Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme Plus Review

ajmatson - 2010-09-30 21:54:20 in Cooling
Category: Cooling
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: December 9, 2010
Price: $65 Cooler $6 kit

Introduction:

With today's high speed graphics cards, stock coolers ensure the bare minimum temperature thresholds are met but do nothing when trying to squeeze every bit of performance out of the cards. To accomplish this task (just as with a CPU), you need a better aftermarket cooler, which allows you to properly cool your card when pushing it to the limits. There are two ways you can go to accomplish this, one is water cooling - offering increased performance at increased complexity, or you can get a high performance air cooler to tackle the task. Just as with CPU coolers, all designs are not made equally, which is why we are here today.

The cooler that we are going to be putting under the test is the Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme Plus. This is a three fan design with copper and aluminum construction used to quickly get rid of that nasty heat. I have worked with the Accelero series all the way back to when I have my 9800 PRO and have seen benefits across the board from improved cooling and a much needed noise reduction when the card heats up and that blower fan starts howling. Let's see if this massive cooler does indeed deliver improvements in both noise and cooling performance. The size and fan configuration alone look promising.

Closer Look:

The Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme Plus comes packaged in a clear blister pack so you can see exactly what it is you are investing in. The front is clear, showing off the massive heatsink. Along with a sticker showing the cooling efficiency and low noise levels, the front also lists the broad compatibility of the cards it can be used on. On the rear of the package is an expanded list of the features, specifications, and a list of exactly what cards the cooler will fit and the kits needed to install it properly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the cooler out of the package, we finally get a glimpse of the sheer size, when using the socket as a size reference. Included with the cooler is a bracket vent for the third PCI express slot, which this massive design will occupy in addition to the two originally used for the video card. Instructions are provided, as well as screws and a power regulator for the fans depending on your needs for performance to noise.

 

 

The main selling point of the cooler is how effectively it controls the temps of a video card. To achieve this, there are three 92mm fans that are installed across the length of the cooler.  They provide a steady flow of cool air over the heatsink. The heatsink is made of five copper heat pipes that extend from the copper base, through a series of aluminum heat fins that allow the heat to be passed into the case. Attached to the copper base is also a massive aluminum block which aids in the cooler's ability to dissipate 250 watts of heat produced by your graphics beast. This allows the cooler to be used in even the most massive cards such as the GTX 480 and the Radeon HD 5870. The coolers base also comes pre-applied with Arctic Cooling MX-4 paste for maximum heat transfer.

 

 

 

Now that we have a good look at the overall design, let's dive in deeper to see what makes this cooler work.

Closer Look:

With the fan attachment removed we can get down to the nitty-gritty bits of the design. The fans are 92mm Swiss Design fans with low noise impellers. This makes them an ultra quiet, while providing enough air flow over the heat sink. In the center of the heat sink, there is a cross section where the aluminum fins change their direction; this is the aluminum block that is attached to the copper base. This block allows the heat to spread and dissipate from the cooler efficiently. The included power regulator allows you to run the cooling fans in three settings. Plugging them directly into the PC Board of the card will use the auto PWM function throttling the fans based on temperature. The two leads that are included in the package will allow you to override the PWM and either run the fans at full power with the 12V lead or quieter with the 7V lead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a total of 84 aluminum fins connected to the five copper heat pipes. The five heat pipes start from the copper base and split off running the length of the card from front to back. This type of design uses the maximum amount of space available to dissipate the heat. The fins are spaced evenly enough to allow air flow between them while still allowing the air to be disrupted to capture the heat.

 

 

 

To complete the installation and provide flexibility, you mush purchase the additional cooling items separately. This allows you to switch the cooler from one card type and brand to another by only replacing the supplemental accessories. For this card we needed just the RAM and voltage heat sinks and the included glue paste to start the installation. Just apply a small amount of the paste to each RAM chip and the VRMs, then press the heatsink into place. After the paste dries, you are ready to mount the cooler and plug in the fan cable.

 

 

 

 

With the Accelero Xtreme Plus installed, you can see the additional space which is required to utilize such a cooling solution. On this Sapphire HD 5870 card it expands the total length to 12 inches and the width to 2.5 inches. This makes the card harder to fit into some cases so I would highly recommend making sure it would fit in your current setup before making the purchase.

 

 

With the sheer size of the card comes some drawbacks, especially shown here with how it extends so far past the PC Board. One of the downfalls of the design makes life harder for cards with rear facing power ports. Routing the cables around the rear of sides of the card is more difficult then with cards using side facing power ports. Care must be given when plugging them in, to not cause damage to the cooler or the cables.

 

 

Now that everything is installed, we can get on to the testing phase of the review.

