Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

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Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:27 pm

I was reading Scott's article on the R2 290X and was thinking; Has anyone tried things a touch fancier then the standard fan or water loop leading to a fan? For example, sending the water to a tank inside an actual refrigeration unit. Alternatively, an open-loop system where you draw water from a tap, then expel the hot waste water (To avoid wasting it, you could pour it into your hot water tank, in theory anyway. It would make your computer rather immobile though, and rather drive up your water bill; however, it does work quite nicely; this is basically what I do in my lab to dry solvents, a still hooked up to a tap and a condenser.)

While we are on crazy ideas, when I run single crystal X-ray diffraction patterns (In short; take a crystal, shine x-rays on it, find out what molecule it is made of) at work, we have a cold stream on the crystal, which is basically a tank of liquid nitrogen connected to a regulator that blows he evaporating nitrogen at a set rate onto the crystal, looking it down to about 100 Kelvin (~-173 c or -280 F for you Americans). Heck, back when I was doing gamma-ray spectroscopy we had part of the spectrometer immersed in liquid nitrogen (~-196 C or -320 F).

Those would would be rather expensive, (liquid nitrogen costs 0.25-$1/L and you'd need close to 100L a week, if not more) but has anyone ever hooked a modern, thermally bound GPU up to a system like that and seen what the limits of the hardware actually are? Is there a lower limit as to what you can safely cool a GPU to?
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:33 pm

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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:57 pm

Cool. You know, you could probably do a decent job with some isoproponol (rubbing alcohol) and dry ice (-78 C); not as cold, but far easier to work with and acquire.

I think Tech Report North should investigate this; I'd be willing to help teach them how to work with either dry ice or liquid nitrogen.
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:26 pm

A guy named Vega runs a chilled loop and is active on the [H] forums- though I believe he only runs the system chilled for benchmarks, considering the problems involved with condensation throughout the system.

But for inexpensive, repeatable testing, that looks like the way to go, since the greatest marginal expense would be in water blocks to support newer GPUs.
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:42 pm

I ran a tap-fed watercooler when I was messing with a Peltier on my old Thunderbird.

Honestly though, I must be getting old. I don't see the point of going with crazy exotic setups for anything other than a bit of experimental funl. When you can dissipate 300W using an off-the-shelf, 240mm AIO water loop, it seems mad to sink too much time and effort into an overclock that's probably only a couple of percent higher.

After a while, cooling isn't the issue so much as the conductivity of the silicon, at which point you want to drastically alter that using LN02.
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:14 pm

Most exotic I've tried was a full water loop I'd chilled to -6C. Condensation all over the tubing but it was enough to get a benchmark run on a 4.3Ghz Q6600. Never seen ice melt so fast before :D

If you've not heard of them XtremeSystems is the type of forum that specializes in exotic cooling for all parts of a PC. The stuff they run over there makes DIY watercooling look as standard as stock Intel cooling.
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:54 pm

Kougar wrote:Most exotic I've tried was a full water loop I'd chilled to -6C. Condensation all over the tubing but it was enough to get a benchmark run on a 4.3Ghz Q6600. Never seen ice melt so fast before :D

If you've not heard of them XtremeSystems is the type of forum that specializes in exotic cooling for all parts of a PC. The stuff they run over there makes DIY watercooling look as standard as stock Intel cooling.


Thanks, I hadn't heard of that; I'm still saving money to build my gaming PC, and it is going to be stock cooling. I was just looking at things we have around my lab (I'm an inert atmosphere chemist) and wondering what would happen if we used them to cool a PC, since the new GPUs are so obviously temperature-bound.

To avoid condensation you'd want to put a drying agent on your air input, say force the air through some magnesium sulphate or such. Or if you are using nitrogen cooling anyway, just blow some dry nitrogen into the case, instead of wet atmospheric air.
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Wed Dec 04, 2013 10:07 pm

I used a regular 9.99 box fan and a custom intake/exhaust made from cardboard, tinfoil and aluminum tape so that I could use cold winter air to add a little thermal headroom. it worked very well. quiet. I always got nervous when it rained though.
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Wed Dec 04, 2013 10:18 pm

Diplomacy42 wrote:I used a regular 9.99 box fan and a custom intake/exhaust made from cardboard, tinfoil and aluminum tape so that I could use cold winter air to add a little thermal headroom. it worked very well. quiet. I always got nervous when it rained though.


Must be nice to live in such a place. In Texas, we get all four seasons, on Thursday.
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:41 pm

Prolly get laughed outta here, but I set my tower sideways in front of a window A/C unit with the side cover off and cool the whole friggin thing at once. The air is already dehumidified and clean and gives the user the opportunity to OC their rig with every part in it. A decent Window unit is about 200 bux that will work fine. But as usual, bigger is always BETTER!!!
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Thu Dec 05, 2013 12:53 am

Airmantharp wrote:
Diplomacy42 wrote:I used a regular 9.99 box fan and a custom intake/exhaust made from cardboard, tinfoil and aluminum tape so that I could use cold winter air to add a little thermal headroom. it worked very well. quiet. I always got nervous when it rained though.


Must be nice to live in such a place. In Texas, we get all four seasons, on Thursday.


lolz whats that
hot, hotter, hot and humid, and hottish with rain/hurricane?

I'm around Timmins Ontario, about 400 miles north of TO, or Rochester NY, we sometimes get a day or two during the winter when the mercury dips to -40C/-40F, I guess you could put your whole tower outside and run cables into the house. It would completely eliminate condensation and even air coolers would probably not hit positive numbers. Maybe one day when a pc is ready for the boneyard I will give it a shot.

