Cooling a 9700k and 3080 with high ambient temps

Spaghetti

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Dec 29, 2020
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I just replaced an aging R9 290 (Sapphire vapor-x cooler) with an evga rtx 3080 ftw3 ultra. Performance is great, temperatures are less so. The card reaches 75-80C under gaming load. Today, that's not bad and seems pretty typical for the card. The fans are crazy loud though, much louder than the card I replaced. I'm using the 'OC' bios switch on the card that speeds up the fans a bit.

When summer comes around this system will be sitting in ambient temperatures close to 80F instead of the 65F it sees during the winter. The 290 ran a little below 70C in the winter and around 80C in the summer with the same CPU, so I expect the 3080 will be pushing 90C come summer. I want to improve cooling before then, and I'm not sure what the best route is.

Specs today:
i7-9700k (stock)
beQuiet Dark Rock 4 (not the pro)
Aorus z390 Pro Wifi
G.Skill TridentZ 32GB (CL16 3466)
EVGA RTX 3080 FTW3 Ultra
SeaSonic Focus 850W PSU
Samsung 860 Evo 1TB
500GB WD Black HDD
Lian-Li PC-X510 (https://www.newegg.com/p/N82E16811112475)

Right now, I have three 120mm intake on the front and two 120mm exhaust at the rear of the case. The end of the GPU is less than a quarter of an inch from the front intake fans (the 290 it replaced was an even tighter fit). All of the fans are Cougar turbines, decent performing and much cheaper than Noctuas.

This case has a weird layout with hard drive cages above the motherboard rather than in front of it. The HDD area has one of the rear exhaust fans and two upward facing fan mounts I'm not currently using, the whole area is separated from the mobo by an aluminum divider. If I replace my SATA drives with an NVMe drive, I can ditch the cages and have a ton of free space at the top of the case and two upward-facing 120mm fan mounts.

So I've got a few options:
1. Ditch the SATA drives for an NVMe, drill out the divider, and add two upward-facing exhaust fans. I'm not sure how much this will help since those fans will be a good six inches above the top of the mobo, and I'd have more exhaust than intake and conventional wisdom says you want more intake. I'm also a little concerned with heat on a m2 SSD, one of the slots is under the CPU cooler and the other is under the GPU.
2. Buy a 240mm AIO cooler and mount it in the HDD enclosure at the top of the case, in the hope that it will pull heat away from the CPU and give the GPU a bit more breathing room. I'm not sure that a 240mm AIO is going to be much better than the cooler I already have though, and they're pricey.
3. Replace all the fans with something better? I'm open to suggestions, I know better fans can be quieter, but I'm not convinced that they'll make a big difference in temperature.
4. Build a really convoluted open loop? There's not enough space at the front of the case for a 360mm radiator (too thick), so I'd only have 240mm at the top and four individual 120mm mounts to work with.
5. Hope that someone here has a better idea (other than reduce ambient temps or buy a new case...).

So, suggestions? I'm hesitant to spend a few hundred on cooling without knowing if it'll actually improve anything.
 

Keljian

[H]ard|Gawd
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Nov 7, 2006
Messages
1,339
The heat has to go somewhere, regardless of what cooling you get. The case you have has ok, but not great, airflow. The 9700 won’t like being constrained to a 240mm water cooler.

My advice? Go with a new case - I know you said not to, but will likely be cheaper than water cooling and will be significantly better as an upgrade. You will likely see drops of 15-20C versus what you have. Bang for buck, this is your best option.

Look at the phanteks p500a, or the Lian li lancool mesh ii series (rgb or performance, they perform about the same), or the fractal design meshify series or if you must get water cooling, look at the Lian li O11, which everyone seems to favor.

If you have money left over, go NVME, it’s worth it. Don't worry about the positioning, they can tolerate being under a gpu.

If you are absolutely wed to the case you have, then better fans may improve performance by 2-4C. I would be looking at the bequiet shadow wings 2 (they have higher static pressure than the Silent wings) or maybe the noctua p series but your cougar turbines aren’t that much different. Better compound on the cpu will improve performance by 2-6C as well. The combination may therefore give you a 4-8C buffer.
 
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blade52x

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Sep 9, 2006
Messages
3,066
You should look into undervolting your 3080: https://hardforum.com/threads/rtx-3000-series-undervolt-discussion.2003050/

It actually helps performance for a lot of people since boost clocks are higher and/or maintained as they are otherwise power throttled. You might see a nice benefit in load temperatures doing this. Something like 1800mhz at 0.85v could be a good starting point for you, and then you can try 1900mhz at 0.9v and so on.
 

somebrains

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What keljian said re: nvme drive and Lancool 2 mesh or P500A
I wouldn't get Meshify C case, it's too tight a layout with respects to gpu length so you'll end up boxing yourself in.
Larger Meshify is basically R6 sized so air velocity can become a factor.

I took off my clocks bc Call of Duty started to glitch really bad towards the end of BO4.
Ended up going back to air cooling bc I needed my h115i for a kids 1st pc build.

I'm currently running 3x noctua 120mm front, 1x 120mm exhaust, and a u14s.
Fans are fans, fully populate your front & tune exhaust with data rather than feelings.

My home office is basically a framed in back porch, haven't insulated it.
 

Spaghetti

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I get that a new case is probably the right solution, but I don't want to replace the case without at least considering the alternatives first. It was one of those 'it costs a fortune but should last forever' purchases.

Whatever I do, having a few more good fans on hand won't hurt. Maybe I'll start with the cheapest option: drill out the divider, put the SATA SSD somewhere temporary, and mount some top exhaust fans. I don't expect miracles, but you never know. In theory a total of seven 120mm fans sounds like it should be enough...

