The graphics card I bought, the Geforce GTX 1660 Super. It is what is called a phoenix card. The specific model is Asus PH-GTX1660S-6G. Phoenix means that it is not as long as normal cards. But it is a bit wider. These cards are primarily used for small form factor PC cases. I don't have one such. The downside is that the cooling solution only has one fan. This gets quite loud when doing requiring tasks. And the card reaches a temperature of 86 degrees celcius. At least in my system. At more than 90 degrees it might thermal throttle meaning it will decrease clock rate and/or GPU memory speed in order to decrease temperature. Thus lowering performance.
All that left me in a hassle. The card fits my needs. But the stock cooling solution is annoying. You can buy what is called an aftermarket GPU cooler. The problem here is the size of the card. Most aftermarket coolers are made for cards with an width of 98mm. I found the Accelero Xtreme IV rev. 2 by Arctic Cooling. It has this measurement restriction. I did some google traversing in order to figure if I could use this cooler anyway. Most forums had posts with people just stating that the buyer should return the card or just buy a new one. Arguing like "The card is crap, buy a proper one". Indeed this kind of expertise is very helpful. So I turned to reddit. And with the help from a user on r/graphicscard I found the reddit post Accelero Xtreme IV on a 1660 Super (didn't use the backplate). So it is doable. Here is my approach.
First of all. The package consists of a heat sink mounted with three fans. This goes on the GPU. It has different mounting plates, so it fits different GPU cooler mounting solutions. One fits the Asus card. The heat sink is very long. More on this later. Furthermore a backplate heat sink is included in the package. This is used for cooling VRAM and VRMs. The idea is to place it on the back of the card. From here it absorbs the heat that comes through the PCB. For using this there are thermal pads included, these are put on top of warm areas on the back of the card. A piece of plastic is included in the package. This is used for protecting the PCB and solderings from direct contact with the sink. The idea of the back plate is to avoid gluing heat spreaders to the components that need cooling. Lastly a mounting bar for stabilizing is included. This uses 4 slots worth of mounting screws. Cards can still be mounted. More on this later.
First the original cooler is unscrewed. This takes four screws. Next remove the cooling paste on the GPU. This takes some propanol alcohol. In danish it is propyl alcohol. I used 99%. And some paper tissues. I have heard of people successfully using 70% alcohol. However propanol seems the right choice since anything gasoline related probably contains some amount of oil.
The Arctic cooler has thermal paste added to it already. So it can just be mounted right on the GPU. For the back plate several thermal pads have been included. These are placed on the back side of any component that originally had a thermal pad on it. And then the plastic sheet is cut so it only covers the areas where no pads are placed.
Then the back plate is placed and screwed together. Finger screws are used, and it seems that it is more than enough to just tighten using your fingers. No screw driver is needed. You should not even tighten all the way with your fingers. Tighten in diagonal so it is done evenly. Anyway for now I have dropped the back plate. Read on to read why.
In order to use the stabilizing mounting thing six clamps has to be placed on the edge of the card, three on each side, holding the three layers together. But remember: the card is too wide for the specs of the cooler. Hence we can only be clamped on the one side. What is even worse: the stabilizer is screwed onto these clamps. And the card is still too wide, so the stabilizer cannot be fastened in this way.
I ended up ditching the back plate. My card does not have temperature sensors on the VRAMs, so I'm not sure if the back plate is needed or not. Another thing to consider is those VRMs with a snappy logo on them. The stock cooling did not even cover these. But it seems that these are as important, if not more important, to cool than the VRAM. The temperature of the card when on fully load does not suggest that these chips needs cooling. If the VRAM gets too hot, the heat might spread to the GPU since these are placed close to each other. As stated later the GPU temp do not reach past 48c, which might suggest that the VRAMs are cooled enough. The card is rated for 125w, which is quite low, I think, for a graphics card. Again it might not run hot on anything except the GPU. Lastly the three fans blow some amount of air down on all these components. And my PC case is quite proper ventilated.
All that to a side I actually found a way use the stabilizer. The reason to use it in the first place is that the cooler is quite heavy. This Asus card has no stabilizing build in since the card is so small. I have a HD7050 that has one. So it is not uncommon. Anyway you can just place the stabilizer one slot higher than the card. And then use a strip to reach down and grab the card.
However the clamps are not there. So the only support for the whole sandwich is the 4 mounting screws. As to be seen I haven't gotten the card past 48c, so I'm unsure that the back plate is even needed.
I have gotten a thing for Far Cry 5. The game is really fun. And I think I got it on sale. I have it on max settings and 1920x1200. The max temperature I have reached is 48c. Normally it sits in the range 40-42c. A quite interesting thing: I have installed the Asus GPU Utility. This has modes. Always in gaming mode for me, since it lowers the clock according to your need anyway. When not gaming, the clock is very low. But as can be seen it runs stable at 1950mhz in FC 5. The GPU is rated for 1530-1785 mhz as can be seen on the GTX 1660 Super . So this is some kind of boost anyway.
Lastly, let's create a language model. Here I never reached past 45c. As can be seen below. A funny thing to note: the card seems to use more than maximum amount of power. I'm unsure what to make of that.
So was it all worth it? Again the card really fits my needs. I can play the games that I would like to play, on max or almost max settings. These include Far Cry 5, Doom Eternal (this game has one setting that requires too much memory to go on ultra nightmare), Metro: Exodus. I can build language models with the temperature below 50c. This point is crucial since it can take many hours of constant peak load to build one such model. However I'm still not sure on how the VRAMs along the VRMs are doing. I might invest in a temperature sensor and do a follow up. Another thing is that I had to take out my additionally hard drive trays. I have a lot of hard drives, so I kind of needed those. That's a thing to consider. Another is that due to the low power consumption of the card I dared not connect the cooler directly. It is connected directly to the power supply with a molex instead, with a cable that were included in the package. This means that the three fans run on full blast all the time. The noise level is not that high, but still. Lastly I don't think this PC is very portable anymore.
A better solution might be to just buy a card with more coolers in the first place. However I think this is a quite good GPU cooler, and now I have it. It might survive this card in order to be placed on the next I buy. That's a plus for sure. The last alternative is to just use the stock cooling solution. The card is rated for running stable below 90c. However the Arctic cooler might prolong the lifetime of the card. I do not buy new hardware if I can avoid it, but others might want to buy a new graphics card every few years or so.