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GPU Water cooling

Panopticon

Member
Dec 27, 2011
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0
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I have never water cooled a GPU before and I would appreciate if someone could point me in a good direction if I want to go that way in the future. I have a ref 7970 so finding a water block won't be an issue but I really don't know much else about this subject.

Would it be worthwhile to get a small system just for the GPU or is it just as cheap to put my CPU under water as well.

Are there any all in one systems that work with a GPU?

What is the effectiveness of water cooler versus a big after market air gpu cooler.

Thanks in advance.
 

BrightCandle

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
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I am quite sure I have seen a review recently of a prebuilt loop specifically for a GPU just lik the H100 series. But I just checked Corsair's and Antec's site and its not on there.

Regardless your first choice when it comes to watercooling is full cover or just core cooling.

If you just cool the core then you may get to use the cooler on other cards in the future, and its cheaper, but the memory gets heatsinks to keep them cool and don't get cooled with water. Neither do the VRMs and other GPU components and they can therefore get hot as they have lost their active air cooling as well. Whether this works well or at all depends on the card and I haven't seen anyone do this yet for a 7970 on XS.

A full cover block on the other hand is designed for one design of card only and cools all the parts with water, they are more expensive but you end up throwing them away at the cards end of life because no body wants them and you cant use them on future models. They cool quite a bit better and tend to offer a better solution but the price (£60-80) isn't cheap.

The prebuilt loop is going to be much cheaper, and offer less cooling. Its also going to be a lot simpler. Water cooling is quite complex with all its bits and it takes me about a day to strip my machine and rebuild it because of the waterloop because the first step is the plumbing. My guess is a prebuilt will likely cost about £100.

If you go a custom loop then you'll need pump + reservoir + radiators + fans + GPU block so you may as well add a bit more radiator space and also add a CPU block and get both cooled. I think just a GPU loop isn't worth the cost, especially since the GPUs don't benefit as much as the CPUs do from watercooling. A starter water loop for CPU + GPU is going to be around £300 excluding the case and you'll need a case that can fit the radiators.
 

superjim

Senior member
Jan 3, 2012
293
3
81
I ran watercooling for 5 years then went back to aftermarket air/120mm fans mostly because I didn't need the extra power, was justa hobby. I read a ton on forums and custom built my setup. It cost about $250 in all with an MCP655 pump, triple 120mm radiator clearflex tubing, dual 5.25 bay reservoir, cpu block, gpu block and chipset block. I've been contemplating blowing the dust off and using it again but just for my eventual 7870 purchase. Best advice I can give is to read read read. Dangerden, xtremesystems, etc all have tons of good info.
 

OVerLoRDI

Diamond Member
Jan 22, 2006
5,491
3
81
I do not believe there are prebuilt water cooling systems for GPUs. There is a 580 that comes with included with a water cooling system installed, but that is only for that particular card. If you want GPU cooling, you have to go full custom, which is $$.

However, if the price tag doesn't scare you away immediately, I highly recommend water cooling. Especially on GPUs. Typically load temps are halved vs air with a proper loop design and the noise level is significantly better.

GPUs don't benefit as much as the CPUs do from watercooling.
Huh? Nowadays CPUs can achieve great overclocks, and very acceptable noise levels using large air coolers. GPUs on the other hand run extremely hot. For example, a stock 7970 has a TDP of 250W vs a 2500k's 95W TDP. Now consider that GPUs have strict space requirements, and as such they can't typically be paired with coolers of the same size as you could put on a CPU. So you get stuck with loud blowers trying to dissipate a lot more heat. Water cooling a GPU is the best use for water cooling.
 

BrightCandle

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
4,762
0
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Huh? Nowadays CPUs can achieve great overclocks, and very acceptable noise levels using large air coolers. GPUs on the other hand run extremely hot. For example, a stock 7970 has a TDP of 250W vs a 2500k's 95W TDP. Now consider that GPUs have strict space requirements, and as such they can't typically be paired with coolers of the same size as you could put on a CPU. So you get stuck with loud blowers trying to dissipate a lot more heat. Water cooling a GPU is the best use for water cooling.
I am talking purely in terms of overclockability. In general GPUs don't actually overclock very well, where Intel's CPUs will regularly go 50% above their default clocks and require about 40% extra voltage to do it a GPU doesn't benefit much from voltage increase and normally only oes 10-15% which it would also do on air. The 7970 however is looking a little different as it does respond well to voltage increases and tends to go to much higher clocks than we have seen in the past. It seems like it might go into similar territory around 50% given enough cooling and extra voltage.

