Cleaning spree: make your graphics card faster, colder and quieter!

Why and how should you clean your graphics card?


Results: is the GPU cooler, quicker and quieter?

We had the GTX 960 run three times our half-hour endurance test in Project Cars: first with all the dust still in the cooler, then cleaned but still with the old cooling paste and finally also a endurance test with new cooling paste. We look at the test results on the components clock speed, temperature and noise production.

Clocking speeds

From the graph you can immediately see the big difference between the dirty and clean video card. The dusty GTX 960 only briefly maintains its turbo speed and quickly returns to its basic 1127 MHz clock speed. Without being stuffy and clogged up, the graphics card does manage to maintain its turbo clock speed, and after half an hour that results in 1278 MHz. If the GTX 960 is also fitted with new cooling pastes, the maximum turbo clock speed is already seen at the start of the test. The clock speed of 1290 MHz can then be maintained for two minutes, while the card held for only 30 seconds before changing the cooling paste. The final clock speed after half an hour did remain the same at 1278 MHz.


In addition to the clock frequencies, we also looked at the temperatures during the endurance test. Our measurements on the internal sensor of the graphics card show that the temperature rises rapidly, reaches a maximum of 87 degrees and, after half an hour, reaches 84 degrees. Without all dust, the maximum temperature was 80 degrees and at the end of the endurance test it was 78 degrees. With the fresh cooling paste a small drop was visible: the maximum temperature was 77 degrees and the final temperature was 76 degrees. It is also noteworthy that the temperature rise at the start of the endurance test is slightly less rapid with the new cooling paste.

Noise production

Clean with old paste
Clean with new paste
Percentage fan speed 74% 51% 49%
Revolutions of the fan 2417 rpm 1674 rpm 1619 rpm
Noise production 54,5 dB(A) 50,4 dB(A) 49,7 dB(A)

As with clock speed and temperature, in the endurance test we look at the measured values for noise production at the end of the test. In this test, we measure 54.5 dB(A) on the GTX 960 when it is still full of dust, which is caused by a fan running at 2417 rpm. After the GPU got cleaned, we measure a considerable difference, because the fan only runs 1674 revolutions per minute, which results in 50.4 dB(A). The new cooling paste is used to shave a bit extra off: the fan runs 55 rpm slower, making it 0.7 dB(A) quieter.

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