Author Topic: Hardware Guide: Lowering GPU Temperatures by 5-10C or more  (Read 1229 times)

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Hardware Guide: Lowering GPU Temperatures by 5-10C or more
« on: December 20, 2013, 05:59:23 PM »
Here is a short guide on how to decrease your temperatures on the Radeon R9 280X.  I have the Gigabyte R9 280X GV-R928XOC-3GD Rev 2.0.

Undervolting a graphics card is probably the easiest and fastest way to drop ~ 5.0 C or better on our Radeon cards. Another is to take a minute and look at how well the factory heatsink is doing at removing this heat. In stock form these R9 280Xs tend to run really hot, I saw temps from 75C to 85C even on an open chassis. After inspecting my own card's GPU I noticed the grease they were using appears to be rather generic. There are numerous superior thermal compounds out there, I decided to use the Liquid Ultra from Cool Laboratory as it has been proven time and again to drop temps by a large amount on de-lidded Intel Ivy bridge and Haswell processors. To do this, first we have to get the factory heatsink off.

Tools needed:
Small Jewelers screwdriver, Philips
3/16" socket driver, 5mm also works as does needle nose pliers
Thermal Grease:  Coolab Ultra:
Isopropyl Alcohol or Arctic Cleaner:

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for the below, should you take these steps, you agree to not hold me or the forum liable if anything bad should occur, such as you destroying your hardware, encountering a bad luck streak, your KH/s drops, pets suddenly die, your house burns down, etc. You should take the typical precautions when dealing with expensive hardware. Power your computer off, unplug it, then discharge it by pressing the power button on your case for 5 seconds.

Step 1: Did you ground yourself first? Ok good. First, turn the card over, and remove the four spring loaded screws as shown in red.

Step 2: Remove the two hex screws (red) holding the pci backplate to the card using your socket driver, or needle-nose pliers. Remove x1 Philips screw on the inside of the plate (red). Note that the piece this screws into is attached below the PCB. Remove the beveled philips screw (green)

Step 3: Remove the two very small self tapping screws in blue. Flip the card around 180 degrees and you'll find two more. Once all four are out, the entire cooling fan assembly can be removed. The assembly simply sits in between two fins on either side. There is no need to remove the fan cable, just set the fan assembly aside to the left.

Step 4: The heatsink is now free to be removed. I suggest gently wiggling it in the position it is in by grabbing both left and right sides and just very slightly turning left, then right, and left, until it loosens and you can pull it off the core and memory chips. Try to pull it off with the thermal pads in their factory positions. (I've done four cards so far and all of them came off with their pads on the heatsink) If the pads remain on the memory chips, thats fine too. Once the heatsink is off, clean the heatsink of the factory TIM.
You can use isopropyl alcohol or a specialized thermal grease remover like Arcticlean. Should any of your pads be removed during this process, be sure to put them back on in their proper locations, and don't let them fold. When you are done you see the heatsink and bare PCB with exposed Radeon GPU core.

Step 5: Carefully clean the GPU core as best as you can using the same stuff in step 4. A cotton rag will work or paper towels if you have none.

Step 6: Apply your new thermal interface. The coolab stuff includes a brush that you use to brush it on.

As you brush, the stuff will coagulate and form a terminator looking liquid pool that has a mirror shine.

Re-Assembly Time

Step 7: Place the heatsink back onto the video card. This could be important exactly as suggested, so the grease does not roll off the GPU Core. When doing so be certain your four GPU mounting holes line up before applying any pressure so that the factory thermal pads remain over top of the memory chips they are supposed to cool. You can move your card to the edge of the table to insert one spring loaded screw in if necessary.

Step 8: Flip the card over, and reinsert all four spring loaded philip screws. Suggesting tightening in a cross pattern (alternate), getting them tight and snug. No need to overtighten.

Step 9: Place fan assembly back onto heatsink and reinsert the four self tapping small screws (blue), two on each side.

Step 10: Reinstall pci backplate with one philips beveled head (green) two hex nut screws (red) and the one philips screw (red).

Reinstall your video card and check your temperatures. The first day my temps went up to about 78 C, which is close to where they were at the beginning. But within 24 hours of hashing, they had settled to a maximum of 70C.

This was a huge 8C drop under stock temperatures. After taking the above picture, I undervolted to 1075 using VB7 and ATIWinFlash, which produced even lower temperatures. Now the highest I see on this card is 66C.  Note these measurements are taken on a single card and not multiple cards, in a case, with the side panel off.

I'm pretty pleased with the results, this is my fourth card and all have produced similar temperature drops. I'm sure this drop can be achieved on pretty much every Radeon card on the market as manufacturers use generic grease to save cost and time. Just note that other cards out there are not going to look identical to the gigabyte and use different methods to mount their heatsinks.

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