Page All: Viewing All Pages
It doesn't matter whether you're talking about relationships or computer parts, there remains one common aspect - trade offs. To have a successful relationship, you may have to concede the bedroom's decorating scheme to her tastes or catch an occasional romantic comedy rather than the latest action flick. And in the world of computers, you make trade offs with price to performance, or as it pertains to what we're looking at today, temperature versus noise control.
The highest thermal performing coolers tend to also be the noisiest, and likewise, the quietest coolers usually lag behind the pack in cooling potential. How much of a sacrifice you're willing to make in either direction drives your purchasing decision. But every once in awhile, a product comes along that says, Hey, how would you like to have your cake, and eat it too?
Enter Arctic Cooling, a Swiss based company built on finding that balance between cooling potential and noise control. And what better place to apply that philosophy than to the increasingly power thirsty GPU market? Back in July Arctic Cooling sent us their Accelero S1 cooler, and today we take a look (and listen) to their latest revision of this passive videocard heatsink. Revision 2 adds support for the latest (and hottest) videocards, leaving it up to us to find out if yesterday's design still has what it takes to battle today's GPUs.
Arctic Cooling's Accelero S1 supports a wide range of videocards, and Rev 2 adds several more to the mix. Included in the package is a baggie of screws and clips, an instruction sheet, voltage heatsink and plate, eight RAMsinks with adhesive backing, a PCI slot cover, and a case badge. Optionally you can add Arctic Cooling's Turbo Module fans, which we'll also take a look at today.
The cooler itself is completely passive utilizing several aluminum fins in a towering heatsink design. Running up through the fins are four 6mm copper heatpipes to whisk heat from the GPU and spread it out over the aluminum heatsink. The spacing between the many fins purports to draw cool air in, provided your case has adequate airflow, providing plenty of ventilation to dissipate heat. Is it effective? Keep reading!...
An all copper base lays home to the copper heatpipes, and from the what we could see of the exposed portion, it appeared smooth and free from machine marks. Eight spaced screw holes ensure compatibility to a wide range of videocards, but be sure and do your homework before purchasing. Arctic Cooling lists support for the 8800GTS G92, but the earlier G80 core is not supported (we tried).
It's the subtle touches that tend to impress us the most, and unlike most stock and even some third party cooling solutions, the S1 came with a thin layer of thermal paste rather than a thick pad or an unnecessary glob of compound.
Not included but offered as an optional accessory are a pair of Arctic Cooling Turbo Module fans. These twin fans comes with 11 blades each, along with an adapter to plug them in directly to your power supply. Installation's quite literally a snap.
We'd take more space to cover the installation if it was warranted, but slapping on the Accelero S1 Rev 2 was pretty uneventful. Disassemble the stock cooler, clean up the GPU and RAM, remove the adhesive backings, slap on the Accelero, and insert the plastic clips. If you can use a screwdriver, then you can install this cooler.
Do note that the Accelero maintains a one-slot cooling solution for your videocard, but it does add a couple inches to the overall height. This shouldn't be an issue in the majority of setups, but could pose a problem for water coolers, depending on how much length you've given the tubing and where you have them routed.
The optional Turbo Modules, er, fans clip right onto the heatsink. Be sure to keep only eight fins between the top and bottom clip to ensure it snaps properly into place, and wedge the wire in between the fins to prevent it from interfering with the fan blades. And that's it - no tools required.
We installed the Accelero S1 Rev 2 onto an AMD HD 3850 videocard using Arctic Cooling's stock paste. Our load temperature readings were taken after an hour running four instances of RTHDRIBL, which allowed for 100% GPU utilization. We then compared the temps to that of the stock cooler:
|ACCELERO S1 Rev 2||36C||54C|
|ACCELERO S1 Rev 2 w/ FANS||34C||45C|
Are you kidding? We expected competitive temp readings, but not once did we fathom a passive cooler would result in a 12C drop at idle, and a whopping 33C plummet during load. Throw the optional fans into the mix and the results are even better, but, like us, you may find that you don't need them. Of course, AMD's HD 3850 isn't the hottest GPU on the block, but at 87C (with the stock cooler), it's not a cool performer either. And had we manually adjusted the fan to spin faster, the temp comparisons would likely have been better matched, but the end user shouldn't have to tinker with manual fan adjustments (which we found to be a futile experience in Vista), and at full blast, you can kiss noise management goodbye. The Accelero, on the other hand, kept the videocard chilly, and did it silently.
| Thermal Performance||19/20|
| Warranty & Support||6/10|
Our RecommendationPut quite simply, the Accelero S1 Rev 2 blew, er, whisked us away with its performance. Slapping the passive cooler on our HD 3850 videocard netted over a 30C drop in load temps, and dropped thermals nearly in half with the optional Turbo Module fans. You just don't get performance of that magnitude without a significant trade off, usually in the form of overbearing noise, but the only potentially major trade off that accompanies this silent cooler comes in the form of added height.
Marring a near perfect experience were several niggling issues. Installation was easy enough, but the manual makes the process seem more complicated than it is. We're not sold on the benefits of the included plastic clips, which lend a chintzy feel when combined with the pliable aluminum fins. We're also not keen on adhesive-based RAMsinks, which have a tendency to fall off. And though this second revision cooler adds a handful of new videocards to the compatibility list, G80 based 8800GTS owners need not apply. Finally, the voltage regulator plate and sink aren't completely universal.
The handful of minor annoyances pile up quickly, but they don't overshadow the overall product. In fact, our biggest gripe has nothing to do with the actual product, but the convoluted warranty process, which requires the end user to go through the distributor for replacement parts and repairs rather than direct from the manufacture (boo!). And that's more of a gripe on principal rather than a genuine concern on a passive cooler with no moving parts (Turbo Module fans not withstanding).
Incredible thermal performance coupled with dead silent operation makes it easy to recommend the Accelero S1 Rev 2. Arctic Cooling has a winning design on their hand, one that supports a wide range of videocards. We didn't think it was possible to offer such a performance combination at this high level, but we find ourselves now drinking the Swiss company's Kool-Aid.
Other Reviews of NoteIt's always nice to have more than one opinion on a component before you spend your hard earned money. For one, we may see something others missed, or vice versa. As with all reviews published at HardwareLogic, we'll not only give you our recommendation, but also point out reviews from some other great sites around the web.