Corsair 300R

So far in the studio there has not been many video card failures at all. The lessons learned from 196.75 really drove home the idea of power supplies and chassis designs. After watching the AM2 platforms being trashed I was pushed to spending a lot of cash on new hardware. 196.75 trashed my old 8600 GT card which was barely 8 months old. The procurement of the BFG GTX 260 drove me to spend more cash on a bigger chassis and better PSU.

The new chassis and PSU were expensive but I spend more cash adding fans to the 300R. After discussing this is on forums I found front intake and rear/top exhaust was the best bet for removing warm air. The 300R is made from steel and it has thumb screws which make it easier to repair the machine when something goes wrong. The TX850V2 definitely was crucial to the survival of motherboards, video cards and hard disks. Good clean power is vital.

Dual fans on the front of the 300R pulled cooler air over the hard disks and into the main compartment. The rear and top fans then removed the warmer air out. The positive air flow mean parts operated efficiently, The bottom mounted PSU was another interesting idea that seems to make sense with the center of gravity and for keeping it cooler. The 300R is definitely a sold choice that probably could last a long time.

The Cooler Master HAF 932 was more expensive but it came with ball bearing fans installed which added value. This box was a lot bigger than the Carbide 300R and demonstrated the advantages of the full tower design with 200mm fans. The HAF 932 also has 5 disk bays which allows for more storage. The HAF 932 also has way more room under the motherboard tray to place cables and cable ties. I also grabbed a Corsair AX860i PSU which was intended to be hyper efficient.

I ran a GTX 260 SLI which lasted for 2 years before I bought the EVGA GTX 660 FTW Ti Signature 2. The GTX 660 Ti was the first card I owned that had a dual fan design. The GTX 660 Ti was powerful at 1920×1080 until I got the GTX 690 cards which made gaming great.

The Sapphire HD 6970 was a beast but it was solid gaming card as well. The card’s original blower fan was replaced with an Arctic three fan cooler which was definitely an improvement.

The Asus HD HD 7870 card was a real disappointment as Asus refused to provide a UEFI upgrade unless I was using an Asus motherboard. That is illegal and for that reason I will never buy another card from then again. In stark contrast EVGA could care less which motherboard you have, they only wanted the model of card to get the right ROM image.

The Gigabyte GTX 750 was overheating but after fixing that with MX-4 has the card in service again. The GTX 750 is not that powerful and as a result of benchmarking it was retired. The Sapphire R9 Fury is a three fan design which saw the light from the HD 6970 and the noise it made. The HD 7870 was the first GCN class card in the studio. The R9 Fury is unusual with HBM memory instead of the usual VRAM. The memory bandwidth was definitely a lot better but above 1920×1080 the card was not as viable as hoped for. The last RMA was for the GTX 1060 that croaked some 3-4 months after I bought it. The replacement card tends to overheat even with MX-4 with games at 4K resolution. The GTX 1060 is safer for 1920×1080 gaming. The GTX 690 was still more powerful but the GTX 1060 uses a lot less power.

Sapphire Nitro R9 Fury

The Corsair Obsidian 750D took over from the aging HAF 932. With an extra cage the 750D can store 9 hard disks. Corsair’s larger chassis is also well stocked with fans. This box afforded the move to water cooling for the processor which was the next step in vanity class gaming rigs. The Corsair H115i RGB is able to handle any CPU out there. Now with good airflow and water cooling the latest box is well positioned for gaming for the next few years. The water cooler is likely to last 5 years or so before evaporation takes its toll.

The Corsair AX1600i was procured to take over from the HX1000i. The HX1000i was a replacement for the failed AX860i but the AX1600i is hyper efficient.

The Sapphire Nitro RX 480 8GB was the first card with as much VRAM the consoles had for total memory. The card actually was fine when I moved to 3840×2160 as the RX 480 was the same GPU as the Xbox One X so Halo was actually playable. The VRAM on the card was leveraged effectively too which was even more eye opening. The RX 480 was able to handle any game I had at the time and it demonstrated that Sapphire was still the rock solid.

Today the Tesla, Fermi and Kepler class cards are now out of support but they all have contemporary drives that work even with Windows 10 and Windows 11 fine. Older Radeon cards prior Polaris are also now out of support and again contemporary drivers are available that can keep the older cards in use as needed.

Most recently the EVGA RTX 2080 was procured to perk up 3840×2160 gaming in face of increasingly demanding games. Now after a few years in service the card has been stellar for gaming. More recent cards are not easily obtained due to mining interests. Radeon cards are really hard to find and RTX 3090 cards are hyper expensive. EVGA dual fan cards are rock solid so I am not worried about the card survival at all. The RX 480 is still available in the event of a failure. RX 6000 cards offer 16GB GDDR6 which RTX Ampere are not as well endowed.

I have had to repair several cards over the years due to thermal material failures. MX-4 is designed to last for over 7 years which is longer than most video cards last in the studio before new cards are procured. MX-4 is also used for the CPU which seems to be good with thin spreading which minimized the insulating factor.

I have a lot of video cards in the box and it seems that they do accumulate. The museum of video cards is an idea for a post down the road. The benchmarks have not been updated due to the lack of recent cards to add to the tables.