Solved: RTX 3090 VRAM Overheating 

Saturday, February 6, 2021, 09:39 PM - Tech and Security
3090 vram overheating solved


The RTX 3090 is an amazing graphics card for gaming and video rendering, but an issue has cropped up within the cryptocurrency mining community since the release of pretty much all 30-series GPU models. The GDDR6X memory, while lightning-fast, runs hot. VERY hot. Overclocked for mining, the temperature of the VRAM chips easily tops the 110c limit and begins to throttle the core clock, effectively tanking what should be 120mh/s, to 80mh/s repeatedly.

I had been unable to maintain the full 120mh/s this card should be capable of without running the GPU and case fans at 90% constantly. One percent lower and it would begin to throttle my core clock, even though the displayed temperature for the card was a cool 45c. After some forum diving, it's become obvious to the community at large that the VRAM is overheating, and the graphics card was using a previously unreported "GPU Memory Junction Temperature" to throttle the card even though the reported temperatures seemed fine. Upon feeling the GPU's backplate, this was verified immediately. It was too hot to touch, and I clocked it at 70c with a temp sensor.

Apparently, the VRAM on the backside of the PCB contacts the backplate and uses it as passive cooling with factory-applied thermal pads. Unfortunately, it doesn't help much because it's made of glossy, smooth metal and there isn't enough surface area to dissipate the heat that's created. What's worse, is that the VRMs are also padded and using the backplate as a heatspreader, effectively sharing heat with the VRAM modules. When gaming or in most production environments there are no issues with this setup, but mining, it's a pretty bad failure with VRAM temps virtually unmitigated by this "solution" at all. It's not a matter of if, but how many seconds until it WILL throttle because of what can only be described as a thermal feedback loop between the VRMs and the VRAM modules sharing the same heatspreader.

After much googling, I found an image of the backside of my particular PCB (below) and plotted where the VRAM chips and the VRMs were. This is the Asus TUF 3090, but most layouts should be similar.

ASUS 3090 TUF PCB backside


I didn't want to take it apart myself and possibly damage the existing thermal pads, nor did I trust myself to reassemble the card as some teardown resources I had come across showed the majority of the cooling solution was bolted to the backplate. The entire thing would need to be disassembled and then put back together, so a simpler solution was needed.

I had to create far more surface area to present to the passing air, so I bought 3 packages of 8 tiny copper heatsinks for a total of 24. The way they're cut, the surface area they add is many times the surface area they cover. They come with pre-applied thermal adhesive and all I had to do was peel the stickers off the back and stick them on. While there are many other heatsinks for sale made of all manner of materials, copper will be the most effective as it has a very high thermal conductivity. 231 BTU/(hr·ft⋅°F), which is nearly twice that of aluminum's 136. Copper is heavier than aluminum though, so if you aren't already, you'll want to use a GPU support to prevent any sag that may damage your motherboard's PCI-E socket.

Also, the type of heatsink you use is important. I chose the short heatsinks I did because they didn't have fins. Fins require directional air movement and if you hit them with air from the wrong angle, like from the side, you're losing alot of heat transfer. By not blowing between the fins, they end up just trapping heat instead. The design I chose works from any angle, and with a fan positioned directly over them, it's difficult to tell exactly where the air will go, so it's best to make any direction viable.

Copper heatsinks


After some fretting and much time spent with a flashlight between the PCB and the backplate so I could see the actual locations of the relevant components, I was able to strategically position them directly over the VRAM modules and the strips of VRMs to the left and right of the center die. They immediately heated up to an uncomfortable temperature while I was still tweaking and adjusting their positions so the heat transfer is very efficient. I'd recommend working quickly, or with the pc/miner turned off.

Heatsinks positioned directly over memory modules


You also want a high CFM fan to move air over the heatsinks with a large enough gap in between to allow the hot air to escape effectively if you're in a push configuration, blowing air down onto the heatsinks. If the fan is too close, all it will do is create turbulence and trap the heat. In a pull configuration, however, pulling air up and away from the backplate, you want the fan as close to the heatsinks as possible, if not resting directly on top of them. This way you're drawing air through them rather than from directly above them and then exhausting it straight up and out of the case. The heatsinks will never get hot enough to damage the plastic of the fan housing.

In testing, a pull configuration is far more efficient for the rest of the pc as well. Blasting air directly onto the heatsinks creates a 360 degree heat exhaust that heats up M.2 drives, chipset, and even the side wall of the case. Those hotspots build up and begin to radiate right back at the gpu. I'd also say a good percentage of the heat is then recycled right back into the GPU's own cooling fans, heating up the PCB even further. Up and away seems to be the best option.

Good case exhaust fans are a must as well, preferably out the top, so the heat you're removing from the backplate isn't recycled. Here is the final setup for this solution in a push configuration.

Heatsinks with fan in push configuration


As said earlier, in pull, the gap would be much smaller and the fan would be right on the heatsinks. This is the setup I would recommend for a closed case.

Heatsinks with fan in pull configuration


As for the results, I was able to lower my GPU fan speed to 80% from 90, lower my case fan speed to 60% from 90, and up my memory overclock to 1200 from 1000. The biggest change though, was reducing the overall racket my case fans had to make to keep this card from combusting. The 3090's fans at 90% can become high pitched and quite loud, and just a reduction to 80% made a very noticeable difference. My original temperatures for the "GPU Memory Junction Temperature" as reported by the newest version of HWiNFO64 v6.42 were sitting at 110c and the GPU would throttle until it hit 108, then heat up again and repeat. But now with this heatsink/fan mod, the temps hover around 98c. That's a huge difference by any measurement, but it becomes moreso when you take into account the fan speed reduction and the increased overclock from 1000 to 1200. With the original fan speeds and overclock applied, the VRAM temps sit at 90c with the new backplate cooling and I'd say a 20c drop is quite the achievement from what's essentially a $30 fix with the additional fan included.

