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Fixing The Radeon R9 290 With Arctic's Accelero Xtreme III

Fixing The Radeon R9 290 With Arctic's Accelero Xtreme III
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One of the best things we did for our Radeon R9 290 review was pop off AMD's reference cooler and attach Arctic's Accelero Xtreme III. Today, we show you how we did this, we dive deeper into the results, and ultimately recommend the aftermarket heat sink.

One of the biggest hits from AMD Radeon R9 290 Review: Fast And $400, But Is It Consistent? was our look at Arctic's Accelero Xtreme III. We knew that getting the Hawaii GPU running cooler and quieter would be the key to making it sing, and so there was one page of coverage dedicated to cooling done right.

Well, we're still waiting for partner cards to show up with third-party thermal solutions. So we thought we'd put together a more comprehensive walk-through of getting the Accelero Xtreme III working and measuring what it can do.

Obviously, if you spend $400 on a new Radeon R9 290 and immediately take it apart, your warranty is void. Also, remember that applying heat sinks using thermal adhesive creates a fairly permanent bond. There is no changing your mind once you go down this path. Then again, who wants to live with the reference cooler anyway? Just don't be that guy who rips a memory package off his PCB after gluing a heat sink to it.

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Top Comments
  • 21 Hide
    sha7bot , November 17, 2013 9:30 PM
    I want AMD and NVIDIA to start selling their boards without a cooler. I can buy a waterblock from any number of retailers, but I can't get the damned GPU. Discount the boards and sell them OEM to us consumers.

    Also, try and make your layout a standard so I don't have to keep buying after-market coolers or blocks. I can just move them from board to board.
  • 18 Hide
    rolli59 , November 17, 2013 9:14 PM
    I will wait and get the Gigabyte Windforce then I will not have to pay full price for the cooler. (just saying)
Other Comments
  • 18 Hide
    rolli59 , November 17, 2013 9:14 PM
    I will wait and get the Gigabyte Windforce then I will not have to pay full price for the cooler. (just saying)
  • 1 Hide
    MauveCloud , November 17, 2013 9:15 PM
    I can't find anything to confirm that you tested this inside a case, and I'm curious what it does to case and cpu temps compared to the reference card, and what it does to a second gpu running in crossfire mode.
  • 5 Hide
    CaptainTom , November 17, 2013 9:28 PM
    I gotta say I agree with AMD's opinion that reference coolers are just there to get the job done as cheaply and consistently as possible since non-references will rule the market anyways.

    But at the end of the day reviewers are gonna continue to mark down cards for these silly things for whatever reason. AMD might as well just make the reference coolers at least as good as SAPPHIRE's Dual-X so that everyone shuts up...
  • 21 Hide
    sha7bot , November 17, 2013 9:30 PM
    I want AMD and NVIDIA to start selling their boards without a cooler. I can buy a waterblock from any number of retailers, but I can't get the damned GPU. Discount the boards and sell them OEM to us consumers.

    Also, try and make your layout a standard so I don't have to keep buying after-market coolers or blocks. I can just move them from board to board.
  • 1 Hide
    FormatC , November 17, 2013 9:39 PM
    @MauveCloud
    I've proofed this construction in my Corsair Obsidian 900D and it works as described, I had to turn on my case fans but only @800-900 rpm. To test a crossfire setup I would have to destroy two cards - sorry, but this was too expensive for me. One modified card is ok, but I cant kill all my samples :D 
  • 4 Hide
    ingtar33 , November 17, 2013 9:40 PM
    that 1150 clock speed is actually on the low side. on several other forums i frequent people are hitting mid 1300's pretty consistently with aftermarket air coolers, and 1400s on water.

    it seems the r9-290x is pretty much identical clock for clock to the 780ti... so putting a non-reference cooler onto it is almost mandatory; because when it's not temp throttling it's pacing nvidia's $700 monster.
  • 1 Hide
    brainrazer , November 17, 2013 9:45 PM
    I was going to say same thing as sha7bot. Overall though I hope one day we can buy a gpu and fan/cooler in drop it in the Mobo socket like a cpu. Hell even have multiple sockets in a row to take up less space at the end of the mobo to give room for pci slot devices. It always sucks having to decide between these graphics cards or "this" card and a sound card or ssd.
  • 0 Hide
    horaciopz , November 17, 2013 9:50 PM
    Maybe, later on the road Accelero will launch a R9 290 version of this cooler as they did with the HD 7900 version.

