I recently completed a review of Arctic’s Accelero L2 Plus, which is designed for lower-end video cards at a very attractive price. This time around, we are raising the bar by having a look at the much higher-end Accelero Mono Plus. Unlike the solid aluminum block found on the L2 Plus, today’s sample features a copper block and heatpipe design. The Mono Plus is aimed squarely at the enthusiast crowd, so let’s take this cooler for a spin and see just how well it performs.
Specifications and Features
Here is the list of specifications as provided by Arctic’s web site.
|Max. Cooling Capacity||200 Watts|
|Heatpipe||Ø 6 mm x 5|
|Heatsink Material||Aluminum fins x 43, thickness 0.4 mm|
|Fan (mm)||120 mm, 400 – 1,500 RPM (controlled by PWM)|
|Bearing||Fluid Dynamic Bearing|
|Noise Level||0.4 Sone|
|Current / Voltage||0.2A/ 12V|
|Product Dimensions (L x W x H)||136 (L) x 138 (W) x 51 (H) mm|
|Net Weight||348 g|
|Screw (M2)||4 pcs|
|Spacer (2.0 mm)||4 pcs|
|Spacer (4.0 mm)||4 pcs|
|G-1 Thermal Glue (2.0 g Grey Compound)||1 bag|
|G-1 Thermal Glue (2.0 g White Compound)||1 bag|
|Mixing Wand||1 pc|
|VGA Bracket||1 pc|
|4-Pin Fan Power Adapter||1 pc|
|Mounting Plate||2 pcs|
|Limited Warranty||6 years|
|Packaging Dimensions (L x W x H)||140 (L) x 140 (W) x 58 (H) mm|
|Gross Weight||0.72 kg|
There are several features Arctic wants to make sure you know about, and those are listed below. I found the advertised features to be accurate with what is packaged in the kit. Arctic has informed us recently that the G1 thermal glue will be replaced with thermal adhesive in the future. Good, bad, or indifferent, I much prefer the option of being able to remove any installed mini heatsinks, which is possible when G1 thermal glue is used. Thermal adhesive is a permanent attachment that can be an unattractive option when deciding whether or not to use the mini heatsinks. I might suggest that Arctic package some thermal tape as an alternative, if they do indeed do away with the G1 thermal glue.
Here is the list of video cards the Accelero Mono Plus supports. The blanket of supported cards has been expanded and now includes compatibility with NVIDIA GTX 660, 650 Ti, 650, and GT 640. Arctic also includes the complete list of supported video cards in the installation manual, which can be downloaded from their web site.
|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, 8800 GTS 512 (G92), 8800 GTS (G92), 8800 GT, 8800 GS (9600GSO), 7950 GT, 7900 GTX, 7900 GT, 7900 GS, 7800 GTX 512, 7800 GTX, 7800 GT, 6800 Ultra Extreme, 6800 Ultra, 6800 GT, 6800 GS AGP, 6800, 6800 GS, 6800 AGP, 6800 XT AGP, 6800 XT, 6800 LE, GTX 560 Ti, 560 SE, 560, 550 Ti, 460 SE, 460, GTX 465, 8800 GTX (G80), 8800 GTS (G80), 6600 GT AGP, 6600 GT, 6600 LE, 6600 DDR2, 6600, GTX 670|
|AMD Radeon||HD 7870, 7850, 6950, 6870, 6850, 6790, 5870, 5850, 5830, 4890, 4870, 4850, 4830, 3870, 3850, X1950 XTX, X1950 XT, X1950 Pro, X 1950 GT, X1900 XTX, X1900 XT, X1900 GT, X1800 XT, X1800 XL, X1800 GTO, HD 7770, 6770, 6750, 5770, 5750, 4770, 2600 XT, X1650 XT, X1650 Pro, X1600 XT, X1600 Pro, X1550, X1300 XT, X1300 Pro, X1300|
The Accelero Mono Plus comes packaged in a clear plastic clam shell with a cardboard insert. The insert does a nice job describing the product specifications, features, and supported video cards.
Once the product is removed from the packaging, we get our first look at the Accelero Mono Plus. The fan used is 120 mm in size and operates at a maximum of 1500 RPM. The power cable attached to the fan features both a 3-pin and 4-pin connector, making it PWM compatible. The fan and black plastic shroud it sits in are all one piece and held to the heatsink with four clips that are built into the shroud.
The five heatpipes begin at the copper block and then weave their way around to pass through the aluminum heatsink. The aluminum heatsink is comprised of 43 fins and is offset to one side of the block. This is why three of the five heatpipes engage the heatsink section that extends the furthest from the block. This design is common place among coolers for many different applications.
A close inspection of the copper block reveals a relatively smooth finish. The block is not polished to a mirror finish, but pretty close. Arctic’s MX4 thermal paste, one of their better thermal paste offerings, has been applied from the factory.
For a small package like this, Arctic manages to include quite an assortment of accessories. This particular kit was still packaged with the G1 Thermal glue, which I was glad to see. There are two small plastic bags, which contain all the mounting hardware and a mixing wand for preparing the G1 thermal glue. In a nice touch, Arctic includes a high flow VGA bracket to aid in case air flow. For those of you who do not have a card with PWM fan speed control, you can use the included 4-pin Molex to 12 V/7 V power adapter. Plugging the cooler’s fan into the 7 V side of the adapter will significantly reduce the speed at which the fan operates. This adapter will have to be used if your card has no power header for the fan (think passively cooled variants). Rounding out the accessory pack is no less than 26 aluminum mini heatsinks that can be used on the memory, MOSFETs, or VRM chips. There are five different sizes of varying quantities.
