Been a while since I last posted something not related to audio.
This time, I'm ranting on my graphics card - Asus EAH4770 FORMULA.
This crap has been creating a mini tornado inside my computer since the first day I got it. Which is strange because Asus touts better cooling solution with their FORMULA (yes spelt in all caps) series, and the previous card from them I had - a HD3850 - was quite quiet for a high-end card of its time while using the generic Glaciator cooler of Asus.
And to make things worse, Asus confirmed that fan speed control doesn't work on this card - a suspicion I had since the fan is spinning as fast idle and load.
Finally pissed with putting up with the noise, I ripped the card from my system to give it a fan-job.
And this is what I saw -
Trying to cool more than 50W with this heatsink, no wonder the fan is spinning like mad. I've seen cheap CoolerMaster CPU HSFs that are more powerful.
It gives me goosebumps to know that higher-end cards are also using this heatsink.
The solution - a 25mm-thick 92mm fan removed from the chassis during my SPCR days (now made useless by my tinnitus) because it was too loud. It's capable of 2000rpm. Plugged to the motherboard for fan speed control.
However, doing so only proved the need for a powerful (and loud) fan - temperatures reached dangerously close to a hundred in FurMark testing, and that's with the fan at full speed. While it should not go over 80-ish in normal gaming, it's probably not good for the card in the long term.
Apart from overclocking to gain performance, one can do undervolting to reduce power. Power is proportional to voltage squared, so any decrease in voltage is great.
There are two ways to do this - the first involves flashing the card's BIOS to Asus EAH4770 TOP's, which allows voltage adjustments in software. The second is modifying the BIOS itself to run the card at lower voltages by default. Both have their risks - cross-flashing another card's BIOS is never a good idea - a change in just the memory timings information can stop the card from booting, while a voltage set too low can prevent the card from booting too.
Unfortunately/fortunately, the lowest this card can go software or BIOS is 0.9V, 0.1V down from original 1.0V, so there isn't much point for the software voltage control, and 0.9V should be still rather safe for the card to boot, so I went for the safer route.
Even though this is only a 10% reduction in voltage and 20% reduction in power, when things are overheating you need all the help you can get your hands on.
But with the GPU at 0.9V in 3D mode, it crashes frequently (and restored successfully each time by ATi's VPU recovery) at the default clocks of 750MHz, so I cut it back by 10% to 675MHz, all smooth onwards. This shows that graphics cards do not have much headroom compared to CPUs.
With these new settings it is safe to say that the temperatures don't go over 80 in FurMark with the fans at full cooling setting -
Full cooling mode
Fan1 is the 92mm fan cooling the gfx card, Fan2 is the 120mm CPU-cum-system fan - the CPU has no fan of its own, and with a Ninja cooling a heavily-undervolted A64 there is no need for one.
With normal games and the fans at quiet mode temperatures don't reach 80 either. So mission accomplished.
It's a pity I lose auto-fan-speed-control with this method however.
W A R N I N G !
W A R N I N G !
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