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AC Xtreme Plus and VR004 review (GTX570) + poof update

post #1 of 49
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Review of Arctic Cooling Xtreme Plus (570) + VR004

Important: This review was written before the bottom update happened, and if I had written a review AFTER this there would probably be a "somewhat" different conclusion.

(long) Introduction

Hi folks. First of all, I see now that there is another review of the Xtreme Plus right here on the board (which I chose not to read before writing this one). However, I took some shoddy pictures during the process of installing this one, so I guess I have to quickly write up something at least, and considering that I had the previous cooler I can make some observations in regards to how things have developed since then. I wont take the time to benchmark (sorry numerologists), but want to focus more on the hardware side of it all. Anyways, here we go again.

Pretty much two years ago I made a small review of the Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme GTX280 (http://www.overclock.net/nvidia-cooling/483233-review-arctic-cooling-accelero-xtreme-gtx280.html). At the time I swore to myself that I would think things through before going for an Arctic Cooler again. Well, the GTX570/580 stock cooler have been deemed both much more cooler and silent than the previous coolers by popular opinion. I never had a GTX470 or 480, but in my opinion the cooler for these card must have been REALLY loud and inefficient, as the 570/580 cooler (once again, in my opinion) isnt exactly a magical device from happy land.

On the contrary I found the stock fan quite annoying even at 69%, and if you have bad ventilation and a hot room in general, the fan will rise up to that level in no time in pixel shader heavy games. The "silent" stock cooler comes from the fact that it basically never spins up much over 40-50%, but then again thats no good for overclocking and is quite hot even at stock clocks (85c in my case). Obviously people have different chips with different heat production from different voltages etc, but generally I would think that in MY room conditions, these cards would have similar results, especially considering I changed the stock cooler tim several times.

Anyhow, thats why I once again went online to look for alternatives for cooling my GTX570. To my pleasure I saw that the newer Xtreme plus used another form of cooling for the vrms and memory chips. Actually the new solution with separate heat sinks, combined with thermal adhesive (separate item VR004), is uncannily similar to the solution I went for with the older Xtreme GTX280 (check above review). Ok, me like. Browse, click buy, receive package, then:

Installation

jt56af.jpg

Remember that you need Torx T-6 to remove a bunch of screws that keeps the main section of the cooler securely fastened to the GTX570/580. The positive side is that you wont need to screw them back in. I highly recommend the set pictured, as its the best one I used so far. Much better to swap bits than to swap tools.

m9sk9g.jpg

Stock cooler removed and all the chips wiped with some spirits and a microfiber cloth. Now for the "FUN" part. Fastening a bunch of sinks with thermal adhesive glue. PS: Remember to buy these sinks in the first place. Like indicated, this is a separate package called VR004, and needs to be ordered with the main cooler.

2l9tmae.jpg

169g6rr.jpg

Now, I HATE gluing heat sinks to expensive graphics cards. If you botch it up badly you really cant fix it that easily without risk of damaging the card. On the positive side the included AC glue is of the non-conductive type (I would think, considering that it is whitish goo in contrary to my Arctic Silver epoxy that is... well, silver). Additionally I found the glue very good for keeping things in place even shortly after applying pressure as it is pretty oozy. I dont trust my fingers though, so in the pictures above I have included a tip for applying adhesives.

Now, I dont know if you people are unhealthy bastards like me, but if you got an empty pack of cigarettes you can fill it with something heavy (I use small balls of steel used in magnetic building kits) and carefully place it on top of the sink to get a pretty even and firm pressure to ensure as best contact as possible (for the record, I barely smoke any more, but I keep those packs for these purposes:)) Also, the 10 seconds mentioned in the manual is a bit short in my opinion. You can easily move the sinks after 10 seconds, so I recommend applying pressure a bit longer. Also let the glue harden a bit. I waited an hour, like recommended, before moving on.

Work fast! Once you open the tube the glue will start to harden, even if you screw on the cap. I am used to working with epoxy, but this was an entirely different thing. If you need to take a break, put the tube in the fridge or something!

Lastly, the vrm sinks in particular had less than perfect contact on some sides, so I recommend adding a bit more glue than seems reasonable to ensure that the chips in fact bridge up to the sink. I even removed one sink after the glue had started hardening to ensure this (remember, vrms run HOT).

10h8ymw.jpg

Phu, all sinks reasonably well in place. Now the easy part remains. Replacing standard fastening bracket with alternative one, flipping the card upside down then cross fastening the four main cooler screws (I dont care much for the described method in the manual. Screwing diagonally is best. Just think car wheels). I did also use the pre-applied paste for once, as it frankly imo works ok for gpu's.

Anyhow, voilà!:

m7yjpt.jpg

25prfae.jpg

dqndvm.jpg

Results

By FAR the most taxing game I have is Shogun 2 with full settings AND "depth of field" (important) enabled, my new benchmark for really really hot testing (think furmark+). This game also use 99% gpu, unlike 99% of the games out there. I now quickly saw temps up to 87c, with not too high ambient temps. In other words I suddenly found myself unable to even run my current everyday overclock of 800 core/1600 processor/2000 memory @ 1.025 volts at comfortable heat levels without increasing the stock fan over the magic 69% limit (over this, things get really loud).

