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Recommend a passively cooled nVidia GPU


Keith_W
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I need a GPU for my HTPC. The HTPC is completely passively cooled with heatpipes, and uses the case as a giant heatsink. It is a Streacom FC10 Alpha.

 

 

Unfortunately, the design of this case (the orientation of the PCIE slots in particular!) means that the GPU will be facing down in the case. This is what I mean:

 

 

original.jpg

 

 

This is a pic of the back side of the case. Note the horizontal orientation of the PCIE slot.

 

 

original.jpg

 

 

This is a stock image of a graphics card. Note that the tabs for the slot are on the right, which means that the card will be mounted upside down - i.e. the fans are facing downwards.

 

 

This obviously poses a problem. Hot air rises, there are no fans in the case, and I am worried that the GPU will overheat.

 

 

These are the requirements:

 

 

- MUST be passively cooled. This HTPC sits in the living room. Any noise is unacceptable.

- MUST be an nVidia and support CUDA. Not because I am an nVidia fanboy, but because I want to use the GPU as a co-processor for HQPlayer

- should be as powerful as possible

 

 

I realize that I have given a list of contradictory requirements. But I am hoping that someone will make a product that I can use?

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EVGA GTX960. It has 2 fans, but its designed to run silent. I have one and I can't hear the fans with the case open. Looking at the your case, though, you may have a hard time fitting the card inside. You may want to look at a more traditional case that's designed to be silent. The Corsair Obsidian series is a good choice. If your PC is going to be run hard, it will get very hot. I don't know if a fanless PC is the right move in your case.

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Thank you for the recommendation. There seem to be a number of models for that EVGA, did you have one in mind? I don't think I will be changing my case - I quite like it!

 

It also crossed my mind to buy a higher end card and then throttle it so that it does not exceed a certain temperature.

 

I am also aware that there are some people who have passively cooled their GPU's in a Streacom case using heatpipes. But I don't know what GPU's they are using, and how much effort was involved. Anyone?

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The Founder's Edition 1060 has a blower fan, so it sucks air in from inside the case and blows it out the back of the case.

 

There are 950, 960 and 1060 "Mini" cards designed for HTPC / Mini-ITX applications, but they do have fans so if and/or how often they spin up will depend upon how hot your case gets and the fan profile. There are truly fanless versions of the GTX 710 and GTX 730 with CUDA support:

 

Newegg Link: ZOTAC NVIDIA GeForce GT 730

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Its a Geforce GTX 960 with 2GB GDDR5. You should be able to find one in Best Buy, its not that expensive. About $200. Its the same size as that 1080 in your first post. I bought all of my components in models that are supposed to ensure quiet operation. My Cosair Obsidian case has a chassis fan that's always on. My Corsair RM 750 power supply has a silent fan that only comes on when necessary, as does the 2 fans on the video card. And my cpu fan is always on. With all of that, you would never know if the system is on, even if you were sitting right next to it.

 

"It also crossed my mind to buy a higher end card and then throttle it so that it does not exceed a certain temperature."

 

Under clocking is also a good idea, but keep in mind you need to get the right motherboard. The Asus boards seem to give you the most options.

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I do not see the issue with the card being upside down. They draw heat through vent and pass it out of the case. The orientation of the card shouldn't be much of a factor.

 

This is a stock image of a graphics card. Note that the tabs for the slot are on the right, which means that the card will be mounted upside down - i.e. the fans are facing downwards.

 

 

This obviously poses a problem. Hot air rises, there are no fans in the case, and I am worried that the GPU will overheat.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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If you are not using the fans, you will likely need heat piping, and that works by conduction, not convection and orientation is not a big deal either. Another method might be water cooling without using a pump.

It will be an issue if the card is to be passively cooled.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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You'll need fans, but you can get very quiet ones. The best fanless GPUs still pump heat into the case, and in a fanless case there's nothing to dissipate that heat effectively. You *could* also spring for some of streacom's DIY heat pipes, but it will take some copper bending, which sounds daunting to me. Better to go for fans.

 

If you're buying a cuda chip because you need offloading, you should go for one that stands to make a difference over your CPU. That means you'll want a 10xx series card -- likely the 1060 or 1070. Palit makes a version of that card that doesn't even start the fan until the card gets over 50c, which sounds like a good way to go. See here: https://www.quietpc.com/pal-ne51070s15p2-1041j

Silent Win10 Music Server -> Roon -> HQP -> Singxer SU-1 -> Holo Audio Spring -> ECP L2 -> HD800 / Grado HP2i / HE-1000 / JH 13

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You say HTPC ... do you really need a graphics card unless you are playing games?

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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You say HTPC ... do you really need a graphics card unless you are playing games?

 

Lots of good reasons for a graphics card, even in an HTPC. CUDA offload for HQP upsampling, resampling or supersampling video for smoother playback, 4k playback, etc.

