Aqua-Pcs Flow Performance CPU Block Page: 1
Introduction
 
In the very recent past AMD and Intel have been vocal about upcoming families of multiple core CPU’s which will take processors into an area that we have never seen before. With Intel’s current Q6600 quad-core and AMD’s soon to be released Phenom native quad-core processors on the horizon, eight and sixteen cored processors will no doubt follow as the process is perfected and applications demand it.
 
 It is a well known fact that water-cooling is really beginning to become a viable mainstream alternative to traditional air-cooling measures. No longer is water-cooling purely the domain of the hardcore overclockers, but ever increasingly it is beginning to make its way into more and more people’s homes.
 
With the advent of quad-core processors and the successful saturation of the market with dual-core processors as well, a need has arisen for cooling methods to tame these multi-cored beasts. So how do we look towards cooling these processors more efficiently...With water-cooling of course!
 
Aqua-Pcs has provided water-cooling hardware for the performance enthusiast for some time now, and they even have their own 'Flow' range of gear available. Today we have been fortunate enough to have been given some samples of Aqua-Pcs Flow Performance CPU block. Pascal has sent me both the standard copper version and the Limited Edition silver plated block. If you are interested in the Silver LE version of the Flow Performance block at the conclusion of this review, then you had better hurry. According to Pascal, only 20 of them have been produced.
 
Aqua-Pcs Flow
 
So without further delay let's have a look at the blocks in a little more detail.
 
Specifications
 
Unfortunately there really aren't any specifications for the Flow Performance CPU Block on Aqua-Pcs website, but the block appears to be very similar internally to the now discontinued XSPC Xtreme. So I'll try and give you the best information that I can...
 
- G1/4" Thread
- Copper Base
- Plastic Top
- Universal Mounting Plate
- Supports Sockets A/462, 478, 604/603 754/939/940, AM2 and LGA775
 
One interesting point worth mentioning here is that the XSPC Xtreme block was discontinued due to average cooling performance on dual-core, and more alarmingly, quad-core processors..Hence the addition of the XSPC X20 Delta.
 
Regardless, we'll be seeing how the Flow Performance CPU Block performs in just a few pages.


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Packaging
 
Ok let's take a look inside the Flow Performance block's packaging to see what's included.
 
Packing boxes Opened boxes
 
The tissue paper and bubble wrap that the blocks came shipped in should provide ample protection.
 
Included in the Flow's packaging are:
 
* 4 x mounting bolts complete with nylon washers, tension springs and tension nut.
* 1 x Flow Performance CPU Block
* 1 x universal adaptor plate.
 
Package contents
 
Everything is included in order to get your CPU water-cooling well under way. Although there weren't any barbs included in the packaging, the retail version should with come barbs. At Aqua-Pc's website you should be able to choose between 1/2", 3/8", 10/8mm compression or 10mm push fit connectors.
  
Let's have a little bit of a closer look at the review specimen shall we...
 
 
A Closer Look
 
The Flow Performance block feels solid, but yet is considerably lighter thanks to the Acrylic top. The block also comes well lapped. For those of you who love the 'bling', the Flow Performance block has a provision for inserting an UV LED into the top...Mmm gotta love UV.
 
Flow Copper block
 
I must confess that I have really fallen for the silver version of this block.
 
Flow Silver block Flow silver base lapped
Flow Silver bock_3
 
The Universal hold-down plate is an ever-increasing feature that we are seeing manufacturers include in an effort to provide compatibility and longevity for those on older sockets. Whilst it certainly serves a purpose, you would no-doubt agree that the increased size of the plate may cause issues; especially on newer motherboards where the passive cooling solutions of ASUS and Gigabyte are bordering 'over the top'. However, I am happy to report that this didn't cause any problems when it came to testing the block.
 
Twins
 


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Test Setup
 
For the testing phase of the review I have chosen to test the Flow Performance block against a well known water-cooling block, the XSPC X2O Delta. A Laing DDC Pro pump with OCLabs alternative top will be used to assist in making a comparison. I shall be looking specifically at pressure drop and cooling performance from within a water-cooling loop. I have included the setup details below:
 
Pressure Drop
 
* 1 x Laing DDC Pro pump with OCLabs alternative top
* 1 x XSPC X2O Delta and Flow Performance water block
* 1 x Powertech variable DC power supply (quoted accuracy +/- 0.2V)
* 1 x Multi-meter
* 25L portable water container
* 1 x IFS pressure meter. (kPa/PSI)
* 1/2" ID Clearflex tubing
* 1/2" barbs
* 2 x stop-tap fittings
 
Flow Pressure drop X2O Delta Pressure Drop
 
For the pressure drop test I used a 25L portable water container filled with 20 litres of water, with a 1/2" plastic threaded barb placed in the bottom to represent the reservoir. A stop tap was inserted immediately after the 1/2" barb to allow for a faster water-block change. The IFS pressure meter was used to record the head pressure per 1 minute testing cycle. The pump was primed and let run for a short period to ensure that no air bubbles were left in the loop. The water was allowed to run back into the container after passing through the pressure meter meter via a 'T' connector in order to minimise wasted time between water-block changes.
The first run made was with only the pump and pressure meter included in the loop and the water pressure noted. Then for second run the Flow Performance water block was included into the loop and the drop in loop pressure recorded. The same procedure will be followed for the XSPC X20 Delta water block.
 
