It has been quite some time since I have looked at any GPU coolers. In fact, I think it may have been the CoolIT All-In-One water cooler for my GTX 470. I thought it was about time I went back and got a hold of a few coolers that are up and coming, as well as a few of the coolers I have missed over the past year. Not only is it a change of pace for me, but it gives my readers more information to have when they decide to cool other parts of their computers other than a CPU.
The first candidate is Arctic Cooling, as they were the first to deliver. This cooler design has basically been done already, but there are some small changes to be had in not only the shape of the cooler and its fins, but to a new compound for adhering the heat sinks to the memory ICs for this versions thermal conductivity. There is also a new mounting plate with this version, while the rest of the cooler stays virtually the same.
The cooler we are going to be looking at today is the Accelero Xtreme Plus II, the second in the line of XP coolers. We have already seen the original XP cooler and it performed very well against even water cooling results and really impressed me. I say we get right to it and see if the second revision of the Accelero Xtreme Plus, the AX Plus II has changes that make this cooler any better or leave it performing the same as the original. Either way, let's get into the specifics and what has changed in details so I can test this thing and get you the results!
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme Plus II is no small cooler. It is 28mm long, 103mm wide and 50mm tall, making this a triple slot cooling solution. With the fans the cooler weighs in at 0.9kg; that's almost two pounds! Anyways, in the cooler you will get five 6mm heat pipes that are soldered into the copper base and exit the base on two sides. There is a shorter side and a much longer side that holds the 0.3mm thick fins, of which there are eighty-three in total. There is a slight change to the fin shape and I believe this new cut away is to allow easier access to the clips on the GPU power leads, as with the original, it was tough to unlock the clips. With all this metal, even with the removed section, it allows the AXP II to be able to handle up to 250W of GPU overclocking!
To cool the new version, AC uses the same triple 92mm fan configuration and the shroud stays the same as well. I have a feeling that the shroud is slightly less in a few dimensions that allows for the 6mm in height dropped over the original, and the 2mm in length. Aside from this, it looks much the same. These fans will run at 12V or 7V with the use of an adapter that takes the 3-pin connection from the fans and uses a Molex adapter to allow for 12V functionality. At this voltage the fans are capable of 2000RPM each and 81 CFM combined air flow. These fans also spin on a hydro dynamic bearing which should extend their life expectancy and make them able to run at near silent levels.
Availability is somewhat limited as I type this out and I only see seven places to obtain this cooler on this side of the pond. Pricing is where I would have expected it and Mwave is dead even with Newegg.com's pricing of $79.99, but they are out of stock, so off to Mwave you go! - Since the pricing is pretty fair compared to other enthusiast air cooling solutions as it sits, this isn't too bad of a deal. For those whose cards are compatible, but need the use of a VR00X kit for installation, you will need to invest another $14.95 for the mounting plate and specific heat sink kits. While that isn't so bad in itself, take a look at the installation process, there is something to be very aware of. So on with it I say and let's see what works and what didn't with the newly released Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme Plus II!
At first glance it is tough to tell this revision from the original. The stickers on the plastic it is surrounded in denote the new G-1 glue usage, the name of the coole, and the sticker on the right are tips that you have the new Extreme Plus II in your hands.
The packaging is made to hang on pegs with these tabs that pass through the packaging. Looking here does give us a pretty unimpeded look at the cooler inside and some of the hardware included.
On the back, features of the cooler are addressed. There are the performance numbers on a GTX 580, there is a new compatibility list and a listing of what else is included inside the package.
A "multi-compatible cooling weapon for enthusiast-grade graphic cards" is the message here along with seven key features explaining why it is listed in many languages on the bottom of the packaging.
Opening the packaging, you can see there are two compartments. One holds the very large cooler and there is a tray that holds all of the hardware and accessories.
The Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme Plus II VGA Cooler
Getting the Xtreme Plus II out of the box, you notice there isn't much of a change either, at least not yet. It keeps the copper plate with five 6mm heat pipes, but the smaller set of fins got some of the eighteen fins trimmed in this model. The larger side uses sixty-six aluminum fins, and if you look closely, the mounting plate has changed.
The trio of 92mm fans does a good job of keeping airflow over a good percentage of the cooler, and adds air flow to the entire PCB as it passes through the cooler. This shroud and fan assembly is removable for cleaning as well.
The heat pipes are very cleanly finished on the end of the cooler. That along with the way the fan assembly envelops the top of the fins makes for an attractive cooler from any angle.
