So the thermal glue has cured and I took the modified HIS 7970 with Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme 7970 cooler for a test drive. So far I like the results. The video card is completely quiet when idle and under full load and barely noticeable when fan is manually set to 100%. Since I only have one videocard modded, these tests shouldn’t really be compared head-to-head with Crossfire tests from the previous post, but so far results look promising. For these tests having the side panel on or off didn’t seem to have a measurable effect on either temperature or noise.
When the video card is idle fan spins at 20%, with noise level 42dB and VGA temerature 42°C.
Under full load (S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat running on full settings without VSync), fan speeds up to a mere 29%, with no measurable increase in noise and temperature stays at 62°C.
Manually setting the fan speed to 100%, raises noise level to 46dB, while dropping the temperature to 36°C on idle and to 52°C under full load.
All-in-all I’m inclined to call this a success so far. I’ve started to mod the second videocard and it should cure overnight so tomorrow I’ll be able to run some Crossfire tests.
There are some minor downsides to Accelero Xtreme 7970:
- It turns 2-slot video card into a 3-slot monster. Worse – there is a backplate that significantly protrudes on the back-side of the card. This may be a problem for CrossfireX configs (though Arctic claims that it is Crossfire-friendly)… I’ll find out tomorrow. If you have a montherboard that has only one slot between VGA PCI-E x16/x8 slots (like Intel X79SI), then running Crossfire with this cooler is plain impossible. Water cooling may be your only option then. Accessing PCI-Express slot locks also becomes problemmatic.
- It makes already long video card, even longer. With LIAN-LI A71F case I didn’t have a problem, but with my older smaller case, I would have. Make sure that your case is big enough
- Despite having a 4-wire fan connector, the cooler doesn’t report proper fan speeds to videocard. The reading in GPU-Z and Catalyst Control Panel jumps randomly between 800 and 50,000 RPM. Not really a big problem – minor annoyance
Overall these are minor issues (unless you didn’t plan ahead in terms of size) and given vastly improved cooling and reduced noise I would still rate it as great product.
Here are some things to keep in mind when installing this VGA Cooler:
- There is no install guide in the box. Download it from the support section of www.arctic.ac and follow it carefully
- Make sure that you remove all of the screws from videocard when removing stock cooler. There is usually a smaller screw that is easy to miss above 4 heatsink backplate screws. Mine also had a couple of screws on the outside bracket where you plug monitor connectors (but be caresul not to unscrew connectors themselves)
- The stock cooler will resist your attempts to remove it – this is normal. There are 11 thermal pads on the memory and possibly more elsewhere holding it + baked thermal paste on the GPU chip. Rock it gently until it separates.
- Throughly clean all surfaces that will have radiators attached to them and the GPU chip. The latter should look like a mirror. If chips that you will later glue heatsinks to are dirty, the glue will not stick and radiators will fall off. Best case – the part will overheat, worst case – it will short circuit your mother board potentially destroying all of your hardware. I used monitor cleaning pads with methyl alcohol to clean the chips.
- Don’t forget insulation tape installtion near VRMs.
- Don’t mix up spacers. In my case white spacers went to the heatsink mounting plate and black ones went to the backplate. Your kit may be different so check with the manual
- Before you start working with the glue, make sure that you have all of the heatsinks and that they are arranged by type and easy to find. 15 minutes to install them isn’t that much.
- Do follow the G-1 glue instructions carefully. The glue conducts heat but not electricity so don’t worry if you splatter some on electric connections. Do mix it for 5 minutes. Then do not linger – even on my second install I went a couple of minutes over recommended 15 minute installation time. Didn’t seem to be a problem in the end. But definitely don’t mix the glue and go to lunch. Some people gave this cooler bad reviews because radiators will not stick. Most of the reviews are positive though and it seemed to work for me. This leads me to conclude that folks that had problems didn’t follow all of the instructions carefully (cleaning the surfaces and observing prescribed times)
- Make sure that VRM heatsinks are secure. Insulation tape can push them aside or lift them off the components on PCB. I found it helpful to press them down it a small weight (DSLR battery) while the glue cures.
- There may be minor differences in the layout of your card. Mine was missing a couple of voltage regulators so I had one F-type heatsink left and used a shorter version of D-type (it was in the box though not mentioned in the documentation)
- Do wait at least 5 hours for the glue to cure. Best leave it overnight. Some reviewers claimed that curing speed is temerature depended and the glue will cure longer or not cure at all if it is too cold. My thermostat is set to 75°F and I didn’t seem to have a problem. Letting the videocard rest near the heater might help.
That seems to be it. So far so good. I know that it can be scary to mess with $500.00 piece of hardware while voiding the warranty. It was doubly so for me to mess with two such pieces of hardware. But in reality it is not that hard. Just follow the instructions and you’ll be fine.
For some reason instuctions are missing from the arctic.ac website right now. English instructions that I used can be downloaded here. Please note, that these can be out of date!!! Contact arctic.ac support!