I just got done mounting two 120mm chassi fans on my 980ti, but why on earth would I do that? Let me tell you!
I've been considering a major upgrade for a while. Most of my rig is about 5 years old, and even though it's still holding up quite well (overclocked i7 6700k processor, 980ti gpu, 16gb ram, some okish mobo) I'm getting a serious ache for something new. Besides the ache in general I've never really splurged on a rig, and I'm in a financial position to do so. The one thing holding me back is the next generation of GPU's, which are likely to come before the end of the year. A new generation means either buying the old gens top card cheaper, or go for next gen. So I decided to wait.
Albeit the rig in general holding up my 980ti has seen better days, no question about it. The version I bought has 3 fans, and the middle one had started wobbling and making weird noices about half a year ago. This is what is looks like. Or rather, used to look like til about 1 hour ago...
So there was the odd noice, and sometimes I noticed the middle fan just stopped spinning, while the other two were chugging along. But up until last week it was holding up, so I didn't worry about it. Last week we had some work done in the apartment, and I had to move my computer. In that move the middle fan just popped off. I heard a rattling sound as I lift the computer up, to return it to the desk, and in the bottom of the chassi was the rogue fan who apparently decided enough was enough. He wasn't having any more of my shit.
Ok, "not great" I thought, but who needs THREE fans anyway? Suuuurely 2 is enough? So I plugged it back in, and it actually seemed to work quite fine. Temps were a bit up, middle 85 celcius under heavy load, from about 80. That's not good temps, but the card doesn't throttle til like 90+, so I kept at it.
That is until yesterday. I loaded up Sea of Thieves to try it and noticed my FPS fluctuating. Like it was at 80 for about 5 seconds, and then dipped to 40 for about the same time. Over and over. "That's odd", I thought to myself, meanwhile I noticed I could actually hear my own thought. What was that sudden silence? Wait, why isn't my computer making it's usual high pitched angry stop-pushing-me-you-shitty-nerd sound? Lo and behold, the two remaining fans on my GPU had after pondering for a few days decided to make a mutual cause with the rogue fan and had gone on a strike.
"Not great at all".
So there I was, couple months away from a planned upgrade, but out a GPU. Was I doomed to play shitty mobile games for a few months, like Papercuts, while waiting for the next gen GPU:s? Not likely. I scoured the internet looking for 2nd hand GPU:s, or even retail for something that was at least on the same level as the 980ti.
I was quite surprised to find that the 980ti actually holds up quite well, 5 years after I bought it. I mean sure it's at best middle of the pack by todays standard, but a card of equal quality is still like 400€, a sum I was not willing to spend for a few months. Financially able or not, there's limits.
So I wandered around the internet, looking for replacement fans or consolidation, but found neither. Most options were expensive or too complicated. But then I stumbled upon a video by Linus Tech Tips, called "Video card dead fan repair guide", and I was intrigued. He ripped the stock cooling of two graphic cards and replaced it with... chassi fans, which he like a madman ziptied to the GPU:s!
"Now this is something I probably should not ever do, so let's DO IT!", was of course my reaction.
Said, done and a visit to my local computer stor later I today gleefully ripped out my graphics card, manhandled the cooling. Only 2/4 screws were actually reachable, so there was quite a bit of violence and metal bending/breaking involved, as can be seen by the former fan holding thingy:
Like sensei Linus had taught me I then ziptied two 120mm fans on to the card, smashed it back into the computer hooked it all up:
I plugged it back in and... (Those of you hoping for a tragic ending are about to get very disappointed...)
It worked! Amazingly! Previously without fans, just passive cooling, temps were about 60ish in windows, with the new fans 30!
Booted up Sea of Thieves, and under heavy load temps are maxing out at about 73, so almost 10 degrees lower than it's ever been!
So all in all I spent 23€ for the fans and a bunch of zip ties, and the result was better cooling than the card has ever seen AND it's less noice than it has ever produced!
So, what's the morale of this story? Of course there is none, and I don't recommend ripping your GPU apart if you can help it, but I had to tell SOMEONE about this feat, and you lot were closest at hand! It's of course now going to be a matter of time before the zip ties melt or something goes horribly wrong, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it