3 Zinc

XPS 8500, GTX 1080 MSI Sea Hawk hybrid GPU, Asetek liquid CPU cooler, upgrade

Graphic card manufacturer and model number:  MSI GeForce GTX 1080 SEA HAWK X 8GB 256-Bit  GDDR5X  PCI Express 3.0 x16  ATX Video Card  

Bios:  A09

Operating System:  W7 Ultimate x64

Power supply manufacturer if not Dell 460w PSU :  Corsair CMPSU -850TX (4 years old and still going strong)

Compatible Yes, does work

Original card with system that worked:  Radeon HD 7570, EVGA 660Ti SC

Monitor:  Samsung S34E790C - 34-Inch Curved WQHD Cinema Wide (3440 x 1440) Professional LED Monitor using Displayport.   

Just successfully installed a MSI GTX 1080 Seahawk X hybrid in the XPS 8500. 

For the software install, I removed all previous Nvidia drivers using Device Driver Uninstall software in safe mode using Clean and Shutdown.

I installed the GTX 1080 using Displayport to the 34” monitor, and rebooted the machine. 

The XPS 8500 bios and W7 had no problems seeing the card with the W7 generic video drivers.  I then did a clean install of the latest Nvidia driver package and it recognized the GTX 1080 and the native 3440 x 1440 resolution.   I then installed the drivers for my Samsung monitor.

Happy that it was a trouble-free installation with the card installed.  

My boot settings in the Window 7 Bios

Details of the installation of the MSI Sea Hawk hybrid:

With the self- contained liquid cooled hybrid you have a choice of using the fan with radiator as an intake or exhaust.  I opted for the front intake pull setup (with the fan behind the radiator) since I had a 120mm fan mounted there already.  

The XPS 8500 front bezel  and chassis allows for some air flow through the lower half of the front of the case and that’s why I chose to install there.   It’s not ideal air flow for sure, but locations are limited with this case.  

Pix front bezel showing airflow:

Picture after hard drive bracket removed, open area in front chassis where fan/radiator will be installed:

Pix of the 120mm fan I already had installed there:

The Corsair AF120 Quiet Series Fan I installed last summer dropped CPU and GPU temps by 3-4 degrees C.   It was connected to a 12v molex from the PSU and ran at a fixed 1100 RPM and any fan noise was not noticeable.

Additional parts I used:

XSPC Universal Radstand V2 120mm Radiator brackets ($13.99 Amazon)

Screws and nuts to attach brackets ( $2.00) (or just use washers with the small head screws shown with the rad stands) :

Silverstone 140mm Magnetic fan filter ($7.95)

Corsair step down adapter (came with the Corsair fan I was using) will reduce radiator fan speed to around 1000 RPM.   Bump in the middle of the cable is a 7V resistor.  The resistor gets hot so I made sure it was in a location in the case where it wouldn’t be affecting any other wiring:

I attached that step down adapter to this 3 pin ATX fan-to-4 pin molex adapter ($3):

Both cable adapters shown below hooked up to fan lead from radiator fan.  Molex adapter will go to 4 pin molex from my power supply.

Before starting, even though you will be installing the brackets on the side of the chassis, note the locations on the FRONT OF THE CHASSIS of these openings that the front bezel pins and hinges require to close.  Keep the fan/radiator and brackets clear of these openings if possible.  However, if you install the front of the radiator at least ½”  back from the front of the chassis you should be okay.  There is plenty of room, so just take your time when installing.

Pix of lower front bezel pin and hinge

The installation: 

1) Empty the lower front of the chassis by removing the hard drive cage and moving the hard drives to the 5.25” and 3.5” bays.  With SSD drives, use appropriate brackets.

Pix of HDD locations:

Pix of HDD screw locations at 5.25” bay with 5.25”->3.5” adapter and at 3.5”  bay with single screw:

2) Mark the front chassis openings you need to keep clear for the front bezel pins.

3) Flip the fan around on the radiator from the default exhaust position to intake position so it will draw air into the case.   You should be looking at the backside of the fan in the pull setup.  The Sea Hawk fan is a 3 pin Corsair Air Series SP120 White LED High Static Pressure fan rated to 1650 RPM and 57.24 CFM at 26.4 dBa.

