Graphics Card Coolers Investigated

Written by bit-tech Staff

May 19, 2010 | 08:19

Tags: #graphics-card-cooler #hsf #overheating #quiet-computing #stock-cooler

Companies: #akasa #alpenfohn #arctic-cooling #scythe #thermalright

Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 Rev 2

Manufacturer: Arctic Cooling
UK Price (as reviewed): £27.56 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $26.99(ex. Tax)

First up, the Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 Rev 2. It's compatible with a wide range of graphics cards, many of which, Arctic Cooling claims, can be cooled passively.

For most modern graphics cards, you’ll also need to invest in the Turbo Module, sold separately. It comprises two fans that clip into the heatsink. Sounds simple enough, however we found them to be far from easy to fit as they kept coming loose. The whole assembly takes up three expansion slots too and sticks out well over an inch from the end of the PCB.

Graphics Card Coolers Investigated Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 and L2 Pro
Click to enlarge

As if this wasn’t frustrating enough, the rest of the installation process will probably see you wanting to throw the Accelero S1 Rev 2 across the room. In addition to very unclear instructions, you need to attach four mounting screw into the cooler from the other side of the PCB. You need to line up four spacers at the same time on the other side, which was very frustrating and took several attempts before the heatsink was secured, during which even more RAM and VRM heatsinks had fallen off.

The first time we installed it on our HD 5870, the GPU temperature skyrocketed to a scary level within a few minutes so we switched off the PC to check the mount. Suspecting the spacers to be the cause, we removed them and re-mounted the heatsink. This seemed to do the trick, dropping temperatures considerably, resulting in a load delta T of 34ºC – a massive 31ºC below the stock ATI cooler. While the Accelero S1 Rev 2 is fantastic at cooling, installing it is haphazard. The way that the spacers mean the contact plate clearly doesn’t reach the GPU core is just plain bad design. In the end we simply can’t endorse a product that could kill your hardware even if you follow the instructions.

For Radeon HD 5870
  • Overall
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • 5/10
Score Guide

Arctic Cooling L2 Pro

Manufacturer: Arctic Cooling
UK Price (as reviewed): £13.28 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $29.95 (ex. Tax)

Even worse was the dreadful Arctic Cooling L2 Pro. It's a bulky heatsink that's cooled by a single 92mm fan that’s powered by a 4-pin Molex connector. It's secured to the PCB with four tiny screws combined with spacers between the PCB and cooler. Lining them all up needed a very steady hand and took several attempts. Just as we were about to throw the L2 Pro across the room, we finally managed to get the final screw in and, being careful not to dislodge any heatsinks, we fired up our test system.

The fan proved to be very quiet at 12V and was inaudible at 7V. Temperatures on a HD 5870 were pleasing if not eye-popping, with a delta T under load of 55ºC with the fan at 12V. However at 7V, the fan was unable to shift enough air and with the GPU temperature surpassing that of the stock cooler and still rising rapidly, we switched the fan back to 12V before the graphics card melted.

Graphics Card Coolers Investigated Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 and L2 Pro
Click to enlarge

Events took another wrong turn when we tried to remove the L2 Pro; the final screw refused to come loose no matter what tools we used to try to get the thread to bite. In the end we were left with no option but to use a Dremel and cut through the screw to we could at least free up our HD 5870 for further testing.

Like the Accelero S1 Rev 2, the L2 Pro does show some merit, with good temperatures with the fan at 12V. However, while we can’t be certain that every L2 Pro will be such a pain to fit and remove, the objectionable mounting system still raises serious concerns.

For Radeon HD 5870
  • Overall
  • x
  • x
  • x
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • 3/10
Score Guide
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