Flow

In a similar test to the pressure drop testing above, the flow test will highlight just how much the waterblocks restrict the natural flow of a water-cooling loop. Utilising a very simple setup consisting of a pump, I/2" ID tubing, water blocks, bucket and a stopwatch we will see how far removed from the absolute flow of the pump, that the water blocks hinder flow. Running the pump into the bucket for one minute and then measuring the amount of water pumped will be the 'absolute flow' of the pump.

To calculate the flow-loss or restriction of each waterblock, they will each be included into the loop (one at a time) and the same procedure followed. The flow rate will be recorded in Litres/ hour. All simulations will be run 3 times each to ensure uniformity of the results and an average then taken.
 
 
Loop Simulation and cooling performance
 
I have decided to impliment a control setup for the testing phase of this review. In doing so I have replicated a watercooling loop similar to that in conventional water cooled setups, but also one that should return consistant and unbiased performance results. The open loop that I have chosen to run with will use be semi-restrictive in nature, but again should give quite a good indication of how the XSPC X2O and Flow Performance water-blocks would perform in your system. The water block performance will be assessed at a flow rate of 12V. For each run, the pump was allowed to run for 20 mins to ensure the evacuation of all air from within the loop. The temperatures were taken at 30 minute intervals to allow them to 'settle'. Two instances of ORTHOS will run simultaneously in order to simulate load. A backplate has also been included, so as to allow the water blocks to be tightened 'right down'.
 
Flow installed Flow installed_2
 X20 Delta Backplate
 
Arctic Silver 5 was the TIM of choice. I have recorded temperatures at idle, load and and an overclocked loaded state; all temperatures were taken using Core Temp 0.96.1 beta and water/ambient temperatures were taken using a common household mercury thermometer. The mercury thermometer was allowed 5 minutes to aclimatise to air and water and then the temperature recorded. The setup used has been included below:
 
* 1 x Laing DDC Pro pump with OCLabs alternative top
* 1 x Flow Performance and XSPC X2O Delta water block
* 1 x Powertech variable DC power supply (quoted accuracy +/- 0.2V)
* 1 x Multi-meter
* 1 x Radiical 120.3 Radiator
* 3 x Yate Loon 120mm cooling fans
* 1/2" ID Clearflex tubing
* 1/2" barbs.
* 1 x Intel Q6600 SLACR G0 stepping quad-core processor
* 1 x ASUS P5B Deluxe wifi/App motherboard (bios version 1101)
* 1 Gigabyte 7600 GT graphics card
* Logitech generic mouse
* Logitech G15 keyboard
* 2GB OCZ PC2-6400 FlexXLC CL3 RAM
* Antec NEO EarthWatts 500W PSU
* 80 GB WD SATA II HDD


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Testing
 
Pressure Drop
 
Determining pressure drop for water-cooling components is really quite easy and should give the prospective purchaser some idea of how well or how badly a particular component restricts/resists the natural flow of a pump. This is especially important when designing your water-cooling loop to ensure that your pump flow doesn't come to a crawl because of your cpu block, gpu block and possibly chipset block. Factor into the equation a reservoir, various curves and connectors and the amount of pressure drop can become an issue. Hence the reason why we need to assess for pressure drop.
 
Pressure drop chart
 
You can see from the above graph that the Flow Performance Block suffers from some significant pressure drop, especially when compared to the XSPC X20 Delta.
 
 
Flow
 
Flow performance chart 
 
The Flow Performance Block exhibited some quite reasonable flow performance, and subsequently just edged out the XSPC X20 Delta to win this round.
 
 
Simulated Water-cooling loop
 
I also performed some quick and dirty overclocking on the Q6600 (3.4Ghz/ 1.475V in BIOS) to see how far the temperatures could be pushed. The results you can see below:
 
Temperature comparison chart
 
 The XSPC X20 Delta was consistently the better performer with gains recorded over the Flow Performance Block in idle, load and overclocked testing. Please bear in mind that testing was conducted using a backplate, and that both water blocks were screwed down tight.


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Conclusion
 
So how well did the Aqua-Pcs Flow Performance Block perform in todays review?
 
The Flow Performance Block is certainly a water block that is aimed towards the lovers of bling, and the Acrylic top certainly would look very good under a UV black light with reactive coolant. The block is well constructed and includes everything that you should need to get your CPU 'under water'.
 
As far as cooling performance is concerned, the Flow Performance Block is around the average. Whilst it managed to keep my Q6600 processor acceptably cool, it was soundly beaten by the XSPC X20 Delta. The increased pin count on the bottom of the Delta's Copper base would no doubt have been a significant  factor in the results we saw today.
 
Pricing for the Aqua-Pcs Flow Performance CPU Block is very competitive and comes in at a paltry £21.70 (Excluding VAT), which is a couple of £'s cheaper than the XSPC X20 Delta.
 
Aqua-Pcs
 
All things considered, the Aqua-Pcs Flow Performance CPU Block would make an acceptable purchase for those new to water-cooling or those not looking for the best performing block available. The Flow Performance Block would perhaps be better placed on the latest dual-core processors, but it does give reasonable quad-core performance.
 
The Good
• Looks
• Quality
• Price
• Reasonable cooling performance.
• Universal compatibility
 
The Mediocre
• Better suited to dual-core processors
 
The Bad
• Nothing to report
 
OC3D Recommended Award
 
A big thanks to Aqua-Pc's for supplying the review sample
 
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