Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How To - Installing Accelero Xtreme 3 on Radeon HD 6950

In this post I will simply describe my 2 hour adventure of changing the default cooler on my VTX 6950 video card to the "little beast": Accelero Xtreme 3.

First a bit of "rig" presentation, my main machine is not so old, latest major overhaul was done in 2011:
- case: NZXT Phantom Black
- mobo: MSI Z68A GD80 G3
- CPU: Intel 2500K
- RAM: 16 GB HyperX
- SSD + RAID 0 2 TB
- Video: AMD Radeon HD VTX 6950
- Power supply: Seasonic X660

There are some other parts here but not important for the moment.
In the case I have installed 5 vents which are pretty silent, then we have 1 on the Seasonic (dead silent), 1 on the CPU Cooler (silent also) and finally the culprit which started the revolution... the 2 noisy vents on the 6950.
The problem was especially audible during the evenings/nights when there was silence in the house and when gaming. Plus, the temps... I had 55-60 in idle and 70 - 85 while gaming (depending on the game).  And the sound was ... hair dryer style.
For a while I managed to some extent with the help of MSI Afterburner but lately even that was not enough.
So I decided to do something and I had to choose: buy a new video card or a better cooler. $ involved I decided to buy the ACX and have some fun.

And behold, the system as it is:

A bit dusty.
But it does the job.
Cable management could be better.

As a good little "engineer" I cleaned first everything (my wife was kind enough to borrow her 1300 W hair dryer). Lots of dust as expected (last cleaning op was done more than a month ago).

The second step after this was to take down the video card and tear down the stock cooler:

Rusty and dusty.

I got the ACX out and put it side by side with the card.

A real monster.
But I like it.
The feeling of holding 1 kg of pure cooling WIN is nice :)

Another pic with ACX turned over and with all the radiators and stuff.

Nice finishing, shiny toys.
The video card was cleaned, the chip is looking much better.

Next I stripped down the radiator from the VRMs and cleaned that zone too.


After cleaning the memory chips and the VRMs I applied the sticky glue and the radiators (lucky there were plenty of them included in the ACX package).

Not a perfect alignment for all of the radiators, but good enough for me.

Following this I turned the video card over and checked the back plate and the foam isolation. All was good, things still shining.

Good match, the back plate was not touching the board, thanks to the spacers.

After this I fixed the main ACX body and started screwing things ... in a good way and a bad way...

As it can be seen the fitting was too tight, I actually managed to bend the metal to touch the board... Bad, bad boy.
So, I unscrewed the things a bit until nothing was touching the board (at least 1 mm space) and the cooler was still rock stable on the chip.


A comparison image with the old cooler and the new one mounted.

 Quite a difference.

And a final image with the whole thing inside the case, lucky I have plenty of space.


So this it, my little adventure. The final outcome was two folded.
First the temps have dropped in average with 15-20 degrees C both in idle and full load. Without any increase in sound level! I'm quite impressed with this, no more broken nerves due to high noise when gaming.

As a little side effect I observed now that there is something rattling in my case, aside from the normal low level hum of the vents and air passing thru, so there will be a new session to find the "cricket".

Adding a little "sound" video with the current level of noise.

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