Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme Plus GPU Cooler

Cooling
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MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 10 seconds of room ambiance, followed by 10 seconds of the VGA test system without a video card installed, and then the actual product's noise at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again.

Comparatives:

FINAL THOUGHTS

The factory-overclocked HIS Radeon HD 5870 iCooler V Turbo is a most power hungry single-GPU card, and the Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme Plus cooled it almost casually, delivering comfortable temperatures in our hot, low airflow VGA test system with very little additional noise. Our testing loads are more strenuous than any modern PC game, and our low airflow testbed hotter than that of most web reviewers, so in more conventional conditions, there should be plenty of headroom for hotter cards and higher ambient temperatures. The cooling proficiency of the Accelero Xtreme Plus is just plain ridiculous, blowing the best dual fan models out of the water.

The fans are acoustically sound and can be controlled via software if plugged into the graphics card's fan header, a rarity for a GPU heatsink. If you prefer to power them externally, it also ships with a 7V/12V molex adapter. For a HD 5870, using the 7V connector is perfectly fine — it's very quiet at that level and having the fan spin faster is overkill.

The AC's other big strength is the dead simple installation procedure. Only four screws are required to get the main heatsink on, a step that can be completed in seconds. We were pleased to skip the part where we fiddle with the big bag of nuts, bolts, caps, springs, and what have you used by other manufacturers. The thermal adhesive included to secure the memory and VRM heatsinks works well and it is a big step up from the weak thin film AC has used in the past. However, the adhesive is rather thick, making it particularly difficult to apply in small amounts. Thankfully it can be cleaned off fairly easy if the heatsinks need to be removed for any reason.

Of course all this GPU cooling goodness comes at a cost. An Xtreme Plus with a complete set of memory/VRM heatsinks will run you US$70~75, which is about double the price of most dual fan heatsinks. It is a steep price, but the performance benefit is substantial, allowing end-users to cool 200W+ cards quietly without worry. We would have preferred a smaller cooler to get the job done, but reality is a harsh mistress. The mammoth Accelero Xtreme Plus is a necessary evil for serious gamers who value low noise levels as much as high frame rates.

Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme Plus
PROS

* Amazing performance
* Quiet fans
* Fan control via PWM
* Dead simple mounting system
CONS

* Very expensive
* Enormous

Our thanks to Arctic Cooling for the Accelero Xtreme Plus sample used in this review.


Accelero Xtreme Plus: SPCR Editor's Choice Award

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