Arctic is certainly no stranger to any cooling enthusiast, especially when it comes to graphics cards. Looking to improve on the Accelero L2 Pro cooler, Arctic has recently released their Accelero L2 Plus. This version of the Accelero L2 has a greater field of compatibility, along with enhanced RAM and VRM cooling capabilities. While designed for low-end to mid-range graphics cards, the Accelero L2 Plus promises better performance than what could be considered as a stock cooling solution. So, let’s dive into the Arctic Accelero L2 Plus and see if it offers an advantage over a stock cooler we have on a lower-end HD 7770.
Specifications and Features
Here are the specifications/technical data as provided by Arctic.
|Specifications – Technical Data|
|Max. Cooling Capacity||120 Watts|
|Fan (mm)||92 mm, 900 – 2,000 RPM (controlled by PWM)|
|Bearing||Fluid Dynamic Bearing|
|Noise Level||0.4 Sone|
|Current / Voltage||0.16A/ 12V|
|Product Dimensions (L x W x H)||119 (L) x 94 (W) x 51 (H) mm|
|Net Weight||250 g|
|Screw (M2)||4 pcs|
|Spacer (4.5 mm)||4 pcs|
|Adhesive Tape||1 pc|
|G-1 Thermal Glue (1.5 g Grey Compound)||1 bag|
|G-1 Thermal Glue (1.5 g White Compound)||1 bag|
|Mixing Wand||1 pc|
|4-Pin Fan Power Adapter||1 pc|
|Limited Warranty||6 years|
|Packaging Dimensions (L x W x H)||123 (L) x 98 (W) x 55 (H) mm|
|Gross Weight||0.55 kg|
The Arctic marketing folks would like you to know about a few unique features the Accelero L2 Plus has to offer, so here they are!
|Cooling Performance – Featuring a 92 mm PWM fan and a cooling capacity of 120 Watts, the Accelero L2 PLUS ensures components are performing under ideal temperature. The pre-applied MX-4 thermal compound allows enhanced thermal conductivity from the GPU, thus considerably extending its service life.|
Cooling Performance at AMD Radeon HD 7770
Accelero L2 PLUS (at 2,000 RPM)
Stock cooler (at 2,700 RPM)
Ambient temperature: 25oC
|Virtually Silent – Operated by a low noise impeller enclosed in a patented fan holder to reduce the buzzing sound when the fan is spinning, the Accelero L2 PLUS is barely audible even running at full load. To enable minimum noise level at all circumstances, the PWM controller enables the fan to run at the optimal speed according to the load generated by the GPU.|
Noise Level at AMD Radeon HD 7770
Accelero L2 PLUS (at 2,000 RPM)
Stock cooler (at 2,700 RPM)
|Multi-Compatible* – To accommodate a broad range of models, the Accelero L2 PLUS comes with a versatile mounting mechanism and an extensive RAM and VR cooling set consisting of 16 pieces of RAM/VR heatsinks in various sizes. Featuring the CrossFire and SLI compatibility the users benefit from the optimized performance of a multi-VGA setup.|
Here is a list of the currently supported video cards. As mentioned above, the list has been expanded when compared to the earlier Pro version. You can also view the compatibility and installation procedure by downloading the PDF file made available by Arctic.