But in all practical sense reality, there are fairly inexpensive off the shelf aftermarket coolers, like arctic cooling, etc.
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:44 am

Airmantharp wrote:
Diplomacy42 wrote:I used a regular 9.99 box fan and a custom intake/exhaust made from cardboard, tinfoil and aluminum tape so that I could use cold winter air to add a little thermal headroom. it worked very well. quiet. I always got nervous when it rained though.


Must be nice to live in such a place. In Texas, we get all four seasons, on Thursday.


Jesus Christ you are not kidding.
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:52 am

I plan to liquid chill two R290x lightnings to hopefully near 0c temps under load. Under load i think they will be slightly higher. Currently my 7970 lightnings are just under 0c at 1420 mhz xfire under load, or 1450 mhz single card i can get to.

My rig / chiller thread here, avg liquid temp -25c no condensation due to air tight cooling chamber with ~ -23c chilled air. pics near the bottom http://forums.extremeoverclocking.com/s ... 97&page=13.

Only a month or so to wait for those lightnings i hope ...
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Thu Dec 05, 2013 3:13 am

I personally think that a normal water cooling solution is more than enough to cool an overclocked self overclocking R9 290x for 24/7 use.

A more exotic cooling system for 24/7 use scenario would be custom made phase change cooler. That said, i''ve only seen people use such a device for the CPU, idk if someone makes them for GPUs as it's more complicated with the mounting system. Plus you'd have to cool the board components separetely with heatsinks and maybe a fan.

Edit: Since phase change will bring the GPU way under 0 degrees Celsius, i must ask, do GPUs suffer cold bugs?
Last edited by Arclight on Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:05 am

Orthello wrote:My rig / chiller thread here, avg liquid temp -25c no condensation due to air tight cooling chamber with ~ -23c chilled air. pics near the bottom http://forums.extremeoverclocking.com/s ... 97&page=13.


Holy crap! I've dreamt about doing something like this, that whole thread is like porn to me.
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Thu Dec 05, 2013 12:44 pm

I.S.T. wrote:
Airmantharp wrote:
Diplomacy42 wrote:I used a regular 9.99 box fan and a custom intake/exhaust made from cardboard, tinfoil and aluminum tape so that I could use cold winter air to add a little thermal headroom. it worked very well. quiet. I always got nervous when it rained though.


Must be nice to live in such a place. In Texas, we get all four seasons, on Thursday.


Jesus Christ you are not kidding.


Heh, that reminds me of how we cooled a cooling test rig I worked on when I was in Chalk River Ontario; We drew water up from the bottom of the Ottawa River and ran it through a heat exchanger, which is the same way they cool the nuclear reactors there. The hilarious thing, is in the winter the water at the bottom of the river is too cold to pipe into the reactor, and they have to pre-heat it so that the thermal difference isn't too great for the pipes to handle.

Which would be a fun way to cool a PC if you lived in a houseboat. Waterproof case, radiators running to the outside of the case, place it at the bottom of a river, run cables up to your houseboat. Free, very good cooling.
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:06 pm

Nothing beyond water cooling is very practical for everyday computing nor worth it in terms of price/performance. Not only that but you have to make room for extra stuff, and for what? A couple extra hundred Mhz? Then you have condensation to worry about. They still use water cooling for engines so that's enough for me!

I always had the idea to setup my PC(s) in a closet or small space, with all the fans on full blast, radiators mounted externally, and possibly even with a portable air conditioning unit in there (when I was younger I had one in my room blowing at the front of my PC, it was awesome (except loud). Run all the latest cables through the walls/attic that I will ever need and have just the monitor and input devices on the desk.

But even that is overkill. On decent watercooling, and even with mild overclocking, temps usually drop from 40-70C with stock HSF on the CPU to 30-40C, and the results are usually even better for GPU's (either that or their cooling solutions just suck), from 40-100C down to 30-40C. Everything runs almost silently, your room doesn't get as hot and these setups are usually reusable for many rigs to come; so a good loop is well worth the investment. My current CPU block has seen at least 5 CPU's and my GPU block has seen about 4 GPU's.

So yeah I really don't see why anything more is needed.
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Re: Alternative cooling methods for temperature bound GPUs

Postposted on Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:49 pm

zenlessyank wrote:Prolly get laughed outta here, but I set my tower sideways in front of a window A/C unit with the side cover off and cool the whole friggin thing at once. The air is already dehumidified and clean and gives the user the opportunity to OC their rig with every part in it. A decent Window unit is about 200 bux that will work fine. But as usual, bigger is always BETTER!!!


Well, I gotcha beat, pard.

Many years ago, at a now-legendary LAN party location, this guy, I'll call him Keith (cause that is his name), he decided that his little FOP38 or whatever we were running back then simply wasn't good enough. He got some PVC and some dryer ducting, and his ~2K BTU AC unit, and ran the cooled exhaust directly into the rear exhaust of his case. Reverse all the case fans and poof, he was the first guy I personally knew who ran extreme cooling 24/7. His temps weren't that great, they weren't as cold as the watercooler I used to float ice cubes in, but he could run that setup endlessly. He only ever had to worry about condensation and such if he shut down and opened the case, or if the AC unit got turned off.

I don't recall what CPU he was running, it wasn't that great, and the cooling didn't yield much, but it was highly entertaining.
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