7970 Hybrid Performance Graph

Arctic Accelero Hybrid 7970 GPU Cooler

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Arctic is one of the most well-known manufacturers of heatsinks for both graphics cards and processors (as well as a popular producer of thermal paste and case fans). Today we will be taking a look at Arctic’s venture into a closed-loop cooling solution – the Accelero Hybrid 7970. Supporting a dozen AMD video cards ranging from the HD 5830 through the HD 7970 (with some exceptions – also note there is a Nvidia compatible version) this cooler is set to be marketed as their flagship cooling solution. In this article, the cooler will be installed onto a MSI HD 7970 Lightning Edition, and then compared against other coolers (both reference and non-reference) from different manufacturers.

Specifications and Features

Below is a list of specifications from Arctic’s website including the package contents, fan speeds, noise levels, and cooling capacity.

Accelero Hybrid 7970 (Official Site)

MSRP  $179.99 ($189.99 @ Newegg)
Max Cooling Capacity  320 Watts
PCI-E Slots Used  3
SLI/Crossfire Compatible?  Yes
TIM Included?  Yes (Arctic MX-4)
Warranty  2 Years
Graphics Card Module (Pump+Waterblock)  *
Cold Plate Material  Copper
Fan   80 mm, 900 – 2,000 RPM (controlled by PWM)
Airflow  12.1 CFM
Bearing  Fluid Dynamic Bearing
Noise Level   0.3 Sone
Total Power Consumption   4.68 Watt (Fan+Pump)
Dimensions   243 (L) x 112 (W) x 44.2 (H) mm
Net Weight  363 g
Heat Exchanger Module (Radiator)  *
Fan  120 mm, 400 – 1,350 RPM (controlled by PWM)
Bearing  Fluid Dynamic Bearing
Radiator Material  Aluminum (1.0”)
Air Flow  74 CFM
Noise Level  0.3 Sone
Power Consumption  2.64 W
Tube Length  16.378 in (416 mm)
Dimensions  150 (L) x 120 (W) x 52.8 (H) mm
 Net Weight  503 g

Marketing Feature set from the Arctic Website

newegg UNMATCHED COOLING PERFORMANCE
It features the F12 (a 120 mm PWM fan), a powerful heat exchanger, and the MX-4 thermal compound to transfer heat efficiently away from the GPU – with 200% cooling performance of the stock cooler.
newegg ENHANCED RAM AND VR COOLING
It also comes with an Active Cooling Unit and thermal adhesive specifically designed to enhance the cooling of RAM and VR. Its aerodynamic design further maximizes the airflow efficiency on all surrounding components.
newegg VIRTUALLY-SILENT
The PWM fans are both controlled by the graphics card and work according to the GPU load which minimizes the noise level. The PWM setting can be modified according to the different performance and noise priorities.
newegg MULTI-COMPATIBLE
Unlike existing VGA LCS, this cooler is compatible to a vast range of AMD graphics cards.

Compatibility Notes

The Arctic Hybrid 7970 is compatible with the following models:

 Series  Chip
 7000  7970, 7950, 7870, 7850
 6000  6970. 6950, 6870, 6850, 6790
 5000  5870, 5850, 5830

Packaging/Product

The Accelero Hybrid came in a thin-layer cardboard box, differing from the plastic clam shell I received for my last few reviews on their all-air coolers. While unboxing the product I could hear some rattling; it turns out some of the aluminum VRM heatsinks had sprung free from their plastic case, nothing was damaged though. Below are some images of the box and the product.

7970 Hybrid Box (Front)

7970 Hybrid Box (Front)

7970 Hybrid Box (Back)

7970 Hybrid Box (Back)

7970 Hybrid Box (Side)

7970 Hybrid Box (Side)

7970 Hybrid Contents and Accessories

7970 Hybrid with Accessories – Courtesy arctic.ac

7970 Hybrid Fan Cover

7970 Hybrid Fan Cover

7970 Hybrid Fan (Rear)

7970 Hybrid Fan (Rear)

7970 Hybrid Pump (Top)

7970 Hybrid Pump (Top)

7970 Hybrid Radiator And Pump/Waterblock

7970 Hybrid Radiator And Pump/Waterblock

Installation

The installation for the Arctic Accelero Hybrid took approximately one hour and was not entirely an easy task. The printed instructions that came with the cooler were relatively clear on most of the installation process, but certain steps (e.g.: which holes/orientation to use for the spacers) would have been easier if the instructions were written in a more detailed/specific fashion. The biggest issue I had with the installation was attaching the waterblock/pump portion of the cooler onto the card by lining up then feeding small screws through the card and spacers. After 10 minutes of trial and error I asked my lovely wife to assist me with an extra set of hands and eyes to make sure everything lined up properly. After getting the screws through and tightening them down, the install was pretty much complete.

