Broken ATI 5870 fan...

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ScottishCaptain, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. ScottishCaptain macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    #1
    Apparently my ATI 5870 fan has or is going to kick the bucket soon.

    About a day ago I noticed that my Mac Pro was making a very strange noise- a fast ticking noise, almost as if something was brushing against a moving part. I opened the machine and could see no obstructions, but the source of the noise was pretty clear- the turbine on my 5870 GPU.

    When the machine is powered down and I move the fan by hand, there is a fair amount of noticeable drag on the turbine. It doesn't spin very freely and comes to a stop pretty quickly if I give it a push. So I guess I'm going to have to replace the card, or the turbine.

    I have two questions:

    1) Is the turbine even replaceable? It looks like I'd have to remove the entire heatsink and shroud to gain access to the mounting screws for the turbine, since I can't see anything obvious on the underside of the card.

    2) If I had to replace the card instead, is the 5870 "upgrade" card that Apple sells the same card as the 5870 that shipped with the Mid 2010 Mac Pro?

    Please do not reply and tell me to buy a PC card instead and flash it. I am aware of that option but I do not wish to mess around with all the potential pitfalls, nor am I willing to push my current configuration out of official support for Autodesk and CS6 products.

    -SC
     
  2. MacVidCards Suspended

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    #2
    save yourself some money, the fan that comes inside reference 5870 cards is the same as one in 4870

    There are folks on Ebay who sell the fans units all by themselves.

    Quite a few phillips screws in the way, but you CAN replace the fan by itself.

    And clean out all of the collected gunk & dust while you are at it.
     
  3. ScottishCaptain thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    #3
    Thanks for the reply.

    If I do this myself, do the screws have any sort of lock-tight on them? Are they threaded directly into plastic or metal screw poles? I'm just wondering what the torquing limits are on the screws since I'm totally paranoid about striping them out.

    One last question- will the heatsink come off cleanly, or do I need to worry about thermal paste? I read somewhere that someone else was having issues getting the HS off the PCB because of the memory heat transfer pads sticking, do I have to worry about this and/or destroying said transfer pads and having to replace them?

    -SC
     
  4. bax2003 macrumors 6502a

    bax2003

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2011
    Location:
    Belgrade, Serbia
    #4
    Just clean and replace old thermal paste, no other worries. I dissasembled and cleaned few 5870s.
     
  5. MacVidCards Suspended

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    #5
    What he said.

    If you convince yourself that you will have problems, you will. If you go in knowing that you are on top of it, you will be fine. You will need a couple different sizes of phillips in the "small" and "smaller" size. If the card seems clued together, twist the fan in a very slight radial motion to free the thermal paste. If it won't twist at all, have another look at the screws, you might have missed one. On the reference board there are MANY. First the backplate comes off, then there are 4 on the main heatsink to GPU area.
     
  6. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816

    DanielCoffey

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2010
    Location:
    Edinburgh, UK
  7. strausd macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Location:
    Texas
    #7
    If you feel resistance then shouldn't that mean there is something keeping the fan from going at full speed?

    A few months back I was helping my girlfriend with her laptop. We opened it up because it wouldn't boot. Saw that one of the fans never came on. So when I tried to turn it, I felt resistance. She got some tweezers and poked around in the fan and grabbed a giant dust bunny. Once that was out, everything worked perfectly.

    I'd say give it a good cleaning first. If that doesn't fix the problem, then start looking on eBay for a replacement fan.
     
  8. ScottishCaptain thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    #8
    I don't think it's a dust bunny.

    I'm absolutely paranoid about keeping this rig clean. Every month, I disconnect it and yank the disk drives and CPU daughter card, then blast everything down with compressed air. There is usually very little dust inside the system, since it lives on top of my desk maybe 4" from the floor.

    I will probably replace the turbine myself, unless I can somehow convince Apple to sell me AppleCare ~4 months past the 1 year date then promptly whip around and get the machine serviced (fat chance). It looks like the ATI card is fairly well built so I doubt I'll have any issues taking it apart.

    > If you convince yourself that you will have problems, you will.

    I'm not convinced I'm going to run into problems- I'm just leery given the quality of modern day hardware not being what it used to be. My primary example of this is where people once used to thread screws into threaded metal standoffs (which you could torque down tight without fear of stripping the threads), they now use self-tapping screws that go straight into plastic. Cheap and brutal to work with.

    If I can replace the turbine on my 5870, then I'd rather do that then buy a new card. My only concern was that the 5870 not reassemble to the state that it was prior to disassembly. I would hate to have a screw drop off afterwards for whatever reason and short out my logic board. It doesn't look like this should be an issue though.

    Anyways, thanks for the replies.
    -SC
     
  9. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816

    DanielCoffey

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2010
    Location:
    Edinburgh, UK
    #9
    The majority of the screws are to hold the cover and back-plate in place so you can get those off without removing the actual cooler itself. You will have exposed the fan enough to inspect it with the cover off. I seem to remember there were screws on the ends of the card too so don't forget those.

    If you decide to replace the cooler itself, then you will need new thermal tape to cover the memory and VRMs as it is greasy and will tear easily. Any replacement cooler kit will have that.

    As you can see from my review, I decided to go the whole hog and replace the entire cooler. Since you are out of AppleCare and have a card that has problems, you have nothing to lose.

    If you are not confident, ask one of your PC-owning work colleagues if they have replaced coolers and give the job to them in return for beer money but to be honest once you have the parts and a set of tiny screwdrivers you will find it straightforward.

    Ask more questions if you need specific help.
     
  10. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816

    DanielCoffey

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2010
    Location:
    Edinburgh, UK
    #10
    I just realised that none of us have answered this question yet... yes, the Apple Store 5870 Upgrade card which was aimed at those who bought their MPs with a 5770 is EXACTLY the same as the card you currently have. If for business reasons you decide to pay for the official Apple card it is just a simple Take Out And Drop In with no issues.

    While replacing the cooler is by far the most cost effective solution, for the purposes of business downtime and peace of mind, you could simply buy a replacement. You would then be able to get the cooler swapped on the defective one (either yourself or by sending it in somewhere) which would give you a spare card for the future.

    EDIT : I have just thought... from your forum name you might be in the UK? If you are, the card may have a warranty itself outside the standard non-AppleCare one year. You may be able to get it repaired under the Sale of Goods Act in the UK. Approach your local Apple Centre first and be nice. Explain it is only a few months out of the standard one year and ask what your options are for getting a repair. A paid-for official repair might still be cheaper than a new card but would involve downtime.
     

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