Waterblock Shootout Page: 1
Introduction A menagerie of water blocks
 
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/ QX quad-core range and AMD's  Phenom native quad-core processors, 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!
 
Today I have been given the opportunity to review the new Swiftech Apogee GTZ, XSPC Delta V3 and Aqua Compter Cuplex HD water blocks which all promise the highest cooling performance. It will be interesting to see which block emerges as the winner of a no-holds barred water block shootout. Can they tame the Quad-cored beast?
 
 
Specifications
 
The specifications for each water block were taken directly from each manufacturers' product page.
 
XSPC Delta V3 CPU Acetal

- Designed for Quad and Dual Core CPU's
- High Performance Copper Base With Over 1600 Copper Pins
- Pins Precision cut to 0.4x0.4x4.2mm
- 26mm Stepped Base
- CNC Cut Acetal Top
- G1/4" Threads
- Universal Mounting Plate
- Supports Sockets A/462, 478, 604/603, 701
754/939/940, AM2 and LGA775
 
Swiftech Apogee GTZ Water Block

Block Base Dimensions: 50mm x 50mm x 7.2mm (2.0” x 2.0” x 0.3”)
Height (including barbs):37.2mm (1.5”)
Port Threading: Standard G 1/4"
Barb Size: Chrome Plated 1/2" & 3/8” bards provided
Net Weight: 239g
Top Material: CNC machine Delrin
Base Material: CNC machine C110 copper mirror finished
 
Aqua Computer Cuplex HD
 
Thread Size: 1/4"
Mounting Type: 478 and 775
Flow Rating: High
Base Material: Copper
Top Material: Plated Aluminum
 
Let's head over the page to check out the review candidates packaging and contents...


Waterblock Shootout Page: 2
Packaging and Contents
 
XSPC Delta V3 CPU Acetal
 
The XSPC Delta V3 water block arrived in a small cardboard box that features a black and red theme. On the front of the packaging there is a red and white wave pattern and the XSPC logo. On the bottom of the box XSPC has included the prominent features of the XSPC Delta V3 and the contents of the packaging.
 
XXSPC package top XSPC Package bottom
XSPC Delta v3 Acetal contents XSPC Delta v3 Acetal contents
 
Opening up the box we are presented with a neatly packaged product that is well protected by pieces of thick Styrofoam. Interestingly, XSPC failed to include an installation manual even though it states on the box that one is included. No matter, they have them available online here. Included in the package were:
 
* XSPC Delta V3 water block
* Universal mounting plate
* Thermal paste
* Mounting screws, plastic washers and nuts.
 
 
Swiftech Apogee GTZ
 
The packaging included with the Swiftech Apogee GTZ water block is purely a review sample, and shouldn't be taken as an indication of what the retail packaging will look like. However, the Swiftech Apogee GTZ is extremely well packaged here and the amount of hardware that Swiftech managed to include in such a small space is impressive.
 
Swiftech sample box top Swiftech GTZ box side
Swiftech GTZ contents Swiftech GTZ contents
 
Opeing up the box, we are presented with the installation manual and the Swiftech Apogee GTZ water block housed beneath it. The water block itself comes encased in a non-scratch packing type sheeting that does an excellent job of keeping the water block's appearance in pristine condition.
 
The last Swiftech water block that I purchased was the Swiftech Storm G4, and it's nice to see that Swiftech has changed from including plastic barbs to traditional metal 3/8" and 1/2" versions. Swiftech has also included a small sample of thermal paste. Included in the package were:
 
* Swiftech Apogee GTZ water block and back plate
* 2x 3/8" and 1/2" barbs
* 2 x 3/8" and 1/2" plastic hose clamps
* Thermal paste
 
 
Aqua Computer Cuplex HD
 
This is the first opportunity that I've had to see an Aqua Computer water block in the flesh, and based on first impressions -  I'm impressed. I know the saying is cliche, but the Germans are second to none when it comes to engineering. The packaging for the Aqua Computer Cuplex HD is a simple, but yet visually attractive affair.
 
