Passively Cooling A Radeon RX 480 Polaris GPU

Written by Michael Larabel in Peripherals on 2 December 2017 at 11:28 AM EST. Page 1 of 4. 35 Comments.

This past week the fan on my reference Radeon RX 480 graphics card surprisingly died. It's been a number of years since I last had a fan go out on a graphics card heatsink with much better reliability these days, especially with the reference graphics cards. When deciding what cooling solution to use for this RX 480 Polaris card, I decided to try a budget passively-cooled solution.

The passive GPU cooler I went with for the Radeon RX 480 was the ARCTIC Accelero S3. The Accelero S3 has been around for a few years already but in having good success with after-market ARCTIC coolers for years, the low price point of this S3 model, and RX 480 compatibility led me to buying this heatsink.

ARCTIC officially supports a wide range of both AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards with the Accelero S3. On the NVIDIA side the support ranges from the old GeForce 220 series up through the GeForce GTX 1070 series. On the AMD side it's from old R500 chips up through the Radeon RX 580 series.

ARCTIC reports that their passive graphics card cooler can cool up to a 135 Watt graphics card or 200 Watts if using their turbo module.

The Accelero S3 consists of a copper heatsink attached to four copper heatpipes with a rather large array of aluminum fins. For the backside of the graphics card is a larger aluminum backplate.

Thermal pads are included with the Accelero S3 for the vRAM and power circuitry, the main mounting method is around the GPU while the Accelero S3 also bundles a graphics card holder if wishing to reinforce the heatsink to the expansion slots as well as some clips for reinforcing the heatsink against the graphics card PCB.

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