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 pastes and case fans). Today we will be taking a look at Arctic’s newest GPU cooler – the Accelero Xtreme III. Supporting a large list of models from nVidia (GTX680 to the 7000-series), and AMD (HD7870 to the HD3000-series). In this review the cooler will be installed and tested with an Asus GTX 580 Matrix.
Specifications and Features
Below is a list of specifications from Arctic’s website including the accessories, package contents, fan speeds, noise levels, and cooling capacity.
Accelero Xtreme III (Official Site)
|MSRP||$119.95 ($77.99 @ newegg.com)|
|Max Cooling Capacity||300 Watts|
|Heatpipe||Ø 6 mm x 5|
|Heatsink Material||Aluminum fins x 84, thickness 0.3 mm|
|Fan (mm)||92 mm, 900 – 2,000 RPM (controlled by PWM) x 3 fans|
|Bearing||Fluid Dynamic Bearing|
|Noise Level||0.5 Sone|
|Power Consumption||4.323 W|
|Dimensions (product)||288 (L) x 104 (W) x 54 (H) mm|
|Net Weight||653 g|
|PCI-E Slots Used||3|
|Screw (M2)||4 pcs|
|Spacer (2.5 mm)||4 pcs|
|Spacer (3.5 mm)||4 pcs|
|Spacer (4.5 mm)||4 pcs|
|Adhesive Tape||2 pcs|
|Insulation Tape||5 pcs|
|Thermal Pads||3 pcs|
|EVA Foam||1 pc|
|GPU Back Plate||1 pc|
|Thermal Adhesive Glue (3 g)||1 pc|
|VGA Bracket||1 pc|
|4-Pin Fan Power Adapter||1 pc|
|Limited Warranty||6 years|
Marketing Feature set from the Arctic Website:
Superior Cooling – Featuring three 92mm PWM fans with a maximum cooling capacity up to 300 Watts, the Accelero Xtreme III manages to transfer heat efficiently away from the GPU. Besides the 84-fin heatsink with 5 copper heatpipes, the pre-applied MX-4 thermal compound accelerated the heat disappation process to ensure the VGA board is running under optimal temperature.
Enhances RAM and VR Cooling – The Accelero Xtreme III comes with 31 RAM and VR heatsinks to cool your RAM and VR. This included thermal adhesive lowers RAM and VR temperatures significantly and assures proper bond.
Virtually Silent – With three PWM-controlled 92 mm fans, the Accelero Xtreme III cools efficiently and silently. Thanks for the PWM control, the fan spins according to the temperature of the GPU. This means that the fans just spin up if necessary and will rest at a minimum speed otherwise. PWM settings and be modified to fix the priorities between performance and noise.
Multi-Compatible – Aside from it being CrossFire and SLI compatible, the Accelero Xtreme III comes with a versatile and interchangeable mounting mechanism along with 31 RAM and VR heatsinks to fit different models. New accessory sets will be available to make the VGA compatible with future models.
– The compatibility list is based on AMD and nVidia’s reference board layout only. Arctic holds no responsibility for incompatibility on non-standard cards. Please refer to ax3.arctic.ac for the height restriction drawing (see note below) and the latest compatibility data.
– This heatsink is not compatible with video cards that have a stacked (double height) power socket (see image below)
The Accelero Xtreme III (henceforth referred to as AX3) is shipped in a clear plastic clam shell case with the heatsink and the accessories each in their own compartments, preventing the pieces from possibly becoming damaged by one another. The cooler itself is made of 84 aluminum fins and 5 copper heatpipes attached to a copper base, which has Arctic’s MX-4 thermal paste pre-applied. The included accessories make it possible to install the AX3 onto a wide range of graphics cards, ranging from (but not including all of the models in-between) the AMD HD3000 series to the HD7870, and the nVidia 7000 series to the latest and greatest GTX 680 (as long as there is not a stacked power connector). The included small aluminum heatsinks can be attached (via thermal glue adhesive) onto any of the aforementioned model’s VRAM and VR (voltage regulator) sections. This will help dissipate their respective heat as well.