4) Mount the GPU radiator and fan to the radiator brackets using the enclosed screws that came from MSI. Pay attention to the position of the hoses as it’s best to have them installed in the “up position” so they sit above the pump in the GPU if possible to not obstruct the fan:

5) Then attach the radiator/fan/ bracket to the chassis side wall using two of the existing openings that match up to the openings in the radiator brackets.  I used  4mm x 8mm metric truss head machine screws and 4mm nuts to fasten  the brackets.  It was a little tricky holding the nuts in place under the bracket opening with some needle nose pliers to screw the bolts in place, but got it done once I figured out how to do that.

Pix of side chassis screw locations:

Pix of fan and radiator installed:

6) Once you have the radiator and fan in place, just install the video card and the single 8 pin power connectors into the card.  It’s a 10.5” card but it fits easily.  The card is 4.3” high and the two hoses to the radiator are very supple and bend enough to allow the side panel back back on.   I used a Velcro strap to hold the hoses together.  (If you use another vendor’s hybrid card check the height of the card and how the hoses look coming out of the shroud.  It needs to make a quick turn to be able to put the XPS 8500 side panel back on)

7)  Now for fan power:  The MSI card has a 3 pin fan cable that is not connected to the GPU (unlike the EVGA which is connected to the GPU and will be supposedly self monitoring).   Typically the MSI install would call for attaching the 3 pin fan cable to a fan header on your custom motherboard and have it self-adjust to loads or set it to run at a fixed speed.  However, the Dell XPS doesn’t have an extra adjustable fan header and only has these two fan connections with no motherboard adjustable fancurve.  

1) The rear exhaust fan is connected to a voltage regulated 3 pin header.

2) The CPU fan is connected to a PWM temperature regulated 4 pin fan.

Both of these fans speeds are regulated up and down from onboard sensors under loads from what I’ve been monitoring.  I could have used a splitter at the rear exhaust fan header but probably would lose the ability to monitor both the exhaust fan speed and the MSI fan.

I opted to use the 7v step down cable with the 3 pin fan to molex adapter and am running these connectors to a 12v molex connector from my PSU.  The static pressure radiator fan is very efficient at cooling and quiet running at around 1000 RPM.

Pix of adapter on PSU Molex:

Cool white led when testing fan initially before installation!

Pix of case after install:

140mm magnetic fan filter in place (optional):

The 140mm magnetic fan filter I used probably reduces the air flow a little but the GPU temps are still real good.  Just sticks on magnetically, pretty neat!  Check it often as it gets dirty pretty quickly.  If you want to add the 140mm fan filter, you can see the fan filter blocks the lower right pin opening needed by the front bezel.  It takes 3 seconds with a dremel cutoff wheel to remove the pin if you want to add a filter.  Without a filter, just leave all of the pins intact on the front bezel.

Cut this pin down if you want to add a 140mm front mesh filter:


Some relevant XPS 8500 numbers:

All my numbers are from HWiNFO and are highest read/peak numbers taken at 24 C (76 F) room temp here in Northern CA.

Performance wise, when I was testing the card using The Witcher 3, this particular GTX 1080 card hit 1987 Mhz out of the box without any overclocking!  This MSI Sea Hawk hybrid card specs as having a 1708 MHz Core clock/1847 MHz Boost clock.   

The Witcher 3 Settings 10 min at Novigrad’s main square area and a solid 55-60 fps at 3440 x 1440:

  • Vsync Off
  • Unlimited FPS
  • DX11
  • Graphics Ultra mode
  • Post Processing on High
  • AA enabled
  • 16x AF enabled (Ultra Texture Quality)
  • SSAO enabled
  • Nvidia hairworks OFF


Temperature Results:  “Best case” guru 3d review benchmarks vs. this XPS 8500 installation. 

--Here are the “best case” guru3D review benchmark GPU temps using their open air test setup with a locked radiator fan RPM at 1200 RPM for reduced noise:

Idle -> heavy game load:  27 C  ->  48 C

--Inside the XPS 8500 case with a radiator fan at 1000 RPM

Idle -> TW3 game load : 27C  ->  54 C

These turned out to be great GPU temps!

 Cool 27 C at idle.  Topped out at 54 C under load.

Stable for now and need to do more testing with the card installed.