Specifications:

Dimensions:
290 L x 104 W x 56 H mm
Fan:
92mm x 3 fans with 120mm cable
Fan speed:
900 - 2000 RPM (controlled by PWM)
Air flow:
81 CFM / 138m3/h
Max. Cooling Capacity:
250 Watts
Bearing:
Fluid Dynamic Bearing
Weight:
622g
Warranty:
6 year
EAN-Code:
0872767002531

 

Compatibility:

Set
Compatible Models
Package Content
VR001
ATI Radeon
HD 6870, 5870, 5830, 4890, 4870, 4850, 4830, 3870, 3850
nVIDIA GeFORCE
GTS 250, 9800GTX+, 9800GTX
RAM and voltage regulator heatsinks set, thermal adhesive
VR001
nVIDIA GeForce GTX
285, 280, 275, 260+, 260
Mounting plate, RAM, voltage regulators, and NVIO chipset heatsinks set, thermal adhesive
VR003
nVIDIA GeForce GTX
470, 465
Mounting plate, RAM and voltage regulators heatsinks set, thermal adhesive
VR004
nVIDIA GeForce GTX
480
Mounting plate, RAM and voltage regulators heatsinks set, thermal adhesive
VR005
nVIDIA GeForce GTX
460
Mounting plate, RAM and voltage regulators heatsinks set, thermal adhesive

 

Features:

 

All information courtesy of Arctic Cooling @ http://www.arctic-cooling.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=2_&mID=619

Testing:

To test the graphics card heatsinks, I ran two batteries of tests: idle and load for the stock heat sink, Sapphire Vapor-X heat sink, Zalman VF3000A at minimum and maximum speeds, the ProlimaTech MK-13 heat sink without a fan, with a single low CFM fan, single high CFM 38mm wide fan, and dual low CFM fans and finally the Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme Plus. Both the stock and Vapor-X heat sinks were left on auto for one iteration and then set for 100% fan speed on another to get the best case scenario possible for those heatsinks. Furmark was used to get the load numbers after a 15-minute run, between runs a cool down was allowed to let temperatures settle back down. GPU-Z was used to monitor the temperatures.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Cooling:

 

 

 

   

 

Even with the large size of the cooler, the Zalman offers lower idle temperatures than the Accelero Xtreme Plus. Now what really matters is how this cooler handles the thermal load when you are in the middle of a fierce gun battle on line. In this respect, the Arctic Cooling Accelero Extreme Plus delivers with the lowest GPU load temperatures of the comparison field at 41 degrees Celsius under load with the fan manually controlled and set to 100%. Having had a derivative of this cooler style from Arctic Cooling on several video cards I have tested in the past few months shows that the card manufacturers have seen the value that this cooler provides.

Conclusion:

There is no doubt about it the Arctic Cooling Accelero Extreme Plus is an effective GPU cooler that will keep your GPU cool under load. In the past I have looked at cards from Inno3D, Sapphire and ECS that have had a derivative of this cooler used on them to great effect. When compared to some other high end cooling solutions, the Extreme Plus delivered the best load temperatures of the group. To do this you have an a large cooler that is physically imposing and increases the footprint of the video card in the chassis dramatically. What this means is that your standard 10.5 inch long HD 5870 is now a 12.5 inch long behemoth and may make the card an uncomfortably tight fit in a smaller chassis. The only other negatives I saw with this cooler, and you have to take this from someone who swaps hardware like most people change their underwear, is that the cooler makes the installation and removal of the power connections on the HD 5870 difficult to remove once you have them installed. But for the vast majority of people that should not be a deal breaker since once the card is in, it's in for the long haul. If you have a video card with the power connections that are on the spine of the card then you need not worry about this problem. Installing the Xtreme Plus presented no real challenges when it was installed on the HD 5870. The instructions are clear on how the heat sink and ram sinks are to be installed. The use of a thermal adhesive for the ram and VRM sinks though makes for a permanent cooling solution change. I can understand the use of a thermal adhesive as I have had issues with ram sinks falling off of the memory and VRM components when just thermal tape is used. The Xtreme Plus is not a one trick pony or a solution for a dedicated card. The compatibility list for this piece of hardware stretches back to the HD 3850 on the AMD side and back to the 9800GTX on the NVIDIA side. The Xtreme Plus is a universal design with kits designed for each card available so you are not paying for parts you do not need and are guaranteed the correct parts kit to get it installed on your hardware. Not all video cards are covered in the compatibility listing, but the single GPU heavy hitters from both camps are included.

When it comes to aftermarket cooling solutions, a higher end solution is going to cost you a little money, just like upgrading your cooling solution for your CPU. The Accelero Xtreme Plus from Arctic Cooling has an MSRP of roughly $65, add in the cost of the graphics card specific hardware kit that is priced from $4.99 to $5.99, depending on the kit, and you are spending an additional $70 for improved cooling that should improve the life span of your video card. When you pair three 92mm fans together you are going to expect some noise, but what you get is a very quiet solution that runs from 900-2000RPM when controlled by the video card. Included is an adapter that allows you to run the fans straight from a 12V connection from the power supply, or at 7V for a further reduction in noise at the cost of some cooling performance. Artic Cooling has provided a cooling solution that can be tailored to your specific needs and offers excellent cooling capabilities.  I am, at this point, still impressed with their commitment to quality and the reduction in noise to make the video card something you notice for its graphics performance rather than the sound of the fan whining in the background.

 

 

Cons: