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Old 5th Nov 2005, 05:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 6800LE cooling mod with Thermalright SI-97

Ok, so here we go. this is my first post here and first mod that I'm documenting and trying to disclose, so forgive me if it's not perfect. I was preparing for this mod for a while and when I had everything together- my camera broke. so little late, now let's get to it.

I decided a while ago upon seeing a cooling mod ( http://www.rojakpot.com/showarticle....tno=246&pgno=0 ) involving a use of a thermalright SI-97 Socket A heatpipe cooler and a 9800pro that I will try to do the same - except with a different card.
my plan was to get a 6800LE and first try to open the pipes with riva tuner and if that was a success, then get the SI-97 and go ahead with the mod.
I bought an Inno3d 6800LE. I chose this particular card because it has the same exact PCB and reference nvidia cooler as the 6800GT, so it is actually a 6800GT in disquise having the same gddr3 256MB 2.0ns memory and running at 1000mhz ddr.
when I got the card, ran a 3dmark05 benchmark to see what is the performance at default. it was as I expected 2900 points at default speed of 300/1000. then I proceded with opening the pipes with riva tuner and was glad to see that it was a complete succes.
I ran 3dmark05 to see what is the difference : 4310 points at default speed. next I OC-d the card to GT speeds and checked for any artifacts. non found. so far so good. at the default 1.1V for 3D I wasn't able to go above 385Mhz on the core so the next thing was to try and make a little voltmod, to change 3D volts from 1.1V to 1.3V as in the GT version. for that I had to save my own cards bios and with a little app. called Nibitor change the volts and then save the modded bios and reflash my card. at this point i still had no idea how to do this, so I went MVKtech forums that specializes in video cards ( http://www.mvktech.net/index.php ) and got all the help on how do all these steps. I want to thank for all the help I got there especially to Mavke and Jutthope21.

now that I was sure my card can operate at GT speeds and above, I was ready to flash my cards bios with an Inno3d 6800GT bios. I was hoping to get the temperature readings in control panel that is enabled in the GT bios and not available with my LE. after flashing with the GT bios, I still had no temperatures displayed in control panel and despite trying and flashing with different bioses, to no avail. since knowing the temperatures of the core is essential when OC-ing a GPU, I had to get a little display with a sensor and install it on the core. I checked the temps with the reference cooler installed and OC-d the card to 425/1100 running 3dmark05 with no artifacts and a great score of 5696! . at this point I wasn't trying to push with OC, just wanted to see the temps.
my idle temps with stock cooling were:34C
at full load running 3dmark05 the highest temp was 59C, which isn't bad considering I was 5mhz passed the Ultra speeds.

now I was ready to proceed with the mod:




here are the ingredients:
Inno3d6800LE card, thermalright SI-97, zalman OP-1 fan, arctic silver5, 4x 3cm screws, temp. display with sensor.

I wanted to use as many of the original parts as possible, without having to cut or modify any of them, so that I would be able to change everything back to stock in case of wanting to sell the card in the future. the beauty of this mod is that I can return everything to original and keep the SI-97 for my next victim (card)
so I decided to use the original fins and the bottom retainer to secure the new cooler. all I had to do is get longer screws that can do that. my measurements showed that I need them to be 3cm long and 2mm thick. the original screws are not metric and 2mm metric size screws are just slightly thinner so they can pass through all the holes without having to make them bigger. I had to get 4 screws, 8pc. nuts, and 12 washers.
here is the next step:



David and Goliath (who do you think will win this time? ) + the back bracket.



I recommend putting nuts as well on the other side to hold the screws in place.

next I had to attach the temp sensor and put a thin coat of arctic silver on the GPU (be carefull- the little sensor ending cannot go between the GPU and cooler, because it gets squashed and become useless- instead I put the little plastic ending on the GPU and the sensor is touching from the side) :




next assemble the top fin with the back bracket using the 3cm screws (with all the washers. make sure there is enough space between the GPU and the top cooler to put in the base of the SI-97 between them:



slide in the SI-97 as far as it can go in hitting the ram cooler. if not all the way in, there will be not enough space to install the card in the AGP slot. in fact even like that the heatpipes are sitting on the PCI slots:



secure the cooler with the nuts making sure you just hand tighten them. the back bracket isn't rigid. it works like a spring so tightening the screws too much would bend the card -thus damaging it.

next I used the original top cover of the cooler to draw a smaller one that can fit over the original litle fan just hitting the base of the SI-97 . it still can channel some air on the ram and also on the base of the SI-97. I used the seethrough cover of the zalman OP-1
:






next I installed the Zalman fan (which I chose for being slim and very quiet, also for having a little power splitter with 2 5V and 2 12V dongles)
I had to bend the wire fasrtener of the SI-97 because it was made for a standard 9 or 8cm fan and wasn't exactly matching the zalman.
then I connected the two 5V connectors to the zalman and the little original noisy cooler, which now running on just 5V, became noiseless :




so here is a couple of pics of the ready cooling monster









as you can see here there is barelly any space left above my sound card



this is how it looks overall in my rig:


after I was ready I checked the temps again at the same OC of 425/1100 (this time I had the new official 81.85 drivers. the new drivers raised my score to 5799p. in 3dmark05)
my idle temps went down to 26.5C !
the full load temp went down to 40.1C !

