Battle of the Water Cooling Kits

Thermaltake Big Water 745

Packaging & Manual

Thermaltake have always been big on flashy but functional packaging and the Big Water 745 is no exception. Being one of the most bulky boxes in the review, Thermaltake have gone to the trouble of including a plastic handle for easier transportation.

Thermaltake Packaging Thermaltake Packaging

Thermaltake Packaging Thermaltake Packaging

The back of the box gives a fair bit of information as to what is included in the kit, with some basic specifications of the pump and other components.

Credit has to be given to Thermaltake for the way in which everything is securely enclosed in moulded styrofoam inserts. I can confidently say that this kit could take quite a bit of rough handling by a courier before any damage would come to it.

Thermaltake Kit

The first thing that stands out with the Bigwater 745 is that the package includes both a dual 120mm and a single 120mm radiator, both of which can be used at the same time in your water loop for improved performance. At this point I would like to say that we will only be using the dual 120mm rad in our testing in order to obtain fair results against the other kits in this review.

Another thing that stands out from the rest of the kits in this review is the use of UV reactive tubing and coolant. This is a nice touch, and something that I had expected of Thermaltake considering most of their other products are aimed at the case modding scene.

Included in the box are the following items:

- Copper & Acrylic Water Block with Blue LED.
- Support for AMD K8, LGA775 and BTX motherboards.
- Thermaltake pump (400L/hr).
- Thermalte reservoir (350cc).
- Thermaltake 2x120mm radiator.
- Thermaltake 1x120mm radiator.
- Coolant (500cc)
- Green UV Tubing (3/8")
- Fan speed controller PCI bracket
- PCI Bracket for leading tubing outside of case.
- Manual

Big Water 745 Manual Big Water 745 Manual

The included manual from Thermaltake is quite possibly the best of the bunch. Every part of the install procedure is documented with full colour pictures. Thermaltake also include tips and answers to common questions throughout the manual, which will definitely be of great assistance for people new to water-cooling.


Water Block & Accessories

Having never personally heard much about Thermaltake water blocks, I was interested to find out the kind of design they employ. The Big Water 745 is different to blocks used in many of their other water-cooling solutions, so maybe this is a high performance block used only on their top-end kits.

Big Water 745 Block Big Water 745 Block

Big Water Block Big Water Accessories

At just at a quick glance I could see that the Big Water 745 water block is a low restriction, high flow block. Water enters the block and is forced to pass through a zigzag maze before exiting the block. This block layout has been tried and tested in the past, and normally offers mediocre performance. It is also worth noting that the block has a blue LED inserted into the Acrylic, which can be connected to your motherboard's fan header.

When inspecting the top of the block I noticed that a muddy residue had been left behind from when the block was manufactured. It shouldn't cause any problems for the kit when in use, but Thermaltake do need to take more care with the cleaning up process.

The bottom of the block is also a bit of a disappointment, having the worst finish out of all the kits in this test. The block has visible machine marks, scratches and is covered in small speckles, which I was unable to remove with alcohol based cleaner.

The accessories kit includes everything required to install the water block on the following platforms:

- AMD K8 (A64, Opteron, 939)
- Intel LGA 775
- Intel BTX

Also included in the accessories kit is a fan speed controller, a PCI bracket which allows for tubing to be routed outside of the case and two feet for standing the dual 120mm radiator outside of the case.

Big Water Tubing Big Water Coolant

As mentioned earlier, Thermaltake have provided a large container of coolant for filling your water loop. This is a nice touch as it means you don't have to go to the trouble of finding a retail outlet that dells de-ionised water.

The included 3/8" tubing is UV reactive and glows very well under a UV cathode. A large amount of tubing has been included, which should be more than enough even for the tallest of PC cases. Thermaltake haven't included any official figures to the actual length of the tubing included with every kit.


Pump & Reservoir

In a similar manner to Alphacool, Thermaltake have opted to integrate their reservoir with the pump. This has many advantages, including that the pump will never be starved of water as the pump inlet is directly connected to the reservoir. A big disadvantage is that you cannot place the reservoir elsewhere if space inside your case is tight.

