M1 V6.1 Removing Video Card Fans and Using System Fans Instead

berglh

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Jan 7, 2020
14
11
I have an Ncase M1 on the way and bought an Asus ROG Strix RTX 2080 Super A8G to go in the build. I have checked this in the compatibility list, and it looks like it should just squeeze in by removing the front IO ports with the stock card fan assembly.

For the rest of the system I have:
  • Ryzen 3900X
  • Kraken X52 (fans in pull configuration)
  • Asus ROG Strix X570-I
  • 32 GB (2x16G) Trident Z Neo F4-3600C16D-32GTZN
  • Corsair 1TB MP600 NVMe SSD
  • Seasonic SGX 650
However, I've had had the idea to remove the stock card fans and use 2x Noctua NF-A12x25 2000 RPM PWM or similar on the bottom of the case. The video card has two PWM ports for controlling fans, so this seems like a possible configuration. The thickness of the card and heatpipe assembly looks to be a 2 slot height if the fan assembly is removed, which should give me room for 2x 120x25 MM fans at the bottom of the M1.

My main concern with a pull configuration for this setup is that blowing air out towards the bottom air filter doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and will probably pull dust in through the ventilation holes on the side of the case which is probably not ideal. However, removing the filter would improve airflow. In a push configuration, pulling in air from the bottom of the case and blowing on to the card would allow me to filter the air coming into the case.

I am planning on replacing the NZXT fans on the Kraken X52 with the NF-A12 or NF-F12 2000 anyway, so I would be able to test the various configurations before doing the swap on the radiator. With that in mind though, my main questions are:
  1. Is this worth doing?
  2. The fact there will be some gap ~1 mm between the card heat-pipe assembly and the fans make a big difference?
  3. Dose a pull configuration (away from the card, exhausting out the bottom of the case) or a push (blow air onto the card) work best?
  4. Can I fit the case front IO ports in with 2x 120 MM fans at the bottom of the case?
 
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smitty2k1

King of Cable Management
Dec 3, 2016
915
453
After digging around a bit more, looking at this [ Watercooling The NCase M1 - Epic, or Average? ] video on Optimum Tech, it looks like he does have this kind of setup with 2x 120 MM fans in the bottom of the case. Question is, which way are they blowing? ?
A few years ago it was pretty common for people to remove the heatsink/shroud/fan from their video cards in the NCASE and either use the Accelero3 or Morpheus2 cooler with Noctua fans. Most people that did this found that having the two 120mm fans as exhaust lead to better temperatures. I'm currently running a Vega56 with Morpheus2 and 120x15mm Noctua fans in this exhaust configuration with good results, but I did not do extensive testing. It is CERTAINLY quieter and better performing than the stock blower heatsink and fan combination that came with the card.
 
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JoShmo

Cable Smoosher
Jul 30, 2019
11
7
Its what I've done. Installed a Sapphire 8GB RX580 (cos I'm doubling the build as a Hackintosh) - replaced the GPU fans with 2 x Noctua NF A12x25 configured as pulling from the card and exhausting out the bottom. These are connected to the card's single PWM fan power outlet and then split to each fan. Works great - thermals are a bit cooler than stock but noise levels, which was my main motivation, are night and day. EDIT - should also point out that these are the only fans at the bottom of the case. The only other fans are 2 of the same Noctua feeding a Celsius S24 AIO on the side. The build is so quiet I've done double takes about it powering on!
 
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berglh

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Jan 7, 2020
14
11
Thanks for everyone's feedback, I feel like I'm headed down the right path with the build.

@JoShmo this sounds like a pretty similar fan setup to where I expect I'll end up and it's good to hear you have it running off the GPU directly. To be fair, I have substantial background noise in the environment I'm living in at the moment so I may not even notice the stock fans to be honest, but I'm definitely looking to get a bit of extra performance out of the hardware, so some better air cooling all around should help with the bonus that it will be quieter.
 

