Mini GPU on a diet

Ross Siggers

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Original poster
Nov 10, 2018
100
102
*****
Before I start, it's worth mentioning that this isn't an ongoing build per se. It's the steps taken to modify a component, for my build. It's probably been done before, but, I figured it might be cool to some people, and this seemed like the most appropriate space :)
*****


For my current build, I was looking for a 'mini' GPU which isn't uncommon. But the problem was it had to be one that was extremely shallow, and air cooled. Aside from a few rare expensive cards like the 1070 'katana', I basically realised that this...isn't a thing. Mini cards? They're all just t h i c c. So take a card and put a different cooler on it. Simple enough.



I used a GTX 750 for mock up purposes, because it has the same cooler mounting holes as a 1050 mini. Aside from that, it was super cheap, and could potentially still be used in a lower powered build. So win/win. I looked at various different heatpipe and blower style low-profile coolers, but I ended up just going with the same cooler that I'm using on my CPU a, Silverstone NT-07. I happened to have a spare one, and the metal baseplate and legs are well laid out if you plan to make your own mounting holes!

Here's a comparison of the height saved by using the NT-07 vs the regular cooler and fan, as well as the planned new mounting holes;





After that it was just a case of drilling the mounting holes and tapping them. The latter of which is easier said than done at this scale(m2 screw). I've never done anything so nerve wracking...




A couple of fins on the cooler had to be clipped to avoid clashing with capacitors, afaik on a 1050 a few more will need to be trimmed too, but no more than the ends of 4-6 more. I removed and re-fitted the cooler a few times, just to make sure that I was applying pressure evenly and that the paste was getting good coverage. To my relief, it was all looking pretty spot on.

Admittedly I did have to oval out one of the holes on the pcb with a file. Obviously I wasn't quite accurate enough, but it was well within the 'safe zone' and the traces of the board itself weren't harmed.



The backing plate went on a diet, as did the plastic shroud, being about halved in height. But unfortunately I don't have the pictures of that.




And the final product looks pretty sleek. I will admit, it was a sheer stroke of luck that the fan cut out on the original shroud, exactly matched the diameter of the coolers fin array. In fact, the shroud is actually suspended in place, by the tight fit it has the the edges of the cpu cooler! Although I will find another way to affix it, should it stay on the card.

The other card pictured is a Zotac 3GB GTX 1060, a 2-slot card, roughly the same height as the GTX 750 was prior to modification. It's a good way of portraying the difference, it really is quite hard to portray how sleek the card looks now ;) Sure it's thin, but the fact it's a short pcb kind of exaggerates the effect even more! :D




I was initially worried that the smaller fan would mean less effective cooling. But unlike the original cast block, being a cpu cooler we benefited from having a copper core, as well as a comparable fin array. So I ran some tests, and with Furmark running on an open bench, ambient around 22*c, the card settled into the mid 50's, with a slightly raised fan curve. It'll definitely take a clever custom curve when it's inside the case, but cooling was not really effected detrimentally like I feared.



*****

Anyway, that's about it, hope it was interesting, thanks for looking :)
 
Last edited:

Ross Siggers

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Nov 10, 2018
100
102
So I threw a few of the bits together, to show why I really needed the graphics card to be thinner.

Yes, it's a Dreamcast, the volume is somewere around the 2.8L mark XD The whole top surface of the system is slightly domed, so the fan isn't literally pressed straight up against the lid. But that will definitely be open/removed like pictured, when working the system hard. The sleeper aesthetic is really messing up my thermals...





The motherboard faces downwards with an intake on the underside of the case. The ram is the tallest part on the motherboard, so if I pay ££££ for some low profile sodimm DDR4, I can drop everything down and give more headroom to the gpu, up to 5mm. But I've not decided if my wallet can handle that yet :confused:



 
Last edited:

Jello

Airflow Optimizer
Bronze Supporter
Nov 15, 2016
365
154
Have you done any thermal tests with the lid closed? Curious to see if the modified cooler throttles. Either way, awesome mod. Nice work.

Edit: Did this mod make the GPU effectively a single slot?
 

Ross Siggers

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Nov 10, 2018
100
102
Have you done any thermal tests with the lid closed? Curious to see if the modified cooler throttles. Either way, awesome mod. Nice work.
Cheers buddy :) Yes and no on thermal testing... The last time I had the system running with the lid on, was before I'd finished the graphics card, and even before I had a case fan rigged up. So kind of a worst case scenario. I ran a Prime95 test on the CPU, after around 20 minutes it settled at 85*, and one core peaked at 91*. There was no throttling mind you. Changes that're planned or already in place are;

- Noctua fan in place of the original exhaust fan(front right corner)
- Subtle ventilation slats on the side of the case by the CPU(rear left corner)
- More ventilation holes in the GPU backing plate.
- More ventilation holes on the case underside.
- Controller ports to be left as exhausts. They were originally going to be usb ports.