Big Water 745 Pump Big Water 745 Pump

Big Water 745 Pump Big Water 745 Pump

Not the best looking of pumps in the world it has to be said. The Thermaltake pump connects directly to a molex, but also includes a speed monitoring wire, so you can keep an eye on how fast the pump motor is turning at. Another disappointing issue with the pump is its lack of mounting hardware. Thermaltake do not appear to have included any screws or sticky pads to affix the pump to your case.

The following information has been taken from Thermaltake's website:

- Dimensions: 75(L) X 70(W) X 75(H) mm
- Bearing: Ceramic bearing
- Maximum Capacity: 400 L/ hr
- Rated Voltage: DC 12V
- Noise: 16 dBA
- Life time: 70000 hr (MTBF)

The reservoir isn't the best looking of items either. I'm really not sure why Thermaltake decided to go for a brown smoked reservoir, as a clear one (so that you can show off some UV dye) would have been much better.

Most worrying of all, was the fact that the reservoir (containing up to 350cc of water), is in no way fixed to the pump. All that prevents water from leaking out between the pump and reservoir are two o-rings that slide over the pumps inlet. This could cause major problems when transporting your water-cooled case anywhere, as the reservoir is free to slide off the pump, and dump all of the water inside the case!


Radiator & Fans

What makes the Big Water such a 'big' kit is its use of two radiators. Normally a triple radiator or two separate radiators would only be used when there is a serious amount of heat to remove (from graphics cards, northbridge, mosfets..etc). Under almost all circumstances a dual radiator should be enough to remove the heat from a processor, which leaves me confused as to why Thermaltake have included two radiators.

Big Water Radiator Big Water Radiator

Big Water Radiator Big Water Radiator

Both radiators use Thermaltake's trademark orange and black fans. What I found most strange was that Thermaltake have quoted the fan on the single 120mm radiator as being 93.7cfm, whereas the fans install on the dual 120mm radiator as being a maximum of 54.4cfm. Whether these are indeed two different models of fan is yet to be seen, but we'll find out for sure during the testing.

The radiators are actually quite small, and should pose no more of a problem to install than the other radiators in this review. The exact dimensions are as follows: 272 x 120 x 35mm (LxWxD) for the dual radiator, and: 166 x 122 x 35mm (LxWxD) for the single radiator.

Big Water 745 Radiator

A slight problem I noticed on the dual 120mm radiator was that one of the barbs was overly bent. I'm not quite sure if this is a manufacturing fault, or something that has happened during the packing/transit of the Big Water, but as you can see from above, it has caused the piping to kink slightly, which will probably reduce the flow rate.
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Most Recent Comments

26-06-2006, 09:51:50

JN
Today (and for the past 2 weeks) i look at water cooling kits from Alphacool, Swiftech, Thermaltake and XSPC to find out just what water cooling kit is worth splashing out your hard earned cash on.

Review Here

26-06-2006, 09:55:03

llwyd
well done mate, time well spent! awesome review

(as you can tell by the time stamp im still in the middle of reading it)

26-06-2006, 10:11:16

FarFarAway
Nice review mate. I read it before posting

26-06-2006, 10:17:56

JN
lol, cheers guys.

26-06-2006, 12:37:05

NickS
Awesome review man, I really enjoyed it. Some of those kit's really kicked butt!

Nick

26-06-2006, 13:47:12

Raven
must say the thermaltake didnt manage well.

45celsius at load is higher than i get on air :/

26-06-2006, 13:50:23

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raven
must say the thermaltake didnt manage well.

45celsius at load is higher than i get on air :/
Yeah it wasn't too great. I'm wondering if it was down to that kink in the radiator pipe that was causing greatly restricted flow..

26-06-2006, 14:15:39

FragTek
can't wait to read the review when I get home, looks great!

26-06-2006, 14:55:14

Raven
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='XMS'
I'm wondering if it was down to that kink in the radiator pipe that was causing greatly restricted flow..
possibly, if you still have the radiators you could do a flow test and se how much time is needed for 1L water to flow through.

27-06-2006, 05:33:29

PV5150
An excellent and comprehensive review as usual XMS. How good is the finish on the NexXxos?

27-06-2006, 05:38:51

JN
Thx PV - and ye, that block was like a mirror.

