How do I slow down a 4-pin gpu fan?

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tom thumb
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How do I slow down a 4-pin gpu fan?

Post by tom thumb » Sun Oct 10, 2010 2:53 pm

First off, my intention is to buy a vapor-x or toxic 5850, they are essentially the same IMO, aside from the clock speed.

Before I ask about the fan, is this the best choice for a quiet card at the 5850-level?

As far as I know, high end cards must have fans, it's really a question of the quality of the cooling that comes with them. I will buy from a less well-known manufacturer if they've got a quieter system. Is there any other manufacturer, card, or variant that is even better than vapor-x?

I have not looked into nvidia, as I assumed that they are all way too hot and thus *generally* louder, but I will ask anyway... is there a 460 or 470 that can compete with the 5850 vapor-x in terms of loudness? (by this I mean, how loud it is at idle and at max load).

Now, back to the matter at hand...

Assuming that I get the 5850, it will have a 4-pin fan that can be manually adjusted through ATI software, but cannot be tuned lower than 33% or so, not through software nor through bios. I cannot run the risk that the card will stand out acoustically as I have built a practically silent i7 rig and the card itself is expensive (~300CAD).

In short, I need a way to forcibly slow down a 4-pin fan. I am open to *any* suggestions, however unconventional. I would prefer not to violate the warranty but if it cannot be avoided, then I will.

Here are some of my ideas/resources, if nothing else, tell me if you think they have merit/use:

- I have a load of LNA and ULNA adapters from 3-pin noctua fans, if these were modified to fit, would they work?
- I have a ton of resistors, wire, soldering equipment and a multimeter, although I am a total noob at using them. I was thinking I could put in a resistor, but I have no idea which one or how.
- Are there any in-line 4-pin fan controllers out there?

Thanks in advance for your help.

... It takes more skill to build a computer that is silent than it does to build one that performs well. If your goal is a computer that is both silent *and* powerful, then I applaud you.

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Post by Arbutus » Sun Oct 10, 2010 10:09 pm

The Zalman Reserator 1 V2 Fanless Water Cooling System is hard to find in stock. It's listed at US$259.95 at . The Zalman graphics waterblock adds $30 more on to the price.

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Post by Modo » Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:19 pm

The MSI Twin Frozr II cards seem to be the best (active) solution at the moment when noise is considered. I'd look at one of these instead.

If you are able to open the cover, then you should find the fan connector, and the ULNA adapter should be easy enough to put in. The problem with that (assuming it's no hassle in itself) is, the card might run too hot under load, as you'd reduce the maximum speed as well. I'm not sure you can get away with that. I'd rather try to plug the card fan into a motherboard/control panel header, and control it manually. However, I don't know if the card will work without a fan connected to its fan header.

Instead of fiddling with the fan, you could just replace the cooling solution with a Prolimatech MK-13. The manufacturer says it will fit a 5850. Put it on, add a quiet fan, and you're set. It'll cost an arm and a leg, though.

Last but not least, I'd consider waiting for the 6xxx series cards, which should be available this month. The 6xxx performance equivalent of a 5850 will almost certainly run cooler, maybe even with factory fanless designs available.

tom thumb
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Location: Middle Earth

Post by tom thumb » Mon Oct 11, 2010 2:04 pm

I did a bit of research on the MSI Twin Frozr.

Modo is right, it is quieter than the vapor-x, but it is a hotter card as well, at least according to this review: ... ision.html

This is my impression right now:
In terms of heat: vapor-x > stock > MSI
In terms of noise: MSI > vapor-x > stock

With the twin frozr, you've got a massive heat sink and two fans, thus you can afford to spin them very slowly at stock settings, but the card is still hot and thus it is inadvisable to tune them down any slower.

With vapor-x, you've got a unique cooling technology that will get your temps way down, but the stock fan speeds are too high and thus it's louder than MSI. I still think the vapor-x is the better card, but on the condition that you can get full control over it's fan.

About the 6000 series... as far as I know, these will still be based on the 40nm technology. It will not be until the series after that they will get to 28nm. I don't see how the upcoming cards can have more effective cooling if they are based on the same scale. Quite frankly I don't understand why there will be such a series... why not just add to the current one? A 5790 or 5890 for instance.

Anyway, the idea with forcing the vapor-x fan slower is to trade the cooling benefit of vapor-x with less noise, thus overtaking the Twin Frozr, and staying at safe temps - all the while using just the card itself without any aftermarket cooling, or without voiding the warranty.

For example (these temps are made up);
At full load and full fan speed a stock 5850 will reach 70C
At full load and full fan speed a vapor-x will reach 62C
I proceed to force the fan speed slower such that at it's new max fan speed, the card will reach 70C.
Additionally, I could underclock the vapor-x to stock speeds, then proceed to force fan speed even lower - maintaining the 70C peak temp.

Using a motherboard header is an idea, however I want to be sure this will work. Also, manually adjusting the card will not, as that is too much work. It has to use a temp. vs fan speed curve.

If anyone out there has done any modding to their vapor-x, let me know :P

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Post by SMM » Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:33 pm

I have a 5770 vapor-x. Hopefully it is close enough to the models that you are interested in that my experience is relevant.

I found that my 5770 vapor-x was audible when it was idle and quite noisy under load.

MSI Afterburner lets you specify the temp. vs fan speed curve. I used it to make my vapour-x much quieter both at idle and under load, without increasing temperatures too much. Now when it is idling, it is probably quieter than my disk drive.

I think that using MSI Afterburner is simpler than connecting the GPU fan to the motherboard, and GPU modding is not needed.

Product model numbers (and software version numbers) are usually controlled by a company’s marketing department. The new Radeon model numbers are probably chosen to try to increase sales.

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