Ghost S1 with custom spine for RTX 3080 FE flow-through cooler
Old spine (black) vs new spine (silver)
Workstation/Warzone Modified Ghost S1 Build
Started this build with a RTX 2060 Super, stock CPU cooler, and no modifications. Served me well for many months, but it was eventually time to upgrade. Such a small case lasting me through two GPU generations is fantastic. Louqe really did a great job with this one. The ultimate goal with this build was to get the best performance-per-dollar 4K gaming PC in a case under 9 liters.
New GPUs, New Coolers, New Thickness
When NVIDIA launched the RTX 3080 with its new flow through cooler design, it quickly became clear that sandwich-style cases would choke the graphics card and make it way too hot to reasonably run, as hot air is exhausted out of the top of the card and subsequently straight into the spine of the case with nowhere to escape. Many months after the launch of the 3080, there is still no true 2-slot version of the card. Most are 3-slot, and the slimmest one is 2.2-slot.
One of the more problematic cases to have after this launch was the Louqe Ghost S1. One, it is a sandwich-style case, and two, it can only accept true 2-slot graphics cards. That meant only one RTX 3080 could physically fit in the case—the RTX 3080 Founder’s Edition.
Couldn't give up on the S1 yet. so I commissioned a custom spine with a simple cutout to help bring down temperatures. All it does is allow the GPU a little bit of breathing room. I got this plate cut from a 2.5mm steel sheet, added countersunk holes, and put in brass standoffs for the motherboard and PCIe riser.
The new spine is identical to the original spine in every way except for the cutout and lack of a powdercoated finish. To be honest, the raw steel is a bit jarring but looks nice with all components added. It clearly marks that this part of the case is not stock, and there’s really no reason for it to pretend to look that way.
All tests were done at a fixed ambient temperature, and the Noctua NF-A12x15 PWM case fan was set to exhaust downwards at a fixed 1450 RPM.
We observe a 6°C delta at a fixed GPU fan RPM between the old spine and the new one. At the end of the day, this modification only adds about a pinky’s width of breathing room for the 3080 FE. But just that little bit of breathing room takes this GPU from nearly thermal throttling to completely usable in this case.
One thing that may further improve these thermals is shorter, thinner, custom PSU cables. The current stock PSU cables are thick and way too long and impede on the airflow of the very tiny exhaust fan. I’m fairly confident that this fan is a critical part of expelling a lot of the hot air that’s generated in the case, as the only other exhaust is left-most fan of the GPU. My guess is that neater cables will improve GPU thermals by another 1 or 2°C.