Aqua Computer Cuplex HD box top Aqua Computer box side
Aqua Computer box contents Aqua Computer contents
 
Opening up the box we are presented with the Aqua Computer Cuplex HD water block housed in a cardboard insert, and the mounting hardware on top. Interestingly, Aqua Computer do not supply barbs nor thermal paste with the water block. Included in the packaging were:
 
* Aqua Computer Cuplex HD water block
* Mounting screws, nuts and plastic washers.
 
Let's head over the page and have a look at the waterblock's in a little more detail...


Waterblock Shootout Page: 3
A Closer Look
 
XSPC Delta V3
 
There are a few noticeable changes about the XSPC Delta V3 Acetal waterblock that are worthy of further discussion. Firstly, gone is the machined brass all metal top with chrome finish, and it has been replaced with an Acetal one. The Acetal top is machined to accommodate G1/4 barb holes. The 'X' for XSPC is still present on the top though, as on the other two versions of the block.
 
Secondly, the copper base is no longer press fitted to the top, but instead four screws have been implemented to make cleaning of the waterblock easier. The copper base also has a really nice mirror finish to it.
 
XSPC Delta V3 Acetal top XSPC Delta V3 copper base
XSPC Delta V3 pulled apart
 
With the XSPC Delta V3 Acetal waterblock pulled apart we can see the pins inside. According to XSPC, the pin count has been increased from around a 1000 to just over 1600 pins. Looking at the underside of the Acetal top we can see that there is a solid piece of Acetal that has been left in the centre. The G1/4 barb hole on the underside of the Acetal top is also machined slightly larger than where the bottom of the barb sits. This is probably more than likely to allow greater coverage of the cooling pins with the coolant.
 
 
Swiftech Apogee GTZ
 
The Swiftech Apogee GTZ is an impressive looking beast. Featuring a screw-on backplate, this will ensure that you're able to screw the block down nice and firmly against the surface of your processors IHS. Like the XSPC Delta V3 water block, the Swiftech Apogee GTZ features an Acetal top with 'GTZ' machined into it.
 
Swiftech Apogee GTZ top Swiftech Apogee GTZ and backplate
Swiftech Apogee copper base Swiftech Apogee GTZ pulled apart
 
The copper base of the Swiftech Apogee GTZ is very well lapped, and has an amazing mirror finish. The copper base is attached to the Acetal top via four 3/32" hex head screws. Once the screws are undone, the Swiftech Apogee GTZ can be seen in its entirety. The copper base features micro-channels to draw heat away from the base and then into the coolant. The micro-channels should allow this waterblock to be extremely efficient when it comes to flow performance.
 
The underside of the Acetal top features an elongated inlet which should provide additional dispersion of coolant over the micro-channels on the base. The inlet on the underside of the Swiftech Apogee GTZ features a slightly larger surfacing than the barb size, but yet the remainder of the inlet is a little smaller. This feature should force coolant to disperse over a greater surface area of the copper base.
 
 
Aqua Computer Cuplex HD
 
Like I said on the previous page, this block epitomises art, Instead of including an additional hold-down plate like the XSPC Delta V3, the Cuplex HD's hold-down plate is part of the waterblock itself. Unfortunately, it doesn't provide the universal compatability of the XSPC Delta V3; instead it is only compatible with Intel Socket 478 and LGA775 platforms. The top of the Cuplex HD is fitted out with G1/4 holes into an Acetal block, and according to the company they are not planning on releasing the waterblock in any other hole-size format. At least in the short term
 
The Aqua Computer Cuplex HD waterblock's copper base is very well lapped and free of any visible marks. The mirror finish is quite exceptional. Unfortunately, the sample I received had some deep scuff marks on one leg of the hold-down plate, although this will not affect performance of the waterblock in any way.
 
Aqua Computer Cuplex HD top Aqua Computer copper base
Aqua Computer Cuplex HD pulled apart
 
The Aqua Computer Cuplex HD waterblock is probably the closest of the three to have utilised an impingement style of cooling.
 
waterblock base comparison
 
Let's head over the page to see how we're going to test the waterblocks...


