Well, after many hours of thinking, measuring and designing 3D models for aesthetic fan retention, this is my first prototype. We’re not doing any ghetto mods here lads, we’re doing it properly!
After considering many options how to attach fans to the card, this is what I came up with. It’s entirely screwless design. On the right side I attached the fan holding frame to the end of heatpipes and on the left side it’s anchored under the metal “armor” that’s above PCB and has two neat notches next to the PCI slot bracket. Fans are held together by those links that are actually T shaped and go in between fans a bit for extra strength. It’s all held together by tension of fans pressuring towards the middle of heatsink which then puts tension on both ends.
Now, this is just basic check how to attach the Noctua fans to the card. There is some more work to do. The ends will be much thicker and shaped to the contour of the card in the corners, but I’m thinking of keeping the sharp lines and edges. I could make them round, but I actually like the sharp lines and corners, gives it more industrial look. And final print will be in black. I’m using white because it’s my prototyping filament as it’s easier to draw on it with marker and you have better visibility. Though Storm Trooper looks aren’t bad either.
Noctua fans conveniently have short cables with extra extension if you need it, which means I won’t have issues with cables and having to cut them or anything. Have already ordered adapters that convert graphic card connector to the motherboard 4pin PWM connector so the fans will run from the card itself and since there is a gap between both heatsink fin stacks, I’ll neatly hide cables in between there. Sucks that they’ll be coming for entire month. AliExpress and all that… So, for now I’ll run the fans from motherboard headers.
My main concern is 3D printed part being attached to the heatpipes end and to the “armor” frame. Which both get very hot during operation and I’m worrying that 3D printed parts will start to melt and expand under weight of fans. Heatpipes are on the absolute far end so I’m suspecting it shouldn’t be hot enough to melt the printed parts, but the “armor” part in which other end is attached may be an issue. Now, printing bed is at 60°C and filament doesn’t melt, it just sticks. In theory, it should be fine since GPU core is usually around 75°C under full load, meaning heatsink shouldn’t ever be that hot, but I’ll just have to stick the card into the case now and test it under heavy heat to see what happens…