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12 Nov - How do we cool GPU’s VRM and memories?

You will find hereunder extra information about VRM and memories cooling, in general or with The First.

The Standard Cooling:

Graphic cards are factory-equipped with a Heatsink and Fan (HSF), also called stock cooler. This HSF is a default compact cooling solution pre-packaged with the PCB that regulates the chip, VRM and memories temperatures:

  • The chip is mounted with thermal grease to a heatsink, composed of heat pipes connected to numerous aluminium fins. Thanks to the heat pipes performance and a wide heat exchange area, cooling efficiency is maximized.

  • The VRM and memories are encapsulated, covered by a metallic plate with thermal pads in between. On the contrary, with a low efficiency heat transfer media, little to no airflow around the component and a small heat exchange area, cooling efficiency is minimized.

In consequence, although the chip is properly cooled, VRM and memories can run at higher temperatures with an HSF than in an open-air environment. NB: please note that some cards already have an integrated heatsinks for VRMs. Below, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080AMP! Edition.

The First Cooling:

The First requires the HSF to be removed, as it is the case with liquid cooling. The card is placed vertically inside the casing, with its chip directly attached and cooled down by the integrated and passive heatsink. In our standard configuration, VRM and memories don’t have any specific cooling solution, beside a natural bottom-up airflow convection.

Please note that (1) we will soon publish a tutorial to help you during the disassembly process, (2) disassembling a card is a quite mainstream process in all high-end cooling solutions with many video examples already available on Youtube, and (3) each graphic card manufacturer has its own warranty policy regarding the disassembly of the HSF.

No cooling for VRM and memories? Are you sure?

Is it better to mount a dedicated cooling solution or just leave these components in the open air? Well… It depends on the component, the type of card and the usage profile.

What for VRM?

During our thermal tests, we noticed that…

  • For low- to medium-end GPU (GTX 1060/1070 for instance), once the stock cooler is dismounted, there is no need for a specific cooling solution. Indeed, instead of being encapsulated, a natural bottom-up airflow convection helps VRM to stay cool.

  • For high-end GPU (1080 or 1080ti), for the sake of precaution when intensively used, a customized solution could be installed to limit temperatures increases. Although we don’t think it’s absolutely necessary since VRM are designed to run above 100°C and this type of configuration require a fan onto the dedicated First slot. However, we do understand people want to protect their 1000+ USD investment.

For the latter case, we have designed a dedicated heatsink for VRM. In passive or silent mode, overheating is then strictly avoided. The first prototypes will be received in November. Once extensively tested and characterized, we will be able to define which ranges of GPU cards require them or not. They will be sold as an option on our e-shop.

What for Memories?

The First is designed to run in passive or silent mode.

  • In passive mode (GTX 1070 for instance), memories don’t heat up sufficiently to justify the development of a dedicated cooling solution.

  • In silent mode (GTX 1080ti for instance), even though memories release more heat, the airflow generated by the low-speed fan is – most of the time – enough to cool them. But, for specific cards that generate excessive heat, copper heatsinks could be used in addition to the VRM cooling and First cooling. Existing solutions are already available but we will offer our own heatsinks online.

1 Comment

May 06, 2022

Hello, i have a 1080 Ti without cooling system, I would like to buy the components that you use on the images (The Big Radiator especially) Where i can find theses ?

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