Noise levels:

Case remained fairly quiet because the radiator fan, when stepped down at 7V, runs at a fixed 1000 RPM and the GPU temps remained low enough so that the onboard GPU fan that cools the VRAM and the PCB only increased in RPMs from idle 1085 rpm -> 1467 rpm under load.

Overall a Win/Win on GPU temps and noise!   

You can get slightly better temps (2-3 C) by running the fan at it's maximum RPM.  The trade off there would be fan noise.  Putting the fan on a fan controller is an option as well.  That is a choice you have, I prefer a quiet computer when not gaming.


Note about CPU temps and the i7 3700 stock cooler:

With the stock cooler, CPU temps from idle -> 10 min load of TW3:

34 C idle  ->75 C peak

The CPU loads of all 4 cores was over 90% under heavy load while pushing setup info to the GPU.  This is pretty much normal behavior for the i7 CPU with a stock cooler functioning as intended to have idle temps in the 30’s, and have load temps in the low to mid 70’s while heavy  gaming.   Intel specs say “warm” CPU temps in the 70-75 C range are safe.  They consider 80 C as being “hot” and “sustained core temps greater than 80 C is too hot for ultimate stability, performance and longevity.”

There are various factors that contribute to CPU temps and one of them is higher ambient air temperature inside the case from increased GPU temps.  In this case with the Corsair hybrid cooling, 120mm intake fan and a rear exhaust design reference card keeping the GTX 1080 at a respectable 53 C, the CPU temps were kept in check by the stock cooler and fancurve.  If there is a 1:1 increase in CPU temps relative to ambient air case temps, then using a card design that blows warm air back into the case might result in higher unacceptable CPU temps.   

The XPS case design struggles to give adequate airflow and you should keep that in mind if you plan on using it for gaming as that is not what it was intended for.  Upgrades in intake and output fans, cpu coolers, gpu coolers, and modular PSU cabling  for unrestricted airflow all do help.  Giving thought to the design of GPU upgrades is important as well.


I’m really happy with the way this turned out.   It wasn’t that difficult because I had the hard drives already moved and a front intake fan already installed.   I hope this GPU will last me another 3-4 years or probably until my next monitor upgrade necessitates it.  The XPS 8500 with the i7 3770 has turned out to be a nice machine that is still compatible with the current generation of hardware. Thanks Dell.

The guru3D review of the MSI Seahawk:


0 Kudos
13 Replies
3 Zinc

RE: XPS 8500, GTX 1080 MSI Sea Hawk hybrid GPU, upgrade

Hierarch Square in Novigrad

Rain and hail, cloudy, lots of shadow detail, drops fps

Update on some numbers:

Playing TW3 for 2 hours questing in and around Novigrad with Ultra settings 3440 x 1440, 50-60 fps

Difficult to get average fps due to cutscenes

Highest clock speed (non-OC):  1987 mHz

Average GPU temps :  55 C      Peak 60 C

Average CPU temps:   74  C     Peak 80 C      

Playing TW3 at these resolutions really pushes the GPU and CPU.

Average GPU load :  83.2%   Peak 98%

Average CPU load:   73.1%   Peak 97.7%

GPU temps are great, but CPU temps are definitely on the high side with the GTX 1080.

0 Kudos
3 Zinc

RE: XPS 8500, GTX 1080 MSI Sea Hawk hybrid GPU, upgrade

Update on the temps and the stock CPU cooler:

1) Like another XPS 8500 users, I can attest that with the rear blower cards there is a lot of warm air being dumped out of the back of the case and the room can get uncomfortably warm.  The Pascal card has a GPU with cooler operating temp than previous Nvidia designs, but it still vents a lot of heat in the process.  The upside of this rear blower card  is that the warm air is at least outside the case…..

I noted before. under heavy loads with the GTX 1080 , the CPU temps runs in the mid 70’s and peaks to 80 degrees  with the stock  CPU cooler.   That’s running 3440 x 1440 at 60fps on TW3, a game known to test GPU limits.   

I still have high CPU temps in this machine using 1) rear exhaust design card, 2) front intake fan and 3) onboard cooling helping to keep the Sea Hawk GPU temps in the 50’s.  If you are pushing any GTX 1080 to the limit, I would be really careful with any card design where the onboard fans are dumping hot air back into this case.    Even though the rear blower type card supposedly vents 100% of the heat outside of the case it still leaks some warm air into the case, but much less than a fan design dumping warm air back into it.