Getting in a little closer, I can show the gentle bends of the heat pipes as they turn out of the base and make their way to the fins. You can just see that these pipes are soldered into the base, while the fins are pressed over them.
The termination of the heat pipes on the longer side of the cooler is a little different, as at this end they are much longer. With this case being furthest from the slot, only in smaller cases with the length of this matter. The shroud does stick out even with the pipes, so an accidental bump while installing this shouldn't case any issues.
The copper base has MX-4 pre-applied, but that will soon be removed and replaced for imaging and testing. The thing to note here is the new mounting plate with covering 51mm, 53.2mm, and 58.4mm mounting. This time there are only two optional kits, whereas the original had three.
Removing the paste, I added the USB adapter to give you an idea of the finish. It isn't shiny by any means, but does have some reflectivity in the surfacing that was done. Against a razor blade, the base is flat as can be; only deflecting a little near the corners.
I removed the shroud and move out a bit to give you a good look at the thick aluminum center cooler, and the massive amount of fins to keep even the hottest graphics cards under control.
I thought a look at it from the top may be as equally important to see without the fans.
The 92mm Swiss Designed fans are all wired tightly within the shroud and will keep them out of the way and free from any damage when you remove the shroud. The rainbow colored power lead for these fans is over 11" long and should give you ample room for any means of power.
To remove the shroud, flip the cooler over and look for these tabs. They are pretty strong, but still plastic. While they take a bit of force to let loose, be careful as not to break these off.
Accessories and Documentation
While I know the power wiring of the fans isn't an accessory, it does lead into the next image we will see. Arctic Cooling has used a 4-pin mini connector for use with GPU stock fan plugs, or the option of the 3-pin that works with an adapter for power.
Part of the accessories that come with the Accelero XP II are what you see here. There is a bag with pre-cut thermal pads in it, that fan power adapter I mentioned, the mounting hardware and expansion slot cover, and the new G-1 glue for the memory heat sinks.
These are all the heat sinks that come shipped in the box. Since there is multi-card compatibility, some of these you will use, some you won't; it depends on the model of the card you are using.
The front side of the instruction sheet covers the parts list, the preparation of the card and starts the installation process. All of this is easy to follow with good explanations and excellent drawings to make the installation as easy to understand as possible.
The back of the instructions cover the new G-1's application, pressure time, and the five hour cure time of this material. Moving over to the phase area of the card, you are just a few screws and plugging in the fan away from completion.
Just like the original, to use this cooler with my GTX 470, I needed the additional VR003 hardware kit boxed here.
These come with their own instructions and at this point it is where things differed. Since you got the new cooler, don't use the RAM sink compound in this kit; refer to the original set of instructions for that.
Here is the kit that comes inside. You get the tube of "paste", a new mounting bracket and a full set of new heat sinks for the specific cards listed on the front.
Installation and Finished Product
The card we are going to be testing the AC Accelero Extreme Plus II on is the vanilla eVGA GTX 470 from my spare PC.
Here is the 470 all stripped and ready for the new cooler. Something to note, the white stuff still on the RAM chips are from the original tube of thermal adhesive. I have a couple more GPU coolers coming soon, so we will see how this new G-1 is to remove too.
Using the pads that come in the VR003 kit, I applied them to the card and I am now ready to install the cooler.
The cooler installs with three screws and you've got to be gentle as the threads are aluminum, but I still had no issues getting this heat sink mounted securely. Just be careful not to over tighten this.
In the kit there is this set of screws along with the paper washers to keep the screws from damaging the PCB, or possibly grounding out to anything.
The two packages on the left are what makes up the G-1 adhesive compound and is said to be much better and easier to release than the original equipment. The tube on the right is the original equipment and is what's left all of the residue on my chips.
I used the parts tray from the inner packaging of the heat sinks to mix the two packs of liquids together. They are obviously different colors to make you mix this for one consistent color. This way you know you have a good mix of materials.
Before I put all of the heat sinks on, I thought I should show some of the G-1 applied to the chips. With a spreader that wasn't included in my kit, you simply spread a thin layer of the material on the chip. If you set the heat sink on gently, it will allow for movement to align it, but once you press it onto the chip, it is much tougher to move and relocate.
Installation and Finished Product Continued
Here is the card with all the heat sinks in place, ready to install the cooler to the card. Or so I thought!
Here was the issue I ran into. While the cooler comes with a new back plate and hardware for it, the way this all works is that the new VR003 plate is supposed to use the same hardware for this. On the original cooler, the screws were the same size, as the mounting plates were very similar at that time. I would just like to point out to make sure you get a kit with screws, and I hope AC reads this and adds them to the kits for future buyers.
