Building a Better EVGA GTX 970 SC
Now that you've seen the attributes of the individual parts for this build, it is time to put the plan into action. There are several parts and tools necessary to complete the re-build of the EVGA GTX 970 SC graphics card, including:
- A dremel moto-tool
- Screwdriver with assorted-sized Phillips and Hex bits
- Rounded and flat needle metal files
- ENZOTECH BMR-C1 Memory Ramsinks
- ENZOTECH BCC9 Memory Ramsinks (low profile)
- EVGA GTX 970 SC backplate
- Thermal compound
- PCB/electronics-safe surface cleaner
- Lint-free clothes
The necessary components to modify the EVGA GTX 970 SC for liquid cooling include the WATERCOOL HeatKiller GPU-X3 GPU water block, the EVGA GTX 970 SC backplate, and the ENZOTECH copper heat sinks. The ENZOTECH heat sinks were selected because of their copper construction, size, and use of 3M-type thermal adhesive. The sinks were found to be a perfect fit for the DDR5 memory modules as well as the GPU VRMs.
The ENZOTECH Ramsinks are constructed of solid copper with thin rods extending from the base to aid in heat dissipation when airflow applied. There are a total of 20 copper rods entending from the base, ensuring maximum heat dissipation from the cooled components. Two different sized sinks were selected because of the different thermal dissipation needs of the project. The smaller sinks are used for the DDR5 memory modules because of there lower heat generation. The larger sinks, having almost 2x the surface area of the smaller sinks, were deemed more appropriate for the GPU VMRs because of their high heat production.
As shown in the picture of the naked GTX 970 SC, the front plate on the right side of the card intersects the DDR5 memory modules to the right of the GPU. This makes for problematic mounting of the heat sinks to the memory modules without modification to the cover plate. The board could have been run without the plate, but I chose to keep it for the extra protection it provides to the naked PCB as well as the secondary heat path for the memory VRM circuitry.
Because of the cover plate overlapping the memory modules, a Dremel moto tool was used to cut out sections of the plate to uncover the memory modules. After cutting the sections of the cover plate, the cutout sections were filed to remove burrs from the cut sections and shaped until the ENZOTECH heat sinks fit without binding.
The ENZOTECH Ramsinks are mounted to the GPU VRMs and DDR5 memory modules after remounting the cover plate and cleaning the surface of all modules with PCB-safe surface cleaner. I chose to use ArticClean's 2-part surface cleaner that I had on hand, but any PCB-safe cleaner will do (including high-purity Isopropyl alcohol). All heat sinks are direct mounted to the surface of the modules using the factory-installed 3M thermal tape. Prior to mounting the heat sinks to the top and bottom DDR5 memory modules, the low profile sinks must be cut down to half size to fit underneath the GPU water block (the GPU block only allows for a maximum sink height of 6mm). Note that proper mounting the first time is critical because the thermal tape cannot be reused after the initial mount.
The ENZOTECH sinks are mounted to the DDR5 memory modules with sections of the cover plate cut to fit the heat sinks to the memory modules to the right of the GPU. The sinks fit perfectly over the surface area of the memory modules.
The heat sinks fit perfectly over the GPU VRMs to the left of the GPU core with two sinks each adequate to cool the upper six and lower six VRMs. The surface of the VRMs is high enough to prevent contact between any PCB-mounted components or traces and the heat sink surface as well.
Modding of the EVGA GTX 970 SC graphics card is complete are mounting the HeatKiller GPU-X3 GPU water block after applying your preferred thermal paste to the GPU core. The block is oriented so that the block liquid ports are on top of the card, to the left of the power connectors. There is no problem using the power connectors with the block mounted, even though the block looks close in proximity to them. After cutting down the upper and lower memory heat sinks, the block fits perfectly over the memory sinks.
The EVGA GTX 970 SC backplate mounts directly to the back of the card, adding a modicum of protection to the rear-side components and memory modules. Additionally, EVGA includes thermal tape for the DDR5 memory modules for passive heat dissipation via the back plate. The HeatKiller GPU-X3 GPU water block is fixed in place with four hex nuts that extend a few millimeters above the surface of the back plate.