EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW2 review

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Graphics Card Thermal Imaging Measurements (FLIR) and Thermal Sensors

Thermal Imaging Temperature Measurements

A new addition to our reviews will be the inclusion of Forward Looking Infra-Red thermal images of hardware. Over the past years we have been trying to figure out what the best possible way is to measure temperatures on hardware. Multiple options are available but the best thing to do is to visualize heat coming from the product or component being tested. The downside of thermal imaging hardware is simple, FLIR cameras with a bit of decent resolution costs up-to 10,000 EUR. Hence we passed on it for a long time. With a thermal imaging camera a special lens focuses the infrared light emitted by all of the objects in view. This focused light is scanned by a phased array of infrared-detector elements. The detector elements create a very detailed temperature pattern called a thermogram. It only takes about one-thirtieth of a second for the detector array to obtain the temperature information to make the thermogram. This information is obtained from several thousand points in the field of view of the detector array. The thermogram created by the detector elements is translated into electric impulses. The impulses are sent to a signal-processing unit, a circuit board with a dedicated chip that translates the information from the elements into data for the display. The signal-processing unit sends the information to the display, where it appears as various colors depending on the intensity of the infrared emission. The combination of all the impulses from all of the elements creates the image. We can seek hotspots on the PCB indicating, for example, GPU but also VRM temperature as well as how heat is distributed throughout a product. We do hope you will enjoy this new technology as it did cost us an arm and a leg to be able to implement it. 


Flir1


We can measure accurate temperatures at the GPUs and VRM areas. So once we start to stress the GPU the thermals quickly change. We can measure thermals down to a 10th of a degree, our thermal camera was calibrated in 2017. Unfortunately the back-plate is closed on some of the essential parts hence we cannot get 100% PCB and component readings. The overall thermal image however is looking really good.
  • We reach 70 degrees C on M1, that is the GPU marker.
  • At M3 (Measure Point 3) the PCB area / backplate temp can be measured it runs just close to 55 Degrees C on that spot, that is considered to be a very normal temperature. Make sure you have plenty airflow inside your chassis as that will always help. 
  • At M2 we are close on the VRM area, at ~65 Degrees C. However here we cannot take a proper reading as there are no gaps in the back-plate.

The thermal image shows that the back-plate could be trapping heat at the VRM segment on the backside, we like to see lots of gaps to vent. 


Flir4

So with all the sensors we need to check, I figured I'd take a reading with the back-plate removed as well. now this does compromise the cooling design as the back-plate does cool the rear VRM and GPU areas with padding. 

  • M1 now reads 74 Degrees C - that is the GPU - spot on with our measurements.
  • M2 is the hottest spot we could detect in the VRM at 75 Degrees , overall though you are looking at a range just above 70 Degrees C, which is good.
  • EVGA places one GDDR5X sensor at M5, that gives a lower 50 Degrees C reading.  
  • EVGA has a 2nd sensor at the M4 location, this matches with our ~60 Degrees C reading.

Flir2

When we position the thermal camera outwards we can see that the overall cooler design really works well. The hottest point is the top side of the card where there is some residual heat detected. Remember, this is the graphics card 100% stressed in a FireStrike scene 1 loop. As you can see the card is not exhausting heat so all heat will be vented and dumped inside your chassis.

Fli3

A bit of heat is exhausted at the top side, at the M1 position at 73 Degrees C, the VRM area. That heat ends up in your PC. The card produces a bit of heat under full stress so ventilation inside your PC is (as always) a must. The overall thermals look really good. There's nothing here to be seen that would worry me.

The thermal probes

Right, as stated EVGA has embedded nine temperature sensors into the PCB at areas that can run warm. You will need to install PrecisionXOC to be able to check that data out:


Precisionx

 
So basically here you can see what sensors report back. For the bigger part they are in line with our thermal camera readings as you have seen in the second image above. It is a funny feature to be able to monitor more positions on the board. I am however not sure if you'd use this that often? I mean if the cooling design of a card is done right, then how relevant is it to continuously check and monitor stuff you know won't heat up. But hey speaking as a true g33k here, I do like my sensors. 

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