27-06-2006, 06:44:11

FragTek
Finally got a chance to read throgh the whole review, looks good mate! There were some decent looking kits there. Seems the TT kit had some major faults though but I suppose that's to be expected from a TT water kit.

I definately think that the Swiftech kit has the most potential... Replace the tubing with some larger diamater stuff and you could see a great deal more performance mefinks.

Nice one mate.

27-06-2006, 07:25:42

JN
Agreed Frag. I've pretty much got the same kit as the swiftech one but with 1/2" tubing. My temps are about 1-2oc lower on average.

27-06-2006, 10:13:49

Ham
Another fantastic job XMS. Looking at those temps tho, its it all really worth it me wonders. My Evo keeps my 3500 @ 30idle ~37load. And thats not 90nm.

27-06-2006, 10:30:26

JN
Yeah, the only thing you need to take into consideration when comparing it tho is the vcore used and room temp. These were taken with 1.6v cvcore and room temp of 26oc.

27-06-2006, 10:33:41

FarFarAway
Ye twas a hot one last week

27-06-2006, 10:35:27

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Kempez'
Ye twas a hot one last week
For sure. At one point in the tests i was seriously considering tipping all of that deionised water over my head

23-07-2006, 17:25:03

browney
For Alphacool Complete Retail Universal Kit (All CPUS/Chipsets/VGA/Rad/12v Pump/Cables/Tubes/Coolant)

1.Doesn any one know if there are chipset problems with the DFI LanParty UT NF4 SLI-D

2.Any problems with the VGA and a ATi X1800XT?

23-07-2006, 18:09:18

Futures Truth
Nice review! Couldn't of come a better time. I'm researching water cooling, and it's a big help to me! Thanks! Awesome reviews, I read it all before posting =]

23-07-2006, 18:09:46

FarFarAway
Quote:
Originally Posted by browney
For Alphacool Complete Retail Universal Kit (All CPUS/Chipsets/VGA/Rad/12v Pump/Cables/Tubes/Coolant)

1.Doesn any one know if there are chipset problems with the DFI LanParty UT NF4 SLI-D

2.Any problems with the VGA and a ATi X1800XT?
Unsure of exactly what you mean mate

The kit we reviewed did not have either of those components in it.

23-07-2006, 18:13:54

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Futures Truth'
Nice review! Couldn't of come a better time. I'm researching water cooling, and it's a big help to me! Thanks! Awesome reviews, I read it all before posting =]
Glad it was of use Futures

Have you decided on what one to go for?

24-07-2006, 06:12:01

browney
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kempez
Unsure of exactly what you mean mate

The kit we reviewed did not have either of those components in it.
Well will the chipset w/c block fit? since my X1800XT is very close to the chipset fan

www.browneyonline.co.uk/browney/pictures/computer/wcfit/

24-07-2006, 06:17:11

JN
I'm highly doubtful that the NB blocks included with the kits will fit the SLI-D. You'll most likely need to purchase a seperate NB block.

As for the GPU block, i'd check the manufacturers site for compatability.

24-07-2006, 06:23:36

browney
Yer thats what i though Grrr

Not very clued up on w/c

p.s nice forum people you have here

24-07-2006, 06:27:24

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by browney
Yer thats what i though Grrr

Not very clued up on w/c

p.s nice forum people you have here
TBH, unless you're going for a totally silent system i'd give NB cooling a miss. It only really helps at very high FSB's imo.

And thanks

24-07-2006, 06:33:19

browney
Quote:
Originally Posted by XMS
TBH, unless you're going for a totally silent system i'd give NB cooling a miss. It only really helps at very high FSB's imo.

And thanks
Oh right so what one would you recomend?

Damn i was pricing things up

24-07-2006, 06:39:27

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by browney
Oh right so what one would you recomend?