A well designed case with good airflow should mitigate these higher temps and one would probably never notice the difference in temps from a blower style cooler vs dual fan/ACX type fans.  As mentioned by others on these boards, the stock XPS 8500 case with a single 92mm rear exhaust does not have good airflow in general.  The case design with lower vents in the front bezel and side panel and the ability to remove the lower rear pci slot covers only supply passive venting in the area above and the 2” below the graphics card.   Any video card with dual fans is remixing warm exhaust air back into the card and ultimately will increase ambient air temps and add to CPU temps.  Worst case I’ve seen was testing a R9 290X card in the XPS 8500 and that 3 fan design led to CPU temps in the mid 80’s before I shut the machine down.  Not good. 

2) I discovered that the stock CPU cooler chosen by Dell does a decent job in managing CPU temps.  After doing some searching, the size of the XPS 8500 case and height restrictions does not allow for any aftermarket CPU cooler that has a fan larger than 92mm.  I was able to install a highly rated  Zalman copper tube design CPU cooler without any problems.  It has better cooling numbers than the Coolermaster TX 3, a cooler everyone seems to recommend.  It has a large V shaped heatsink and copper tubing that made direct contact with the CPU.  I installed it several times using different methods of thermal paste applications.  Under load with TW3, I was never able to get it to outperform the stock  aluminum heatsink with the  fancurve that Dell uses in this case.  It seemed to do better than the stock cooler at lower loads but under heavy loads the temps still hit 80 C.   Looked cool with the LED, but otherwise did not function as well as I hoped.  The 92mm fan on the CPU coolers seems to be a limiting factor.  I am back to using the stock cooler.

This information might not be relevant to anyone not pushing their video card at higher resolutions, but isn't that why anyone would upgrade to the GTX 1080?

Looking at an Asetek liquid cooled solution that others have used and will update if I go that direction if temps become an issue.

0 Kudos
4 Germanium

RE: XPS 8500, GTX 1080 MSI Sea Hawk hybrid GPU, upgrade

@HanoverB, You can also cut the front of the case and add a 120mm intake fan. If you also remove the unused PCI blanks this will enable the case to flow better.

On one of our systems I also replaced the factory exhaust fan with a Noctua NF-B9 PWM which is not only quieter but also moves more air.

halfway down this page is the hack job I did on one our the systems and it made a huge improvement.


The best solution is to re-case the system, and if you search the forum you'll find a couple that have done this.

0 Kudos
3 Zinc

RE: XPS 8500, GTX 1080 MSI Sea Hawk hybrid GPU, upgrade

@HanoverB, You can also cut the front of the case and add a 120mm intake fan. If you also remove the unused PCI blanks this will enable the case to flow better.

On one of our systems I also replaced the factory exhaust fan with a Noctua NF-B9 PWM which is not only quieter but also moves more air.

halfway down this page is the hack job I did on one our the systems and it made a huge improvement.


The best solution is to re-case the system, and if you search the forum you'll find a couple that have done this.

Hiya DanH.   Thanks for the response.

I’ve had an intake fan in this case since last summer and replaced it with an intake fan/radiator with the recent GTX 1080 Sea Hawk install.   There are some pictures above in the Sea Hawk install showing the previous and new intake fans.

In regards to the Noctua NF-B9 fan you recommended, I’ve had the newer and improved version of that fan, the NF-A9 PWM,  sitting here for a few days.

I received and installed the Asetek 545LC CPU cooler this afternoon using the Noctua fan

I’m fully liquid cooled and will work on temps and fan curves over the next few days.

The all in one solutions are not as good as the system coolers especially since the radiator and fan on the Asetek CPU cooler are 92mm.


Using the stock Dell fan curves, TW3  3440 x 1440 after a quick run around Novigrad:

The Sea Hawk Corsair SP120 radiator fan on the 3 pin motherboard header is running ~900 idle to ~1200 rpm load.  That header has a very conservative fan curve rise in fan rpm's vs case/cpu temps.   It's okay for basic exhaust fans and since I'm looking for lower noise it should be fine as I was running the Sea Hawk radiator fan at 1000 RPM already

The Noctua AF-A9 exhaust fan on the 4 pin PWM motherboard header is running ~900 idle to ~1600 rpm load.  The 4 pin PWM header has a more aggressive curve as reflected by the higher rpm under loads in response to the same case/cpu temps. This header should be ideal for radiator cooling.  In this case, it serves as controlling the exhaust fan to cool the CPU radiator.

Using these fan headers:

I’m seeing GPU temps of 58-60 C with 66 C at peak.  This is fine.

I’m seeing CPU temps of 68-70 C, with 76 C at peak.  Acceptable, but still a little on the high side.

As expected with the current fan curve on the 4 pin CPU PWM header, the single Noctua PWM exhaust fan does step up as CPU temps get higher.  I thought with a better exhaust fan connected to the more aggressive fan curve on the CPU PWM header, CPU temps would be better.  Looks like the fan curve is still a little conservative.   Using the CPU coolers' radiator in an exhaust setup also is not preferred, but the front intake position is already taken by the 120mm Sea Hawk fan/radiator.  I am considering adding a second fan to the CPU cooler's rear exhaust setup in a push/pull configuration as CPU temps are still a little on the high side.

Working fine right now and these are initial numbers are just after install and a short 10-15 min run.  I'm sure after playing longer the fan speeds will change the temps after running a while at higher rpms.  Will clear the BIOS in case there are some errant fan settings there, play with the GPU onboard fan curve, add/swap some fans around and/or perhaps adjust some motherboard fan curves after seeing how these temps are over the next few days.  

0 Kudos
3 Zinc

RE: XPS 8500, GTX 1080 MSI Sea Hawk hybrid GPU, Asetek liquid CPU cooler, upgrade

Changed the configuration by adding a fan:

After one hour of TW3 at 3440 x 1440:

CPU temps:  64-66 C with peak at 70.    

GPU temps:  54-56 C with peak at 60.


I added a second fan to the Asetek CPU Cooler Radiator exhaust setup in a PUSH --> Radiator --> PULL configuration.

That took care of the runaway CPU temps once the initial rise in temperature hits 68-70 C, the Dell fan curve point where the motherboard controlled fans eventually kick in.

PUSH fan connected to the PWM 4 pin header @ 900 ->1350 RPM

PULL fan connected to a PSU 12V molex @ fixed 1600 RPM.

Really nice fans as even with one fan at fixed 1600 RPM, the XPS 8500 is still fairly quiet at idle. 

Sea Hawk GPU radiator cooling fan on the 3 pin header increases 900 ->1050 RPM , GPU onboard fan peaks 1100 ->1800 RPM.


I’m seeing stable readings and acceptable noise levels.  The 1600 RPM rear exhaust fan is the loudest fan in this setup.

Good here and this cooler setup has finally taken care of the high CPU temps that resulted from the GTX 1080 install.


Fans I used:

0 Kudos
3 Zinc

RE: XPS 8500, GTX 1080 MSI Sea Hawk hybrid GPU, Asetek liquid CPU cooler, upgrade

I wanted to reduce idle and gaming noise down to minimum so I added the Low Noise Adapter that comes with the Noctua NF-A9 Flex Fan that drops the fixed RPM from 1600 to 1250 RPM.  That should also create a more balanced airflow. 

I had the extra Corsair AF120 fan so I also changed the front intake fan configuration to Corsair SP120 LED (push) and added the additional Corsair AF120 Quiet (pull) on the rad brackets.  I would consider adding a second fan to the Sea Hawk radiator as optional as GPU temps are already stable with the single fan.

Final fan configuration as follows

REAR EXHAUST fans to cool radiator for Asetek CPU Cooler (<-- Airflow out of case):

Noctua NF-A9 Flex (Pull Fan to 12v molex with LNA at fixed 1250 RPM) <-- RADIATOR <-- NF-A9 PWM (Push Fan to 4 PIN PWM motherboard header)

FRONT INTAKE fans to cool radiator for Sea Hawk GPU (--> Airflow into case)

Corsair SP120 (Push Fan to 3 pin motherboard header) --> RADIATOR --> Corsair AF120 (Pull Fan to 12V molex at fixed 1100 RPM)

0 Kudos
3 Zinc

RE: XPS 8500, GTX 1080 MSI Sea Hawk hybrid GPU, Asetek liquid CPU cooler, upgrade

I then ran the Prime 95 1344K stress test for 2 hours with the new fan /cooler configuration to check stability of the CPU temperature.