Even if the chip can take 95c and above, I still dont like pushing it as in my experience things start getting funky in terms of potential crashes as soon as some dust gather here and there. I like to keep rock stable without worrying that much about cleaning regularly. In most games, running 850/1700/2000 @ 1.063 is no problem whatsoever, but still I didnt like it as heavier games seem to produce uncomfortable amounts of heat. In Shogun 2, again with dof enabled, the temps soared to about 88-89c on these clocks after a short amount of time. Not only that, but the fan profile I had setup had incresed the fan speed to a noisy 74% at these temps. Shortly put I decided to downclock to be sure.

Enter Xtreme Plus. I ran the same Shogun 2 tests for quite some time on 850/1700/2000 @ 1.063 and the temps never went above 75c running at the very acceptable fan speed of 44%. This is a decrease in temps of at least 15 degrees Celsius in practice. I can probably clock even higher now, and will probably do at some point, but I dont find the time for (or real point of) doing this now, considering most games never use 99% of the gpu anyways. Other somewhat less taxing games show an even bigger difference. For instance Dead Space 1, which at times can run pretty hot, never rose above 68c, which is a decrease of 20c compared to the stock cooler. I havent really tested the vrm and memory temps, but I have read user references to these being effective in this package (measured directly on chips), so I'll trust that they work better this time around.

Anyhow, having spent quite a few hours on this project today I think I'll call it quits for now. I did find the Xtreme Plus an excellent advancement from the Xtreme GTX280, so good work on this Arctic Cooling! This is my fourth AC cooler, and honestly probably not the last. (PS: For reference, everything mentioned in this mini review should also be relevant for a GTX580 mount. The only difference is a few leftover ram sinks and a VRM sink.)

Lastly, I'll now write up some of the pros and cons of the cooler in my opinion to conclude this mini review:

Pros

- Excellent temps with low fan speeds and low noise, even before the pre-applied paste have settled properly. I expect to even see a few more degrees drop in the coming days.

- New system with heatsinks and thermal glue instead of a flimsy, easily bendable backplate that dint work that well in the first place. Even more importantly AC dont use adhesive pads like last time around, a solution that worked very unsatisfactory due to the need for using a rubber to prime the chips, and eventually sinks falling off the card while seated in the PCI-Express slot. I like it when companies learn from their mistakes!

- Pretty simple installation, although gluing always makes me a bit nervous. Just make sure you got the proper tools at hand.

Cons

- BIG. This baby wont fit into all the cabinets out there (29cm). Actually I had to move a harddisk to get room at all, and even then it was a close fit with my not so tidy cabling.

- Expensive. This obviously is relative. Imo I prefer to have good cooling when overclocking rather than to have a noisy stock fan that require me to wear headphones when playing taxing games. Even if I had a GTX580 I would probably have bought one of these, so the economical argument of getting a 580 instead really isnt there.

- In particular the VRM sinks doesnt fit completely snuggly. I visually inspected the gluing process for a long time under good lighting to ensure a tight fit. Unfortunately I realized that there was a small gap on the sides, so I decided to put on some more glue instead to ensure bridging. To be honest, with such small sinks the effect is relative anyways, and when the glue hardens it will transfer the worst of the heat out to the sink, which is the whole point. In other words, it could have been better but I'm okay with it.

Hope you guys find my mini review useful and/or informative. If you got any questions or whatnot, dont hesitate to ask. thumb.gif

Regards,

Chris Ihao

Rather important update - Poof!

(Disclaimer: It has come to my attention that this is a fairly common problem with the GTX570 and the 590: http://www.overclock.net/nvidia/929152-have-you-killed-570-a.html (thanks Pizzaman). Hence the following section is a personal opinion based on my distrust in the AC heatsinks, which is not to be confused with facts. It seems like 570´s blow up no matter if they have stock coolers or not, while there are differing opinions about how frequently this happens, but in my opinion its strange that this happened two days after installing the AC cooler.)

I guess my complaints about the vrm sinks were more serious than I first expected (look at "cons" at the bottom of the review). 10 minutes ago, while testing temps at 890/2000 @ 1.1v (completely safe with the stock cooler) in Shogun 2, I saw that the screen blacked out.

I went into my room thinking that the computer had restarted, but suddenly I see this yellow flash coming from my computer and smoke starting to rise up, and the computer is trying to restart multiple times. I quickly turn off power and remove the card from the box. Upon initial inspection, looking where the vrms are first, I see that there is some blackness around one of the vrm sinks.