Damn i was pricing things up
It all depends on what you're looking for really:

Price+Performance = XSPC X20 Dual Xtreme

Performance+Easy Install = Swiftech H20-220

Performance+Quiet = Alphacool Xtreme Pro 240

And if you want GPU cooling, i'd probably buy the GPU block seperately from HERE

EDIT: Also remember that 2 of these kits (the Swiftech and Alphacool) are available from Specialtech.co.uk with the OC3D 10% discount code

24-07-2006, 06:47:05

browney
Quote:
Originally Posted by XMS
It all depends on what you're looking for really:

Price+Performance = XSPC X20 Dual Xtreme

Performance+Easy Install = Swiftech H20-220

Performance+Quiet = Alphacool Xtreme Pro 240

And if you want GPU cooling, i'd probably buy the GPU block seperately from HERE
Thanks it looks like it would be

1x EK-NF4 rev1.1

1 x EK-FCX1800 X1800/X1900

1 x XSPC X2O Dual Xtreme WaterCooling Kit

£169.96 incl post

24-07-2006, 06:55:01

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by browney
Thanks it looks like it would be

1x EK-NF4 rev1.1

1 x EK-FCX1800 X1800/X1900

1 x XSPC X2O Dual Xtreme WaterCooling Kit

£169.96 incl post
Ye, thats not a bad price at all for a full kit including NB & GPU water blocks. Just make sure you get the right size barbs for those extra blocks when ordering

24-07-2006, 06:58:43

browney
Are those like splitters?

EDIT. Are those to connect the hose to the waterblocks?

Sorry if i sounds dumb its just i have never done O/C before

24-07-2006, 07:10:14

JN
The barbs are what allows you to connect the tubing to the blocks.

After taking a closer look at the EK blocks i directed you to, they only come with 1/2" barbs. The XSPC X20 kits come with 10/8mm tubing, so they wont be compatable without purchasing some new barbs.

Your best bet would be to contact watercoolingshop, and ask them if they have any 10/8mm barbs that are compatable with the EK water blocks. New barbs will probably add an extra £5 or so to your order.

24-07-2006, 07:22:08

browney
Contacted www.watercoolingshop.com Iíll give an update once I get a reply

Thanks

24-07-2006, 07:47:11

browney
Hi Steven,

The EK waterblocks use a G1/4" thread so you can easily replace the fittings with 10/8mm compression fittings.

You need the product below. (2 for each block)

http://www.watercoolingshop.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=49_55&products_id=147

Regards, Paul

WaterCoolingShop.com

Sound right?

24-07-2006, 07:49:18

JN
Yep, Paul knows his stuff when it comes to water cooling

24-07-2006, 07:51:08

browney
Just got to save now then :P

24-07-2006, 07:51:59

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='browney'
Just got to save now then :P
hehe yup, money always helps

24-07-2006, 08:05:41

browney
Ek got back to me about the chipset wb



Hi!

Should work with no problam at all!

Best, Eddy

24-07-2006, 08:53:41

JN
Good stuff - i also forgot tot plug the fact that we'll be reviewing one of the EK GPU blocks shortly - so keep an eye out

24-07-2006, 17:26:20

WC Annihilus
Tight. Eddy is supposed to be a real nice guy and his blocks perform quite well

24-07-2006, 17:31:16

Futures Truth
Quote:
Originally Posted by XMS
Glad it was of use Futures

Have you decided on what one to go for?
Most likely the Alphacool Xtreme Pro, unless I decide on having NoL build a phase change unit for me.

09-08-2006, 12:44:21

PapaLaz
Hi all, first post here so go easy

Just wanted to thank you for this review. I've been doing the hardware side of PCs for ages, and am just about to venture into watercooling my rig. After reading this review (linked from the watercoolingshop.com site) I decided to go for the XSPC X2O kit, looks excellent value for money.

Also ordered the X2O VGA block to go on my X1900XTX (already has ramsinks from the Zalman VF900), and an extra CPU extension ring (theres tons of passive sinks on this BadAxe, and was worried that the CPU block wouldn't fit).

I'd like to get it installed internally in my Akasa Eclipse, but not sure yet if it'll be possible - don't think it'll fit even if I rip most of the drive bays out. Will probably have to get a hole cut in the roof, but am cack at anything like that, and terrified of bodging up the case

Anyway, thanks for the great review (and top forums !!) - I'll get some posts/pics up when it's all done. Any advice would be VERY welcome too.

PapaLaz

09-08-2006, 12:47:33

Ham
If your really worried you could send off you case to kustoms?

09-08-2006, 14:09:34

JN
Hi Papalaz,

I'm glad you liked the review, and thanks for swinging by the forums.