Temperature results in Hwinfo64


As you can see, after mining for almost 12 hours with the new overclock and fan settings, the maximum temperature reached was just 100 now with the average being several degrees lower. The T-sensor reading is from the underside of the backplate.

This may not solve your overheating issues, but it's certainly an easily implemented idea for anyone else who has a 3090 and sees it thermal throttling at room temperature. This can also be done without voiding your warranty, and as expensive and rare as GPUs have become, you really want to keep that intact.

Comments

Norbert 

Saturday, February 6, 2021, 10:49 PM
First!

Damian 

Thursday, February 11, 2021, 04:31 AM
Can you link all of the parts that went into this purchase? I saw your post on Reddit originally and then today I found a link to this site. My 3090 FE is thermal throttling and I would like to do something similar. I have looked at the titan x pcie fan mount but if I could get away with doing your fix and adding the titan mount to the bottom of the card I’ll do it. Thanks man and good luck mining!

Norbert 

Thursday, February 11, 2021, 10:14 PM
They're linked in the article but it's easily missed. Required for this are three packages of 8 copper heatsinks and you can find them here:

Heatsinks on Amazon

The gooseneck fan/pci mount I used can be found here:

Gooseneck fan on Amazon

The total cost for this is roughly $30.

Sacify 

Saturday, February 13, 2021, 07:58 PM
Hi, really appreciate your work, thanks for the Guide and Pictures.
Just please , for me as a total noob, can you tell me how you fix the fan at the head shrinks?
And another noob Question, is the fan blowing down to the card? or up ? as i unterstand it sucks the air at bottom and blows the hot air in direction of cpu right?

Thank you so much!

Norbert 

Sunday, February 14, 2021, 11:56 PM
The fan is blowing straight down onto the heatsinks which blows the heat off the backplate in pretty much every direction, and then my top exhaust fans pull it up and out. I haven't tried reversing the fan direction, and I just might to see what happens...

Edit: I reversed the fan and ran it for some hours in a pull configuration and edited the article with my findings.

Sacify 

Monday, February 15, 2021, 03:47 PM
Thank you Norbert, unfortunately you missed my first Question? How you fix the fan on the head shrinks?
Only the one silver screw is holding your fan in position? isnt there any noise from that? its enough to fix the fan while working? My fan (ordered) has no "arm" (dont know how i should call it). Any idea how i can "fix" the fan? Thank you!

Norbert 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 12:38 AM
@Sacify

Yes, it's just a single screw through the corner of fan to the arm, and it mounts to an included PCI cover plate. It's very sturdy and the arm (called a "gooseneck" by the manufacturer) doesn't move from exactly where you put it. It's good for testing and for getting your fan into an odd or diagonal position most mounting systems aren't made to do. I just decided to put it in place permanently, though I've seen some people hang the fan from the bottom of their cpu coolers with twist ties. If the fan blades are protected by a decent enough housing, You could also just set it directly onto the heatsinks. They will never get hot enough to melt the plastic so it's not an issue.

Cid 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 01:15 AM
Hey this is a neat guide, thanks. I have a TUF 3090 as well, and no matter what I do in Afterburner, that VRAM temp gets to 110C.

So the copper heatsinks just adhere to the backplate... seems simple enough. Any concern that might void the warranty? Would removing them be easy?

Norbert 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 01:27 AM
@Cid

Removing them is a bit of a pain with just your fingers but if you have a tool like a hemostat or some small needle-nose pliers you can just give them a twist and they pop right off cleanly and don't leave a residue. Then you can stick them back on as well since the thermal adhesive isn't damaged by removal. And most warranty concerns are for when you open the GPU up and actually remove the backplate and cooler. But in the U.S. that isn't a concern, as I've been told on reddit a few times now ;)

Cid 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 02:04 AM
Groovy dude. Very informative, thanks.

Scarecrawfish 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 04:13 AM
I am waiting for my copper heatsinks that I ordered on Amazon tomorrow to implement this exact concept. As I was going through the process, I couldn't help but think I was batshit crazy for going down this road. Then, I came upon this post. Now, I'm sure I'm batshit crazy.

Anyway, I'll see if I can remember to come back and post an update once I add the heatsinks. I think I'm going to go a bit of a different route with the fan setup.

I mine with a MSI RTX 3090 Suprim X. I mine at 108 MH/s in order to keep the temps of the VRAM down and protect the longevity of the GPU. Micron rates its GDDR6X operating temps at 95 C (I'm aware that is not the same as safe operating temp). Also, someone on Reddit scared the bejesus out of me, telling me that my MVDDC power draw (160+ W) was asronimical and unsafe (though, I've been unable to get that number down). Any feedback on these points is appreciated.

Current Specs/Stats--(2.5 hours in)
Hash Rate: 108 MH/S (PhoenixMiner)
Clock--Power Limit: 75%; Core Clock: -300; Memory Clock: +300; Fan Speed: 81
HWiNFO--Memory Junction Temp: 92 C; FBVDD Input Power: 157W

Mining at 108 with those settings is not too bad right?