Silent Win10 Music Server -> Roon -> HQP -> Singxer SU-1 -> Holo Audio Spring -> ECP L2 -> HD800 / Grado HP2i / HE-1000 / JH 13

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I would go with a faster CPU than an extra card for additional computing power. At least the CPU is heatsinked. Passive video cards generate TONS of heat in my experience, which you case cannot support.

 

The other problem is card opening at the back. Most of the better video cards will take double space. There are two single cutouts at the back of FC10 case. Therefore, the card you posted will not fit into that case (even if it clears the CPU, heatpipes, RAM. HDD tray somehow, which I doubt).

Adam

 

PC: Hot rodded CAPS v4 Pipeline: Teradak ATX linear PSU, Jcat Femto USB card, UpTone Audio JS-2 + 2x LPS-1.2 combo, Jcat SSD battery PSU, Jcat SATA cable, TotalDAC D1 USB cable, SOtM sMS-200, W4S Recovery USB, Jcat USB Isolator, Win 2012, AO v2.10

Digital: Lampizator Pacific DAC

Amp: Dan D'Agostino Momentum Stereo

Speakers: Magcio M3

Cables: AudioQuest WEL Signature IC / Shunyata Anaconda Z-Tron SC

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You say HTPC ... do you really need a graphics card unless you are playing games?

 

As Sherwood said, the main reason I want it is for CUDA offload for HQPlayer. I need an absurdly powerful PC because I am using the PC as a digital crossover - HQPlayer has to upsample and apply convolution to 8 channels of digital audio, and do it in DSD. At the moment, it maxes out in DSD256 - which would be fine, because that's all my DAC can handle. But it sometimes causes audible dropouts when there is other computer activity. Also, attempting to play a native DSD file causes the CPU to max out at 100% and stutter. This is not acceptable, so I need a graphics card to offload the CPU.

 

I would go with a faster CPU than an extra card for additional computing power. At least the CPU is heatsinked. Passive video cards generate TONS of heat in my experience, which you case cannot support.

 

I have an i7-6700K. I don't think there is a faster LGA1151 CPU on the market?

 

I have also seen a picture of an FC9 (the slimline model of the FC10) with a heatpiped GPU in it. In that case, the GPU was heatpiped to the side of the Streacom. I don't know which GPU he was using, or how he managed to do it.

 

This is why I ask the question - is it better to get a higher end GPU, throttle it, and heatpipe it. Or should I go with some of the other suggestions and get a GPU with a quiet fan? TBH I am leaning towards the quiet fan solution, because it seems more straightforward.

 

Incidentally, that Palit suggestion made by Sherwood won't work. The length of that card is 285mm. The maximum length I can install is 178mm.

 

The other problem is card opening at the back. Most of the better video cards will take double space. There are two single cutouts at the back of FC10 case. Therefore, the card you posted will not fit into that case (even if it clears the CPU, heatpipes, RAM. HDD tray somehow, which I doubt).

 

You are correct - the two cutouts at the back of the FC10 are not of the standard spacing. No matter, I will just Dremel it out. I also have the maximum dimensions for the card I need. 178mm, from Streacom's website: System Build Guide | Streacom

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As Sherwood said, the main reason I want it is for CUDA offload for HQPlayer. I need an absurdly powerful PC because I am using the PC as a digital crossover - HQPlayer has to upsample and apply convolution to 8 channels of digital audio, and do it in DSD. At the moment, it maxes out in DSD256 - which would be fine, because that's all my DAC can handle. But it sometimes causes audible dropouts when there is other computer activity. Also, attempting to play a native DSD file causes the CPU to max out at 100% and stutter. This is not acceptable, so I need a graphics card to offload the CPU.

Just thinking a little outside the box here ... but is there no way you can have a more powerful box outside the listening room; then use the HQPlayer NAA to a lower powered box in your listening room?

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Just thinking a little outside the box here ... but is there no way you can have a more powerful box outside the listening room; then use the HQPlayer NAA to a lower powered box in your listening room?

 

I don't know. Is it? I don't know how HQP NAA works. Nor am I sure if my WiFi network is enough to handle 8 channels of DSD256. Neither do I know how I would control HQP from an NAA.

 

I have 4 PC's in my house. 1 for the audio, 2 in my office, and a laptop. So I guess I could try.

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Just thinking a little outside the box here ... but is there no way you can have a more powerful box outside the listening room; then use the HQPlayer NAA to a lower powered box in your listening room?

 

You just stated precisely why the NAA came to be: it's a clean little box that keeps the loud, heavy, number-crunching beast far from the sound system.

 

Nor am I sure if my WiFi network is enough to handle 8 channels of DSD256. Neither do I know how I would control HQP from an NAA. I have 4 PC's in my house. 1 for the audio, 2 in my office, and a laptop. So I guess I could try.

 

You can control HQP from a remote control like a phone or an iPad. The best way is supposed to be with Roon, but that's another step and expense (though most users love it). The NAA only does what Eloise suggested. And you can use an old desktop or laptop machine as an NAA.