Did you decide to go for the XSPC Dual Xtreme kit? If so, you have a few options....

1. Send the case to kustompcs.co.uk and have them cut 2x120mm holes in the top of your case as Ham rightly said.

2. Mount the radiator on the back of your case using the included mounting brackets.

3. Mount the radiator on top of your PC (in a koolance fashion) using the included mounting brackets.

Feel free to ask any further questions

09-08-2006, 14:31:09

PapaLaz
Yes, it was the Dual Xtreme kit I went for.

Long term I think I'll look at getting the holes cut into the top (and possibly get Kustom to do it - thx). All the kits arriving tomorrow, and as I'm sooo impatient I'll be setting it up right away.

Not sure if I fancy mounting it at the back of the case, on the 120mm mount, due to the jungle of cables that reside there, but I quite like the sound of having it external on the top. Wasn't aware the kit came with fixings for that - how does it mount exactly, you mentioned brackets, does it clamp across the top or something ?

The main reason I've decided to go water was for temps. My system is very quiet on air atm (120mm front & back, Scythe Ninja + 120mm, Zalman VF900 on the gfx), but I'd like the temps more stable. With the E6600 @ 3GHz-ish it idles@39-40 and loads@60-65. I can get the E6600 stable @ 3.6GHz, but I have to pump around 1.6v into it, and that gets me idle@48-50 load@65-75... waaay too warm.

Haven't been able to find any review of the XSPC VGA block, but it was stated for the x1800/1900 so should be fine. If I start enjoying the wc lark I might get one of the complete gpu/mem blocks, but thought i'd start out gradually

Thanks again for all the help/advice !!

09-08-2006, 14:37:16

Mullet
Welcome aboard bud...

I am going to be hacking lumps out of my eclipse 62 shortly....will post up some pics for you to digest to help you make the decision re. rad install. Personally for cleanest look I'm going for an internal fitting (in top of case)..will be using a PA120.2....and the thermochill grill will be used as a cutting template....

09-08-2006, 15:16:56

PapaLaz
Thx - that'd be excellent.

You think it's possible to get it all under the top, with just grills on the top, whilst leaving room for PSU (presume you'd have to forget the 1st 5.25 bay). Was thinking it would have to go half/half, with the rad under the case level, and the fans above... not a great explanation, but you get what I mean

Love the case, there's so much room for keeping all the cables tidy, and I'm sure i can get the pump etc tucked at the bottom to the right of the case.

My Mrs just said "whats the point in having it inside - dont you want the radiator outside to cool down the water".. maybe I should just get her to put it together for me

09-08-2006, 15:54:27

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaLaz

Not sure if I fancy mounting it at the back of the case, on the 120mm mount, due to the jungle of cables that reside there, but I quite like the sound of having it external on the top. Wasn't aware the kit came with fixings for that - how does it mount exactly, you mentioned brackets, does it clamp across the top or something ?

..

Haven't been able to find any review of the XSPC VGA block, but it was stated for the x1800/1900 so should be fine. If I start enjoying the wc lark I might get one of the complete gpu/mem blocks, but thought i'd start out gradually

Thanks again for all the help/advice !!
The radiator actually comes with 4 polished steel brackets. Normally these would be used for fitting the radiator over an 80mm fan hole, but i found them equally as effective for mounting the radiator on top of a case. They give the radiator around 5cm space from the case, so airflow is not a problem.

You'll see what i mean when you get the kit tomorrow

10-08-2006, 12:51:06

Mullet
Not sure what the thickness is on your rad but I know I will lose the use of 2.5 drive bays. The PA120.2 is 64mm thick...but pretty much pwns on the cooling front!! The thermochill grill provides a good template for cutting and looks nice too!!

http://www.thermochill.com/

10-08-2006, 12:58:51

PapaLaz
Well the kit arrived, and I'm one very unhappy bunny !!!

Everything inside was perfect, except this forgot to ship one vital ingredient - no tubing. I've sent a couple of emails through the contact page at watercoolingshop and also fired one off to Paul at XSPC (his addy was on the back of the manual)... sent them about 4.40pm, hoping someone would sort it out and get tubing in the post to me... still no replies.