Jetpaction

Trash Compacter
Jan 4, 2020
37
21
@berglh if you want to get the most out of your GPU in terms of cooling and silence I think you have 3 options, besides custom watercooling:

  1. Use an Arctic Accelero III or IV with two 120mm fans at the bottom of the case. I'm using the IV without the included backplate but with a set of copper heatsinks for the VRM's for that extra bit of cooling performance. For fans you can use the NF-A12x25's or the NF-F12x25's (high static pressure). I'm using the latter one with a custom fan curve running around 1000rpm which makes them practically inaudible.
  2. Use liquid metal instead of thermal paste. This works especially well with the Arctic, it brings down the temps a few more degrees.
  3. Undervolt your GPU. I'm running my 2080 Super on 0.906v@1920Mhz.
I did all 3 of the above and it dropped the temps of my 2080S from 75c under load to 55c under load while being practically inaudible.
 

berglh

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Jan 7, 2020
14
11
@Jetpaction Unfortunately for item 3, I'm going to be running linux. From my research undervolting the GPU won't be possible as it's either not exposed by the nvidia driver or the tooling doesn't exist. There are also potential issues with things like not all fans being controllable by the system that I may run into. Guess we'll see in the fullness of time.

Regardless, I'll consider the Accelero and/or liquid metal, thanks for the tip - even if the GPU is running a bit warmer without undervolting, improving the cooling should make a substantial difference. I undervolted the Core i9 in my laptop under linux and it made quite a significant difference to temps and the how frequently the fan span up for cooling which on battery made a big difference, so I can certainly appreciate the desirability of undervolting the GPU.
 

zoon

Cable Smoosher
Dec 12, 2019
11
5
I just finished a very similar build with Asus ROG Strix RTX 2080 Super O8G and I confirm the GPU with the stock cooler fits perfectly.
It’s actually easy to fit the card with the front IOs removed.

I did not try with the front IOs in as I prefer the look of the clean front but I believe the card would fit anyway but the thick IO cables might give you a headache.
There is also no way to install the included GPU holder as there is no free space on the card where it would not touch any of the 3 fans.

Temps on the GPU and overall is a non-issue and I would not recommend to switch the stock fans with bottom system fans. At least not with 2080 Strix cards.

The only annoying thing is the PCH Fan on the Strix X570-I ramping up once the GPU gets warmer and for now I haven't figured out a way to get this stupid little fan under control.

It idles around 2000rpm and with CPU load around 3000rpm which is both ok . But during gaming it goes up to 7000-8000 which results in a high pitched noise.
I might try the mod Bios which allows to control the PCH Fan or remove it entirely and hope for the best. Last option is switching to a B450 board without any fans.

All 3 case fans (2x NF-12x15 and 1x NF-A9) are daisy chained and connected to the CHA header using two Noctua Splitter cables and controlled by MB and GPU temps. Only the bottom CPU fan is connected to the CPU header. The AIO PUMP header does not allow enough control with the stock bios.

some pics - the cable mgmt on top is not yet finished and the RGBs not yet disabled :)

BoM:

Ryzen 3700X
Asus ROG Strix X570-I
Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 32GB (2x16GB) 3200MHz CL16 (they OC pretty well with tight timings)
ASUS GeForce RTX 2080S ROG Strix O8G
Samsung 970 EVO Plus 1TB M.2 NVMe
Corsair SF750 Platinum
Noctua NH-C14S
1x Noctua NF-12x25 PWM (bottom CPU cooler which replaces the stock NF-A14)
2x Noctua NF-12x15 PWM (both side intake, one acts as top CPU cooler)
1x Noctua NF-A9 PWM (back exhaust)
1x Ncase M1 v6.1
 
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berglh

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Jan 7, 2020
14
11
@zoon Great photos. That's strange with the PCH fan, I did read in the manual it get's pretty fast, but it'd be nice to do something about it. With amount of exhaust you have happening around the CPU heatsink and rear of the case, I'd almost be inclined to unplug it and see if you can monitor the VRM temps. Perhaps as the platform ages, we will get better controls over this for well ventilated systems.

