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Arctic Cooling Accelero X1

Date: March 6, 2006
Author(s): Rob Williams

Arctic Cooling is soon to release a new GPU cooler called the Accelero. There are two versions of the cooler, one for top end NVIDIA and the other for top end ATI. I am taking a look at the NVIDIA version which I throw on a card that’s known for overheating often. Let’s take a closer look.



Introduction

Arctic Cooling has had a great track record with us here at Techgage. Recently, I took a look at their nV 5 Rev. 3 Silencer which I used on an eVGA 7800GT card. It cut over 7°C off the max load that I had with the stock cooler, which is a nice chunk. Since then, AC has released a new GPU cooler for top end ATI and NVIDIA cards, called the Accelero X1 and X2, respectively. Luckily, I had a card lying around that desperately needed cooling help.

Quick look at the product

The Accelero arrived in a clear blister pack that’s easy to open. They don’t use staples or glue to seal the package shut, but its still sealed well enough that it won’t pop open by accident. I would love to see more companies package their products like this. Opening a new product shouldn’t be a chore. As you can see by looking at the cooler, it looks very different than anything from their Silencer lineup. One of the main goals of the product is to offer a quiet solution. Because the fan is quieter, the heatsink is larger, hence the larger casing.

A black plastic casing is what protects the heatsink, but it can be opened if for some reason you needed it to be. The plastic is simply two manufactured pieces clipped together. Looking underneath the product, you can see a row of thin fins. The entire product as a whole is 3cm high. At first I believed the Accelero to be higher than the nV5 Rev. 3, but it’s actually 1mm less. The height of the product is 12 CM though, and that is pretty long in terms of GPU coolers.

The fan is quite similar to the nV5 Rev. 3s, but it’s technically half as quiet, with a rating of 0.4 Sone. On the back of the unit is a very large silver memory heatsink, which effectively covers all eight memory chips on the front of the card. The copper base is pre-applied with the AC MX-1 paste, so grabbing my AS5 was not necessary. The paste is protected by a plastic cover which is removed before installation, unless you want your house to smell for days.

You will notice in the picture that there are three copper ‘stubs’ sticking out from one side of the cooler. These run along the inside of the cooler and pass heat along to the fins to help dissipate heat quickly.

The kit as a whole includes everything you need including screws, plastic washers and thermal pads designed by 3M. As with all Arctic Cooling products, it also includes a company sticker to affix to your tower.



Installation

The card I chose to install this cooler on was a real no brainer. I purchased a BFG 6800GT PCI-E version early last year, and immediately had overheating problems. I was forced to RMA because the card reached up to 82°C for a joke. When I got the replacement card, it also got hot, in a sense. On first boot, the card sparked and flickered and killed a nice amount of hardware, then committed suicide. Needless to say, I RMA’d that card also. So, now being on the 3rd RMA’d card, I figured I couldn’t have problems like before. Well, the card still hits heats up to 80°C very easily. I have to admit, I am not too comfortable with any piece of equipment reaching those temps, so I look forward to seeing how the Accelero helps.

After removing something like 13 screws from the stock cooler, I pryed it off the board. After thoroughly cleaning the memory chips and core, I applied the thermal pads to each chip. Now, as you can see in the picture, I first laid them down with the paper still attached so that I could tear them off once they were all in place. That was a stupid move, because the pads do not stick to the chips like I imagined they would, so you may as well apply each pad one at a time. They don’t stick to the chips very well, but they do to your hands so it really can be frustrating.

Once I managed to get them to stay in place, I removed the plastic cover off the copper heatsink and set the cooler on the card. The holes lined up perfectly, so I just turned the card over and used the included screws to attach it. Overall, the entire installation process was easy, minus the thermal pads. Even those are not Arctic Cooling’s fault though, it’s just the nature of the pads. If the pads were just a tad sticker on one side, the problem would be lessoned. Once installed, it was very well secured to the card. It’s not the best looking GPU cooler out there, but we care more about the cooling aspect at this point.

After I installed the card back into the computer, one thing became apparent very quickly. Because the card is 12CM high, I was unable to put the case door back on the tower. I was using the Titan Robela, and right inside the door are two large 120mm fans. If your case doesn’t have any huge fan in front of the PCI-E slots, you will be fine. Because the Robela has a radiator attached to the door though, it increased the depth. You could potentially be fine even if you do have a 120mm fan on your door. Either way, if you have the Robela, forget this cooler unless you want the door to be off all the time.



Performance and Conclusion

In order to help stress the before and after card to their max temperature, I ran the card through a 45 minute loop of 3D Mark 06 with default settings, except for the resolution which was set to 1280*768 due to my usage of a TV as a monitor at the time. I captured all of the temperatures using RivaTuner, which makes light work of logging the temps into an easy to read format.

Note: Testing of both the stock and Accelero were done with the case door off.

There’s not a single doubt about the cooler helping the card. With the Accelero installed, the card’s max temp decreased by 18°C. That’s amazing. I feel far more comfortable with my GPU at 66°C than 84°C any day. These are fantastic temperatures, and I am glad to see the cooler made such a huge difference over stock. Even 66°C can be considered hot for some cards, but not this one; It’s notorious for overheating.

Using Coolbits to tell me my ‘optimized’ overclock settings, the Stock cooler originally stated my max overclock to be 435/1130, while the Accelero bumped that up to 443/1140.

Conclusion

As mentioned in the intro, Arctic Cooling has not disappointed us yet. I am very pleased with the cooling power of the Accelero, considering how well it performed on this extremely hot card. The cooler certainly proved itself in my tests, so I recommend it to anyone who owns a 6800/7800 card. If you own the same card as mentioned in this review, then do yourself a favor and pick one up!

There’s very little I don’t like about the cooler. The fact that is sticks out far made putting the door back on my PC impossible, so you could potentially run into the same problem. The cooler is also not the best looking out there, and doesn’t do much for you if you work towards keeping your PC looking pimp. I cannot rate the product on it’s price either, because it’s not currently available in any e-tailer. I assume the prices will be around the same price point as the nV5 Silencer Rev. 3.

Overall, I award the Accelero X1 a well deserved 9 out of possible 10 and our Editors Choice award. Arctic Cooling is one of those companies that continue to impress, and I can’t wait to see what new products they release in the future.

March 7 Edit: I forgot to stress a few points in the review. First off, the Accelero is different than the Silencers because they are designed for BTX form factor cases. If the 6800GT was equipped with a better cooler, it would no doubt beat out the Accelero. The Accelero is a quiet solution designed for BTX.

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