Recently I bought a used Nvidia GTX 1080 ti for a really good price due to the end of the mining craze and miners dropping off their GPUs for cheap.
Since I'm waiting for my case to arrive (~2 months overdue), I can't actually use the card yet, so I decided to clean it up in the meantime.
First I took off the fans with the their shroud:
Then I unscrewed everything I could but still couldn't remove the radiator. It turned out it was just quite stuck to the memory chips, VRMs and the die via the thermal pads and paste. So with a bit more effort I could separate the radiator from the PCB. And this is what I've found underneath, yukk:
Next I took some isopropyl alcohol as I was advised by my friend, and started rubbing. A lot. The thermal paste was very easy to remove from the die, but the grease from the leaked thermal pads was all over the place and took me probably an hour to clean. There was also greased and/or burned pieces of dust everywhere - this is what would get in all the places of your GPU after a while. I cleaned those pieces of dust with some pressurized air and thin wipes (to reach tight places between capacitors).
This was the result:
In the beginning when I first removed the radiator I took a note on the thermal pads which I found underneath it. From what I saw at that moment, the VRM thermal pads looked to be about 1mm thick, when the thermal pads between the radiator and memory were around 2mm. That's why between cleaning the GPU and putting it back together actually one week passed while I was waiting for new pads and thermal paste to replace those I cleaned off the GPU.
When the thermal paste and pads finally arrived, I applied them and tried to assemble the GPU:
But I couldn't fit the radiator back! Not only it wasn't touching the die, it also wasn't touching the VRM 🙂 The reason was that the pieces of the thermal pad I applied on the memory chips (2mm) where to thick and got in the way of the radiator touching all the elements it's supposed to cool. After deciding not to wait another week for new proper-sized thermal pads, I just put the ones that I had in a plastic bag and rolled them with a glass to 1mm thickness 🙂:
Afterwards I could complete the assembly with the radiator touching all the necessary parts. Now my only concern is whether I did a good job or not and didn't actually break something on the way 😅 Hopefully my case would come soon, and I will update this post.
P.S. For the memory chips I used almost all of the 1x120x20mm Thermal Grizzly's 8W pad cut into pieces, whereas for the VRMs - a slice of the 1x120x20mm Phobya Termopad XT with 7W of heat dissipation. Practically you can get thermal pads capable up to 17W made by Fujipoly, but in our region they impossible to find and they cost few times more than the ones I've bought.
For the die I've applied the Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut advised by my cousin few years ago. I've used this paste before with excellent results and can highly recommend it!