The last items found packaged in the kit are two installation sheets. One of the sheets is specific to installations that use the two included mounting plates, while the other is for those that do not use them.
I’ll be using the same video card I used for the L2 Plus review, which is the Sapphire HD 7770 GHz Edition. The Sapphire card has their Vapor-X cooler installed, which is also a copper block and heatpipe design. Begin the installation by removing the stock cooling apparatus, whatever it might be for your card. For installation on this HD 7770, you have to remove the mounting plate that is attached at the factory and install the two small plates included in the hardware.
If you want to install any of the mini heatsinks, now would be the time to do so. I opted not to install any of them for two reasons. First, the Vapor-X cooler does not contact any areas other than the GPU core. Secondly, the Mono Plus is large enough to provide adequate airflow over the memory/MOSFET/VRM areas. I went ahead and laid out a few of the heatsinks so you can get an idea of what they look like, should you decide to install some of them.
This particular installation required leaving out any of the white plastic spacers, but most of the other applications do require them. All that is needed here is the two mounting brackets mentioned above and four each of the screws and insulating washers.
The easiest way to install the cooler to the card is by turning the Mono Plus upside down and then bringing to card to the cooler as you line up the four mounting holes. Then simply use the four screws and insulating washers to attach the card to the cooler from the back side. I did find a pretty significant issue with the mounting system that I suspect will hold true for any HD 5770, 6770, 7770 card. If you look at the picture below, they want you to tighten the screws until the mounting bracket begins to bend. They also say to be mindful of how much the bracket bends because you do not want it to make contact with the video card. This all sounds good in principle, but the problem is the screws never feel like they are tight. In fact, after I installed all four screws as far as I could without the bracket touching the card, the screws were still loose enough where I could easily turn them by simply sliding my finger over the screw heads. You’re probably thinking that the bracket being forced to bend should provide adequate tension to keep the screws tight, but the bracket bends much too easily for this to be the case. To me, this means two not-so-good things are going on. First being that I have my doubts enough pressure is being applied between the copper base of the cooler and the GPU core. Secondly, I have little doubt that the screws will begin to back out as time goes by… I can almost assure it.
I did come up with an easy and effective solution to the problem. I simply used four red insulating washers between the bracket and the video card. This allowed me to tighten the screws until the bracket bent enough to make contact with the insulating washers. At this point, the screws felt adequately tightened; and I felt confident that the cooler had enough pressure applied to the GPU core. I think Arctic should either toss four more insulating washers in the kit or provide four properly sized spacers to fill the gap. Keep in mind, from what I can tell, this issue will not be a problem on any other series of video card. The best I can tell, all other installations use the included spacers to fill the void area.
Once you work your way through the installation, you should end up with something that looks like the last picture below. Yes, it is a large cooler. So, keep that in mind if you’re planning a SLI or Crossfire setup with this cooler. Once installed, you’ll need to think of your video card as taking up three slots.
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 tests 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.
For comparison, I’ll use the data collected from the Accelero L2 Plus, the Vapor-X and of course, today’s sample.
The first set of tests are with the video card set to its factory clocks. As you can see by the graphs below, it didn’t take long for the Accelero Mono Plus to show its prowess. It was a clean sweep across the board for the Mono Plus in the stock testing. Even with its dual fans, the Vapor-X couldn’t keep up with the the Mono Plus. Compared to the Vapor-X, there was a 14 °C improvement in temperatures when the fan was set to auto and the card put under load. Early indications? Call me impressed.
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). It was another clean sweep for the Accelero Mono Plus here as well. We also see a repeat of the huge temperature improvements when the card is at full load and the fan speed set to auto. Even with the Vapor-X fan speed set to 100%, it still fell behind by 3 °C under full load.
Not only did the Accelero Mono Plus wipe out the Vapor-X, it did so very quietly. When the fan speed was set to auto, you have to get your ear right up next to it in order to even hear it. When set to 100% fan speed, it’s still almost inaudible. When compared to the Vapor-X, the noise difference is quite substantial. The Vapor-X can get somewhat loud when its fan is ramped all the way up. Impressed? I am. Especially given the cooling performance it achieves and the extremely low noise while doing so.
At the time of this review, the Accelero Mono Plus is selling for $44.99 at Newegg. This is a great performance versus cost ratio in my book. The Mono Plus performed fantastic and ruled the roost against the other comparison coolers. If you check around, you’ll find other sites that claim it beats other manufacturer specific coolers too, such as the Twin Frozr, IceQ X, etc. Whether you have a reference design cooler that is in desperate need of an upgrade or a higher-end card with a better cooler, the Accelero Mono Plus will more than likely provide you with better cooling than what you are currently getting. And, don’t forget, it does this with an almost inaudible amount of noise.
If you plan to purchase this cooler for a HD 5770, 6770, 7770 series card, then take a quick trip to the hardware store and buy some insulating washers before installing the cooler. Hopefully, Arctic will see fit to include additional washers or spacers in the kit for that application. Even if they don’t, you can get the washers for less than .25 cents.
All told, we have a cooler here that provides awesome cooling, is extremely quiet, and is priced attractively. What’s there not to like?
–Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)