The installation of the Accelero Xtreme III was a relatively simple process. I first had to remove the stock (DirectCUII Cooler) heatsink from my GTX 580 (4 screws), then clean the GPU with 97% isopropyl rubbing alcohol to remove the leftover thermal paste. Once that was completed, I attached the spacers to the mounting hardware to allow proper and even pressure from the heatsink to the GPU. I then lined up the proper mounting holes between the backplate and the cooler, and finally screwed down the heatsink with the included screws.
Note: Because the Asus GTX 580 Matrix already has a backplate and built-in heatsinks for the VRM section, I did not use the EVA Foam for the mounting plate or the included VR heatsinks.
Testing and Methodology
- Intel Core i7 3770k
- Asus Maximus V Gene
- 2×2 GB G.Skill PIS DDR3-2300
- Asus GTX 580 Matrix
- Arctcic MX-2 Thermal Paste
- nVidia Forceware 301.42 Drivers
- Navig Benching Station
- Ambient Temperatures = 24 °C (+/- 0.5 °C)
- Tenma Sound Level Meter 72-935
The competition for the AX3 are a stock (reference) cooler from a Zotac GTX 580, the Twin Frozr III on an MSI Lightning, the Accelero Xtreme Plus, a Thermalright Shaman, and the included DirectCuII cooler that came with the Asus GTX 580 Matrix.
Below are the results after running a full pass of Unigene Heaven on the Extreme Preset. I started the benchmarks at a voltage of 1.025 which was the lowest point I could get the Matrix to pass Heaven (any lower and it would crash). The ambient temperature in the room was approximately 24 °C and the idle temperatures sat around 28-29 °C on each of the coolers.
As you can see in the graph above, the Stock/Reference cooler was the worst performer of the collection throughout each of the voltage levels, hitting a maximum of 66 °C at the highest voltage (1.213 V). The AX3 out-performed the rest at almost all of the voltage points (minus a small lead taken by the Shaman at 1.15 v) by reaching a maximum temperature of 57 °C at 1.213 volts during a full pass of Heaven. Let’s see how much noise was created in order for these coolers to produce these results.
As a reminder, each of the heatsinks were measured using a sound level meter from two feet away. The fans were set to 100% speed, and the results were recorded while running the benchmarks.
Looking at the results above gives you an idea of the noise level the stock/bundled fans can produce when they are pushed to their limit, and also the vast difference an aftermarket cooler can make. While the Thermalright Shaman lead the pack producing only 24 dBA, the AXP and AX3 both tie in second place, still creating a relatively-silent 36 dBA. When comparing those noise levels versus the 56/57 decibels of the TwinFrozr3 and DirectCuII coolers, it sounds like more of a light breeze rather than a vacuum cleaner. For those that have a separate room for their computer(s), having a GPU (or any fan) running at high speed may not be an issue. However, for those that have the computer in their bedroom for example, the likelihood of leaving a noisy fan (such as one on a reference cooler, the DCuII, or MSI’s TwinFrozr design) running at or near its max speed (e.g. for Folding or Bitcoin farming), the sound could become quite annoying, or at least distracting.
Arctic’s Accelero Xtreme III cooler performed extremely well against the competition it faced. Compared to the stock reference cooler, it cooled between 9 – 13% (5-9 °C) better at all voltage levels. It also managed to produce significantly less noise than all but one of the coolers tested (the no longer available Thermalright Shaman). Also, compared to the Shaman, the AX3 uses 3 PCI slots compared to the 4 required slots for the Shaman, making it more SLI/Crossfire friendly. As always, check your motherboard and spacing before purchasing any aftermarket cooler. The AX3 wins against its older sibling, the Accelero Xtreme Plus (AXP), as it supports both a stacked DVI connector and comes with all of the necessary accessories/heatsinks to fit all of the compatible models. There will be no need to buy a different heatsink kit for the AX3, as was the case for the AXP (as noted in my previous review). For about $75 the Accelero Xtreme III gives a huge boost in GPU cooling, as well as giving you some peace and quiet. And for that, this heatsink has earned our Overclockers Stamp of Approval.
Click the Approved stamp for an explanation of what it means.
– Don Fisher (Janus67)