Thanks for the reply, I might still go down the Noctua exhaust fan on the GPU as an experiment. Looking at your clearance there looks like I should just get away with it. It would also be nice to suck that GPU heat out the bottom of the case unimpeded which should help VRM temps, as I'll be pulling heat in to the case with my 240 AIO. Guess there will be a bunch of testing to do. In other news, my case arrived this morning.
 

zoon

Cable Smoosher
Dec 12, 2019
11
5
Great, I"m wondering how this is gonna work out. The VRM fan is not the issue and never exceeded 2000rpm no matter the load.

Only the PCH fan goes nuts and I think the whole cooler construction for the chipset with the sandwiched NVMe (especially the pretty power hungry EVO+) between is not great. Whenever the GPU is in use the partially covered cooler gets warm by heat radiation from the GPU and the poor fan is desperately fighting against it :)

There are quite a few similar reports regarding the PCH fan even on the bigger Strix 570 boards.
 

Leinel

Caliper Novice
Dec 19, 2019
21
14
@zoon:
I think the biggest problem for the ROG Strix X570 users in the Ncase M1 is the pch fan. I am happy with the board finally.
I would try to route the cables downwards where the graphic card is. Your cable management seems to block air getting out of the top panel. also, if you got 2 120x25mm fans, maybe you can deshrould just the fans of the 2080 and put the 120mm as exhaust so the hot air from the gpu is kind of blocked by the cables on top of the gpu and will disappear through the bottom of the case. Between the stock fans of the gpu and the heatsink, there should only be two screws on each side of the cpu, if they kept the design. I had a lot of problems with the pch fan, now it is quiet.
My setting:
Ncase M1
NF-A9 to be tested as exhaust
Ryzen 3900x undervolted and undercklocked for gaming (1,15V at 4.1GHz, for rendering stock speed at 1,3V with 4,6GHz on all cores turboing)
Kraken X52 AIO with 2 Noctua NF 12x25 on the side panel (according to Optimum Tech's video) getting air into the case
Gigabyte Aorus 1080 ti xtreme edition deshrouded with 2 Noctua 12x25 on the card, exhausting the air towards the bottom. I undervolted the card to 950mV, the only way to get

I will take some time tomorrow to test some different settings (92mm as exhaust instead of intake or not running at all), if there are some ideas from your side, please adress it here.
Benchmark will be:
CPU-Z
Heaven 4.0
MechWarrior (unreal engine)
 
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zoon

Cable Smoosher
Dec 12, 2019
11
5
Thanks for all the inputs. I guess I have to check the thermal interface on the chipset cooler and I agree cable management is far from optimal.
Actually I'm waiting for Noctua fan clips NM-SFC14 to attach the NF-12x25 properly to the cooler. The included NM-SFC17 are obviously too long for 120mm.

Personally I doubt it will improve much, if at all. As already mentioned the PCH Fan stays quiet even with 100% load on the CPU and all the sensors giving me good temps, especially motherboard. I'm pretty sure it's the GPU heatsink and black plate transfering all the heat over to the chipset heatsink. In the end it's two big alu surfaces with nearly no space between.

Also since the Strix is so large it basically splits the case into two chambers. There is almost no airflow between the lower and upper part of the card and all the hot air from the GPU is exiting on the sides. A huge improved compared to my old and dusty Ncase M1 v.1.0 :)
 

berglh

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Jan 7, 2020
14
11


So with a rather lousy photo, this is where I'm at. I might try to route the power cable for the Kraken X52 behind the PSU as it's going to be blocking airflow onto the NVME/PCH sink from the radiator. It's such a long cable with multiple fan ports to only be plugged in via SATA for power, it feels like a pretty clunky piece.

Even though the air will be warm from the radiator, at least it will be some airflow blowing unimpeded onto the CPU area. The stock heatsink on the Corsair M600 seemed a lot more capable, I'm guessing I'm going to get some overheating in the PCH cooling as experienced elsewhere, but time will tell.

I also tried the PSU rotated from this photo, pulling air from the side of the case, but the extension lead to the IEC outlet on the back of the case wouldn't fit into the port on the PSU in that orientation. I'm concerned about the PSU pulling air from inside the case, but I suppose at least the air current from the fan is filtered from the radiator side and the PSU then exhausting out the top of the case.