|NVIDIA GeForce||GTS 450, 250, 240 (OEM), 150 (OEM), GT 340, 330, 320, 130 (OEM), 9800 GTX+, 9800 GTX, 9800 GT, 9600 GT, 9600 GSO 512, 9600 GSO, 9500 GT (not LP), 8800 GTS 512 (G92), 8800 GTS (G92), 8800 GT, 8800 GS (9600GSO), 8600 GTS, 8600 GT GDDR3, 8600 GT DDR2, 7950 GT, 7900 GTX, 7900 GT, 7900 GS, 7800 GTX 512, 7800 GTX, 7800 GT, 7600 GT, GT 630, 440, GT 240, 220 (not LP), 9400 GT (not LP), 8500 GT (not LP), 7600 GS, 7200 GS (TC)|
|AMD Radeon||HD 7870, 7850, 6870, 6850, 6790, 5850, 5830, 4870, 4850, 4830, 3870, 3850, 3690, X1950 XTX, X1950 XT, X1950 Pro, X1950 GT, X1900 XTX, X1900 XT, X1900 GT, X1800 XT, X1800 XL, X1800 GTO, HD 6770, 6750, 6670, 6670 (LP), 6570, 5770, 5750, 5670, 5550 (OEM), 4770, 4730, 4670, 4650, 4550, 4350 (LP), 3650, 3470, 3450, 2600 XT, 2600 Pro, 2400 XT, 2400 Pro, X1650 XT, X1650 Pro, X1600 XT, X1600 Pro, X1550, X1300 XT, X1300 Pro, X1300, HD 7770, 7750|
The Accelero L2 Plus comes housed in a clear, plastic clam shell. There is a printed cardboard insert, which lists the main features, specifications, and a multilingual feature list. Arctic did a nice job describing the product and the supported video cards on the cardboard insert. From the sides you can get a glimpse of the included fan adapter and the hardwired fan power cable. The packaging as a whole is well done.
Once the Accelero L2 Plus is removed from the clam shell packaging, we can have our first up close look. The heatsink is comprised of 100% monolithic aluminum with 39 fins and is said to be able to handle a thermal load of up to 120 watts. The active cooling is provided by an 11 blade 92 mm fan. The fan is PWM controlled and has an operating range of 900 to 2000 RPM. The power cable is complete with both a 4-pin and 3-pin connector, so it should plug into just about any video card out there.
The aluminum block is anything but well polished, as is the case with most all aluminum cooling solutions. The brushed finish can be mostly offset with proper application of thermal paste. Arctic has applied their MX4 paste to the block, which is a good non-conductive paste in it’s own right.
The accessory pack included with the Accelero L2 Plus comes with everything needed to install the cooler on supported GPUs. There is a very detailed instruction pamphlet that explains the installation process quite well. Inside the plastic bag are the insulating washers, spacers that are specific to the model of video card being used, and four mounting screws. The rectangular sheet of paper in the picture below actually has film insulation strips on it, which are used to prevent short circuits that may occur when using the included small VRM/Memory heatsinks. Rounding out the accessories is a 4-pin Molex to 12 V or 7 V power adapter. The adapter will come in handy if your video card does not have PWM functionality and you don’t want to run the fan at 100% all the time. Simply plug the fan’s power cable into the 7 V side of the adapter and in theory, the fan should run anywhere from 55 to 60 percent of full speed.
There is a clear plastic tray that houses the 16 component heatsinks. Eight of these heatsinks are intended for the memory, and the other eight are for MOSFETs/VRM applications. Sitting inside the plastic tray is a tube of thermal adhesive. You may have noticed in the list of specifications and features above, the cooler is supposed to be packaged with Arctic’s G1 thermal glue. Sadly, this was not the case. Arctic has decided to make a running change and do away with the G1 thermal glue in favor of the thermal adhesive. According to an Arctic representative, the website and therefore the features list, has not been updated because of the ongoing transition period from G1 thermal glue to thermal adhesive. G1 thermal glue is supposedly easily removable, whereas the thermal adhesive is a more permanent solution. I would much prefer to see Arctic continue to use G1, so the heatsinks can be removed down the road if needed.
Installing the Accelero L2 Plus is a relatively easy affair. I’ll be installing the unit on a Sapphire HD 7770 GHz Edition video card, which has their flagship Vapor-X cooler.
After removing the Vapor-X cooler and cleaning the GPU core, we are ready for installation. For this installation, it calls for the the 40 mm black spacers, four bolts, and four insulating washers. As you can see by the second picture below, the mounting plate is drilled for use on several different platforms. Based on the card you are going to install the Accelero L2 Plus on, the instructions tell you what holes will match up. Begin by setting the four spacers over the correct mounting holes. The spacers have a slight amount of stickiness to them, so they hold in place nicely.
