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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  • DanNeely - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    They didn't. You did by not reading much of the article before snarking. Look at the second picture on page 2 of the article. The radiator is detached and can go in any standard 120mm fan mount; the shroud attached to the card is to direct air onto the heatsinks covering the ram and VRM chips.
  • funguseater - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    Absolute garbage.

    Been using a $49 Antec Kuhler 620 on my GTX480's overclocked to 850MHz core and they NEVER break 73 degrees. Bought a $8 custom fan bracket for mine but first just used zip-ties, and this is a GTX480 the Hottest girl on the block. This thing is so overpriced it is ridiculous. Wish I had access to an accelero to compare system cooling results but the cheapo kuhler 620 will fit any GPU cooling need.
  • AnnihilatorX - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    I wish GPU vendors offer more GPUs with waterblocks on them pre-built. Sometimes one or two vendors offer them but usually at a premium more expensive than buying a VGA card with standard cooler and the waterblock separately, which doesn't make much sense given the GPU doesn't need a standard cooler and sink anymore.

    I hate GPU fan noise and I hate thorttling, although I don't OC much I found watercooling is worth it. However last time I was careless with the VRM cooling on the HD6950, the VRM size is so small and hard to cool without specially made waterblock. I went DIY route and got the card burnt out, $400 down the drain for me lol
  • funguseater - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    Yeah, thats why when I use a sealed CPU unit like the H70 or Kuhler 620 I just leave the stock blower fan and heatsink on, you can just leave the fan at a solid 40% and never hear it, and it cools your VRM just as well as stock. The CPU cooler just bolts ontop of the card all you do is remove the "heatpipe section" and replace with the sealed cooler, whamo 30degree drop under load. YMMV, laser cut steel adapters with fan mounts can be found online if you don't use a reference model GPU.
  • CaedenV - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    I put an AC cooler on my old 9800GT back in the day. It went from sounding like a vacuum cleaner with the stock cooler, to dead silent with a passive radiator, while keeping the load temp 15*c cooler. It was unbelievable.

    Only problem was that they used cheap thermal tape to keep the ram heat-sinks attached, and every once in a while one would fall off, causing really annoying problems until I would reattach it. A few months later another would fall off, etc etc, and it was that way until I finally upgraded. But other than that it was perfect.
  • jonjonjonj - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    At that price it's not worth it. Especially when you add a h100 your looking at $300. You could build a custom loop for the price of just the article cooler. Add that it's not a simple bolt on like the CPU version and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It actually just looks like they took the CPU version and strapped it into a plastic gpu case. I think they need to go back to the drawing boards and design the gpu cooler from the ground up. Not just slap the CPU cooler on a gpu.
  • TekDemon - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    Buying one of these is rather pointless unless you're going to overvolt the GPU...
    So...anandtech...where's my sweet overvolted charts? =p
  • mi1stormilst - Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - link

    get a higher end card than the one you planned on getting and avoid all this headache from the get go ;-P
  • woogitboogity - Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - link

    "Not for the faint of heart" kind of says it all. I was burned BAD by liquid cooling 4 years ago and to be fair I did bring it on myself given the circumstances. Back then there were a few companies exploring a middle ground beyond the "old car radiator" DIY types with actual purpose built components that were supposed to fit together based on pre-existing on water hoses used in labs. Still despite how much it cost me in the end, I will not deny that having my North Bridge, CPU and Graphics Hardware running a few degrees over ambient at full load was downright intoxicating for as long as it ran. It then made a mockery of what I thought was a reasonably watertight seal. The fact that what they sell now are all closed loop cycles with pump and heat sink already integral parts out of the box is absolutely no surprise to me and I expect it to stay that way for good reason. Also, when you start doing funny stuff with memory heat sinks you sometimes have to add clear paste to protect the contacts on the board from weird impedance changing effects from the thermal conductive paste and the copper block itself. I wonder whether this was also a factor as well in bricking half the hardware I had installed on my ill-fated PC.

    If you have money to burn, or to be more accurate, money to replace what is burned out, then go for it. But make no mistake that you are as off-warranty as off-warranty gets. I know the product offerings are safer and have come a long way but newer electronics that are 10 times as fast can be a 1000 times more delicate. For myself, I work with fairly advanced electronics in high energy physics, so I do not say it lightly that I will not touch the innards on anything from a nice Workstation/Desktop. Not unless it is already broken, for the purposes of seeing if I can fix it to beef up a machine I don't care that much about.

    Nice article though, despite the difficult memories it brought up of finding a water puddle in my case. :-)
  • stoatwblr - Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - link

    Moisture detectors are fairly readily available and can be rigged to cut the power.

    (contaminated) Water on unenergised circuitry is fairly benign. Just wash it off.

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