Norbert 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 04:35 AM
@Scarecrawfish

If you're good with 108mh/s I'd say your numbers are perfect and well within spec. You could get another 12mh/s or so with a memory oc to 1000, but then you'll start seeing the vram heat issue crop up. If your heatsink mod drops your junction temps into the 80s, I'd say it's safe to increase your oc until you hit 95. As for this someone on reddit talking about your power draw, they may not be familiar with how hungry these cards are. I've pulled far more wattage through this card than that gaming and mining at the same time...

I'd be very interested to see your final setup and what your plans are for the fan. I've found a pull configuration is better than push over the last few days but I'm still testing.

Allan 

Friday, February 19, 2021, 04:33 PM
Hey Norbert, I have a 3090 tuf oc and im glad i found out about this. Ive bever mined before so I want to make sure I do things right.

Do you think only adding the heatsinks would help at all? I have an ITX and i cannot fit another fan on top of the backplate.

Currently Im getting 60 MHs on nicehash, -550 on core, -500 on clock, 60% power limit, 55% fan speed.

Norbert 

Friday, February 19, 2021, 05:28 PM
@Allan

Just heatsinks would help to some degree, yes. If you have decent airflow through your case there will be some level of heat transfer to the air that's greater than what the backplate can do alone. Oh, and you're seriously limiting your card with those memory settings. Is it an effort to keep heat/noise to a minimum? You can safely run the GDDR6X memory at 95c. It'll throttle at 110c and begin to degrade at 120c. So instead of -500, run it at 0 or no overclock and see how your junction temperatures are. You probably won't have to change your fan settings at all. I run mine at +1200.

Kemosabe 

Friday, February 19, 2021, 10:44 PM
Just as an FYI; the tape that comes with those heatsinks is 3M 9448A. It is NOT thermal tape and is instead double-coated tape. What that means is that it is actually acting as an insulator and hindering the performance of those heatsinks.

3M Product 9448A

If you want to get some tape that will work for rather than against you take a look at the real thermal tapes below.

3M Product List




Norbert 

Saturday, February 20, 2021, 01:19 AM
@Kemosabe

Interesting. Though I doubt a layer of 0.076mm thick adhesive will be much of a barrier to heat transfer. It's better than bare metal on metal as pretty much anything, even plastic, is better than an air pocket. And they're obviously effective, as the temperatures have changed drastically but maybe that's entirely due to the copper material and fan. You do bring up an interesting point, and now I'm going to have to buy proper thermal tape, somehow scrape or dissolve off what came pre-applied and see if there's a difference. Science is an endless series of tests and discovering all your previous tests were invalid and testing again under new conditions...

Thanks for the heads up! Will update the article with my findings if there's a difference but it'll probably take a week for materials to arrive. Went with this tape as it has a decent 4.5W/mK thermal conductivity, which is considerably more than the 3M types available and less than $1000/roll lol.

Going with this brand and we'll see.

DEREK ARSENAULT 

Saturday, February 20, 2021, 01:37 AM
In regards to mounting the heatsinks, for maximum performance a small dab of high quality thermal paste on the bottom of each is enough to hold them in place. The desktop isn't moving around anyways so they stay put. Go easy with it though in case you need to clean it later.

Allan 

Monday, February 22, 2021, 11:16 PM
Is it an effort to keep heat/noise to a minimum? You can safely run the GDDR6X memory at 95c. It'll throttle at 110c and begin to degrade at 120c. So instead of -500, run it at 0 or no overclock and see how your junction temperatures are. You probably won't have to change your fan settings at all. I run mine at +1200.

Norbert, with these settings you gave me, what fan % speed should I expect?

Also, you are saying I leave the Core to 0 and bump the Clock to +1200? I got better performance when I lowered the clock actually.
My fan speed is around 55%

Norbert 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 04:33 AM
@Allan

At no overclock your fans shouldn't engage much at all with the factory fan curve. 70% would probably be a good target for manual settings. And I run my memory at +1200 which creates alot of heat. I'm not suggesting you do the same, however +500 should be very safe and shouldn't add much heat to your system at all. I keep my core clock at -75.

Young 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 05:33 PM
Norbert - first of all, fantastic job and you've inspired me to do the same. This VRAM throttling has been an issue for some time and I'm glad I wasn't some lunatic wondering what else could be the issue.

When you applied the heatsinks, did you remove the 3090 backplate? I see you were against opening up the backplate as a whole but I see that the chip is exposed there. Did you leave it exposed or eventually covered this back up?

Thanks!

Norbert 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 07:55 PM
@Young

That's just how this card is. There's a hole in the center of the backplate. But no, I didn't remove it. I just stuck the heatsinks right on. Since publishing this, it's been brought to my attention that the "thermal adhesive" on the back of the heatsinks isn't actually thermal transfer material and could be acting as an insulator. To some degree anyway. They are still piping hot to the touch. So I got some real double-sided thermal tape coming tomorrow. Gonna see if either alcohol or goo-gone will remove the pre-applied adhesive so I can record if there's a difference. My guess is it'll be exactly the same, but the issue was raised so I gotta do the science ;)

Young 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 09:52 PM
@Norbert

Ah, thank you for the clarification. I have the standard Nvidia 3090 and that chip is not exposed. My heatsinks come in tomorrow and a new fan within the coming days so excited for the modifications. I did see your thermal tape update and unfortunately, that product listing has been sold out. I guess Redditors are flocking your product recommendations.

