The problem with using a reference blower-style card is that there's essentially no air intake on the fan-side of the card, due to being pressed up against the PSU shroud. In such a situation, you're actually going to want to stick with an open-air GTX 980 Ti rather than the reference model.
In terms of tall CPU coolers, you're going to run into RAM clearance issues. While you might find a 140mm cooler that will fit, it will be trial and error. I have five on hand here and none will fit on an ITX board.
Is there a reason you're replacing the stock 200mm fan with two 140mm fans? I'm not sure that will actually perform better, and of course it increases the cost of the case significantly.
Hmm, interesting take on reference vs non-reference GPU. I hadn't thought of it that way and I hope it's true. Both versions would have their fan side close to the PSU shroud, but my thinking is a reference GPU's fan is at the front end where airflow is better, at least partly over the open part of the shroud where the HDD cage is. The GPU heat is exhausted out the back instead of into the case. Plus for either type GPU, the PSU shroud isn't a solid piece of metal. It's heavily perforated with holes allowing air to pass. With non-reference GPU the tradeoff is more case heat. But with enough case airflow maybe that can be managed.
You'll have to educate me on how a reference GPU gets no airflow but a non-reference does? Unless you are relying on the non-reference GPU heatsink getting cooled by case airflow with limited GPU fan cooling. Are there any real world tests experimenting with this case? It would be good to test this and helpful to cover all scenarios as part of an expanded Evolv ITX build guide.
Now to improve things further that lower HDD cage could be removed for more direct airflow to the GPU and you would use the mid-plate as an HDD mount instead, or do something more creative like mount the HDD elsewhere, like maybe with an optional HDD drive tray mounted hanging from the radiator rack instead.
Also you ask why ditch the 200mm fan. To improve case airflow and maintain positive pressure, dual 140mm fans in the front (better than a single 200mm) and another in the rear would be much better. It could be that the 200mm front fan doesn't have to be changed by just adding a 120mm or 140mm fan in the rear. I was reading reviews like on SPCR for example complaining about poor airflow in the Evolv ITX. What irks me is they test the stock case and GPU temperatures using a non-reference GPU without adding a rear exhaust fan to supplement cooling like all silent air cooling builders would probably do.
I wish the front panel opening were a bit larger. That's why I may drill it for more air supply opportunity from the outside.
Hello again, Steve!
I based my comments about blower-style vs. open-air coolers on my own published benchmarks
of the GTX 780 Ti in reference and open-air configurations, as well my testing of the GTX 980 Ti in both open-air and reference configurations in the Silverstone SG08
. I've done extensive long-term testing of all these configurations, and while only some of my benchmarks have been published, I'm pretty familiar with how the GTX 980 Ti behaves in an airflow-constrained environment, as well as the effects it can have on other internal components.
By the way, while I haven't yet tested the Phanteks Evolv ITX
, I'm actually in the middle of testing the Evolv ATX
, so again, I'm fairly familiar with the layout of the case and the airflow design.
The key reason a reference cooler will not work well in the Evolv ITX is that it depends on significant amounts of fresh air intake perpendicular to the fan axis. In the Evolv ITX, there is almost no airflow in that direction, and while there is perforation of the shroud, there's no air movement inside of that shroud. Open-air 980 Ti models, on the other hand, require no directional air movement to function correctly, as they simply move massive amounts of air in all directions, and yes, as you suggested, they can take in significant amounts of air from the sides of the cooler. An open-air cooler like the MSI GTX 980 Ti
will also be much quieter in this scenario than a reference model, and it seems that quiet operation is one of your key objectives.
By the way, you may be correct about dual 140mm fans working better than the single 200mm fan, but I'd suggest you see how the stock configuration works for you first, and then start modifying it if you need to. I definitely agree with you, though, that adding a rear-mounted 140mm exhaust fan would be a good choice, especially if you're going with an air-cooled CPU.