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TITAN V Hybrid Mod Build Log: Liquid Cooling the $3000 GPU

Posted on December 17, 2017

We took our nVidia Titan V Volta card apart when we first received it, following our gaming benchmarks, and are now embarking on a mission to take some Top 10 scores in HWBot Firestrike rankings. Admittedly, we can only get close to top 10 from access – we bought the card early, and so it’s a bit of an unfair advantage – but we’re confident that the top 10 slots will soon belong entirely to the XOC community.

For now, though, we can have a moment of glory. If only a moment.

Getting there will require better cooling, as we just aren’t as good at CPU overclocking as some of the others in the top 10. To make up for our skill and LN2 deficit, we can throw more cooling at the Titan V and put up a harder fight. Liquid cooling the V is the first step, and will help us stabilize higher clocks at lower temperatures. Volta, like Pascal, increases its clock (and the stability of that clock) as the GPU core temperature decreases. Driving temperatures down under 60C will help tremendously in stability, and driving them under 40C – if possible – will be even better. We’ll see how far we get. Our Top 10 efforts will be livestreamed at around 5 or 6PM EST today, December 16, 2017.

Here’s the hybrid mod video:

We tried a few things for this mod:

  • Modifying an Asetek CLC bracket (for LGA115X) to the 70x70mm mounting hole spacing
  • Using Deep Cool mounting adapters for Ryzen AM4 coolers
  • Custom solutions

Ultimately, after thinking through all the drill work involved in most of the mods, we realized that our Be Quiet! Silent Loop 280 cooler had longer holes in its mounting plate. Because Be Quiet just clamps down on the holes to lock the screw, rather than placing screw-sized holes in multiple locations, we were able to push the screws all the way inward to fit 70x70 mounting. It just barely fit, and we needed some long screws and a couple of washers, but it came together.

During the process, as shown in the video above, we used a pressure contact paper to ensure enough force was being applied from the cooler to the GPU and HBM. This is a scenario where excess force is deadly, as it can easily crack the HBM on the perimeter of the package. This is a large die, too, which also means greater fragility when under duress. We ultimately routed our screws about 11.8mm through the backside of the card, which gave us enough mounting force to make full contact to the silicon.

Further, we’re leaving the baseplate off: This will allow us access to the shunts and probe points on the card. We want the ability to check voltages during benchmarking, so the backplate must remain off, and we want the ability to short the shunts, so the baseplate must remain off. This will make everything easier to access during benchmarking. For VRM cooling, we can just point some fans at the VRM directly.

Our livestream should start at ~5PM or 6PM EST today, December 16.

Editorial: Steve Burke
Video: Andrew Coleman