1344K Torture Test Setting is 100% load on the core and core voltage at full clocks on all 4 cores/8 threads.

Tested CPU temps when at full load 100% for two hours (Room temp 74 F / 23 C):

Core #0  = 66 C

Core #1  = 68 C

Core #2  = 70 C

Core #3  = 64 C


Fan speeds during test:


(<-- Airflow out of case)

REAR EXHAUST RPM’s to cool radiator for Asetek CPU Cooler 

Noctua NF-A9 Flex (Pull Fan): Fixed at 1250 RPM

NF-A9 PWM (Push Fan): Max at 1343 RPM via 4 pin PWM motherboard header control


(--> Airflow into case)

FRONT INTAKE RPM’s to cool radiator for Sea Hawk GPU 

Corsair SP120 (Push Fan): Max at 1052 RPM via 3 pin motherboard header control

Corsair AF120 (Pull Fan): Fixed at 1100 RPM


CPU temps look to be just as stable using this low RPM quieter fan/cooler configuration.  

(Note: This configuration works well for the Sea Hawk GPU with just the single SP120 Corsair LED fan installed as a pull fan and connected to the 3 pin motherboard header.  Will see just a 1-2 degree difference without the additional intake fan.  GPU temps are already stable with the single fan.

Adding the second Noctua fan to the rear exhaust CPU radiator is what stabilized CPU temps for me which became an issue after installing the GTX 1080.  )

0 Kudos
3 Zinc

RE: XPS 8500, GTX 1080 MSI Sea Hawk hybrid GPU, Asetek liquid CPU cooler, upgrade

I like the look, size and features of the XPS 8500 stock case and wanted to make it work with the new GPU’s.    From what I did with this upgrade to Pascal, I have some thoughts:

1) Using a hybrid cooling GPU is a great choice to keep GPU temps  and noise levels down.   An intake fan is part of the installation and it will bring some air into the case.  The intake air is a little warmer as it passes through a radiator but the decreased GPU temps make up for that.  Solid GPU temps below 60 C and less if you play with the onboard fan curve through MSI Afterburner.

a) change the rear exhaust fan to a more efficient one

b) Depending on the games and resolutions you are using you might have a problem with CPU temps. If they are above safe temp levels for prolonged periods of time, I would consider a better cooling option. I had problems with the runaway CPU temps with the GTX 1080 as once it hit 70 C, the stock cooler was not able to manage the temps and it hit 80 right away.  It’s like a runaway train, once the temps start to build, the hot air is just going everywhere and the stock cooler and rear exhaust aren't able to keep up.

2) If you are running an air cooled  GTX 1080 and having problems with case and CPU temps:

a) add an intake fan to the lower front of the case.  You want a large, slow running fan up front that moves a lot of air.  Look for an air flow fan that cools well at lower RPM for less noise.  I know that a 140mm fan can be installed as a front intake, I would not hesitate to do so.    The Corsair AF 120 Quiet Edition is a good choice for a 120mm fan with a good cooling to noise ratio.  Have it run at max speed 1100 RPM and power it off the 12 V Molex from your power supply.    This will drop temps by 3-4 C.  A higher RPM fan will slightly drop temps more, but at the expense of more noise.  

b) change the fan curve on your GPU to a higher percentage, but will result in more noise.

c) change the rear exhaust fan to a more efficient one

d) consider a better CPU cooling option if CPU temps becomes an issue for you as it did for me playing demanding games at higher resolutions.

3)  If you haven’t bought a high performance card yet, with this generation of card I would try to buy a card that has a rear exhaust design if you are going to push it.    Then deal with both the GPU and CPU temps in the same manner by adding an intake fan, changing the rear exhaust fan and a possible cooling solution if temps get out of hand.  Playing a demanding game like The Witcher 3 and Crysis 3 at higher resolutions will result in both CPU and GPU temps in the 80's under load with high levels of fan noise in the stock case.  Why blow the hot air back into the case?   Dual and triple fans are neat from the marketing perspective, but make no sense in a case with inadequate airflow.  Games down the road may make better, efficient use of CPU hyperthreading and multi-cores, but will still keep pushing the limits of the GPU.  = More heat.

