Battle of the Water Cooling Kits
Published: 19th June 2006 | Source: Alphacool | Price: |
By far the hardest part of this review was setting up each and every water cooling system, hooking it up to our test PC and taking temperature readouts of the CPU at idle and under load.
In order to make the testing procedure fair for all companies taking part in this review, we have removed certain components from some of the kits that may have affected thermal performance. The components removed were as follows:
- XSPC Aluminium Passive Reservoir
- Thermaltake Single 120mm Radiator
Water blocks were mounted a total of 3 times to ensure that they were seated correctly, and an average temperature was calculated from all 3 readings. None of the manufacturer's thermal grease or coolant was used. In order to keep the results fair, Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound was used along with plain de-ionised water.
All temperatures were taken from the motherboard's onboard diode using windows based software, which will give us comparable results. Load temperatures were taken after 30 minutes of Prime95 at a room temperature of 26ºC.
AMD Opteron 146 @ 3.0ghz (1.6v vcore)
DFI NF4 SLI-D
G.Skill FF PC4800 @ 300mhz
XFX 6600 GT PCI-E
Silverstone Zeus 560w PSU
Windows XP SP2
Unfortunately Overclock3D does not have the equipment for reliably producing figures on the dBA output of these kits, so instead I will write a brief paragraph about my opinion on the noise output of each kit.
The Alphacool was the first in the test, and I was thoroughly impressed with the quietness of the included pump. Once the bubbles had worked their way out of the loop, the pump was so silent that I needed to put my ear to it to make sure it was still operational! The fans did not disappoint either, remaining very silent I was hardly able to hear these over the noise from my northbridge fan. It is also worth noting that despite the fans not having any kind of voltage control, they can be plugged into your motherboard's fan headers and controlled using software provided with most motherboards.
The Swiftech kit wasn't quite as impressive as the Alphacool, with the pump being slightly auidble at around 1 metre away. This however was overshadowed by the noise from the fans. Running at 12v the Delta's are certainly not ideal if you're looking for a quiet PC, however with the fan speed reduced to 7v by using the included adapters the noise levels were on par with the Alphacool fans.
Thermaltake appear to have concentrated all their efforts on making the fan noise low by including an adjustable fan speed controller. This is ideal for those of us (like me), who need their PC to be quiet while they are concentrating (like writing an article), but also need high performance when gaming. The pump on the other hand is a different story. Producing a rather annoying hum and occasionally vibrating on the surface of my desk, it certainly could have done with some kind of vibration dampening fixings.
The pump on the XSPC kit was quite a different story from the Thermaltake. Running very quiet at the required 12v, I'd personally place the pumps noise output between that of the Alphacool and the Swiftech. Unfortunately XSPC have not included any way to reduce the speed of the included XinRuiLian fans. Had they have been 3-Pin and not 4-Pin, they could have been controlled using the motherboard's fan headers. This means that the XSPC X20 Dual Xtreme kit may not be suitable for those of us seeking a quiet water-cooling system.