There is a substantial amount of flex on the card which is a bit of a worry. It actually doesn't look that bad when I'm looking at it with my eyes and not at this photo, but it's certainly there. It might be nice to find something to wedge under the video card to stop it sagging so much, but I can't seem to find anything ideal. A small piece of rubber comes to mind.

Question: Is it fine to power the GPU with a single PCI-E power line? It had two plugs on the one cable and seemed to fit just right, this feels a little dodgy to me but saved me a PCI-E power line.

With the stock fan assembly on the GPU, I had to remove all of the front IO ports for it to fit. I initially tried with just the two USB-A style ports, but there was no way to get the GPU lined up correctly with the ports in place. Without the GPU fan assembly, it looks like it could fit depending on case bottom mounted fan clearance. Anyway, should do the power on test after work to make sure it's all functioning as expected before closing it up. Wish me luck.
 
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Jetpaction

Trash Compacter
Jan 4, 2020
37
21
@berglh You know there's a GPU support bracket included with the V6.1 version of the case? It's specifically meant to prevent card sagging. Looking at the GPU though, if you would remove the black shroud you might be able to fit 2 120mm fans on the bottom of the case. Should improve airflow and cooling of the card. You can also look at a Cablemod set of individually sleeved power cables for your PSU to improve cable management. Amazon offers a set for Seasonic PSU's.
 

berglh

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Jan 7, 2020
14
11
@Jetpaction thanks for the info. I did consider the bracket, however doing a little bit of searching before the build (I'm unable to find the reference right now), allegedly the bracket doesn't fit with this 2.7 slot card, even in the lowest setting. Considering the front IO is struggling for clearance, I'd tend to agree, there isn't much space there. I'm definitely looking at replacing the GPU fans with 2x 120 mm fans as you suggest, and by the looks of the clearance, the support bracket won't be needed in that configuration.

I finally got to power it on this afternoon, and everything seemed to work nicely. Had a bit of a heart in mouth moment, but thankfully I hadn't fully plugged the display cable all the way into the screen and the motherboard POST LEDs all turned off indicating a successful boot. I think I'll just get it up to speed with the platform, pay off the credit card I used to buy the hardware on the post-Xmas sales and then pick up some Noctuas and some better power cables once I've got an idea of baseline performance. Currently the rad is sitting on the desk not mounted to the side of the case.

The build certainly required patience and determinism, but in a way the process was cathartic now that it's all working at the end. I'm impressed you can pack this much into an enclosure a pinch smaller than a Razor Core X, although the cost is significantly higher, having an eGPU on the laptop would have limited the card over TB3 with the increase latency, and then the CPU would have potentially started being a bottle neck.

I had some issues with the SPD detection for these GSkill modules, they're not on the vendor qualified list, so I guess that's to be expected. Setting the Strix X570-I to overclock mode and manually configuring the timings seemed to do the trick though and I've had no issues since. I now have Ubuntu 19.10 loaded with the latest nvidia drivers running and everything seems to be working as expected which is a relief. After transferring Witcher 3 and giving it a run on Ultra, confirming GSYNC is finally working, everything seems to be looking positive for this build.

As I expected, the AC and the air purifier in the room make enough noise to make the machine in it's current configuration effectively silent, I will still need to see how it sounds when I close it all up with the radiator bracket in situ and when winter rolls around the ambient noise will be lower so that will be the real test.

I'll post an update when I get around to buying a couple of Noctuas and test out the bottom mounted configuration for the GPU.
 
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berglh

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Jan 7, 2020
14
11
The credit card bill was due today, so the system has been paid for in full and so far I couldn't be happier with the decision to go SFF for an AMD gaming rig.

I took the opportunity to order 4x Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM, now on their way from Austria. I need a few cables for Display and USB hub extension to get the NCASE in it's final resting spot.

So far I've just had the case on my desk without the Kraken X52 radiator just sitting on the desk - the air coming off the radiator is cool to the hand and I never hear the fans hit full speed. I've also had no issues with the AIO pump noise.