4) As far as fan options, that’s where you have to be creative.   Determine how the two motherboard fan headers vary fan RPM's relative to CPU and case temps.  Then plan your fan cooling configuration using those two motherboard headers and your PSU 12V molex adapters to set up the variable and fixed fan speeds you need to cool things with the fan locations you are considering.   Most new fans do come with a step down adapter which allows you to drop the voltage and the RPM to your liking giving you even more flexibility.

Match the fan speeds to what is happening at that location. 

For example, here is a common scenario that helps airflow in this case: 

You want to 1) add a front intake fan  2) change the rear exhaust fan   3) Keep the  stock CPU cooler.

You know that the 3 pin header from the rear exhaust fan you will be replacing has to be connected or you will get a system fan error at startup.  But you know that you want a higher RPM fan there pulling air out all the time, rather than when the motherboard tells it to.  You also know that in the XPS 8500 that header has a range of 900 to 1200 RPM under load.    That RPM range is okay for intake fans.

---So at the front intake, connect a nice 3 pin air flow fan which is rated above 1200 RPM in that location to the 3 pin header.  You will get that low RPM quiet fan that you want to move air into the case.  When connected to the 3 pin header, the fan speed will vary from 900 RPM at idle to 1200 RPM under load.

---At the rear exhaust, connect a fan like the 3 pin Noctua NF-A9 FLX to a 12V molex from your power supply using the Low Noise Adapter to run at a fixed 1250 RPM.  It will be pulling air all the time with a good balanced airflow at a higher RPM vs being controlled by the 3 pin motherboard header.  That original exhaust fan was at 900 RPM and stays that way until CPU temps hit 68-70 and then only maxes out at 1200 RPM. That fan curve is fine for non-gamers, but not ideal under loads.

Side note:  When looking at cooling vs noise ratios of a fan being considered for a quiet PC, most of the temperature reduction happens when fan RPM’s increase from 800-1100 RPM, above that you get smaller incremental changes.  Sure you can get a larger temperature drop at 1800-2300 RPM, but then noise is an issue.  Especially in that front intake location.   I tried a Corsair SP-120 High Performance High Static Pressure fan there stepped down to a fixed 1260 RPM and the noise was really annoying.  It has really bad cooling to noise ratios. I did not try a Noctua there, as the Corsair AF-120 Quiet Edition fan I tried next was great at a fixed 1100 RPM.

0 Kudos
3 Zinc

RE: XPS 8500, GTX 1080 MSI Sea Hawk hybrid GPU, Asetek liquid CPU cooler, upgrade

A note about the new GTX 1080 EVGA FTW Hybrid, their liquid cooled version:

Dimensions are 5.06 “ high x 10.5 “ long:

I mentioned that the height of the card is really important if you want to go with a hybrid cooling type of card.

In the XPS 8500, the maximum height of the GPU in addition to the height of its power connectors is 5.425” to the underside of the side of the chassis.

The just released  EVGA GTX 1080 hybrid is a rear exhaust/single fan design  based on their FTW PCB and is therefore 5.06 “ high x 10.5 “ long.   The length is fine.  It’s just that the height will put you very tight to the side of the metal chassis and the two 8 pin connectors will not likely fit unless you cut  some metal or are able to find right angle connector adapters.  I would also be concerned about the bend of the hoses because of the height of the card itself.

The MSI Sea Hawk is 4.3 “ high.  There is 1.125 “ of space from the top of the installed card to the underside of the side chassis.   The standard connector and wire with a tight bend is an additional 0.75” high when plugged into the card.   So it fits okay with 0.375” to spare.

Pix of MSI Sea Hawk single connector:

The height of the EVGA FTW hybrid card  is 5.06” .  Add the 0.75”  for the standard connectors = 5.81” so in my case, that card won’t allow the connectors to be plugged in unless I can find a right angle female 8 pin PCI-e adapter cable that is less ~0.36” high when plugged in.  Some power supplies might have low profile plugs that would work so please check your PSU if you go EVGA.

This applies to all 5" high GPU's with connectors on the far right for those looking for higher clock speeds. 

One option for EVGA buyers would be to buy a card from them that isn’t 5" high and buy the addon hybrid cooler which is available as a separate item.