:finga:

now to more OC. went up to 435/1100. my computer froze!
no matter what I tried, nothing worked. after a long time of reinstalling drivers, trying all kinds of troubleshooting and reading info on the net, I discovered the problem! it was my PSU. nothing wrong with it, just doesn't have enough juice for the combination of my prescott 3.2 @ 3.5ghz + the card exceeding at ultra speeds. I read that the prescott itself is using about 200W and the real ultra needs about 275W! my chieftec is only 420W. I took out one of my ram sticks, disconnected the dvd rom and the second HDD. tried again: went up to 444/1100 with little artifacts and got 6012p. in 3dmark05!



I past the 6K with only 512MB of ram running in single channel! I comnnected the second HDD back and checked again with the same setting : 5985 points. disconnected the HDD again : 6012p. again! so it seems I'm PSU limited I also changed the 3D volts to 1.4V and this was a disaster. my card would freeze even at 370mhz of GPU! and its not the temperatures as you see. now I have a dilemma: I'm suppose to put together a new rig with the P4 M that I have won, so I didn't want to buy a new PSU for my present computer, which I intend to sell. on the other hand I'm curious how far could my 6800LE go with this kind of cooling... even like this I wa able to more then double my cards performance: to be exact- 207% of the original score, at the same time the excruciating noise from the original fan is gone and my load temps are down 19 degrees celsius! the mod is very easy to do, pretty cheap (considering the performance (the SI-97 costs close to the price of arctic silencer5 which besides making the card silent isn't better then the reference cooler) so I'm pretty happy with the results
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Old 5th Nov 2005, 12:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Woah!! Congrats on the successful mod!!!

And welcome to ARP!
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Old 5th Nov 2005, 12:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome to ARP
Thanks for sharing your experience
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Old 5th Nov 2005, 06:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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thank you. you have a very nice and educational forum, thats why I dicided to join. thanks for the welcome
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Old 5th Nov 2005, 09:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbohdan
thank you. you have a very nice and educational forum, thats why I dicided to join. thanks for the welcome
Thanks! Hope you stick around!
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Old 5th Nov 2005, 11:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Welcome to ARP! Thats some great work there.
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Old 6th Nov 2005, 10:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Nice Mod there
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Old 15th Nov 2005, 10:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Ok, here we go again: I wasn't totally satisfied with the mod. I kind of felt, that I should come up with a more radical solution for the memory(even like this the base of the SI-97 was touching the stock cooler for the memory which has a heatpipe connecting all the chips thermalwise, so the solution so far does work for the memory also and is simple - but still...). I just wanted something with a bigger bang that would match the GPU cooler in looks and possibly lower the temps on the memory further more. so I went down to a used computer parts store nearby and got myself an older pentium CPU cooler for $1 and then proceeded to cut it up with a saw. when I was finished with the 4 coolers it was time for lapping the bottom for each with sandpaper. I used grade 600, 800 and 2000 for the finish, pouring tap water as I sanded. I did not want to use arctic silver thermal adhesive, because that would make my mod permanent (no removal of the coolers from the ram chips possible) and I also did not want to use thermal pads (not as good for heat transfer as the AS5 compound), so I just turned to a homemade solution, which isn't very professional but is effective in my opinion. since the new coolers are covering the mem chips in pairs, I put AS5 on both chips, leaving out only one little corner of each chip on the opposite corner and I put a tiny bit of crazy glue there. this was enough to hold the cooler fins and still gave me the benefit of AS5.

so here is the finished product:








as you can see the mem coolers are allmost as tall as the space underneath the SI-97, so the zalman fan as it's blowing through the SI-97, also cools the memory. I cut the coolers as wide as it was possible without interference with other components. the new coolers are 1.5x wider and about 3x taller then the stock is, which gives them quite a big cooling area I also had to remove the original little fan from the base as it was interfering with the new memcooler


and this is how it looks in my rig
I'm planning to add a hardware digitalizing TV tuner card underneath my video card - for that I will have to remove my sound card and use onboard sound from now on

keep in mind that I have an 80mm fan blowing directly on the ram coolers and the base of the SI-97 from the side of my rig.

Next I wanted to see if I could squize any more out of the memory with the improved cooling. Unfortunatelly since I'm PSU limited, I wasn't expecting much more - still, cooler running memory is more stable and more efficient. The cards longevity is also extended.

I tried to raise the speed and actually was able to raise the memory by 30Mhz which is totally stable but due to my power limitation that was all. this with the settings of 444/1130 gave me 6055 points in 3dmark05:


well not much more but the memory runs a lot cooler and is more stable. (actually tested it with 3dmark05 running in loops for 3.5 hours and then without a reboot - quake4, playing for 3 hours with no problems). I'm happy with the results, although I'm curious what would be the limit of this baby with a bigger PSU (at least a 500W but preferably 600W)

still, i bought a 6800LE and got myself a GT which way outperformes the ultra with 108.8% performance boost from what the stock was and is runnig much cooler and quiter at the same time (the zalman and side blowing fan running on 5V instead of 12V and the asus star ice blue running on 60% of its minimum rpm. still my system is cool and all stable now.
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Old 15th Nov 2005, 11:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Wow! That's pretty extreme!!

Can we add that to the guide?
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Old 16th Nov 2005, 08:07 AM   #10 (permalink)
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sure boss. I'm glad you find it good. the main reason I'm posting it so others might find it usefull when improving their own card's cooling
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