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

The Arctic Accelero Xtreme III, Detailed

The great thing about this aftermarket cooler is a reasonable price relative to the Radeon R9 290. For around £50, you can add it and still come in well under an R9 290X, but match or exceed the pricier card's performance. Of course, it's great that the Accelero Xtreme III is compatible with AMD's new cards, and is also pretty light as well.

Compared to the Alpenfoehn Peter and Prolimatech's MK-26, this thermal solution is less expensive and bundled with fans, which cost you extra after buying those other kits. It even matches the PCB's dimensions fairly well, aside from a few minor differences that we'll address during the assembly stage. They don't pose a problem, though.

Specifications
Model
Arctic Accelero Xtreme III
Heat Sink / Heat Pipes
Copper Heat Sink
5 x 6 mm Copper Heat Pipes
84 Cooling Fins (0.3 mm Aluminum)
Fans
3 x 92 mm Fans (0.12 A / 12 V)
RPM Range:900-2000 RPM (PWM-Controlled)
Maximum Noise
0.5 Sone
Power Consumption
4.32 W
Dimensions
288 mm (Length) x 104 mm (Height) x 54 mm (Width)
Weight
653 g
Warranty
Six Years
Product Webpage
Accelero Xtreme Webpage

As I browsed through the cooler's contents, I noticed that we were short four memory heat sinks (the R9 290 needs 16 for its 256 MB packages, and Arctic only includes 12). Fortunately, this isn't a show-stopper. Part of AMD's approach to this card was widening the memory bus to 512 bits and running its GDDR5 at more conservative frequencies, scaling back on voltage at the same time. The memory packages don't get so hot that they pose a thermal issue. If you still feel compelled to cool them off, buying an optional kit for the GeForce GTX 260/275/280 should suffice.

The Modified Card's Specifications

The cooler's specifications are interesting enough, but we needed to know if it'd fit in our case. So, next, we measured the Radeon R9 290's weight and dimensions with the new cooler set up.

The Modified Card's Specifications
Length
320 mm
Height
120 mm (From Top Edge of PCIe Slot)
Depth
60 mm (2.5-Slot)
5 mm Back-Side (Through Back Plate)
Weight
978 g
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68 comments
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  • rolli59
    I will wait and get the Gigabyte Windforce then I will not have to pay full price for the cooler. (just saying)
  • MauveCloud
    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.
  • CaptainTom
    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...
  • sha7bot
    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.
  • FormatC
    @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
  • ingtar33
    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.
  • brainrazer
    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.
  • horaciopz
    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!
  • s3anister
    "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.
  • bemused_fred
    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.
  • JeanLuc
    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.
  • JeanLuc
    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.
  • ojas
    @Igor, how are you monitoring VRM temp? GPU-Z or some other way?

    VRM temps aren't reported for my GTX 560, it seems...
  • NinjaNerd56
    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.
  • FormatC
    1027081 said:
    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
  • warezme
    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.
  • FormatC
    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 ;)
  • SkateZilla
    Why not just leave AMD's PCB Heatspreader on the board and mount the GPU Cooler on top of that?
  • FormatC
    Collision with the heatsink. I've tried this first but it is really impossible without modifying the frame. ;)
  • hannibal
    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...
  • hannibal
    Douple post...
  • ottojschlosser
    Good grief, I have flown on aircraft that are quieter than that reference cooler...
  • Avro Arrow
    People aren't really understanding why AMD uses the reference cooler that they do. Sure, the thing is loud and doesn't cool as well as a Gigabyte Windforce (similar to this accelero extreme cooler), but those are the general drawbacks of the blower design. The reason the blower design is used is because no matter how big or small the case is, as long as it has a full-height PCIe slot, the card can be used because it exhausts the hot air out of the case instead of into it. That means that it can be used by literally anyone, their levels of comfort may vary, but they can use it without melting the innards of their computers. Not everyone has a masive 24x24x9 case with 4 120mm fans like I do. Most people use a Mid-Tower or smaller. If you're running two of these in a Mid-Tower case without blower fans, you better have some high-performance air movers, otherwise you can forget about overclocking that unlocked CPU of yours. AMD had a working blower cooling solution so they used it, knowing full well that the third-party makers would make their own designs as well.
  • Avro Arrow
    People aren't really understanding why AMD uses the reference cooler that they do. Sure, the thing is loud and doesn't cool as well as a Gigabyte Windforce (similar to this accelero extreme cooler), but those are the general drawbacks of the blower design. The reason the blower design is used is because no matter how big or small the case is, as long as it has a full-height PCIe slot, the card can be used because it exhausts the hot air out of the case instead of into it. That means that it can be used by literally anyone, their levels of comfort may vary, but they can use it without melting the innards of their computers. Not everyone has a masive 24x24x9 case with 4 120mm fans like I do. Most people use a Mid-Tower or smaller. If you're running two of these in a Mid-Tower case without blower fans, you better have some high-performance air movers, otherwise you can forget about overclocking that unlocked CPU of yours. AMD had a working blower cooling solution so they used it, knowing full well that the third-party makers would make their own designs as well.