Adventures in Hardware Installation

[Blaugust Day 27]

Remember that GTX 970 card I ordered? It arrived Tuesday, but tonight was the first time I had a chance to dedicate to sweating bullets installing it. I’m not sweating because I’m nervous around electronics, I’m sweating because if something goes wrong, I’d be out a lot of money when alternatives were available. Plus, it’d be an embarrassing story, like failing your driver’s test 2-3 times when you’re the high school Valedictorian.

…you know, as a hypothetical example. I’d feel real bad for that guy person. If they existed.

In any case, I cracked open my PC case and started poking around:

That's right, I paid the extra ~$30 for professional cabling. 

That’s right, I paid the extra ~$30 for professional cabling.

The hardest part of the 560ti removal was the damned power cables. In addition to having some sort of devil-spawn locking mechanism, they felt like they were super-glued on the card. Worrying about static is one thing, but the true nightmare to me is all the wiggling, pushing, and (cringe) bending of hundred-dollar electronics that sometimes becomes necessary.

Unplug, damn you!

Unplug, damn you!

After much consternation, I managed to unseat the power cords. At which time I unboxed the GTX 970 with the care of holding some distant cousin’s infant that they just threw into your arms like some kind of crazy person. Here is a comparison shot:

A slight bit smaller.

A slight bit smaller.

Incidentally, that gross-looking stuff in the sink is dust from inside my computer case. While I do periodically clean with a can of compressed air, in my immense wisdom it appears that that cleaning never extended to the video card’s fans. Absolutely filthy, man. I’m surprised the card never burst into flame. Now that I think about it, I’m not entirely sure how safe it was these last four years to have those dumb stickers stuck on the top of the circuitry. I had been assuming it was kosher since it came like that from the shop, but I never really did double-check…

Installing the 970 was pretty easy, by the way. Push it into the slot until it clicks, hand-tighten the case screw and then plug…

God. Dammit.

God. Dammit.

Turns out that when you upgrade to a smaller card, and the designers move the power plugs to the side for no discernible reason, you’re going to have a bad time.

So at this point, I start an increasingly desperate bid to cut the zip ties inside my case to free up more power cable slack so I can plug the damn thing in. First, kitchen scissors. Second, a sharp knife in a sawing motion. Third, the Swiss Army Knife I typically use to cut open packages. When that didn’t work, I tried the scissor attachment of the Swiss Army Knife. Success! I ended up having to cut through two zip ties to get enough slack to plug it in.

And here I am, having finished taking the card for a test drive:

I am speechless.

An actual comparison.

I feel better about this investment already.

Posted on August 27, 2015, in Commentary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Wow, the difference is absolutely stunning! I mean, look at the veins in the wood, or the dents in the metallic parts. You can really tell at first sight how much of an improvement it was! :P
    BTW have you checked the power consumption? In the last two upgrades I went from idle 180W, full use 220W to idle 110W, full use 300W…..


    • I did end up playing BF4 some that night too, but it was similarly difficult to figure out what changed. The Nvidia Experience program changed my game settings from High to Ultra, but it already looked pretty good so… yeah. Most of the increased juice will likely show itself once I start playing newer games like GTA V, Witcher 3, and so on.

      As for tracking that sort of thing, do you have a program you recommend? The card came with an install CD for some program or another, but I haven’t research which is a good one. Frankly, I’m just happy I haven’t encountered the dreaded “coil whine” I’ve read so much about.


  2. Why don’t you open the damn pack?

    I think you only posted that screenshot to trigger my OCD… I hate you! :-)


  3. Power cables are the worse, especially the modular ones. I had one culprit that just wouldn’t fit into the power supply box, despite all the rest sliding in and clicking, smooth as anything. Brought it to the repair shop, thinking they ought to just replace the faulty cable and give me one that fit properly…

    …guy insisted it was fine, and when I protested, he took a pair of pliers and JAMMED it in with such force that the veins stood out on his neck and only someone who hadn’t just paid a hundred odd dollars for said power supply could produce.

    That particular cable is now officially not modular or ever removable again, I don’t think. And it still doesn’t fit snugly. Probably a manufacturing defect of a couple mm they just won’t admit to.


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