Please let us know how the thermal tape plays out! I will keep popping back in and out to see your updates :-)

Young 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 09:54 PM
Additionally, how is the fan you bought with the gooseneck?
Aside from the attachment, is the fan itself a decent one, or should an upgrade be considered? I'm looking at the Noctua NF-A9 PWM

Allan 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 10:56 PM
Norbert, do you have other copper heatsink recommendation that doesnt come with the pre applied adhesive?

Norbert 

Thursday, February 25, 2021, 05:47 PM
@Young

The fan that comes with that gooseneck is actually pretty nice once you remove the screen on it.

@Allan

Not really. I'd have to search Amazon and Newegg but I do recall seeing some.

Dmitry 

Saturday, February 27, 2021, 11:53 AM
Hello, what is the correct name of this corrugated tube with which you fixed the cooler?

Norbert 

Saturday, February 27, 2021, 05:11 PM
@Dmitry

It's called a "Gooseneck" fan arm and can be found here.

Gooseneck Fan

Dmitry 

Saturday, February 27, 2021, 06:30 PM
@Norbert

Thanks for the tip!

Have you tried large aluminum radiators with high fins? 3 pieces instead of many small copper ones. Yes, copper has 2 times higher thermal conductivity than aluminum, but the ribs are very small. Yes, and there is no opportunity now to buy these small copper radiators in my city, I will use 3 aluminum 50x50x30 with thermal pads 12.8 W / m. What do you think?

Norbert 

Saturday, February 27, 2021, 09:53 PM
@Dmitry

Any heatsink would be better than a smooth flat backplate. No matter what you use, you should see some improvement. As long as you're increasing the surface area, you're presenting more surface for passing air to cross. I chose the short heatsinks I did because they didn't have fins. Fins require directional air movement and if you hit them with air from the wrong angle, like from the side, you're losing alot of heat transfer by not blowing betweeen the fins and instead, they end up just trapping heat. The design I chose works from any angle, and with a fan positioned directly over them, it's difficult to tell exactly where the air will go, so it's best to make any direction viable.

I've settled on a "pull" configuration, pulling air through the heatsinks and up and away from the GPU. Since the fan will pull air from 360 degrees, using heatsinks with directional fins will only have access to about half of that air movement.

Marinos 

Monday, March 1, 2021, 09:44 AM
Hi ;)

First of all thanks for all the informations that you are sharing here, appreciate a lot.

I got a question about a product that seems nice also,this heatsinks seems to be a good compromise between the high profile of a fins heatsinks and the 360° directional airblowing of a heatsinks as you mention in your article.
They already got some thermal tape pre-installed.

Thanks again for this content and the great quality of your article.

Norbert 

Monday, March 1, 2021, 05:17 PM
@Marinos

Those heatsinks with the posts instead of square knobs would work very well I'd think. They're usable from all angles and the roundness of the posts may even reduce turbulence a bit compared to what I'm using. Hmm..

Woozorg 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021, 09:59 AM
So I tried the tiny copper heatsinks with a 120mm fan (Artic P12) and got 102-104C (instead of 110+), but nothing as drastic as the 90C you got. I also have the same Python fan as you, I will try it in case it makes a difference.

I also tried to place instead a bigger 100x100mm Aluminium heatsink with parallel fins, with proper thermal tape, thinking that a more massive heatsink surely will dissipate more heat, but no it's worse with 106-108C and more fan noise due to turbulence.

My next step will be to put back the small copper heatsinks, but with the proper thermal tape to see if it makes a difference over the thin 3M double sided tape that was shipped with them.

I think the optimal heatsink would be a large copper one (say 80x80mm or 100x100m) with sticky fins (not the parallel kinds). But it seems hard to find.

FuttBucker 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 12:11 AM
Before applying same exact heatsinks and fan i was getting around 96c running my 3090 Tuf OC at -300 core, -502 memory and 75 power limit. After instal of heatsinks & fans im around 92c. I get a solid 100mh/s with these settings and dont feel a need to push for more. Was hoping for better results with such a big memory u derclock but ill take the 4c.

Yourdaddy 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 04:08 AM
Followed this pretty closely. I have a Rog Strix 3090 Gaming OC in my daily driver gaming pc, not a dedicated mining rig. I mine with it about 16 to 20 hours a day when it's not in use though. I was running the card at -200 core, -400 mem, 84% power limit to get 96MHs at 94 degrees at the mem junction. I ended up getting the same fan as Norbert, but had to get taller aluminum heatsinks. Worked out well though. I'm running at -200 core, +100 mem, 85% PL, getting 105MHs at 92 degrees at the junction. Up nearly 10MHs and dropped 2 degrees...I'll take it. I'm not interested in beating the shit out of this card for an extra $20 to $30 a month in profit on a $2k card, or jeopardizing the warranty to change out the pads. I realize it is probably ok to run at 94 degrees or higher, but I need this hooker to last for that kind of $$$.
Word to the wise if you have the same card as me...this version is a thick hoe and tall too. The fan arm barely made it around the card and it was a little tighter than you see in his pics. Mine actually sits a little bit at an angle, but I think it's doing enough.

Outstanding job by Norbert for sorting this out.

One more thing...the air flow from the gooseneck fan is a little anemic. Might be worth looking for a higher quality fan that moves a little more air to swap out on the neck piece. The fan's flexible neck thing is your mother's thong though, it's on point enough to handle business, albeit a little bit ugly when you look through the window at it.