Another thing that's plagued the X570-i is the VRM fan, and I've not heard a peep out of it. As I'm running the case open I'm guessing the cooling is good enough. We will see once

I played around with a bit of overclocking of the Infinity Fabric and the G-Skill DIMMs, and have the X570-i rig running with:
  1. 3900X @ 1900 MHz FCLK
  2. RAM @ 3800 MHz 16-16-16-16-32
Running some basic benchmarks I was seeing modest improvements of 3-5%. Researching the parts before purchase this was basically my goal. I haven't been bothered to spend a lot of time doing OC on the CPU. From what I can tell so far, the Gen 3 Ryzen CPUs really tend to extract most of the available performance out of the box - I'm not sure bothering with going for an OC is going to really be worth it long term.

Running Linux, I'm not getting the Compute Core Complex temps, although I suspect this will be in the Linux kernel pipeline, some guy wrote some kernel modules to expose them. I'd like to benchmark by turning off the least performing Compute Core Complexes and seeing how the best CCD operates in terms of gaming performance.

The processor sits happily at low 40s at idle and during intensive workloads stays well under 70 degrees. The CPU boosts to 4.6 GHz fairly reliably and finding workloads to saturate the 12 cores has been challenging. Memory is operating around 28 GB/s using sysbench, which is respectable for Dual Channel Dual-Rank DIMMs.

The PCIe 4.0 Corsair MP600 is getting the 4+ GB/s sequential read and write as advertised, although the real world performance probably isn't worth the extra money of a high end PCI 3.0 drive, like the Samsung Pro series. In terms of boot speed, a large portion of the boot is getting through the UEFI POST - even with fast boot on this really slows the whole process down. Once I get into loading the Linux kernel it's somewhere between 5-10 seconds to get to the login screen. I would say the drive is a good improvement over the XPS Toshiba PCI 3.0 NVME, but it's not worlds apart.

The ASUS 2080 RTX Super was a bit of a lottery win. I didn't purchase the high end OC model, and my GPU with the factory OC switch which was already enabled boosts to over 2000 MHz out of the box when it was advertised to only hit 1700 and 1800 in OC mode - it drops to 1950~1970 under sustained load. Shadow of the Tomb Raider sits on 100 FPS average at Ultra settings at 1440p, Witcher 3 @ Ultra is mostly over 100 FPS. I have Quake Champions running at 162 FPS (limited to under 165 Hz of the GSYNC panel) solid with mostly High settings and low shadows, which is a great experience over the XPS which struggled on low settings to hold 100~140 FPS.

Looking forward to seeing the improvement of removing the GPU fans and going bottom exhaust configuration on general case thermals.
 
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dss

Efficiency Noob
Feb 8, 2020
6
6
Its what I've done. Installed a Sapphire 8GB RX580 (cos I'm doubling the build as a Hackintosh) - replaced the GPU fans with 2 x Noctua NF A12x25 configured as pulling from the card and exhausting out the bottom. These are connected to the card's single PWM fan power outlet and then split to each fan. Works great - thermals are a bit cooler than stock but noise levels, which was my main motivation, are night and day. EDIT - should also point out that these are the only fans at the bottom of the case. The only other fans are 2 of the same Noctua feeding a Celsius S24 AIO on the side. The build is so quiet I've done double takes about it powering on!

@JoShmo, What adapter are you using to connect your fans to the GPU? I have the Sapphire RX580 Nitro+ and this adapter but can't get it to spin any of my fans (tried a few different PWM fans to try to eliminate that as the problem). Also running a Hack btw!
 

JoShmo

Cable Smoosher
Jul 30, 2019
11
7
@JoShmo, What adapter are you using to connect your fans to the GPU? I have the Sapphire RX580 Nitro+ and this adapter but can't get it to spin any of my fans (tried a few different PWM fans to try to eliminate that as the problem). Also running a Hack btw!
Hey there - I got this but it looks currently unavailable - I then split it to the two 2 fans using the included Noctua splitter.
This pricier EK Waterblocks version looks like it'd fit the bill too (though looks a lot longer and messier to deal with)? Fwiw I cable-tied the fans to the GPU and used guards to prevent the fans fouling on the card while in the pull config. Sounds more ghetto than it looks! I might make some shrouds at some point but I'm happy right now.
 
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