More annoyed as I'd taken tomorrow off work to get it all built, after intending to assemble and leak test tonight. Shocking - how can you miss out such a vital piece.... No contact numbers for the store or XSPC so all I can do is send them mails.

Sorry, just venting, obviously I'm pretty gutted.

Also, FYI, the retail pack is shipping in the same brown box you recieved, and the manual is still based on the single 120mm rad.

Update - as I write this Paul has just emailed me to apologise, and he's gonna try and get some tubing in the post for me tonight. Fingers crossed.

Having now had a good look at the rad, I'm probably gonna mount it on the back 120mm for now - mounts look pretty sturdy. Will go inside eventually but think I'll leave the hacking to the pro's

10-08-2006, 13:43:56

JN
Hi Papalaz,

Thats a bit of a bummer. Paul is normally really quick at replying to e-mails. I imagine he was probably just rushed off his feet at the time.

It's a shame they havn't got the manual and packaging sorted yet, but if you need any help - just ask

Fingers crossed for the arrival of your tubing tomorrow

10-08-2006, 13:57:46

PapaLaz
I think to be fair to Paul, he said he'd just got home, so was probably travelling around 4.45 when I sent the mail. He's since mailed me back to say he had some tubing at home which he's got out in the last post for me, and will send the original stuff tomorrow. Fair play to him, that's a decent enough response - was just gutted when I got home "ready for work"

Not too bothered about the manual and packaging, looks simple enough to install. Only thing which will take some working out is the VGA block (I got the XSPC one to match the rest). Bundle of strange tiny washers to clamp in onto the supplied backplate... sure it'll all make sense once I whip the VF900 off, and if not I can polly use the nipples/clamps from the 900.

Overall though the kit looks awesome, really is a nice rad. Also the fans are now supplied with 3-pin connectors which is a real result - they're nice long cables too to get inside the PC (and can then go on my akasa fan controller).

Lol - last thing to slow me down will be the filler cap on the pump/res, think it was put on by Superman !!

Thanks again for the advice and offers of help... will probably make some posts late on tomorrow.

Oh, one last thing... as I'm putting the rad on the back, I was gonna build it all up, then leave it outside the case to leak test. Think I'll have to put long tubing on the rads, as that'll have to stay near the case, with the tubing going through the pci backplate. Yeah, only way to do it... sorry, thinking out loud

10-08-2006, 14:42:32

Mullet
Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaLaz
Well the kit arrived, and I'm one very unhappy bunny !!!

Everything inside was perfect, except this forgot to ship one vital ingredient - no tubing. I've sent a couple of emails through the contact page at watercoolingshop and also fired one off to Paul at XSPC (his addy was on the back of the manual)... sent them about 4.40pm, hoping someone would sort it out and get tubing in the post to me... still no replies.

More annoyed as I'd taken tomorrow off work to get it all built, after intending to assemble and leak test tonight. Shocking - how can you miss out such a vital piece.... No contact numbers for the store or XSPC so all I can do is send them mails.

Sorry, just venting, obviously I'm pretty gutted.

Also, FYI, the retail pack is shipping in the same brown box you recieved, and the manual is still based on the single 120mm rad.

Update - as I write this Paul has just emailed me to apologise, and he's gonna try and get some tubing in the post for me tonight. Fingers crossed.

Having now had a good look at the rad, I'm probably gonna mount it on the back 120mm for now - mounts look pretty sturdy. Will go inside eventually but think I'll leave the hacking to the pro's
Aye....my EK blocks arrived without barbs!! Not so worried tho...not Paul's fault....a balls up at EK's end of things...he has already responded and 6 shiny barbs are making their way to me.

PapaLaz.....what rad did u go for in the end? Here's a pic of another install done by someone I know on an eclipse 62 using the PA120.2

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f1...4copyLarge.jpg

Measurements are included......

Looks very nice IMO

16-11-2007, 07:09:59

tsinc80697
Just about to dabble inwot watercooling and a change of case. Been looking at the Antec P182 and the H20-220 Apex Ultra. Just been asking in another thread if they will fit together.

As this review is quite old, are there any newer kits out there that will out perform the Swiftech kit for around the same price?

Looking for performance/silence really but not at an silly price!
Reply
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