Norbert 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 04:13 AM
@Yourdaddy

Thanks, and I'm glad it worked out well for you! As for the fan, try removing the screen that comes with it. It's kinda pointless being inside the case anyway and it does restrict airflow quite a bit.

Yourdaddy 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 04:21 AM
Great call man! I didn't even consider pulling the screen. On it...

Yourdaddy 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 07:18 AM
Update on settings, temps, power and hashrate on my Rog Strix 3090 Gaming OC after the "Norbert Mod"

Took the screen off the gooseneck fan as he advised. Adjusted power limit to 77%, core -180, mem +95 and I'm seeing junction temps of 88 degrees at 101Mh to 102Mh and 295 watts. I'm totally good with this. That's with a 49" monitor connected and on as well so I'm sure that's lowering the Mh and raising the power draw a tiny bit.

Allan 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 12:16 PM
Norbert, have you considered replacing the thermal pads? Saw some people on reddit having stellar results, even though the reports were for other AIBs. Also, would that void the warranty at all with ASUS?

Norbert 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 07:32 PM
@Allan

I have, but I've been trying to avoid that. I can see the pads from the factory are in the right positions, and I can't imagine they'd cheap out on the thermal pads to the degree that I'd want to open the card up and replace them. But I might in the future. Especially with summer coming up. These are winter temps...

Moosecapable 

Thursday, March 11, 2021, 03:13 AM
I tried to replicate this with a Founders Edition 3090, but wasn't successful, I also didn't fiddle with it too much because while waiting for the parts to ship I just threw on my AMD Wraith Stealth cooler that I wasn't using.

Right now I'm getting 100Mh/s at 75% power limit and -500 clock and memory and hovering around 96 degrees.

CryptoAtHome 

Saturday, March 13, 2021, 07:44 PM
Hey guys,

I put a step-by-step guide on Youtube on how to disassemble and apply the thermal pad for the 3090 FE with my own results.

Check it out if you think about doing it but are afraid:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3260LR2JzQ

I also made another small video just about how to unplug the 3090 FE cables, including the infamous led one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5a8EbhVYSI

Enjoy and good luck with your mod!


Dan Shepherd 

Saturday, March 27, 2021, 10:15 AM
Hi Norbert,

Did you do any testing with the thermal tape of the 3m tape on the heaksinks?

Dan Shepherd 

Saturday, March 27, 2021, 10:36 AM
One other thing Norbert, i've found those round finned heat sinks someone posted above here where I live.

There are two options though. I can go low profile, which is 14mmx14mm base and 9mm height or high profile which is same base but 14mm height on the fins.

Are higher fins always going to be better if you have to room or, if you're going for a pull config might the low profile be better? I'd buy both but it's 1. not exactly really cheap to do but 2. more importantly you can only apply them once then you need new thermal tape and it would require quite a lot of adding and removing - i'd rather do it once!

Here are the links
Low Profile

High Profile

Norbert 

Saturday, March 27, 2021, 05:01 PM
@Dan Shepherd

I did actually use some goo-gone, alcohol, and a razor blade to clean the original thermal adhesive off of the heatsinks. I replaced it with some high grade thermal tape and the results were 1C better, if that, and could even be placebo. Certainly wasn't worth the effort lol. It was a fun project though and it's good to know that there isn't any insulating material holding me back, but I wouldn't recommend the same project to anyone else.

As for the heatsinks, you're right. Low profile would be better for a pull configuration, and high profile would be better for push. I've found the biggest factor in the heatsinks you choose, after talking to other miners and a few youtubers is the airflow path over the heatsinks. Good omnidirectional flow heatsinks will dissipate far more heat than directional fins, and with the smooth surface the pins on those heatsinks have, it could outperform the square knobs on the heatsinks I've used. I'd be interested to hear what your results are.

Sul 

Sunday, March 28, 2021, 05:50 PM
Dear Norbert,
Thank you for writing this article and sharing so much information with us.

I have ordered these: Heatsinks

They are 14mm x 14mm (although I'm not sure how tall they are, does this mean 14mm tall?)

I have also ordered these 1mm thermal pads to stick to them: One enjoy Thermalright Thermal Pad 12.8 W/mK, 85x45x1mm, Non Conductive Heat Resistance High Temperature Resistance, Silicone Thermal Pads for Laptop Heatsink/GPU/CPU/LED Cooler Thermal Pads

1. Are these 1mm thermal pads good for the copper heatsinks?

2. Are these copper heatsinks good? They have thin fins, and I have 3 case fans blowing air in from the front.

Your time and assistance is massively appreciated.

Best wishes,

Sul


Norbert 

Sunday, March 28, 2021, 05:59 PM
@Sul

As long as you orient the heatsinks so that the air can pass through the fins, they should be ok. As for the thermal pads, they're quite good but I'm not sure they'll help because they don't look like they're adhesive. You'll want some thermal tape to secure the heatsinks to the surface I'd think.

Sul 

Sunday, March 28, 2021, 08:17 PM
@Norbert

Amazing! Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly. I Really appreciate the time and advice you're providing.

I have now cancelled my Amazon order for the thermal pads and looking for some thermal tape instead. If its not too much to ask again, I do have three more (hopefully my last) questions please.

