Installation, Part 1

Of course, in order to actually test the Arctic Cooling Accelero Hybrid, we must first install it. I had on hand a bone stock, reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680, a card which is in my opinion the perfect candidate. The GTX 680's stock cooler isn't bad, but it can get a little noisy if you start overclocking the card at all, and it's not as robust as the cooler on the venerable GTX 580. To be fair, that card had a much higher TDP than the GTX 680 does.

The first step was just getting the existing cooler off of the GTX 680, and NVIDIA doesn't make it easy. The 680's cooling comes in three pieces: the outer shroud, the heatsink, and the baseplate. The shroud is easy enough to remove, secured with a total of six Phillips head screws. Disconnecting the radial fan requires removing another internal Phillips head screw with a precision screwdriver, and then the heatsink comes off by removing four more Phillips head screws from the rear of the card. Of course, the baseplate itself isn't so kind: there are fourteen T6 Torx head screws on the rear of the card that must be removed, along with an additional three Phillips head screws attached to the I/O shield.

With the original cooling system removed, you'll need to clean the thermal paste off of the GPU die, and Arctic Cooling recommends using an eraser to gently remove any residue that may be on the RAM and VRM dies. After doing so you'll want to safely set aside the video card, as we now need to work on one of the two major parts of the Accelero Hybrid: the shroud. The plastic shroud has kind of a goofy shape and doesn't feel particularly sturdy, and I kind of wish Arctic Cooling had gone with a bit more staid and practical of a design. In the above photo, in the ring to the left of the 80mm fan are three circular rubber pads which have to be applied. These dampen vibration from the waterblock.

And above is the waterblock installed into the shroud. This is an involved process, unfortunately. The easy part is getting the waterblock into the shroud and wrapping the tubing around the plastic wedges inside. There are three channels for the tubes to go through; the orientation in the image is for the GTX 680, while other cards would shift both tubes down a channel. The waterblock is screwed into place, and then the tubes are held in place by metal washers mounted into the shroud.

The four clear spacers covering the mounting points of the waterblock have to have adhesive applied to their backs, and they're all roughly the size of a Grape Nut. This requires a ridiculous amount of precision, and I hope your hands are steadier than mine. Arctic Cooling could've done us all a huge solid by including these spacers pre-adhered like the rubber pads used to cushion the waterblock instead of making us remove tiny circles of double-sided adhesive. You also have to refer to their included table to see which spacers to use, as certain cards require 1.5mm spacers (like the GTX 680) while others require 4mm spacers. From there, you'll have to connect the power plug off of the waterblock to a header inside the shroud located just above the block.

Introducing the Arctic Cooling Accelero Hybrid Installation, Part 2
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  • halo37253 - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    Yeah right, No one wants a big HSF in their PC. CLC's don't leak, if your one of the vary few I feel bad for ya. Compared to HSF CLCs are quiet and take up vary little space. They tend to Overclock just as good as the best HSFs as well. I personally would just get a rasa kit for cheap if I was going to get into water cooling, as water cooling is dead easy to do try it and you'll see for your self.

    For overclocking a GPU nothing can touch water cooling, I have my GTX470's under water and they scream. Though under air even at only 800mhz they would get into the 90-104c while gaming. Water is just the way to go if you want a quiet PC while pushing the overclocks on everything in your system. I'm done hearing fan noise, and sadly Air cooling isn't able to keep noise down while overclocking so...
  • randomly - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    I've watercooled a lot of PC's in my day and the substantial advantages in noise and cooling that water cooling once had have eroded a great deal. Modern high end heat pipe heatsinks do very well and the hassles and headaches of water cooling and the minimal improvements are just not worth the trouble of water cooling anymore. Any flexible tubing is going to slowly lose coolant because plastics and rubbers are porous, even if you don't have a catastrophic leak you still have the maintenance problems. Leaking pumps, failing pumps, leaking connections, leaking resevoirs, system running out of coolant through porosity losses in tubing, dead gpu cards while installing waterblocks etc. I've seen it all. After a dozen years with water cooling I can't see myself going back to it with the current air cooling options.

    Last upgrade I just used a Silverstone HE01 Heligon heatsink for the cpu, and an ASUS GTX680 triple slot vid card. The whole system is quieter than the previous water cooled setup, with no hassles, no leaks to worry about and no risk in killing my gpu installing a water cooling setup (done that before too). Everything is overclocked, the i7-3570k at 4300mhz, the GTX680 at 1230mhz and the system is barely audible even with heavy gaming. You might get a slight bump in overclocking potential with water cooling, but it'll be so small you won't be able to notice a difference is the machine.
  • Kidster3001 - Thursday, January 3, 2013 - link

    Agreed. My first water cooling setup was in 2004 on Prescott. It needed it though :-) Bought everything from and spent well over $500 for everything.

    I kept that case and setup alive for several years. The CPU, Northbridge and GPU were all cooled by it through a few rebuilds. When I upgraded to Conroe X6800 I moved to a new case and went back to air cooling. Other than the first month or so playing with a new rig, pushing OC to the limits, the water cooling wasn't really needed for 24x7 operation at high component speeds and low fan noise.

    Once in a while I miss being able to run at 5+ GHz when I want to but it's not worth my time or the cost just for a few days a year of fun.
  • Flunk - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    It seems like most users would be better served by one of Arctic's air coolers like the Extreme series or Twin Turbo 2 (I have 2 of these in my system). They're a lot cheaper, provide more than adequate cooling for huge GPU overclocks and if someone is hardcore enough to want more then custom watercooling makes a lot more sense.
  • kmmatney - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    I'm wondering if the ability to overclock higher was mainly due to better VRM cooling, which is air cooled in the review.

    My experience with Arctic's air coolers has been great. I had a HD4890 that was unbearably loud with the stock cooler. Using an AC Accelero Rev 2 made it virtually silent (just a 5V quiet fan on the heatsink), cooler, and allowed me to overclock higher. For me, the key was keeping the VRMs cool, and I ended up buying a $10 Zalman VRM cooler which made all the difference. So I'm not sure the GPU cooling was waht allowed the card to overclock higher - I think it may be the better VRM cooling.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    The thought had occurred to me as well, but either way, the GTX 680 was able to get a bit more headroom.
  • JlHADJOE - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    I'm guessing a combination of both.

    The GK104s throttle down their clocks after hitting certain thermal thresholds, the first of which is at 70C. So even with VRM cooling in place, if thecard hits 70C then it wouldn't have clocked as high as it did with the liquid cooler.
  • londiste - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    there is a very simple difference between hybrid and extreme/twinturbo coolers. with hybrid it is very simple to get the heat out of the case (even compared to reference cooler), with extreme/twinturbo... not so much.

    not everyone is boasting a case with 5+ to keep the air moving quickly in and out at all times.
  • scaramoosh - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    It looks stupid and with an SLI system you're gonna be struggling.

    These companies need to make an all in one modable system for noobs who don't want to invest time in to learning what parts they need to buy. I think that is the main problem to why people don't invest in water cooling, like where do you start? They buy this stuff just because it is easy.
  • CK804 - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

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