Notes: The Lightning Edition already has a full-cover heatsink for both the VRMs and VRAM, so I did not install the included aluminum heatsinks onto the card. Also, because I run my system from a benching station without a radiator mount, I had to create a make-shift stand/setup for the radiator portion (so that it was not hanging off the side).

Installed 7970 Water Block

Accelero Hybrid Waterblock/Fan Casing

7970 Hybrid Radiator and Fan

7970 Hybrid Radiator and Fan

Arctic Hybrid Fully Installed

Testing and Methodology

Test Setup

  • Intel Core i7 3770k  (Overclockers.com Approved!)
  • Asus Maximus V Extreme
  • 2x4GB G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2666
  • MSI HD 7970 Lightning Edition
  • Arctic MX-2 Thermal Paste
  • AMD 12.8 Catalyst Drivers
  • Navig Benching Station
  • Ambient Temperatures = 24 °C (+/- 1 °C)
  • Tenma Sound Level Meter 72-935

Methodology

The methodology used for this review was as follows:

The various coolers were set to their maximum fan speed and the GPU Vcore was increased by 0.025 V between each test, starting at 1.000 V and finally reaching a maximum of 1.300 V, while running the HD 7970  at its reference speeds (925MHz core clock, 1375 MHz memory frequency). The GPU was put under load by running Unigine Heaven 2.5 with the Extreme presets at a resolution of 1920 x 1200. All options were set at their maximum (Extreme Tessellation, High Shaders, 16x Anistrophic Filtering, 8x Anti Aliasing). The maximum temperatures were measured after a full pass of the benchmark with MSI Afterburner. I allowed 3 minutes of downtime to allow the card to cool between the tests, then I changed the voltage and started the next test.

In order to remain consistent with the other products used for comparison, I used Arctic MX-2. This will keep the variables to a minimum, and should isolate just the difference in performance between the comparison samples.
For sound levels, the fans were set to 100% (or 12v). I used a sound meter to record decibel readings from two feet away.

Results

The competition for the Accelero Hybrid 7970 are the stock (reference) cooler, the Twin Frozr IV from MSI, and the aftermarket Windforce cooler. Also included are the results after swapping the included Arctic fan with a Panaflo Ultra-High speed (114.7 CFM) fan.

7970 Reference Cooler

7970 Reference Cooler

Twin Frozr IV Cooler

Twin Frozr IV Cooler

7970 WindForce Cooler

7970 Gigabyte Windforce Cooler

Panafllo FBA12G12U Fan

Panafllo FBA12G12U Fan

Temperature

Below are the results after running a full pass of Unigene Heaven with all settings on their maximum. The ambient temperature in the room was approximately 24 °C.

7970 Hybrid Performance Graph

7970 Hybrid Performance Graph

As you can see from the graph above, the Accelero Hybrid performed very well in comparison to the Reference and the Twin Frozr IV coolers. The Twin Frozr IV’s unusually poor  results surprised me enough that I re-mounted the cooler and re-ran the tests and received approximately the same results (+/- 1C) at the various voltage levels. The Windforce cooler edged ahead of the Hybrid after hitting the 1.250 v mark, but at a significantly higher sound level, as can be seen in the following section. After replacing the included Arctic low-noise fan with a Panaflo “Beast” fan the temperatures dropped dramatically and no other available cooling option compared at any of the voltage levels.

Noise

The sound levels for the available coolers were measured from 2 feet (~61 cm) away using a Tenma Sound Level Meter 72-935. One of the main benefits to the Arctic Accelero heatsink line-up is the performance for the amount of noise created. I was unable to personally measure the sound levels of the Windforce and Reference coolers, so I checked around online for various reviews of the cards and found the Windforce to have a load dBA of 52 and the reference cooler 50.5 dBA – Note: from testing other reference coolers on different cards (non-7970) the dBA is usually in the low to mid 60s, so the number below may not be with 100% fan speed.