1. Is this thermal tape OK for the 3090 --- Thermal Tape

It is acrylic PSA material

2. Do we actually need thermal tape? Can I just sit the copper heatsinks on top of the GPU without tape?

3. Regarding the heatsink orientation, I'm guessing that the fans have to face it as if looking down train tracks (ie, the fan is aiming down 5 lanes to pass through them all)?

All the thanks in the world for helping me with this, and I once again look forward to your response

Sul

Norbert 

Sunday, March 28, 2021, 08:49 PM
@Sul

1. The thermal tape I used is here, though anything conductive should work well enough.

2. Proper thermal tape will become soft once it gets warm and will fill in gaps and uneven surfaces much like thermal paste. Once applied, be sure to press on your heatsink a bit and give it the slightest twist back and forth after running the card for about half an hour. Your contact and heat transfer will be far better after doing this.

3. That is correct.

Sul 

Sunday, March 28, 2021, 09:26 PM
@Norbert

Thank you x100000000

I will set this up on Thursday when the parts arrive and report back here with hopefully amazing results!


Take care, and I look forward to reporting sub-100C temps :)))

Dan Shepherd 

Monday, March 29, 2021, 04:29 PM
@Norbert.

Quick update. I've ordered the low profile pin heatsinks from the link above.

I'd already ordered a Noctua NF-B9 redux-1600 to place on top - and 3 packs of the heatsinks you used, which all arrived today. Strangely enough - the heatsinks I got don't have anything on the back to attach them at all.

For the sake of it I decided to just copy your photo and place the copper heatsinks on for now with the Noctua fan on top in pull just to see if it would do anything.

Straight away a huge difference. I was testing by mining as it kills the VRAM - I'd been using the "lite" preset on Nicehash which only gets 100MH/s but kept the VRAM at about 100c so it wasn't being destroyed. With just the copper heat sinks sat in place and the fan on top it was only hitting around 80c now! I put my optimised profile on which OC's the VRAM heavily and gets 120MH/s - at stock it would reach a worrying 108c-110c. Currently it's been sat at 100c for 90 minutes and never rose above.

So I'm guessing if those pin heatsinks are actually better and of course i'll be using some kind of thermal bridge - I believe they come with actual 3M thermal tape on them, i'm expecting even better results that this. Maybe I can keep the VRAM in the green whilst mining with full overclocked VRAM - if it would sit at 95c that would be great.

Maybe I should even look at a higher RPM Noctua fan - speaking of which, how do you suggest we attach it so that I can actually move the system around without it falling off?

Norbert 

Monday, March 29, 2021, 07:48 PM
@Dan Shepherd

Lol, that is the main issue. Currently I have a fan just resting on my heatsinks in a pull orientation. It would probably be a disaster if I tried to move it. You could use the "gooseneck" arm you can see in the photos which would hold it in place, but that's an additional purchase. I stopped using mine though because I couldn't bend the arm enough so that it would reach "around" the card and position the fan far enough back against the motherboard to be centered properly over the gpu.

I'm glad you're having such results. If only they had etched a checkerboard pattern into the backplate surface, all we'd need is fans, but projects are fun anyway :)

Dan Shepherd 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021, 08:37 AM
@Norbert

It's been running 24 hours now and constantly between 98 and 100 degrees when OC'ed. I think it'll be another week before my better heatsinks arrive that I can actually attach in place, but considering these are just sitting on the backplate the results are really good.

Once hot compared to not having them it's an 8-10 degree difference than before. So with decent thermal tape and perhaps (?) slightly better heatsinks I hope I can get this up to 15 degree difference.

I think as I have these heatsink spares I may as well attach them with tape to other places on the card as well, I don't think it'd hurt to pull away as much heat from the back plate as possible.

Seeking for ideas on holding the fan, maybe we could start with something like this and I think i'd need to connect two pieces of metal for the fan to screw into and also use an adjustable bolt so I could control it's X and Y position somewhat.

Dan Shepherd 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021, 08:28 PM
Hi @Norbert, back again.

Just say this on Reddit of interest - https://imgur.com/gallery/9zIW0T2

Active backplate cooling solution

He went full heatsink and two fans - the results of 86 degrees whilst mining at 120MH/s are very impressive too!

I'm not sure i've got he room in my case for two fans to be honest, but i've just also bought a few different sizes and variations of Noctua fans to see if there's much difference from the cheaper redux one I got. I might at least be able to run them at a lower RPM.

Sul 

Thursday, April 1, 2021, 01:29 PM
@Dan Shepherd

Thanks for sharing, looks amazing.

@Norbert

Checking back in. I've covered the entire vram and gpu area with copper (used a total of 36 pieces of pure copper heatsinks. Unfortunately my temps have not changed at all (even though the copper is hot enough to burn on touching, so it's definitely conducting insanely well).

The one thing I am missing is fans on top of the copper. I have very limited space because of a cpu cooler that's in the way, although I might pick up a super slim pc case fan and rest it on top.

I'll check back in again and report how it goes.


Thanks again,

Sul.

Norbert 

Thursday, April 1, 2021, 08:26 PM
@Sul

If you're going to go that route, this is the best slim fan I've found. I had to replace the center fan on my front-facing 360 AIO cooler because my 3090 was too long for the case, and this slim fan was an amazing replacement. Moves a lot of air for its blade width. Probably just as much as the fans that came with the AIO.

Slim fan

Sul 

Friday, April 2, 2021, 01:30 PM
@Norbert

Thanks for the link!!

