Riding the Flow

musings from the shire

Water Cooling? Not Needed!

So I was looking how quiet can I make my recent PC build. CPU was easy with good tower cooler (Noctua NH-U14S). Then I wondered if there any way to make EVGA GeForce 1080 TI SC2 any quieter - it has a decent cooling solution, but still the loudest component on full load.
I was told that "to make such powerful GPU quiet, you have to water cool". Surely, water cooling either by custom loop or by AIO can be done.
But then I wondered - if 2x120mm radiator seems to be enough to run 1080 ti quiet & cool, why such radiator can't be mounted on card directly, akin to CPU cooler? There seem to be enough space. And voila - apparently there is such a thing - aftermarket GPU air cooler. Specifically "Morpheus II" by Raijintek. Cost - about the same as 240mm radiator, but without associated costs (and noise) of extra plumbing & pumping.
Heat sink have arrived and I've mounted 2x120mm SilentWings 3 fans from beQuiet on it. These fans I consider the best performance/noise 120mm fan. At least until Noctua releases their new 120mm "Sterrox" model.
The thing looks really intimidating, with 12 (!) heatpipes. I guess rated 360W of TDP is not a lie!

Then I had to remove stock heatsink, which on EVGA 1080 Ti SC2 is a bit fiddly. I wanted to keep a stock back & front plates, since they provide extra heat dissipation for memory & VRMs and provide very good structural stiffening for a whole board. So I wanted to remove just the heatsink with fans. Stock heatsink fixed by 4 screws around GPU, easily accessible from back, and 3 screws fix it to front plate. Of these one screw is blocked by fan shroud. To get to it, I had to unscrew the I/O plate, partially unscrew the fan shroud, just enough to slightly shift it and unblock & unscrew last heat sink screw.
This is stock heatsink compared to new one, difference in size is staggering, about 2x times the volume:
Fans are also ~2x times larger area now and whole face now is basically fans:
To mount it with stock base plate I had to get the shorter spring screws - since Morpheus comes with very long ones assuming you fit their X-shaped backplate. Screws needed are M2, 7mm long - plenty on eBay.
After I've tried trial fit, I've run into another problem - stock front plate has pin-like protrusions that supposed to increase heat dissipation. Some of these conflicted with heatpipes on Morpheus - so I had to cut them off (outlined):

Aluminium - cut like butter by Dremel. Didn't want to remove front plate (since it would mess the heat pads), so covered entire card in masking tape and did it in-situ.
Also you can see extra heatsinks glued to stock frontplate (more later why they were necessary).
New thermal paste - Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut, an undisputed champion.
Fans were powered by adaptor cable (GPU 4-pin to 2xstandard PWM fan). This allows stock GPU control of new fans (since it uses standard PWM).

So these are finished test results - absolutely mental:
This is full-load burn test. 68 degree with only 37% fans (actual RPM is two times less since there are two fans - about 650 RPM). At this RPM coil whine is louder than fans!
Note that this is test after I've stuck extra heatsinks to front plate. Initially I've tried without them, but VRMs & memory get a bit too hot for my liking - specifically because GPU itself is so cool and fans run so slow.
That's how finished setup looks in Fractal Design Define C case:

The card now takes about 4x PCI slots, but I have plenty of space in full ATX anyway, so I don't particularly care.

In a nutshell - watercooling-level performance without hassle, plumbing, pump noise and all that water.

Very impressive & definitely recommended for any serious build!


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