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Thread Starter 
Hey guys,

wanted to ask for your opinion on upgrading my system, or rather my cooling system. It's not exactly necessary I suppose, but what actually is in our hobby?

I guess these are the major grounds for possible (and inexpensive) performance gains in my system:
  • switching my 'bad' HD6950 out for a sample that can unlock the 1536 (~HD6970) shaders, the other one ('good') is already able to. I suppose it would cost not much at all, after factoring in the sales of my non-unlockable HD6950.
  • getting the HD6950s to overclock beyond 1000MHz (core)@1.2V - it seems the voltage is getting a bit unstable beyond 1.2V simply from looking at the MSI Afterburner graph - no idea how much that actually tells me, but there are some nasty spikes (1 in every couple of minutes or so) when stress-testing that go to about +0.1V (1.3V) or even +0.2V (1.4V).
  • finding a way to overclock my i7-2600k beyond 4.6GHz@1.4V - seems that is the point beyond which I have to REALLY crank up the voltage and am consequently hitting heat issues even with my cooling loop.

The components that I believe could benefit from a better cooling would be:
  • CPU cooler. My Kryos Delrin should be adequate in theory, still the CPU is easily the component that is running closest to it's thermal limitations (up to 65°C when benching, more when I try and raise the voltage even further).
  • GPU voltage regulators. Right now, I'm using Alphacool HF14 universal GPU coolers in combination with passive heatspreaders and dual PWM-controlled 140mm fans blowing in cold air from the side. GPU-Z tells me they are alright though, but I actually don't trust those sensors too much.
  • Chipset/PCH. It's not actively cooled at the moment, and I am seeing up to 52°C in BIOS; airflow in the chassis is generally not bad and it should be right in the way of my GPU fans, but certainly it could benefit, even though I have no idea if/how much that can help with the CPU overclock or overall system stability.

Other than switching out the HD6950 for an unlockable example, I had in mind to do either of those (combinations very much possible) modifications to the cooling system:
  1. added radiator area or better fans in the existing loop
  2. watercooling for the GPU VRMs - if there are no full blocks for my non-reference-design 6950s, I might at least fit a decent cooler block there.
  3. going for a different CPU block
  4. watercooling for the CPU VRMs
  5. a simple fan sitting on top of the PCH
  6. a second cooling loop used exclusively for components with low heat sensitivity (MOSFETs)

What would you guys suggest, simply in terms of effectiveness? Please keep in mind that I am usually buying used stuff and still have a lot of cooling components laying around on the side, and therefore the normal cost-benefit-ratio would not apply. Did I forget any simple/useful idea?

Thanks for reading through all this,