[Tutorial] Dual 120mm fans on Twin Frozr III cards. - Overclock.net - An Overclocking Community
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[Tutorial] Dual 120mm fans on Twin Frozr III cards.

 
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 02-21-2014, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Greetings everyone.

I own a 2 years old MSI HD 6950 Twin Frozr III card. Like many others that opted for the Twin Frozr cards, I was faced with the same fan issues mentioned on this thread (https://www.overclock.net/t/987287/twin-frozr-ii-fan-horrible-noise) and others across the web. One of the fans started to rattle really bad when slowing down from high speeds back to idle, probably due to a busted bearing or lack of lubrication. I attempted the procedure described on this other thread (https://www.overclock.net/t/1336160/how-to-repair-msi-twin-frozr-heatsink-fans-or-how-to-fix-fans-where-there-is-no-hole-behind-the-sticker)for dismantling the fan so that I could apply some lubricant into it, but I ended up with a broken fan (the main axis that joins into the fan body broke in an unrepairable way), so I was left with a still perfectly functional and good GPU, to which no replacement fans exist.

Since I don't plan on replacing this GPU just yet, I was left with two options: 1) Get a replacement aftermarket heatsink and fan, like the Arctic Twin Turbo II, or 2) fit some other fan in my card. The Arctic Turbo II was just too much money to throw into an outdated GPU such as this one, so I opted for the cheaper alternative.

I initially zip tied a single 120mm fan I had laying around into the card and was pleased with the results, reaching similar cooling capabilities (slightly better, actually) than with the stock fans. After this successful attempt, I decided to slap two good fans into the card and make my own cooling solution for the Twin Frozr heatsinks. I also believe this same method can be used for pretty much any other open designed GPU heatsink.

I will present a very short tutorial on how I achieved this:

The Materials

Quite simple:
  • Two 120mm fans
  • Zip ties
  • Thermal compound
  • Isopropyl alcohol

I mention the thermal compound and isopropyl alcohol because you will have to take the heatsink off the card, which means wiping the old thermal paste off the heatsink and GPU core and then reapplying it using your preferred method (I personally like the method described at Antec's website: http://www.antec.com/specs/instruction4.html). For taking the heatsink off the card, this video on youtube is better than posting a bunch of pictures:



For the fans, I used a pair of Cooler Master Excalibur 120mm (http://www.coolermaster.com/cooling/case-fan/excalibur/). I picked these because they are relatively quiet, produce lots of airflow and most importantly, have good static pressure. Also, these fans have plenty of mounting points for tying it to the heatsink, which made the assembly process a lot easier. Besides, these fans are really light and both of them combined weight about the same (if not less) than the metal cover used by MSI, which means the card will not bend more than it already does.

Assembly

This is actually the easy part. Once you have the materials in hand and have taken the heatsink off the video card, position the fans next to each other as show below:



Then I tied both fans to one another with a zip tie and to one of the heatpipes:


(Notice that I also used the rubber pads that came with the fans to seat them into the heatsink, for reducing vibration)

Rotate to the underside of the heatsink and three more zip ties in the designated locations should do the trick:


(Note: the zip tie used at the bottom serves only to tie one fan to another, and doesn't connect with the heatsink at any points)

That's it. You now have two big fans attached to your Twin Frozr heatsink. Three zip ties were all that was needed to firmly attach the fans into the heatsink. Now all you have left to do is put everything back together (apply the thermal paste properly!) and it should be good to go.

These fans I have used are considerably loud at full speed, so make sure you have some way of throttling them down. I could have adapted these fans to use the video card's fan connector to power both fans and regulate pwm, but I opted to attach both to one of my fan controller lines which gives me more control, but it's something to consider.

The Results

Firstly, I would like to clarify I picked a Twin Frozr card because I value silence and good cooling in my computer. Comparatively to other cards I have used, the Twin Frozr cooling solution is great on both regards, yet the fans are somewhat noisy when the card starts to heat up (gaming), but nothing unbearable.

Firstly, my GPU is factory OC'ed, so take this into consideration when checking my results. Secondly, I have to manually set idle (2d) clocks on my card with MSI Afterburner because I run a dual monitor configuration, which means having the card running at near full speed all the time. Since this heats the card up considerably for doing nothing, I manually throttle down my 2D clocks to 450mhz/750mhz (instead of the expected idle clock speeds of 250/150 core/mem when using single monitors or newer nVidia cards, which as far as I know can run more than one monitor and low clock speeds), therefore my idle temperatures are somewhat higher than what one would expect on this card running a single display. Thirdly, it's summer and hot as hell, so I expect even better results in the near future.

Idle temperatures:
Before: 47ºC
After: 40ºC

Full load (using furmark stress test):
Before: 74ºC
After: 64ºC

Gaming (Skyrim with a bunch of mods and SweetFX, ~80% GPU usage):
Before: 66ºC
After: 55ºC

So yeah, quite a drop in temperature with this mod. Room temperature is 26ºC with AC turned on, and the fans are at about 60% capacity! When pushing the fans to 100%, it dropped to 61ºC at full load.

Now, the most important aspect for me: the noise levels.

Like a said before, the Twin Frozr fans were somewhat loud when gaming for my taste. After the mod, however, it's like my card is running constantly at idle. I can't measure how much less noise it makes now, but the difference is noticeable, so if someone else is like me and likes to run their computers silently, this mod will benefit you greatly.

Conclusions

Pros:
  • Cheap;
  • Better cooling efficiency than stock fans on Twin Frozr III;
  • Easy and quick to assemble;
  • Silent.

Cons:
  • Say goodbye to your pretty looking Twin Frozr card: this will alter the card looks completely;
  • Takes a lot of space (3 slots compared to the usual 2), so SLI/Crossfire card owners beware;
  • You have to throttle down the fans, or else it's quite noisy, although this depends on the fans used.


More pictures:





(Case is a Corsair 600T)
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 02-21-2014, 04:11 PM
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I did this with a passively cooled BFG 9800GT back in the day. I took it one step farther though, and powered the fan through the card's own mini 3 pin GPU fan connector.

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 02-22-2014, 04:10 PM
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Nice cooler Master excaliburs
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