Waterblock Shootout Page: 4
Test Setup
 
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, flow resistance and cooling performance from within a CPU only water-cooling loop. I will be running the Laing DDC Pro pump at 9v,10v, 11v and 12v and the pressure drop and flow of the pump will be noted. All tests will be run 3 times to ensure the elimination of any oddities. I have included the setup details below:

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 True-Flow 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 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 waterblocks were included into the loop and the drop in loop pressure recorded, and the same procedure was done for each of the water blocks.

* 1 x Laing DDC Pro pump with OCLabs alternative top @ 9/10/11/12v
* XSPC X2O Delta v3, EK Supreme, Aqua Computer Cuplex HD, Swiftech Apogee GTZ and D-Tek Fuzion waterblocks
* 1 x Powertech variable DC power supply (quoted accuracy /- 0.2V)
* 1 x Multi-meter
* 25L portable water container
* 1 x Glycerine filled True-Flow pressure meter. (kPa/PSI)
* 1/2" ID XSPC tubing
* 1/2" barbs
* 2 x stop-tap fittings

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. Once again the pump will be run at 9v,10v,11v and 12v.

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 implement a control setup for the testing phase of this review. In doing so I have replicated a CPU only water-cooling loop similar to that in conventional water cooled setups, but also one that should return consistent and unbiased performance results. The waterblocks performance will be assessed at the Laing DDC Pro's operating voltage of 12 volts. 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 running small fft's and the affinity set to Core0, Core1 for the first instance, and Core2, Core3 for the second will run simultaneously in order to simulate load.

Arctic Silver 5 was used as the TIM for testing all water blocks in this shootout. I have recorded temperatures at an overclocked idle and loaded state; all temperatures were taken using Core Temp 0.99.3 and water/ambient temperatures were taken using a common household mercury thermometer from the reservoir. The mercury thermometer was allowed 5 minutes to acclimatise to air and water and then the temperature recorded. Ambient temperatures during testing ranged from 23.8 deg C through to 28.4 deg C. The setup used has been included below:

* 1 x Laing DDC Pro pump with OCLabs alternative top @ 12v
* XSPC X2O Delta v3, EK Supreme, Aqua Computer Cuplex HD, Swiftech Apogee GTZ and D-Tek Fuzion waterblocks
* 1 x Thermochill PA120.3 radiator
* 1/2" ID XSPC tubing
* 1/2" barbs.
* 1 x Intel Q6600 SLACR G0 stepping quad-core processor
* 1 x ASUS Blitz Formula SE motherboard
* 2GB OCZ PC2-9600 FlexXLC RAM
* Antec NEO EarthWatts 500W PSU

All water block mountings were done so with a back plate.

Follow with me over to the next page to see the test results...


Waterblock Shootout Page: 5
Test Results
 
In the pressure versus flow rate chart below, we can see just how restrictive/unrestrictive each block is to the natural flow of the Laing DDC Pro pump. The first thing that really stands out here is the Aqua Computer Cuplex HD. While Aqua Computer market the AC Cuplex HD as a high-flow block, it is actually anything but. However, it does manage to sustain a very reasonable rate of pump head.
 
Pressure vs Flow chart
 
Furthermore, in our in-loop testing the AC Cuplex HD returns slightly higher average core temperatures on our overclocked Q6600 processor (3.5GHz/1.45v). We can also see the move away from the EK Supreme and stock D-Tek FuZion waterblocks by the XSPC Delta V3 and Swiftech Apogee GTZ waterblocks.
 
The Swiftech Apogee GTZ returned consistently good temperatures too with the backplate and screw-down mounting system that Swiftech has incorporated into its design. You can quite literally screw the block down hard and as a result (according to my testing) the temperatures on all four cores on the Q6600 were very close to being identical. I would have liked to have had a D-Tek FuZion V2 to make a better comparison, but unfortunately I don't have one at my disposal.
 
The XSPC Delta V3 really surprised me here to be honest. I can't believe the difference in cooling potential of this waterblock when compared to the first version that XSPC released last year.
 