As a side note, I decided not to use the included mini heatsinks. I did not want to permanently attach them, and I found that the Accelero L2 Plus heatsink hangs over those areas anyway. The airflow should be adequate going this route, which is how the Vapor-X cooler works too. I did lay a few of the heatsinks on the card so you can get an idea of what they look like. The memory heatsinks are the perfect size, but on this particular card there is some work to be done if you want to cover all of the MOSFETs. They didn’t quite fit between the chokes and capacitors in a few areas, but a little modification to the heatsinks can make them work. Of course, this is just one of many video cards this cooler fits, so the fitment will be different on various cards.
Continuing on with the installation process, the next step is to insert the four bolts and insulating washers through the video card’s mounting holes by sliding them through from the back of the card. I found the easiest way to mate the Accelero L2 Plus with the video card is to set the cooler down with the spacers up. Then turn the video card so the screws are pointing downward towards the four spacers. As you bring the video card to the cooler, simply align the four screws with the four spacers. At this point, you can tighten the screws in an “X” pattern. There is no need to over tighten the screws; a snug fit is all you need. If all goes well, you should have something that looks like the pictures below.
I certainly do not expect the Accelero L2 Plus to keep pace with a dual fan, copper block, and heatpipe cooler like the comparison Vapor-X design. However, it will tell us how well an all aluminum block performs when compared to higher-end copper cooling solutions.
I’ll be using the Furmark Burn-in Benchmark (1920X1080 8x MSAA) for loading up the video card. I’ll test the idle and load temperatures with the video card set to its stock speeds and again while overclocked. All of these test will be run with the fan set to “auto” and again with the fan ramped up to 100%. All tests were run for fifteen minutes with the maximum temperature reached under each scenario being recorded. All results are normalized based on 25 °C ambient temperatures.
First up are the results with the video card at its stock settings. Looking at the chart below, you can see that the Accelero L2 Plus keeps right up there with the Vapor-X when the fan is set to auto mode. Where the bigger differences come in is when the fan speed is ramped up to 100%. No doubt this is due to the dual fans and larger heatsink the Vapor-X affords. The cooler temperatures provided by the Vapor-X at 100% fan speed come with a price though…. Noise, and lots of it. The Accelero L2 Plus is barely audible with the fan set to 100%, and the 59 °C temperatures are well within acceptable range. This really is a cooler that you can run 24/7 at 100% fan speed and not be bothered at all by noise.
For the overclocked testing, I raised the GPU clock to 1175 MHz and the Memory speed to 1475 MHz, up from the default 1100/1300 MHz. I also raised the board power limit to +50, which resulted in a slight increase in core voltage (1.20 V to 1.24 V). Here we see the exact same pattern as above with the 100% fan speed results for the Vapor-X being substantially cooler. Even so, at 66 °C and 71 °C, the Accelero L2 Plus is still well within an acceptable range…. and quiet too!
In all honesty, the Accelero L2 Plus is intended to add better cooling to reference design coolers or video cards that come with a passive heatsink. To that end, I think it fits the bill perfectly. If you go back and look at the compatibility list for this cooler, many of those cards come with pretty basic cooling solutions applied to them. If you already have a video card with cooling similar to the Vapor-X we compared today, then this is not the cooler for you. But, if you are like many out there, and have a poor performing reference design or passive cooler, then this could be just what the doctor ordered. So, how much does this little jewel cost? Well, that’s actually one of the stronger selling points of this cooler; it can be had for around $20 at Newegg. I think Arctic was aware of how inexpensive lower-end video cards can be and was careful not to price the Accelero L2 Plus beyond what makes sense for upgrading a lower priced video card.
The cooling performance was extremely good for a solid aluminum block, but what struck me the most was how darn quiet this thing is. I wasn’t kidding when I said you can set the fan speed to 100% and just leave it there; it really is that quiet. Installation was a snap, and the instructions are easy to follow and well presented. About the only real problem I have is with the thermal adhesive included in the kit, it’s just too permanent for my liking. I’m not sure why they decided to quit packaging the “easily” removable G1 thermal glue, unless of course it turned out to be not so “easily” removable.
If you buy the Accelero L2 Plus for the right kind of card, it will treat you well. For $20, it’s hard to argue the value aspect of it for sure. So, in a nutshell, we have a cooler with a huge compatibility umbrella, that performs nicely, is almost inaudible, and priced extremely well. A very nice effort by Arctic to provide a good GPU cooler at a great price!
-Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)