My cpu cooler allows max 7mm clearance for thickness so I have had to settle for a 60mm mini fan that covers only the left vram chips, sitting on top of them

Together with the copper, my temp has gone from 106c to 102c which is a big improvement and closer to my sub100c goal.

I might make some adjustments but so far with the results I'm really pleased.

Appreciate the continued support and communication, means a lot! :))

I am worried about heated plastics so I'm going to attempt to raise the fan by partially installing the 4 screws it came with and hopefully that should keep the plastic off the super hot copper.

Regards,

Sul

Abszol 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021, 01:58 PM
Great guide Norbert!

For those looking to get a rough estimate on best cooling cards before the hack, I'm currently mining with a:
1x Dell OEM RTX 3090 (85% power, -300 clock, -2000 mem, 90% fan) ~= 90MH/s, 100C
1x MSI Ventus 3x (85% power, -300 clock, 1000 mem, 90% fan) ~= 114MH/s, 94C
1x MSI Trio (80% power, -300 clock, 1000 mem, 90% fan) ~= 114MH/s, 94C

I'm hoping the hack lowers the Dell's temperature down to the safety zone of 95C and potentially lower the other cards down a few more. The open air configuration I have setup allows for the pushing fans to flow between each cards, which I'm assuming will help heat displacement without direct pull/push contact with a fan against the heat sinks but we'll see. I'll update this with my findings later on when the heat sinks arrive, my overall goal is to lower the fans to <= 80%.

Anthony J Ross 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 07:20 AM
Awesome mod norbert! I wish I could say I am experiencing similar results. Unfortunately these changes have not lowered my temperatures to nearly the degree yours were brought down to. I've tried both fan orientations, neither seems to make a change of more than about 5c. I will be looking into changing the thermal pads soon. Thanks for sharing your solution!

Dan Shepherd 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 01:53 PM
Hi Norbert.

Back again. So my update with those other heatsinks.

TL/DR - not worth the cost (about $60 in total) where as the ones you used cost me $4 packet.

I applied them and I used a FLIR heat camera on my phone to spot the hottest areas. Incidently it took a bit of tweaking (and I don't like where I applied the ones on the right) as it turns out rather than right over the VRAM chops you could do with them going right up to the edge of where the backplate ends before the chip holder and then one to the right of that too.

I decided to double up and use the new heatsinks in the most important places and the other ones to fill in gaps everywhere else. The result with a Noctua static pressure fan pulling at full speed is a 2-4 degree difference to just using the 24 cheap heat sinks in the position you did. So not at all worth it really.

I was expecting to be hitting 86-88 when mining at full speed. It turns out I need to have my fans higher and I can hit 92-96 which is fine, especially if it can stay closed to 92-94 i'm happy with that long term. I wanted to avoid 96 and over. It definitely keeps it more down that end now so it has increased cooling somewhat the returns at this stage are diminishing and i'm no where near the coolness of the guy who slapped those huge heat sinks over the entire back and used two fans unfortunatley.

Norbert 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 04:35 PM
@Dan Shepherd

If I had a FLIR camera for my phone, it might have made this far easier and may even have changed where I put the heatsinks as well. But a quick googling shows phone addons are about $200 lol. I've been experimenting with oldschool copper HD heatsinks like this one:

Large thin copper heatsink

But yeah, we're running into diminishing returns territory here. I placed that thing to the right of my memory and VRM heatsinks on the large open backplate surface, and with my front mounted AIO fans blowing over the entire card, I think it's gotten me another 1-2C improvement. The backplate itself is running 5C cooler, but that additional available thermal capacity of the backplate steel isn't translating to much more actual heat transfer. I think you're right in the next stage being repadding the inside. I might call it "good enough" at this point though. We'll see how the upcoming summer goes. Remember, these are all winter numbers lol

Dan Shepherd 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 10:16 PM
@Norbert.

I'd have liked to try with more of those heaksinks all over the card and experimented with higher ones - but they're just too expensive and not worth the money. I think it would make more sense to find some larger singular fin heatsinks and put them all over the card like in the post I shared above.

Definitely two fans is make zero difference for me - i've even strapped one onto the side of the card now blowing across more of the heatsinks and the rest of the card - but temps are identical. So one fan is the sweet spot in all my tests.

Sul 

Sunday, April 11, 2021, 01:30 PM
Final set up:
3090
Finned copper heatsink
Noctua 92mm fan push config (can't do pull as the blades hit the copper)

108C down to 98C @ 95mh/s

All good, exactly what I wanted. Can't get the MH any higher anyway even at max power 95 is peak for some reason.


Thanks x100000000 for all your help 🌟

Dan Shepherd 

Monday, April 12, 2021, 01:22 PM
@Sul, 95mh/s is awful. I'm getting 123 with ease.

At 95mh/s i can get the NVRam down to about 86 degrees. Also if you install the Noctua anti vibration pads it shouldn't hit the copper, mine don't.

@Norbert - in bad news though the efficiency of my system has fallen through the floor. At sat at 94/96 for a few days mining, rock solid, fans only on 80%. Then I tinkered with other things in my system, added an SPF+ card I wanted (which involved moving the system around) and now suddenly i'm sat at 100 degrees on the NVRAM and getting reboots again after extended time.

I'm not really sure what's happened - maybe some of the tape has become a little loose? I'm seriously quite disappointed with the expensive heat sinks though. Starting to wish i'd just imported some massive copper ones and put them on with thermal pads.

