wild Penguin
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Wild Penguin » Sat Feb 16, 2019 9:34 am

Hi Abula,

Yes, my Setup is inaudible in a quiet room, if under light(ish) load. But under medium-high load such as folding, it is audible, but certainly not intrusive - as in, one could sleep in the same room, sounds from outside might drown this thing and people have (often) a more noisier refrigerators. Under load, the fans are by far the noisiest component (and especially after doing the test above, I've concluded I can constantly keep the pump at a rate which will be practically inaudible, even if fans were stopped).

I might make a simulated gaming run and see how loud it gets (and what kind of temperatures).

That being said, you might be able to get a quieter setup with way less money, if you put a huge heatsink (something like Accelero Xtreme) and many quiet fans to that. But with water cooling, you could put more radiators (and more pumps if flow starts to be an issue) into the loop (but then again, more $$$ and space).

I still by water cooling this card is way quieter than any non-reference Vega card (without an aftermarket cooler) out there.

Olle P
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by Olle P » Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:51 am

Wild Penguin wrote:... this is in stark to a fan, which typically has a range where the effect is gradually rising / decreasing with the fan RPM. With a pump, there is a wide range where cooling is almost constant...
Fans also have a range where the cooling effect is nearly constant.
If you were to replace your quiet fans with some ~10,000 rpm Delta screamers you'd find that in the range 2,000 rpm and up the cooling performance difference is negligible (until you add more heat)...

kumarsan
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Re: GPU watercooling?

Post by kumarsan » Sat Aug 31, 2019 12:26 am

It is very helpful thread. Thanks for information.

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