I thought about making the floor of the case almost completely meshed, but I wasn't sure how adversely that would effect airflow seeing as that was also where it was intaking from. Also with the cpu in the back corner exhausting onto the side wall of the case, I'm going to have to make one compromise and cut vents there. As long as I can make them cleanly, to match the original vents on the other side.

Did this mod make the GPU effectively a single slot?
Maybe just over? But essentially. The backing plate measures 25mm tall. I don't actually intend to use a 1050 anymore since I discovered a 1060 fits pretty well, and I can just make another custom cooler for that. But we'll see what thermals are like with a gtx750, because it'll only be worse with the more powerful card.

The system is supposed to be capable of gaming, but not used for it constantly. There's no question that when it's under that sort of load, I'll be opening/removing the lid
 
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petricor

Cable-Tie Ninja
Bronze Supporter
May 12, 2018
193
947
Which riser are you using? Have you connected the GPU yet?
 

Ross Siggers

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Original poster
Nov 10, 2018
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Which riser are you using? Have you connected the GPU yet?
I got one on amazon, an ADTlink but the cable is puny I bet it's x1 speed. On advice from @ejectbutton on the one he's using on a build, I'm going to spend a little more and get this one instead;

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/M2-...4c-4a10-afcb-d7c72026c426&transAbTest=ae803_4

The card is not damaged, it works correctly. The stress test I did on an 'open bench' was with the card connected to my laptop, using an EXP GDC dock.
 
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Ross Siggers

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Nov 10, 2018
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@cleveland I must admit I was in your thread the other day and did spot that :D Good to know! It's even the exact same length and plug orientation that I'm going to get. AliExpress too?
 

Ross Siggers

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Nov 10, 2018
100
102
I couldn't find ADT-link products out of aliexpress...
Same...I've not bought from AliExpress before, so I'm a little nervous to sign up. But I didn't see them anywhere else either, I'll have another browse then if not, sign up to AE.
 

Valantar

SFF Guru
Jan 20, 2018
1,353
1,144
Same...I've not bought from AliExpress before, so I'm a little nervous to sign up. But I didn't see them anywhere else either, I'll have another browse then if not, sign up to AE.
Aliexpress is perfectly safe, just remember that you have 15 days from marking a package as delivered to open a dispute if something is wrong - after that, you're left to the goodwill of the seller. I've bought tons of stuff from there, and besides the odd dud or thing damaged in shipping, I'm very happy with them. Just beware the shipping times - they can approach two months in some cases (though I've also had things arrive in less than two weeks).
 

mrp0p1nfr3sh

Average Stuffer
Sep 4, 2017
58
44
If we paid you for the parts and time would you mod some of these for others *Minus the fin clipping since that varies on the card selected. Cuz i really am digging this mod i just dont have a place to do mods like this. This would be prime for a GTX 1050Ti Low power or a GTX 1650 low power model.


*****
Before I start, it's worth mentioning that this isn't an ongoing build per se. It's the steps taken to modify a component, for my build. It's probably been done before, but, I figured it might be cool to some people, and this seemed like the most appropriate space :)
*****


For my current build, I was looking for a 'mini' GPU which isn't uncommon. But the problem was it had to be one that was extremely shallow, and air cooled. Aside from a few rare expensive cards like the 1070 'katana', I basically realised that this...isn't a thing. Mini cards? They're all just t h i c c. So take a card and put a different cooler on it. Simple enough.



I used a GTX 750 for mock up purposes, because it has the same cooler mounting holes as a 1050 mini. Aside from that, it was super cheap, and could potentially still be used in a lower powered build. So win/win. I looked at various different heatpipe and blower style low-profile coolers, but I ended up just going with the same cooler that I'm using on my CPU a, Silverstone NT-07. I happened to have a spare one, and the metal baseplate and legs are well laid out if you plan to make your own mounting holes!

Here's a comparison of the height saved by using the NT-07 vs the regular cooler and fan, as well as the planned new mounting holes;





After that it was just a case of drilling the mounting holes and tapping them. The latter of which is easier said than done at this scale(m2 screw). I've never done anything so nerve wracking...




A couple of fins on the cooler had to be clipped to avoid clashing with capacitors, afaik on a 1050 a few more will need to be trimmed too, but no more than the ends of 4-6 more. I removed and re-fitted the cooler a few times, just to make sure that I was applying pressure evenly and that the paste was getting good coverage. To my relief, it was all looking pretty spot on.

Admittedly I did have to oval out one of the holes on the pcb with a file. Obviously I wasn't quite accurate enough, but it was well within the 'safe zone' and the traces of the board itself weren't harmed.



The backing plate went on a diet, as did the plastic shroud, being about halved in height. But unfortunately I don't have the pictures of that.




And the final product looks pretty sleek. I will admit, it was a sheer stroke of luck that the fan cut out on the original shroud, exactly matched the diameter of the coolers fin array. In fact, the shroud is actually suspended in place, by the tight fit it has the the edges of the cpu cooler! Although I will find another way to affix it, should it stay on the card.

