Introducing the Arctic Cooling Accelero Hybrid

Traditionally in the desktop space, the next step after high quality air cooling has been high quality liquid cooling, usually centered around custom designed cooling loops that cost a pretty penny in equipment. The industry has met this desire halfway by producing closed loop liquid coolers for the CPU not unlike the ones we tested recently, but interestingly the real power monster in most enthusiast desktops has needed to be served by reference coolers and sometimes exotic custom solutions offered by partners. Any type of liquid cooling has continued to be the province of the more extreme enthusiast.

Arctic Cooling changes some of that today with the Accelero Hybrid. Aftermarket VGA coolers aren't totally uncommon, but generally they're harder to build and market due to the more specific needs of cooling a graphics card. You have to cool the GPU, the video memory, and the voltage regulation, and the layouts of these parts varies from vendor to vendor and card to card. The Accelero Hybrid includes a 120mm radiator courtesy of Asetek, a cooling shroud for board components, and enough tiny parts to choke all but the heartiest of housecats. At $169, it also costs a pretty penny. Is it worth the effort, the money, and the risk?

I'll make an admission: I've been putting off reviewing the Accelero Hybrid for a little while. I'm not new to replacing the cooler on a graphics card, but the Hybrid is something much more involved. A visit to NewEgg or even to other sites that have reviews of it will tell you it's pretty difficult to actually install, and the idea of possibly bricking my GeForce GTX 680 wasn't a particularly pleasant one. At the same time, the promises Arctic Cooling make of the Accelero Hybrid's performance border on outlandish and even more interesting, judging from other reviews, the Hybrid seems to live up to those promises.

Source: Arctic Cooling

While it's reasonable to expect the Accelero Hybrid to produce excellent performance, it's also easy to be skeptical. The RAM and VRM cooling is no doubt totally serviceable, but I've seen this particular Asetek radiator have a hard time keeping an overclocked Intel Core i7-2700K running under 70C. How am I supposed to believe it'll handle a potentially overclocked GPU pushing 200W or more and do so under 60C or even 50C? The only way to find out for sure is to test it.

Installation, Part 1
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  • halo37253 - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    Yeah right, No one wants a big HSF in their PC. CLC's don't leak, if your one of the vary few I feel bad for ya. Compared to HSF CLCs are quiet and take up vary little space. They tend to Overclock just as good as the best HSFs as well. I personally would just get a rasa kit for cheap if I was going to get into water cooling, as water cooling is dead easy to do try it and you'll see for your self.

    For overclocking a GPU nothing can touch water cooling, I have my GTX470's under water and they scream. Though under air even at only 800mhz they would get into the 90-104c while gaming. Water is just the way to go if you want a quiet PC while pushing the overclocks on everything in your system. I'm done hearing fan noise, and sadly Air cooling isn't able to keep noise down while overclocking so...
  • randomly - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    I've watercooled a lot of PC's in my day and the substantial advantages in noise and cooling that water cooling once had have eroded a great deal. Modern high end heat pipe heatsinks do very well and the hassles and headaches of water cooling and the minimal improvements are just not worth the trouble of water cooling anymore. Any flexible tubing is going to slowly lose coolant because plastics and rubbers are porous, even if you don't have a catastrophic leak you still have the maintenance problems. Leaking pumps, failing pumps, leaking connections, leaking resevoirs, system running out of coolant through porosity losses in tubing, dead gpu cards while installing waterblocks etc. I've seen it all. After a dozen years with water cooling I can't see myself going back to it with the current air cooling options.

    Last upgrade I just used a Silverstone HE01 Heligon heatsink for the cpu, and an ASUS GTX680 triple slot vid card. The whole system is quieter than the previous water cooled setup, with no hassles, no leaks to worry about and no risk in killing my gpu installing a water cooling setup (done that before too). Everything is overclocked, the i7-3570k at 4300mhz, the GTX680 at 1230mhz and the system is barely audible even with heavy gaming. You might get a slight bump in overclocking potential with water cooling, but it'll be so small you won't be able to notice a difference is the machine.
  • Kidster3001 - Thursday, January 3, 2013 - link

    Agreed. My first water cooling setup was in 2004 on Prescott. It needed it though :-) Bought everything from and spent well over $500 for everything.

    I kept that case and setup alive for several years. The CPU, Northbridge and GPU were all cooled by it through a few rebuilds. When I upgraded to Conroe X6800 I moved to a new case and went back to air cooling. Other than the first month or so playing with a new rig, pushing OC to the limits, the water cooling wasn't really needed for 24x7 operation at high component speeds and low fan noise.

    Once in a while I miss being able to run at 5+ GHz when I want to but it's not worth my time or the cost just for a few days a year of fun.
  • Flunk - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    It seems like most users would be better served by one of Arctic's air coolers like the Extreme series or Twin Turbo 2 (I have 2 of these in my system). They're a lot cheaper, provide more than adequate cooling for huge GPU overclocks and if someone is hardcore enough to want more then custom watercooling makes a lot more sense.
  • kmmatney - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    I'm wondering if the ability to overclock higher was mainly due to better VRM cooling, which is air cooled in the review.

    My experience with Arctic's air coolers has been great. I had a HD4890 that was unbearably loud with the stock cooler. Using an AC Accelero Rev 2 made it virtually silent (just a 5V quiet fan on the heatsink), cooler, and allowed me to overclock higher. For me, the key was keeping the VRMs cool, and I ended up buying a $10 Zalman VRM cooler which made all the difference. So I'm not sure the GPU cooling was waht allowed the card to overclock higher - I think it may be the better VRM cooling.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    The thought had occurred to me as well, but either way, the GTX 680 was able to get a bit more headroom.
  • JlHADJOE - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    I'm guessing a combination of both.

    The GK104s throttle down their clocks after hitting certain thermal thresholds, the first of which is at 70C. So even with VRM cooling in place, if thecard hits 70C then it wouldn't have clocked as high as it did with the liquid cooler.
  • londiste - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    there is a very simple difference between hybrid and extreme/twinturbo coolers. with hybrid it is very simple to get the heat out of the case (even compared to reference cooler), with extreme/twinturbo... not so much.

    not everyone is boasting a case with 5+ to keep the air moving quickly in and out at all times.
  • scaramoosh - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    It looks stupid and with an SLI system you're gonna be struggling.

    These companies need to make an all in one modable system for noobs who don't want to invest time in to learning what parts they need to buy. I think that is the main problem to why people don't invest in water cooling, like where do you start? They buy this stuff just because it is easy.
  • CK804 - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

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