Making the Ghost S1 Viable Again

Problem

When NVIDIA launched the RTX 3080 along with its new flow through cooler design, it immediately got the SFFPC community worried, specifically those with sandwich-style case. 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. After the announcement, many hoped that AIB partners like EVGA would release 2-slot versions of the 3080 with traditional coolers. That day came and went, and now 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 worst 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.

Solution

After eventually getting my hands on a 3080 FE after weeks of watching Best Buy’s product page, I reached out to John’s 3D Printing. He sells some popular custom feet for the Ghost S1 that look fantastic and help with thermals, so I had a feeling he knows what he’s doing. The goal was to make some breathing room for the flow-through portion of the GPU. I really love the design of the Ghost S1, and I didn’t want to give up on the case just yet. So I worked with John to design this new spine for the Ghost S1 and decided that this simple cutout could help bring down temperatures by allowing the GPU some breathing room. He then cut this plate from a 2.5mm steel sheet, added countersunk holes, and put in brass standoffs for the motherboard and PCIe riser.

Old vs new

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 pretty nice. 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.

GPU side and CPU side

Results

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.

So far the modification looks to be a success. I can now peacefully game on this machine knowing my computer is not about to melt. Small victories and endless tuning. This is the way of SFFPC.

Written on February 18, 2021