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Author Topic: Replacing a dying Radeon 5870...or maybe just the GPU cooler?  (Read 1458 times)
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disarm
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« on: October 25, 2011, 02:00:36 AM »

I've been running a Radeon HD5870 for the last two years and it's been a fantastic video card.  Unfortunately, it has started to have intermittent problems with the cooling fan (noise, varying speed) that lead me to believe that it's on the verge of failure.  My initial thoughts were to just replace the card with the latest and greatest, but the surprising truth is that even the fastest new video cards are based off of year-old technology and don't provide a dramatic performance improvement relative to the cost.  I could spend $300 on a quality Radeon 6950 and unlock it to get 6970 performance, or drop $400-500 for a competing nVidia card, but that's a fair amount of money to spend for technology that's not dramatically better than what I already have and is also due to be surpassed in the coming months.  It really stinks that my 5870 is failing at a time when the graphics card market is on the verge of the 'next big thing' without any real information released yet, or even an estimate of when those products will be available...maybe not until early next year?

With that in mind, I'm looking at a couple options...

#1 - Check with Powercolor to see if they'll honor the warranty on my current card and give me a repair or replacement.  The big downside here is that it's a process that requires me to send them my failing card and will likely leave me without a video card for anywhere from 4-8 weeks while they decide if they'll help.  Obviously, I'm not crazy about being without my desktop at full-speed for two months, especially with all the upcoming game releases.  There's also the catch that my 2-year warranty technically expired yesterday, two days after my 5870 started to cause trouble, so I may be out of luck with Powercolor anyway.

#2 - Purchase and install an aftermarket GPU cooler to replace the failing fan on my 5870.  This would mean a cost of around $30-50 for a quality cooler, followed by dismantling my current card to completely replace the cooling system.  I don't think it would be difficult based on my limited research so far, but it is new territory despite my otherwise-considerable PC building experience.

At this point, I'm leaning strongly toward installing a new cooler just to keep my current card functional until I can upgrade it with new tech early next year.  I'm just curious if anyone has experience with aftermarket GPU coolers...any thoughts or recommendations? 
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2011, 05:56:33 AM »

The 5870 is still a surprisingly strong contender for gaming performance. You would be well served by trying to extend the life, either via factory replacement (you have to trust them to get it right), or by doing it yourself (you have to trust yourself to get it right... but you're right there if you need to blame someone smile )

On the other hand, 28nm parts are 'around the corner'. Which 28nm parts is still up in the air... could be low end, and low/mid range, could be mobile parts. Nobody's talking.

Have you tried cleaning the card?

Here's a relevant question. How comfortable are you with assembling your own systems? If you can do that, you can replace a gpu cooler.

Atomic
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disarm
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2011, 01:27:07 AM »

Thanks for the input...no surprising news, but I thought I would open things up to any suggestions that hadn't crossed my mind yet.  Now an update...

I called Powercolor today about a warranty claim, and the guy did agree to cut me some slack and RMA the card if I wanted to go that route despite it technically being a couple days out of warranty.  The catch is that he said it will take 3-4 weeks and I'll wind up getting a re-manufactured card from them as a replacement that would likely not be identical to the one I have now...most likely a non-reference design, although that shouldn't be a big deal as long as it works.  The other catch aside from turnover time is that it would be single-time offer because I am out of warranty...have another failure and I'm on my own for a fix, this time with a non-reference design that may not be compatible with an aftermarket cooler.

With that in mind, I think I'm still leaning toward fixing it on my own.  If I'm definitely not going the RMA route, I can open up the card and give it a good cleaning without concern for voiding my warranty.  If that doesn't help, I can then replace the cooler.  I've looked online more since posting yesterday and the reference 5870 cooler is very easy to remove and replace...definitely within my comfort zone given my experience with assembling multiple systems of my own over the years.

Now I just have to make up my mind about what I want to do...
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2011, 03:53:42 AM »

Given that you're out of warranty either way, and sitting with known good hardware in hand, just with a fritzing fan... yep, I know what I would do smile

Atomic
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Montag
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2011, 12:34:59 AM »

This is a little late, but you may be able to clean the fan of any gunk buildup and depending on the type of bearings a touch of oil might be worth it.  I went through this before and got a replacement fan from the card manufacturer - but, it turns out it was the chipset cooling fan that was making the noise.  I replaced the fan only and did not have to remove any heat sinks.
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disarm
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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2011, 01:29:41 AM »

I wound up fixing the problem by installing an aftermarket cooler...cheaper than buying a new card, and gets me away from the stock cooler that is apparently notorious for fan bearing failures.  I installed an Arctic Cooling Accelero Twin Turbo Pro and it works great...easy to install, virtually silent, and cools significantly better than the stock HSF.  Not only did the new cooler fix the noise problem, but it's a noticeable upgrade to the system as a whole.  My rig has always been very quiet, but having a graphics card cooler that is virtually silent means that I can't hear the system running at all even under heavy load, and everything stays impressively cool icon_cool
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2011, 06:06:35 AM »

* TheAtomicKid chalks up another one for the good guys...

Atomic
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