Of course watercooling can give you quiet (given enough rads) and lower temperatures, but because of the mostly poor overclocking its mostly about either looks or the removal of fan noise and not so much about overclocking, at least it has been for the last few generations.

The 7970 blocks aren't available every where yet, in the UK its not until about the 27th we start to see them filter into the stores so you have time to learn about what it would take and the sort of benefits and drawbacks you'll get by doing it.
 

Panopticon

Member
Dec 27, 2011
125
0
71
Thank you guys for your detailed responses they are much appreciated. Honestly I think for my needs water cooling would be more of a hobby then a need as another poster commented. My card is overclocked to 1125 with the ref cooler and doesn't even get loud under full load. I do need an after market cooler for my cpu so I was consider if going all in on a cooling solution for GPU+CPU solution would be worthwhile bit a nice air cooler for CPU is just so cheap its kind of hard to justify.
 

SlowSpyder

Lifer
Jan 12, 2005
17,305
998
126
Water cooling GPUs can be a pain unless the manufacturer sets up the method, such as this:

http://www.evga.com/products/moreinf...es%20family&sw

Getting just a block in a pain in the ass because now you got nothing to cool your memory modules, etc, etc.

I have never water cooled, so I have no first hand experience, but I was going to post something similar to the post I have quoted. With a CPU, you just need the CPU cooler. With a video card you have to taken into consideration the VRM's and VRAM, and possibly other components. So be sure to think about how you will cool those components if you get a GPU water block.
 

OVerLoRDI

Diamond Member
Jan 22, 2006
5,491
3
81
I am talking purely in terms of overclockability. In general GPUs don't actually overclock very well, where Intel's CPUs will regularly go 50% above their default clocks and require about 40% extra voltage to do it a GPU doesn't benefit much from voltage increase and normally only oes 10-15% which it would also do on air. The 7970 however is looking a little different as it does respond well to voltage increases and tends to go to much higher clocks than we have seen in the past. It seems like it might go into similar territory around 50% given enough cooling and extra voltage.
I'll agree with you there. Typically, 7970 excluded, GPUs do not overclock very well compared to CPUs.

Quiet can be easily achieved. I'm running a 3x120mm rad with my 2 6970s paired with 3 Scythe GT AP-15 fans (28db) and my GPUs max out at 40-42C. In the case of a single 7970, a low FPI 3x120mm rad with some slower and quieter fans could be used. Such as the AP-14 or even possibly the AP-13s, which are 21db and 16db respectively. His only limitation would be space available in his case.
 

superjim

Senior member
Jan 3, 2012
293
3
81
The trick to watercooling, to make it remotely cost-effective, is to make sure your blocks are universal/compatible with the next generation. You can always reuse the pump/radiator/fans/reservoir but the blocks are another story. Swiftech is good about release upgrade kits but they only last so long.

The thing I hated about watercooling my GPU was that full-cover waterblocks are very pricey ($100+) while the much-cheaper core-only block leaves everything else out and messing with the double-sided thermal tape/individual heatsinks for the memory and VRMs is a pain.
 

BallaTheFeared

Diamond Member
Nov 15, 2010
8,115
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71
I like mine, but the fact that they're one and done is a pity.

As for vrms/vram you can use the tape, or you can use thermal paste. I use Shin-Etsu on my ram and vrms.

Clocks depend solely on the sample and card, Fermi runs hot especially on stock cooling so going water increased clocks as much as 100-150MHz over what you could do with air without going insane from the noise. Other uarchs may not respond to the colder temps as well, Phenom II vs Sandy Bridge is a perfect example of that, my cpu doesn't gain jack from lower load temps while my Phemon II's all loved it dearly obtaining greater clock speeds with less volts.

If the LN2 runs are any indication 7970s respond much better to cold than they do voltage, so it's very possible you might see some nice gains, or you may not no real way to know sorry :(
 
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