Installation, Part 2

Congratulations! You've assembled the shroud on the Arctic Cooling Accelero Hybrid. You're halfway to a quieter, frostier graphics card. Now it's time to run the risk of somehow damaging or even frying your gaming hardware. It's time to install the heatsinks.

Arctic Cooling includes a thermal glue for applying the RAM and VRM heatsinks that is, make no mistake, a glue. That means that once you've gone down this road, there's no turning back for you and your card. Those heatsinks are there to stay, and if you want to go back to air cooling you'll probably have to buy an aftermarket cooler from Arctic. I initially tried to use thermal tape for this so that I wouldn't be locked in, but found that while it might have sufficed for testing, it wasn't going to be a long term solution. Figuring "in for a penny, in for a pound," I used the thermal glue. As far as I can tell, the glue Arctic Cooling includes is nonconductive, and it'd have to be, since it's so thick that it's difficult not to let a little strand here or there touch the PCB.

Arctic Cooling includes a wide variety of heatsinks for use with your card. The glue has a minimum one hour curing time, and a little dab will definitely do you. Once you've let the glue cure, though, it's good to go and definitely reliable. You'll want to cover the RAM and all the VRM circuitry, as VRMs can run ridiculously hot on high end video cards. There's also insulation tape included to make sure the heatsinks don't touch anything they're not supposed to and thus cause a short, but if you're careful you won't need it; I didn't.

Interestingly, putting the whole card together isn't actually as difficult as everything else is, just a little fiddly. There's a black foam pad you want to install behind the GPU die on the back of the card so the backplate doesn't come into contact with any circuitry. From there, Arctic Cooling suggests spreading the included MX-4 thermal paste onto the waterblock and pressing the combined block and shroud into place.

The fiddly part comes in when you have to line up the backplate with four spacers above the mounting holes in the PCB and then get the screws to go through the backplate, the spacers (which are not adhered to the PCB), the PCB, and into the waterblock. I found the easiest way to do this was to gingerly place the spacers on the back of the card, put the screws through the appropriate holes in the backplate, then carefully lower the backplate into the spacers, which you can then slide to push the screws through the PCB, and eventually line up with the waterblock. Screw everything in, and you're actually pretty close to done.

The power cable for the shroud connects easily enough to the PCB, and then there's a single molex lead that comes out of the shroud. This is going to wind up providing the additional power needed to drive the pump. Arctic Cooling also includes a PWM-driven 120mm fan that attaches to the radiator (the PWM lead actually connects to the shroud as well), and from there it's really up to you where you want to install it inside your case.

Of course, when you're done you think to yourself "oh, that wasn't so bad," but the reality is that Arctic probably could've done more to make this a much easier process. All of the spacers should've already come with adhesive attached to them, the insulation tape is finicky, and good-quality thermal tape or adhesive for the heatsinks would've been appreciated. The glue definitely does the trick and seems to transfer heat exceptionally well, but the permanence of it makes me antsy. I also feel like the shroud didn't need to be so unusually shaped; there's no card it's ever going to look good on, though the 80mm fan apparently does wonders for cooling the PCB components.

Installation, Part 1 Testing Methodology
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  • boyang1724 - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    This is quite pathetic actually. Just get an Antec 620/ Corsair H60 cooler and a bracket from dwood for any high end gpu. Also comes with a fan mount, and only costs around $70-80 total. Brought my GTX 670 down from 80C+ max to 55C, and idle from 38C to 25C. It's a much better deal than this thing. Reply
  • SodaAnt - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    I'll second this. You get just as much performance for only around $60 (in my case). Plus it actually seems easier to install than this thing. Reply
  • BrightCandle - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    A custom water loop specified at 10C delta can produce temperatures around +20C delta at peak load. So these figures are certainly pretty decent comparatively. This goes a long way towards custom loop performance for less cost. Its about the same amount of pain in terms of modifying the GPU for watercooling however, just without the pain of cutting the tubing, fitting larger radiators and other water cooling pain.

    Your methodology doesn't mention your soak time for the water loop. Due to the heat capacity of water you do need to run at peak load for 30 minutes. So it might not be quite as impressive as it first appears.
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1 - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    "Your methodology doesn't mention your soak time for the water loop. Due to the heat capacity of water you do need to run at peak load for 30 minutes. So it might not be quite as impressive as it first appears. "

    +1

    Unless you allow the water temperature to stabilise for some time (1 hour ?) , these results are erroneous.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    I get ~20K delta between ambient and GPU with my WC rig (4x120mm radiator mounted to the side of the case). It cost me 382.52€, 117.74€ for monitoring and control equipment and 51.56€ for the 4 fans, the rest for the WC stuff (pump, connectors, radiator, tubes...). But I also cool my CPU (which achieved 500MHz higher OC compared to my air cooler (Noctua NH-C12P)) and the system is not audible for me. The GPU was bought used with the WC mounted already and cost as much a new retail, so I got the cooler for free. I can use this equipment for the next CPU, mainboard, GPU upgrade. I can reinstall the stock air cooler on the GPU easily. I can add other components to the loop.
    I just don't see how these CLCs are seen as competing with custom WC rigs. Yes, they are a bit more expensive, but they also deliver many more options. CLC for CPUs does at least offer a few extra things (better clearance around the socket, extra fan controls...) but I doubt this offers that much more compared to after market GPU air coolers.
    Reply
  • ziv_ew - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    how dose it compare to the eVGA 680 Hydro Cooper? Reply
  • IanCutress - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    Makes me think of the total cost of a pair of MSI Lightnings or ASUS CUII TOPs with these coolers. In simulations the GPU gets hammered extensively over days, and the cooler the whole system the better. Reply
  • dannoddd - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    I'd really like to see this put up against one of the DWOOD systems, where you take your choice of ALC mixed with his $8 bracket and put it on any card. I've been concerned about doing it due to the lack of VRM/RAM heatsinks. I think it'd be great if you could grab one of those and bench it against this setup and compare the difficulty of installation.

    Great article Dustin, love your work.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    As fiddly as this is I suspect that if you've got a supported card a custom loop and a full cover heatsink would be less work to assemble than gluing all the individual ram/vrm sinks in place. Unfortunately they still don't have nVidia 6xx parts available yet.

    http://www.swiftech.com/graphics.aspx
    Reply
  • Shiitaki - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    Rather ironic, I had commented in the last water cooling article that the gpu is the one that needs water cooling, not so much the cpu. Why is the radiator mounted to the video card? That's the only reason it's so expensive, and it's silly given how many fan mounts come in cases these days. Reply

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