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ARCTIC Accelero Hybrid Review (with Nvidia GTX680)

Before we install the cooler ‘module’ onto the GTX680 PCB, we need to prepare the card.


Earlier we removed the cooler, cleaned the memory surfaces and adhered an insulation strip over the circuitry close to the VRM’s. ARCTIC have supplied thermal glue in a small white tube, so pierce the package and start applying to the individual heatsinks.

There really is no need to go crazy with this glue because it takes much longer to dry and may even have an adverse effect. We advise only a thin layer applied carefully. When we had finished we had almost half the tube left, so there is no need to panic. ARCTIC recommend using a pair of pliers to get every last drop from the tube if you manage to run low.

It is important to adhere these carefully, directly above the memory and not to underhang close to the GPU central section in the middle. This can cause serious mounting issues when the cooler has to be fitted.

The simple rule of thumb I use is this:

  1. use the thermal glue sparingly, only spread a thin layer across the complete surface of each heatsink.
  2. line up the heatsinks on the memory one at a time.
  3. hold each of the heatsinks in place for 60 seconds, with moderate pressure.
  4. double check they aren’t intruding on the central section close to the GPU mounting block area.

ARCTIC have improved this part of the installation phase by including a template sheet which can be placed over the GPU core, shown above. If any of the memory interferes with the ‘dummy’ heatsink placement then you need to move the heatsinks before they glue firmly in place. Take time with this part of the installation as if you make a mess of it, it is very difficult to remove the heatsinks later.

The other heatsinks can be adhered as shown above. Every card will have a slightly different layout, requiring the use of other heatsinks included in the package.

Leave the card now for at least an hour while the heatsinks adhere in place. If you have used too much glue be prepared to wait much longer.

The company supply a long, thin tube of high grade MX4 thermal paste for the GPU core (shown in the image above). It may seem obvious, but make sure you haven’t mixed up the thermal paste and thermal glue tubes! Hopefully we don’t need to explain why.

For some reason ARCTIC detail that the paste be applied to the copper base of the graphics card module, but due to the much larger diameter, it seems a rather inefficient, messy way to complete this procedure. Potentially an excess of thermal paste could be hanging from the copper block, outside the physical parameters of the GPU core underneath.

Set the GTX680 card safely to one side.

While you are waiting for the heatsinks to glue firmly in place, now is a good time to adhere the spacers onto the graphics card module. This can be the most frustrating section of the install, although this time around I didn’t experience many problems.

Locate the correct spacers for the graphics card you are using. The GTX680 needs the 1.5mm spacers, shown above (tiny white spacers).

Firstly, locate the adhesive tape and stick to one side of the 1.5mm spacers. Peel off the other protective cover and stick to the cooler mount. The GTX680 uses the outer mounting holes shown in the image above (right), but other cards may need different positions. Refer to the user guide.

I really do think ARCTIC should look into improving this specific section of the install phase. Supplying the spacers with pre-adhered sticky tape would make this much less (potentially) frustrating.

When you are sure the heatsinks are firmly glued into place flip the card over and stick the foam pad in the middle of the four main mounting holes, as shown above.

Using the 3.5mm spacers, the backplate should be attached to the card and fed into the graphics card module on the other side. This is quite fiddly and requires the use of a both hands and a level eye to line up the mounting holes from the rear.

Above, the finished install. It is important not to over tighten the backplate into the front graphics card module as it can actually distort the shape of the card. A moderate amount of clamping pressure is all that is needed.

It is important you use the plastic spacers underneath as the metal base can touch the PCB, potentially causing a short circuit when powered up, subsequently frying the video card. It would be an expensive lesson to learn, particularly after spending over £400 on a GTX680.

Earlier in the review we mentioned the three ‘lanes’ underneath the card. If you didn’t pay attention with the GTX680 and used the inner two lanes then the cooler won’t install. The stacked power connectors will interfere with the tubing. The image above shows the correct fitting.

The 120mm ARCTIC fan has to be attached to the radiator, as shown above. You need to use a thin Phillips head screwdriver for this so it will fit through the outer fan holes.

ARCTIC have listed various ways to install the Accelero Hybrid into your case, as shown above. The fitting procedure will depend hugely on the chassis you are using and if you have free space at the rear of the case. If you are using a Antec 920 CPU cooler for instance, you may need to mount the Accelero Hybrid radiator at the front of the case, intaking cool air over the hard drives.

The importance of organising the cabling earlier is now becoming evident. The 120mm radiator fan needs to be attached to this side of the card.

The final ARCTIC Accelero Hybrid build completed. While the install procedure is straightforward, it is time consuming and quite fiddly, with a certain amount of pre-planning required. If you are inexperienced or unsure then it might be best enrolling the help of a experienced friend or family member.

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