Thursday, September 4, 2008

Two Computers, Twice The Headache

The ASUS water cooled system is up and running! It was a tenuous series of events but it is working, just not up to expectation. The Nautilus is performing superbly! CPU cores are averaging 35C at idle and 45-50C at maximum load. I have the CPU overclocked to 3.2 GHz as well so these are fabulous temps! The North and South bridge are idling at a beautiful 37C and 48C under load! I couldn't ask for better then that! Despite the crappy tubing that comes with the Nautilus it is an EXCELLENT water cooling kit for noobs like me. But I am glad I didn't add the video card water blocks as I don't think it would perform as well under that load.

Speaking of video cards that is where the final nightmare was and is. I originally installed the Arctic Cooling modded card in the first slot with the non modded card underneath it. I noticed a kink in the CrossFire bridge but didn't pay enough attention to it apparently. The initial boot would stop in the middle of the POST and then the screen would lose the video signal. I tried the modded card by itself and still nothing. Oh Oh! So I tried the non modded card and finally got a boot. Then I put the modded card in the second slot, connected the CrossFire bridge and noticed the "kink" was gone. The heat pipes on the Twin Turbo stick up right under the bridge! I don't know if they originally shorted the bridge but it booted in this position with both cards in.

Right after it booted I noticed a red light on the back of the modded card. I opened Everest to check the temps and things went downhill from there. The modded card was running 10C hotter then the other card and the temp was rapidly rising. I tried changing the fan speed with the ATI Catalyst Control Center profile mods but that wasn't helping. The temp hit 80C on the modded card and it could have gone higher but at that point it stopped registering. OH OH!

I shut the computer down and restarted it about 10 minutes later. The modded card is still running 10-15C hotter then the other card, but the red light disappeared. I searched it out and found out it was a code for a power connector being unplugged, however both plugs were in!

So either the Twin Turbo is a crap cooling solution or there is a problem somewhere. When I initially installed it I didn't like the way the GPU heat sink was seated, so I think tomorrow I will tear it apart and reseat it with some better thermal paste then what came on the card. I am pretty sure it didn't seat properly because of one of the VRAM heat sinks being in the way of the heat pipes. I may try to grind down that heat sink till it clears the pipe. I am really glad at this point that I only modded one card.

I closed up the case on the EVGA system and moved it back to the 19" LCD monitor and ran into the same issue I had earlier of having to reinstall the nVidia video drivers to get a video signal. I have no idea why changing monitors would cause such a problem but I assume it's the crappy drivers that everyone seems to be complaining about. I remember the day when ATI had the crappy bug ridden drivers. The tables have certainly turned between those two.

The other problem on the EVGA system is the temps went from bad to worse once I closed the case. The MCP is now idling at 65C and the video cards are running between 55 and 60C. So I will try my fan inversion next week and see if that helps. There is no place else in that case to add anymore fans. You would think 5 120mm fans would be enough. These heat issues are ridiculous.

I have yet to close up the Lian Li case and see what happens to the temps. But I have to fix that video card first, even if it means putting the stock cooler back on it. I am going to give the Twin Turbo one more chance though. I will definitely have to put a fan on the window panel somehow to blow air directly at the video cards. That will put 5 120mm fans in that case as well. Maybe water cooling is the only real solution for these issues.

When I get some time next week I will be posting a full review of the Nautilus 500 on my website. First I have to get these systems finished and get this "wreck" room cleaned up before the spouse's annual baseball team party next weekend. It's looking like a monumental task at the moment.

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