Just so you can see what I mean, the screw on the left is hardware I had on hand that fit the new mounting plate. The screw on the right is what the kit is shipped with to use with the new hardware.
With the found hardware installed, I am now able to continue with showing you just how much the AC AXP II dwarfs this GTX 470.
As it will be installed in a case, the cooler is going to need 288mm of room no matter the length of the card. The bit of flex on the right side of the card isn't due to mounting pressure, but rather the weight of the PCB itself.
As you saw in the last image and here as well, the cooler clears the heat sinks with quite a bit of room to spare. As you can see, my dual slot bracket is suspended off the floor because this is a full 3 slots of cooler.
Just to impress the fact that this is a 3 slot cooler, I thought I would show the end of the card I was speaking of before.
Here is a top view of the card and cooler installed in the 600T SE for testing...
...and a look from the bottom just to make sure I covered all the angles.
Testing and Results
Testing was done in a spare computer I have in the room. Things were housed in a Corsair 600T SE and the door was on during any testing and reading of the temperatures. The room itself was kept at 25°C for the duration. To test the cards I used EVGA OC tool with a Furmark-like OpenGL 4.0 program. The card is controlled with MSI Afterburner for the overclocking and overvolting parts of the testing.
The testing is run for thirty minutes and temperature information is gathered from Afterburner for all the test results. In order to attain the idle temperatures, things were allowed to cool down and a reset was done and an additional ten minutes was waited to allow for the best possible results.
This is some terminology that will help with the reading of these charts.
Stock: GTX 470 with 608/837/1215 clocks and voltage of 1.00V
Overclocked: GTX 470 with clocks raised to 775/950/1550 and voltage raised to 1.050V for stability.
Stock Fan Profile: This is what the card is set at in BIOS level for fan control. It starts at 40% and ramps to 100% at ninety degrees.
Adjusted Fan Profile: See the image below. I changed the slope of the fan control
At idle, it doesn't really seem to matter much what the fan speeds or clocks were. I was able to keep up with and surpass the results I got with the original cooler. This isn't really all that surprising to me, as the body of the cooler hadn't changed that drastically.
Here the results are sort of hit and miss. I thought it may have been my using the found hardware, but a removal of the cooler showed me I had great contact. I really can't explain why this cooler reacted so much differently at load with overclocks or without. They don't seem to be up to par with the original cooler at all.
As for the noise levels, they are practically inaudible. While the cooler is in the case and the fans are running at full speed, I have to actually get my head inside the case, within 3" or so of the cooler to even hear them at all. Running them any lower can only make it better, and with the 40% or 1600RPM of the fans, I had to look to see if they were even running, as I could not hear them at all!
There is no doubt about it that the AC Accelero Xtreme Plus II is capable of controlling a huge amount of heat and can do so while being dead silent even at peak fan speeds. I liked that AC took a new look at compounds for the memory sinks. The older version did not give you as much "wet time" and left a real mess when it was time to remove the cooler and heat sinks. The G-1 promised to be better and easier to use and I can tell you it is easier to use, but VRAM doesn't even honestly need active cooling these days, and with no direct comparison to the original, the temperature I got with my IR thermometer is really irrelevant, as I didn't think to test it on the original. I do like that AC even brought out a more universal mounting plate and hardware to make things easier for most cards that this Version Two cooler will install with.
Not to say that didn't bring out its own problems. The only downfall about this specific instance was with the lack of hardware to support my needs. Since the main mounting hardware has been changed, it makes the overstocked VR00X kits obsolete to use with the AXP II. Had that little tid bit of overlooked hardware been added to this kit, I would have really no issues to complain about, aside from the odd temperatures I got during testing. Again I hope that AC takes this to heart and reassess the kits that they are delivering with this new rendition of the cooler.
It seems that today, no matter what version of a cooler you are going to pick from the aftermarket manufacturers, you are going to have to shell out at least $60, if not more like $80-90, and the Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme Plus II hits the upper end of that pricing. The $79.99 pricing at Newegg.com isn't what I would consider bad, but for the results I see with this sample, I have to say, buy the original. It seems to work much better than the AXP II. I do like the new compound for the ICs, but that doesn't justify my hardware dilemma, or the fact that my card ran much hotter. If your card fits out of the box and you aren't in immediate need of the VR00X kits, go ahead and give this a look. But if you need to buy that $15 kit to make it work, I would wait until it has all the parts.