After removing the sink in question I am met with this sight:

v3lmqa.jpg

295cz1z.jpg

I am furious for having trusted the efficiency of yet another shady vrm cooler solution by Arctic Cooling. The main cooler itself is great, but that matters little when they are completely unable to make additional sinks that actually works. I did everything by the book, I even did more to ensure that there was as good as possible contact between the chips and the sinks. Actually I think that the sink is to inefficient in itself, having experienced this with the previous cooler for my 280, where I ended up cutting off a part of the stock cooler for the vrms. While testing the cooler for the gtx280 I monitored temperatures up to 130+ degrees celsius, but since the vrms have no monitoring on the 570 I guess I didnt pay enough attention.

I can still recommend the main cooler, but for the love of everything good, please do NOT use the VRxxx kits if you overclock, and thats why we get these kind of coolers, right? I dont feel I was pushing it at the clocks mentioned above. Running 1.1v seems to be totally ok with the stock cooler, judging from the dozens of people who have run their cards at these clocks.

To summarize: In my very honest opinion I consider the Xtreme Plus (or rather VR004 kit) partly at fault for my vrms exploding, although there have been reports of 570 VRMS blowing up at even lower voltages than 1.1.

If I ever buy a gpu cooler from Arctic Cooling again I will definitely look into alternative VRM cooling.
Edited by Chris Ihao - 5/2/11 at 3:57am
    
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Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 49
Looks good, nice review. I cant decide whether I wanna sell my 570 or keep it. If I do keep it though I might have to get one of these.
Edited by nagle3092 - 4/7/11 at 3:07pm
 
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post #3 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagle3092;13040635 
Looks good, nice review. I cant decide whether I wanna sell my 570 or keep it. If I do keep it though I might have to get one of these.

Thanks nagle3092. Appreciate your kind words.
    
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post #4 of 49
Np, I just dont know if I wanna be glueing heatsinks on, thats gonna make for a nasty RMA if something happens.
 
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post #5 of 49
Very nice mini review, Chris! Good temp drops too! smile.gif
Only thing I see as a problem for me, is that the cooler is so big it will not work for SLi setups unless you have good space between the cards.

Anyways, keep up the good work! But I must say I am disappointed in your choice of cigarettes tongue.gif (Lucky Strike all the way).

+love
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post #6 of 49
I love that cooler. I have one on my GTX 580. wink.gif

My Idle is 26C and under full load in Civ 5 with 1,344MB of Vram in use, the temp is 47C. BFBC2 maxed out get the temp to 52C. This is the highest any of my games get the temp to go. Mine came with the backplate.

Hope you like your's like I like mine.

P.S. You might want to edit your system now LOL.
Edited by PcKiller - 4/7/11 at 4:41pm
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post #7 of 49
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your replies guys, but unfortunately bad things happened today as can be seen at the top of my post. Just be careful with overclocking with these sinks mounted people.
    
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post #8 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Ihao;13061682 
Thanks for your replies guys, but unfortunately bad things happened today as can be seen at the top of my post. Just be careful with overclocking with these sinks mounted people.

Why didn't you mod the stock sink on the 570 like you did for the 280? There was no way I was using the AC sinks with the AXP when I installed it on my old 470.
 
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post #9 of 49
Wow,sorry to hear this.

I just decided on friday that i wont be using an ACXP to cool my 480,i bought an full ocver block instead.

My reason is that i dont consider the VRM cooling supplied with the ACXP to be sufficient enough for what i want.
If i was to use an ACXP then i would use thermalrite VRM G2 to cover the VRM.

Where do you stand with RMA now?
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Ocz Vertex 2  Samsung F1  Samsung F3 Samsung F1 
Optical DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
Sammie Dvd rw Windows 7 64Bit HZ281HPB 1200p / HP IPS 1080p / Samsung Syncmas... Qpad MK80 (Blue switch), SteelSeries 7G (Cherry... 
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HX1000 CM-Stacker 832 Flipped Naos 3200,G5,G400,G400s, G300, Kone+ Razor Destructor and Steelseries Qck 
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X-Fi Fatal1ty  ATH-T500 / AH-D510 Samson CO1U PAK Condenser Mic  
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Le Box of Black
(19 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 930 Gigabyte X58A-UD7 r2.0 GTX 770 16GB Corsair Vengeance in Triple channel mode ;) 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
Ocz Vertex 2  Samsung F1  Samsung F3 Samsung F1 
Optical DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
Sammie Dvd rw Windows 7 64Bit HZ281HPB 1200p / HP IPS 1080p / Samsung Syncmas... Qpad MK80 (Blue switch), SteelSeries 7G (Cherry... 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
HX1000 CM-Stacker 832 Flipped Naos 3200,G5,G400,G400s, G300, Kone+ Razor Destructor and Steelseries Qck 
AudioAudioAudio
X-Fi Fatal1ty  ATH-T500 / AH-D510 Samson CO1U PAK Condenser Mic  
  hide details  
Reply
post #10 of 49
Why do you smoke cheap Iraqi cigarettes?

RIP 570.
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Overclock.net › Forums › Graphics Cards › NVIDIA › NVIDIA Cooling › AC Xtreme Plus and VR004 review (GTX570) + poof update