    Also, look that, that cooler is barely spinning. You can squish more of it, that would be even more noticable in performance gains!
  • 0 Hide
    s3anister , November 17, 2013 11:30 PM
    "Obviously, if you spend $400 on a new Radeon R9 290 and immediately take it apart, your warranty is void."

    Are all the Vendor's cards like this? If I remember correctly Sapphire used to allow (or still does) people to take the stock cooler off to attach a waterblock without it voiding the warranty.
  • 0 Hide
    bemused_fred , November 18, 2013 2:18 AM
    Blimey, that is so much fuss to put together, not to mention the fact that it voids your warranty.. AMD have really, really shot themselves in the foot by not offering after-market cooling at launch.
  • 0 Hide
    JeanLuc , November 18, 2013 5:09 AM
    Any chance you could try fitting Nvidia's GTX780/Ti/690/Titan style cooler to the 290/X just to see if it is any better then AMD's design? A lot of reviewers have praised Nvidia's coolers but some claim the HSF is better because the cards draw less power and have a bigger die to spread the heat across, it would be interesting to see who's right.
  • -3 Hide
    JeanLuc , November 18, 2013 5:10 AM
    Any chance you could try fitting Nvidia's GTX780/Ti/690/Titan style cooler to the 290/X just to see if it is any better then AMD's design? A lot of reviewers have praised Nvidia's coolers but some claim the HSF is better because the cards draw less power and have a bigger die to spread the heat across, it would be interesting to see who's right.
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , November 18, 2013 6:28 AM
    @Igor, how are you monitoring VRM temp? GPU-Z or some other way?

    VRM temps aren't reported for my GTX 560, it seems...
  • -6 Hide
    NinjaNerd56 , November 18, 2013 6:45 AM
    I have been leery of, and stopped using, AMD cards after one literally smoked under load a few years ago.

    Switched to nVidia and have been happy. Currently running 660, 760 series in my machines. I did have to retire (put in parts box until I can take apart) an MSI 560Ti Twin Frozer when one of the twins had a bearing fail and quit spinning. The card still works, but not well, in my all air boxes. Gotta love the irony, though.

    The kind of stuff required in this article is indicative of AMD's thrashing to compete; throw it out the door and pray. Pass.
  • 0 Hide
    FormatC , November 18, 2013 7:30 AM
    Quote:
    that 1150 clock speed is actually on the low side. on several other forums i frequent people are hitting mid 1300's pretty consistently with aftermarket air coolers, and 1400s on water.

    it seems the r9-290x is pretty much identical clock for clock to the 780ti... so putting a non-reference cooler onto it is almost mandatory; because when it's not temp throttling it's pacing nvidia's $700 monster.


    The BIOS was locked. Without increasing the core voltage my sample runs only 1175 max. It is a lottery which numbers you get

  • 0 Hide
    warezme , November 18, 2013 7:35 AM
    This looks like a nice kit. The only question I would have is, how does this perform in an enclosed box? How much does the heat being dumped inside your computer effect the overall efficiency. I don't like to see reviews where the testbeds are open since they don't reflect real world installations.
  • 3 Hide
    FormatC , November 18, 2013 7:59 AM
    This is a DHE (direct heat exhaust) cooler. If you have an intake fan, you get the same (or even better!) results.

    BTW:
    A good tower case with a well-planned airflow can be a better ambient for VGA cards as an open bench table ;) 
  • 2 Hide
    SkateZilla , November 18, 2013 8:40 AM
    Why not just leave AMD's PCB Heatspreader on the board and mount the GPU Cooler on top of that?
  • 0 Hide
    FormatC , November 18, 2013 8:54 AM
    Collision with the heatsink. I've tried this first but it is really impossible without modifying the frame. ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    hannibal , November 18, 2013 9:11 AM
    Waiting for Asus TOP models and Saphire oc versions... All in all this profe that there is a lot of potential in this GPU. And allso that 28 nm is too big for a GPU of 780 and 290 scale...
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