Undervolting the GPU is an interesting suggestion. Right now it's constantly at it's 380W power limit, but raise the ambient temperature 20 degrees and I expect that to change.
 

Keljian

[H]ard|Gawd
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I get that a new case is probably the right solution, but I don't want to replace the case without at least considering the alternatives first. It was one of those 'it costs a fortune but should last forever' purchases.

Whatever I do, having a few more good fans on hand won't hurt. Maybe I'll start with the cheapest option: drill out the divider, put the SATA SSD somewhere temporary, and mount some top exhaust fans. I don't expect miracles, but you never know. In theory a total of seven 120mm fans sounds like it should be enough...

Undervolting the GPU is an interesting suggestion. Right now it's constantly at it's 380W power limit, but raise the ambient temperature 20 degrees and I expect that to change.

The thing is, those fans will cost as much as a new case. So to improve your airflow that much you will probably want noctua a12x25 fans. Half a dozen of those becomes very pricey.

It’s not the fans that are the issue, it’s the fact there is little in the way of intake vents. Thinking about it, your best option would actually be to put a 140 mm slow blow fan above the GPU. (Or two 120mm fans next to each other)

So after making a 140mm hole in the side of the case, get a shadow wings fan (or a noctua A15 with appropriately sized hole) and a filter, then pop that on either intake or exhaust- I would probably put it on intake actually, so fresh air is coming in straight on the GPU, though there is a case for both setups.

This would make a lot more difference than faster/higher grade fans.

Using something like Argus monitor, you can have it only spin up when the GPU hits a particular temperature.
 
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Spaghetti

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The thing is, those fans will cost as much as a new case. So to improve your airflow that much you will probably want noctua a12x25 fans. Half a dozen of those becomes very pricey.

it’s not the fans that is the issue, it’s the fact there is little in the way of intake vents. Thinking about it, your best option would actually be to put a 140 mm slow blow fan above the GPU.

So after making a 140mm hole in the side of the case, get a shadow wings fan and a filter, then pop that on either intake or exhaust (probably intake actually, so fresh air is coming in straight on the GPU, though there is a case for both setups)

Using something like Argus monitor, you can have it only spin up when the GPU hits a particular temperature.

I have two unused fan slots at the top of the case right now. And I already have a pile of low-quality 120mm fans I'm not using. The reason I haven't mounted anything up there yet is that there is an aluminum divider plate separating the HDD cages from the motherboard, and my SSD is mounted to it. So if I did nothing but mount the fans, all they'd be cooling is one SSD.

But I can drill out the rivets for that plate, move the SSD to the floor of the case temporarily, and mount some random fans in the top of the case to see if the two extra exhaust fans plus the added empty space helps temperatures at all. Only downside is that I have to completely disassemble the system to do it. If two cheap fans at the top of the case help, then I can buy two good fans and an NVMe drive so I don't need to mount an SSD anywhere. If they don't, all I've lost is a bunch of time reassembling the system.

Drilling a hole in the side of the case is not an option. One side is tempered glass, literally everything else is brushed aluminum. I don't have anything that will drill through that. Although now that I think about it... The side panel window is tempered glass, but it's screwed in. I could theoretically buy a piece of plexiglass, cut it to the same size, drill a hole for a fan in it, and then mount it using the same screws that were holding the glass. It would probably end up looking terrible, but I'll think about it.
 

Keljian

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Drilling a hole in the side of the case is not an option. One side is tempered glass, literally everything else is brushed aluminum. I don't have anything that will drill through that. Although now that I think about it... The side panel window is tempered glass, but it's screwed in. I could theoretically buy a piece of plexiglass, cut it to the same size, drill a hole for a fan in it, and then mount it using the same screws that were holding the glass. It would probably end up looking terrible, but I'll think about it.
Lian li used to sell spare sides for cases in aluminium, maybe speak to them direct?
 

Spaghetti

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Dec 29, 2020
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So I had another idea while putting stuff back together today: A spare 92mm fan fills the empty PCI slots almost perfectly. This plus mounting two top fans and removing the top divider appears to have dropped temps by about ten degrees, GPU peaks around 71C now instead of 79-80 (based on ingame and about a dozen Metro Exodus benchmark runs, I haven't tried any synthetic benchmarks to really push it).

That might be just about enough headroom. Having two intake fans blowing directly at one another makes a lot of noise, but it seems to work. Now I just need to get some decent fans for the top mounts (the ones I put there today have sleeve bearings and I hear those don't like horizontal mounting) and coming up with a better way to mount the 92mm fan than zip ties. Maybe I can drill mounting points into some old PCI slot covers.

fan.jpg
 

Keljian

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
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Messages
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So I had another idea while putting stuff back together today: A spare 92mm fan fills the empty PCI slots almost perfectly. This plus mounting two top fans and removing the top divider appears to have dropped temps by about ten degrees, GPU peaks around 71C now instead of 79-80 (based on ingame and about a dozen Metro Exodus benchmark runs, I haven't tried any synthetic benchmarks to really push it).

That might be just about enough headroom. Having two intake fans blowing directly at one another makes a lot of noise, but it seems to work. Now I just need to get some decent fans for the top mounts (the ones I put there today have sleeve bearings and I hear those don't like horizontal mounting) and coming up with a better way to mount the 92mm fan than zip ties. Maybe I can drill mounting points into some old PCI slot covers.
Thus proving the point that the problem is ventilation :) Good solution, though you may want rubber grommets on the fan so that it doesn't rattle around too much
 
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