Overclocked idle and load temperatures
 
Looking at the ΔT temperatures of each block, the chart below really illustrates how well each block did. The XSPC Delta V3 and Swiftech Apogee GTZ results are so close. Unfortunately though, the AC Cuplex HD waterblock trails behind the pack a little in terms of cooling capacity.
 
Delta T temperatures
 
Let's head over the page to see what we can conclude from this review...


Waterblock Shootout Page: 6
Conclusion
 
I must confess that there has been a number of surprises here today during the review of the XSPC Delta V3, Swiftech Apogee GTZ and the AC Cuplex HD waterblocks. Let's see how they faired as a whole.
 
 
Aqua Computer Cuplex HD Aqua Computer Cuplex HD
 
The AC Cuplex HD is an amazingly well crafted waterblock, and one that would compliment a high-end rig perfectly. The quality and craftmanship is really evident here. Admittedly though, the AC Cuplex HD waterblock is very restrictive and would be better suited to either a CPU only loop, or with a high-flow pump. If you were to use the AC Cuplex HD in a water-cooled SLI setup, you may find the flow less than adequate. However, to the AC Cuplex HD's credit it exhibits very little pressure drop.
 
The best price I could find for the Aqua Computer Cuplex HD waterblock was from WaterCooling UK, and it comes in at £39.99 inc. VAT
 
The Good
+ Amazing build quality and attention to detail
+ Easy to disassemble and clean
+ Looks
+ Low profile
 
The Mediocre
* AMD users miss out due to non-compatibility
* G1/4 only
 
The Bad
- Restrictive
 
OC3D Recommended Award
 
 
Swiftech Apogee GTZ Swiftech Apogee GTZ
 
The Swiftech Apogee GTZ was my first foray into Swiftech waterblocks since the Swiftech Storm G4. The build quality is typical Swiftech - function and form wrapped up in a smart looking package. The Swiftech Apogee performed really well today and managed to just edge out the XSPC Delta V3 to take the gold. The Swiftech Apogee facilitates very respectable flow and at the same time experiences very little pressure drop. The Apogee GTZ would be an excellent addition to any water-cooled setup and would work really well in a multi-block loop.
 
The best price I could find for the Swiftech Apogee GTZ was again at WaterCooling UK and it comes in slightly dearer than the Aqua Computer Cuplex HD at £43.99 inc. VAT
 
The Good
+ Smart looks
+ Low profile
+ Performance
+ Includes a backplate so you can screw the block right down
+ Universal compatibility
 
The Mediocre
* Price is a little dearer than both the Aqua Computer Cuplex HD and the XSPC Delta V3
* Universal compatibility requires the purchase of additional mounting hardware.
 
The Bad
- Nothing to report
 
OC3D Recommended Award
 
 
XSPC Delta V3 Acetal XSPC Delta V3
 
The XSPC was the biggest surprise of the bunch as far as I'm concerned. The XSPC comes with so much potential cooling performance for such a cheap price - currently available from WaterCooling UK at £34.99 inc. VAT. The XSPC Delta V3, as with previous versions, provides universal compatibility for both AMD and Intel users. However, the mounting plate may cause some compatibility issues with certain chipset cooling solutions. Rob @ WaterCooling UK has told me that they have some alternative mounting plates currently being made to address this issue.
 
The Acetal top of the XSPC Delta V3 makes a nice change from the chrome finish on earlier versions of this waterblock, and the screw-apart base also makes cleaning very easy. It certainly looks like XSPC have done their homework in addressing the short comings of previous versions of the Delta waterblock range, and it's finally paying dividends.
 
The Good
+ Price
+ Performance
+ Looks - the Acetal top increases the visual appeal
+ Universal compatibility
 
The Mediocre
* Universal backplate may cause compatibility issues with some chipset cooling solutions
 
The Bad
- Nothing to report.
 
OC3D Value for money award OC3D Recommended Award
 
Overclock3D would like to thank Aqua Computer, Swiftech and WaterCooling UK for supplying today's review samples.
 
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