Mac Mini 2012 with 2.3 GHz i5 CPU and 16GB RAM running newest OS10.9x and Signalyst HQ Player software (occasionally JRMC), ethernet to Cisco SG100-08 GigE switch, ethernet to SOtM SMS100 Miniserver in audio room, sending via short 1/2 meter AQ Cinnamon USB to Oppo 105D, feeding balanced outputs to 2x Bel Canto S300 amps which vertically biamp ATC SCM20SL speakers, 2x Velodyne DD12+ subs. Each side is mounted vertically on 3-tiered Sound Anchor ADJ2 stands: ATC (top), amp (middle), sub (bottom), Mogami, Koala, Nordost, Mosaic cables, split at the preamp outputs with splitters. All transducers are thoroughly and lovingly time aligned for the listening position.

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You can control HQP from a remote control like a phone or an iPad. The best way is supposed to be with Roon, but that's another step and expense (though most users love it). The NAA only does what Eloise suggested. And you can use an old desktop or laptop machine as an NAA.

 

My questions:

 

1. Does a wifi network have enough bandwidth for 8 channels of DSD256?

2. I hate Roon and will not use it. There is no HQPlayer app on Android, so I suppose the alternative is desktop mirroring software. I have not tried it myself - is it slow? No iPad here - Android only.

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1. Does a wifi network have enough bandwidth for 8 channels of DSD256?

2. I hate Roon and will not use it. There is no HQPlayer app on Android, so I suppose the alternative is desktop mirroring software. I have not tried it myself - is it slow? No iPad here - Android only.

 

1) Generally not, that's around EDIT: 200Mbits/sec. Depends on your wifi gear, distances, etc. But wired would work if you had a Gbit switch and good ethernet cables.

 

2) Yes, you could use Teamviewer or similar software. Not as easy as Apple screen sharing but powerful. Best of luck.

Mac Mini 2012 with 2.3 GHz i5 CPU and 16GB RAM running newest OS10.9x and Signalyst HQ Player software (occasionally JRMC), ethernet to Cisco SG100-08 GigE switch, ethernet to SOtM SMS100 Miniserver in audio room, sending via short 1/2 meter AQ Cinnamon USB to Oppo 105D, feeding balanced outputs to 2x Bel Canto S300 amps which vertically biamp ATC SCM20SL speakers, 2x Velodyne DD12+ subs. Each side is mounted vertically on 3-tiered Sound Anchor ADJ2 stands: ATC (top), amp (middle), sub (bottom), Mogami, Koala, Nordost, Mosaic cables, split at the preamp outputs with splitters. All transducers are thoroughly and lovingly time aligned for the listening position.

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The GTX980 I currently have on my Skylake PC is ASUS "0 dB gaming" version, so it stops fans when not needed and runs the fans at minimum speed when needed. You can see more info about this in my blog here.

 

I'm now building a new more poewrful PC for 8-channel use with the exaSound e28 and have ordered ASUS GTX 1080 which I'm expecting to be fairly quiet due to three large fans, I'll make a blog post (with pictures) about the new build when I get it done. :)

Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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1) Generally not, that's around EDIT: 200Mbits/sec. Depends on your wifi gear, distances, etc. But wired would work if you had a Gbit switch and good ethernet cables.

 

2) Yes, you could use Teamviewer or similar software. Not as easy as Apple screen sharing but powerful. Best of luck.

 

Thanks for all your help. I think I will try my best to passively cool my new GPU using Streacom heatpipes. Now I need to look for a GPU that will fit my case (max length 178mm), as powerful as possible, whilst still not exceeding 90W TDP.

 

Also thanks Miska for that post. My PC (i7-6700K) is more powerful than yours, but I don't think I would be able to fit a GPU like that. So hopefully in the end, my CPU usage will be about the same as yours.

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Thanks for all your help.

You're welcome. Since the computing and GPU power issue has arisen here, thought I would link the list of Nvidia CUDA-capable GPUs:

https://developer.nvidia.com/cuda-gpus

 

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Computer Audiophile mobile app

Mac Mini 2012 with 2.3 GHz i5 CPU and 16GB RAM running newest OS10.9x and Signalyst HQ Player software (occasionally JRMC), ethernet to Cisco SG100-08 GigE switch, ethernet to SOtM SMS100 Miniserver in audio room, sending via short 1/2 meter AQ Cinnamon USB to Oppo 105D, feeding balanced outputs to 2x Bel Canto S300 amps which vertically biamp ATC SCM20SL speakers, 2x Velodyne DD12+ subs. Each side is mounted vertically on 3-tiered Sound Anchor ADJ2 stands: ATC (top), amp (middle), sub (bottom), Mogami, Koala, Nordost, Mosaic cables, split at the preamp outputs with splitters. All transducers are thoroughly and lovingly time aligned for the listening position.

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