My problem is, if I do keep messing around and throwing money at it. Thermal pads - better on paper but can't move the machine around, but worse still - if I don't compress them, are they actually better than thermal tape? I don't' see a way for us to even put cable ties around them on the 3090 TUF as the fans on the other side would be in the way - unless we can go "through" the board somehow. If they could be secured or clamped it would be the best way - thermal paste is a mess and I don't think worth it for the marginal gains. I'm at the stage now where i'm more interested to test and trial and see what happens. What really is the result if I used a 40mm high huge aluminium heatsink vs a 11mm high copper one etc. I've considered an elaborate contraption with finned copper heat sinks that are 36mm high and having 3x 40mm Noctua fans blowing down the fins on each side and two 90mm on top pulling up and away - it'd probably do very little difference but cost a lot of money and be hard to connect up, but i'd love to see it! haha.


Abszol 

Saturday, April 17, 2021, 06:44 AM
Finally had a chance to optimize the 3090's and measure the temperature difference while increasing my hash rates in a pull configuration.

- MSI Ventus 3x:
- Before (100-104C): 118.675 MH/s, 296W, 90% fan, -250 core clock, 1000 memory clock
- After (94C): 118.675 MH/s, 296W, 70% fan, -250 core clock, 1000 memory clock
- MSI Gaming X Trio:
- Before (96C): ?, 296W, 90% fan, -250 core clock, 1000 memory clock
- After (94C): 122.215 MH/s, 313W, 70% fan, -250 core clock, 1200 memory clock

Norbert 

Sunday, April 18, 2021, 06:49 PM
@Abszol

Amazing results. Seems like alot less fan noise, lower temps, and increased hashrate on at least one of your cards as well. Very nice!

Dan Shepherd 

Sunday, April 18, 2021, 09:19 PM
@Norbert - I opened for the all copper finned heatsinks as an experiment. I'm going to cover the entire back and use 0.5mm thermal pads with 12W/mk rating. I'm sure at that point my rear heatsink will actually be better than rear heat spreader and the thermal pads on the card - but at least it means i'm pulling as much heat away from the heat speader as possible. I'll try 2x 92m, Noctual fans pulling on top too - and i'll angle the fines in line with the case airflow too, although 99% of it will be done by the fans on top.

Will report back when everything arrives, copper needs to come from China and I need to cut some to shape which should be fun!

alireza 

Friday, April 23, 2021, 11:23 AM
@Abszol
What is your ambient temp?

alireza 

Friday, April 23, 2021, 11:31 AM
MSI 3090 SUPRIM X

ambient temp 25 C
Power 272w
fan speed 66%
core clock -225
mem clock +633
junction temp 92 C
104 MH

How is it?
any solution for better mining?

Ben 

Thursday, April 29, 2021, 01:18 PM
Wow just installed this on my EVGA 3090 FTW3 Ultra and I am seeing great results. Thanks for the writeup!

Before: Memory: +1200, Core: -100, Power: 60%, MJT: 96-98, 105 MH/s.
After: Memory: +1300, Core: -100, Power: 70%, MJT: 90-92, 121 MH/s.

I kept my fans the same at 75% for GPU and 80% for new heatsync fan.

Techpeng  

Sunday, May 16, 2021, 02:25 PM
Hi Norbert! First off I want to thank you for this article! I have already ordered most of the parts for the fix. There’s only one part that’s sold out and I haven’t been able to find a replacement which is for the gooseneck. Do you have any recommendations as a replacement? :)

Norbert 

Sunday, May 16, 2021, 04:08 PM
@Techpeng

The gooseneck isn't necessary. Any 80mm or larger fan can be set directly on top of the heatsinks. They won't get hot enough to damage the plastic fan housing.

Pic 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021, 12:31 PM
I just ordered this fan arm for directing air at the heatsinks: https://www.moddiy.com/products/ICEAGE-J1-High-Efficient-Performance-Flexible-Metal-Fan-Mounting-Kit.html

Supposedly it's only for 80mm fans, but I'm going to try it with a 120mm fan when it gets here.

rhylte 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021, 04:24 PM
Hi Norbert, I just wanted to join the chorus of thank yous! I pretty much copied your placement of heatsinks on my PNY 3090, and my average Memory Junction Temperature has gone from 97 -> 91.6. I just used a cheap 120mm 3-pin fan that I picked up from Best Buy and set it directly on top of the heat sinks.

I pulled the fan cord taut so that it wouldn't move very much, but it can still jiggle a little bit, so I'm going to look into ways to fix it into place a little better.

All my Afterburner settings are default (except custom fan curve) because this rig is primarily for gaming, and I want to think about its mining job as little as possible (i.e. not futzing with Afterburner settings between gaming/mining).

Thanks again!

Pic 

Thursday, May 20, 2021, 01:32 AM
Has anyone tried adding a second set of heatsinks + fan to the other half of the backplate? There's no VRAM modules on that side, but that backplate area still gets painfully hot to the touch on my card. If adding heatsinks and a fan to that part of the backplate reduces Tjunction more, I'd be able to reduce my GPU fan speeds even further, which would be perfect.

Norbert 

Sunday, June 6, 2021, 06:11 PM
@Asryan

Those heatsinks, while the fins are thin, have gaps between them so they'd still be considered omnidirectional. I'd sit a ran right on top of them, pulling air up. You can try reversing the fan and compare temps, but from my experience, a pull configuration is better for the entire system in general.

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