7970 GPU Heatsink Noise Results

7970 GPU Heatsink Noise Results

The difference in the results of the Hybrid versus the rest of the coolers is staggering, with the Hybrid 7970 being literally whisper-quiet according to decibel-level charts. I had to turn off the rest of the fans in order to have an audible sound to measure the included fan from Arctic. The rest of the coolers all fell into line reaching approximately the same noise levels. For sheer performance the Panaflo fan made a pretty large difference in temperatures over the bundled fan while having noise levels on par with competition.

Conclusion

Overall the Arctic Accelero Hybrid 7970 GPU Heatsink does a very good job of keeping the GPU temperature nice and low while creating less noise than (most likely) all of the other fans in your case. The only catch is the steep MSRP of $180. Because of the high price, it is difficult to pinpoint who the product is marketed for; I would imagine many people who are considering spending upwards of $150 on a cooler for a computer part would likely purchase a full-cover waterblock from a company like Swiftech, EK, or DangerDen to be used in a full custom water cooling loop.  On the other hand, as the closed-loop all-in-one water cooled CPU heatsinks have become quite popular (such as the H80 and H100 from Corsair) it appears to be about time for the GPU market to have similar products. I am interested to see how this product evolves and performs in future iterations; maybe with a dual-fan-width (120×2) radiator.  With that said, the fact this Hybrid is Arctic’s first dive into a closed-loop water cooling system, an overall lack of competition in the market, and it being their flagship cooler, a higher price would be expected. If you are a fan of Arctic’s products and have this kind of money to spend on a standalone heatsink for your graphics card, you will be hard pressed to find anything that is comparable without building your own water cooling loop. For those that want to stick to the strictly air-cooled market, Overclockers has yet to test Arctic’s Accelero Xtreme 7970 which, if past products are any sign of current performance, should also give excellent cooling for very little noise. Ultimately, because the Accelero Hybrid 7970 succeeds in all of the performance tests with a whisper-quiet noise level, I give Arctic’s Accelero Hybrid the Overclockers Stamp of Approval, but I’d recommend checking to see if you can find it on sale.

Click the Approved stamp for an explanation of what it means.

Special thanks to OnDborder and White Runner for helping collect data on the Reference and Windforce heatsinks.

– Don Fisher (Janus67)

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Discussion
  1. Deadphishy
    From the looks of it, it is clearly just a repurposed (Asetek) Antec Kuhler 620 with a different copper base.

    a 620 can be had for around 60 dollars so what does the other 120 get you? a plastic housing to bolt on the waterblock/pump and a bunch of memory/VRM heatsinks?


    Mostly, you get the mounting system to the the 7970, plus you get the built in spacer so it can actually touch the 7970's recessed core.

    Plus a bunch of RAM and MOSFET heatsinks and such.

    It does seem like an awful lot more money to pay for mostly the same stuff.
    Conumdrum
    I'm sure it's too wide for standard SLI?


    Do you mean the thickness with the built-in heatsink?

    I believe it is approximately 2.5 slots, I figure to just call it a 3-slotter to be safe.
    i would like to see alot thicker radiator on that bad boy, like double the thickness. specially for 180$ same fpi though so quiet fans work.
    That looks pretty cool.

    Yeah, the results for the Twin Frozr are kind of sad, but I think that's accurate.

    I have a lightning. Stays nice and cool with stock voltage, but when I increase the voltage even a bit the temps soar (compared to stock).
    Deadphishy
    From the looks of it, it is clearly just a repurposed Asetek cooler with a different copper base.

    a 620 can be had for around 60 dollars so what does the other 120 get you? a plastic housing to bolt on the waterblock/pump and a bunch of memory/VRM heatsinks?


    FTFY.

    I guess you get the waterblock design.
    From the looks of it, it is clearly just a repurposed (Asetek) Antec Kuhler 620 with a different copper base.

    a 620 can be had for around 60 dollars so what does the other 120 get you? a plastic housing to bolt on the waterblock/pump and a bunch of memory/VRM heatsinks?
    The problem with a watercooled card is there are way too many variables.

    Pump, other things in the loop, radiator, fans, air flow, type of waterblock, length of the loop (if that matters) etc.
    Yeah I'm pretty confused by the results of the twin frozr. When I re-mount I will have to try it one more time (for a 3rd time) to see if the numbers change. I probably won't have time for a couple of weeks though as I will be moving next weekend.