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My hardware profile:

Case: APEX PC-389-C Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-MA785G-UD3H
PSU: Antec Neo Eco 400W
CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 640
RAM: 5GB Dual-Channel DDR2 (I later bought an extra 1GB stick of this)
GPU: 1024MB GeForce GTX 550TI (and pics with accurate cooling fan)
VID: E390-A1 Vizio 39" LED TV, 1920x1080 resolution
HDD: WD 320GB SATA - WD3200AAKS
HDD: SG 2TB SATA - ST2000DL004
DVD: LiteOn iHAS222 DVD R/W SATA
OS: Windows 7 (x64) and Ubuntu 13.04 (x64)


My situation:

I'm a college student, 20, who's just moved to the city and I'm on a tight budget.

I used to have an nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX that died on me, but I've upgraded to a 550TI. The problem is, it overheats. On almost every game I play. This was verified last night when I couldn't play Dear Esther.

I also had an older, much smaller monitor that I used to use before I upgraded to this much larger TV. Now, the increased resolution forces my graphics card to control too many pixels and it burns out at about twice the rate that it used to.

I've gotten wise lately and done benchmarks and tests. I've downloaded and used FurMark to push the card to its limits and determined the problem is definitely heat. I run the 1920x1080 Burn-In Test and within 3 minutes, the card's heat steadily rises from a default 35-60'C depending on my activity, to a harmful 90'C whereupon the screen flashes black, the drivers crash, etc. The exact same symptoms as when the card breaks down as I play games.

I'm looking for a more effective heating solution than what I have. I have four fans-- One on the back, one on the CPU, one on the GPU (dual-fan), and one on the side panel. None of this appears sufficient.


What I've tried:

  • Removing the side panel to increase air flow has barely a measurable effect on the card's temps.

  • Using Precision X to manually force the fans to run 100% to see if it makes a difference by stress-testing in FurMark ("15-minute burn-in test"), but it only climbs to critical temperatures at a slightly lower rate.

  • I've re-applied Arctic Silver to the card between the GPU and Heatsink.

  • I've kept the fans clean.

None of this matters, the card is simply not getting cooled rapidly enough.


Thoughts

If you take a look at my specs, you'll notice that I have a ATX Mini-Tower case and a certain Gigabyte motherboard. If you take a look at the motherboard photos, you may notice the PCIe slots on the board. If you take the overhead image of the board and rotate it 90' Clock-wise, you will see how the board sits inside the case. The video card rests fans-down from the PCIe slots (it takes the space of both of them).

I believe this is the culprit of the overheating. The graphics card, when installed, rests near the bottom. The gap between the fans and the bottom is only about 1"-2". It never occurred to me before, but now I'm wondering if this isn't one big (if not the biggest) culprit in why the fans can't cool the GPU in time.

If anyone has any suggestions, please help. I've looked briefly into liquid cooling, which I think would more than adequately solve my problem, except the apparatus is either expensive or nonexistent for my GPU.


Also,

I don't like the cooling fans on the card. They're loud. If anyone knows of good GPU-cooling fans or an otherwise cost-effect method of GPU cooling that might work better or quieter, I'd really love to hear it.

Thanks for the help, DarkIron112

NOTE: I've edited the post to include product links that make references much easier.

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Sounds like you should either replace the graphic cards with say a low profile card or migrate to a larger case. The current fans are loud only because they are unable to cool the card because of air flow. –  Ramhound Oct 3 '13 at 14:37
    
First the obvious question: How hot it the air which leads to the fans which cool the GPU? I assume that you checked that you are not feeding the cooling with the hot-air from a CPU fan or hot air from a PSU. Still, it would be nice to have that confirmed. :) Secondly: I looked at the motherboard picture and I do not grok the "PCIe slots near the EDGE". I see PCI slots near the edge and two brightly coloured PCI-e slots. –  Hennes Oct 3 '13 at 14:39
    
@Ramhound I'm considering getting a bigger case as my prime method of solving this problem-- but if I drop the money and it doesn't absolutely work, I'm done for a few months, financially. I just want to be sure. Also, would you be willing to post your response as an answer, perhaps with some case suggestions? I don't mean to ask you to do my shopping for me, just merely to point out considerations when buying cases (with real-world examples?) that would steer me in the right direction. –  jwarner112 Oct 3 '13 at 14:44
1  
that might work better or quieter, I'd really love to hear it. Hah... I see what you did there! (However, you don't want to hear it) –  Annonomus Penguin Jun 11 at 0:58
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@jwarner You did give a true cause of the issue... it was a defective card. BTW, feel free to post this as an answer so a mod can delete some of these comments... –  Annonomus Penguin Jun 11 at 21:13

1 Answer 1

up vote 0 down vote accepted

The solution has finally arrived, everyone!

The card itself was faulty. I found it to be under warranty and had it RMA'd to Gigabyte, where it was returned to me and now works. No visible change on the card, either.

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