The other card pictured is a Zotac 3GB GTX 1060, a 2-slot card, roughly the same height as the GTX 750 was prior to modification. It's a good way of portraying the difference, it really is quite hard to portray how sleek the card looks now ;) Sure it's thin, but the fact it's a short pcb kind of exaggerates the effect even more! :D




I was initially worried that the smaller fan would mean less effective cooling. But unlike the original cast block, being a cpu cooler we benefited from having a copper core, as well as a comparable fin array. So I ran some tests, and with Furmark running on an open bench, ambient around 22*c, the card settled into the mid 50's, with a slightly raised fan curve. It'll definitely take a clever custom curve when it's inside the case, but cooling was not really effected detrimentally like I feared.



*****

Anyway, that's about it, hope it was interesting, thanks for looking :)
 

Ross Siggers

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Nov 10, 2018
100
102
If we paid you for the parts and time would you mod some of these for others *Minus the fin clipping since that varies on the card selected. Cuz i really am digging this mod i just dont have a place to do mods like this. This would be prime for a GTX 1050Ti Low power or a GTX 1650 low power model.
It would really depend on what the card was, as it's quite specific to each model.

For example, I think it'd work on a 1050 as I think the mounting holes are the same as the 750, as far as I'm aware. But, with a 1650 it may be a different layout. For example, the Zotac 1060 in the picture has a rectangular bolt pattern for it's longer, oval shaped stock cooler. So a completely different solution would be needed there. If it's a one off, I could help you out possibly :)
 

boingk

Caliper Novice
Feb 10, 2019
32
17
Just read through this and am admiring the workmanship and end result - you say you're getting 55'C under a full load? Nice work.

Absurdly, I've just done the opposite by grafting a GTX670 blower-style cooler onto a mini-ITX 1060 3GB card which came with a shocking cooler and was always thermal throttling.

Have you done any testing with this cooler on anything using more power? I'm looking to dissipate about 100W or so.
 

Goatee

Master of Cramming
Bronze Supporter
Jun 22, 2018
548
1,150
Really interesting @Ross Siggers , thanks so much for posting this. You have given me som inspiration for a build that's been hanging around for a while.

The base:


NF-A92X14 @1400 RPM



plus 12mm thick heatsink



With a bit of trimming and a couple added holes, this gives a similar 1.5 slot (~30mm) thick, extra short card that's almost silent.

At the moment I am getting 65c stable after an hour of Furmark, 25c while browsing. Ambient is 20c.

Edit:


 
Last edited:

mrp0p1nfr3sh

Average Stuffer
Sep 4, 2017
58
44
Really interesting @Ross Siggers , thanks so much for posting this. You have given me som inspiration for a build that's been hanging around for a while.

The base:


NF-A92X14 @1400 RPM



plus 12mm thick heatsink



With a bit of trimming and a couple added holes, this gives a similar 1.5 slot (~30mm) thick, extra short card that's almost silent.

At the moment I am getting 65c stable after an hour of Furmark, 25c while browsing. Ambient is 20c.

Edit:



THATS A BEAUT
 
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Ross Siggers

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Nov 10, 2018
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@Goatee that's epic man, thanks for the pictures :D Interesting heatsink to use, because it's more universal with it's fitment. I kind of got lucky with the Silverstone cooler I'm using. Temps are pretty good too, is that in the case?
 
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Goatee

Master of Cramming
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Jun 22, 2018
548
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Yep that's it in its case with its x4 powered riser. Its currently open while I try to source a clear panel for it but will be being fed with external air when finished. In fact I have been using it for a couple of days and after gaming (sustained 100% GPU utilization) for a couple of hours I get to mid-high 60's C peak temp.

I'm actually contemplating upgrading to a 2060 and seeing how it fares if I extend the heatsink, as I could get a 200mm x 100mm x 10mm HS in there with twin 92 x 14mm noctus cooling it.
 
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Ross Siggers

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Nov 10, 2018
100
102
Sweet, that's kind of the same situation I'd be running mine as. Perfectly manageable temps. I envisaged it as a media box, content consumption etc. machine, but if I wanted to game I could pop the lid off for ventilation, and the gpu would have all the fresh air it needed. i7-7600T, M.2 ssd and 16Gb ram in there too.

There's enough room to squeeze in a GTX1060 6Gb length wise, and space on either side so maybe next time I make a gpu for this build, I'll get really weird with an oversized heatsink XDXD
 
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Goatee

Master of Cramming
Bronze Supporter
Jun 22, 2018
548
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Go for it!

I'm running almost the same set-up but obviously different case. Passive 7700T, m2 nvme SSD, 16gb ram. I think the CPU will support a better GPU for gaming on, so I'm sticking with the 1050ti until my bonus comes in June then I will take the plunge.
 
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