The WaterChill Xternal is Asetek’s external version of its WaterChill cooling system. Overall the kit works extremely well, but it has a few minor flaws.
The industrial-looking cooling unit includes a dual 12cm radiator with four fans. Two 12cm fans blow down on top of it, and two more 12cm fans suck air from the bottom. Both sets of fans and the included pump are adjustable via software, and the front of the unit features a 20-character LCD screen.
You can set the LCD to display water temperature, pump speed, fan speed, or a text message of your choosing (as shown). A see-through window on the side lets you see the reservoir’s contents. The kit includes blocks for the CPU, GPU, and chipset; an external heat exchanger; a syringe of pink anti-algae fluid; and skinny 10mm tubing.
You’ll need to remove the motherboard to install the CPU block, even on an AMD system—which is a pain. The GPU block is the same variety that caused us to kill two videocards last year, and even though our nVidia 6800 GT emerged unscathed, we don’t like the two-long-screws retention method—it’s a recipe for disaster. We didn’t mount the chipset cooler because our Asus board includes a silent copper heat pipe for that purpose.
The star of the WaterChill show is the software control panel. It’s incredibly useful, and would be a real winner if it had a cleaner interface and clearer instructions. It displays fan speeds, pump speed, temperatures, and lets you tweak everything manually or set up preconfigured profiles that increase fan speeds as temps rise. We ran our tests with the fans at 60 percent (100 percent isn’t necessary for proper cooling, and it’s much too loud, to boot).
This kit performed as well as the other kits we tested, and it gets kudos for being the only kit to ship with three water blocks included. We love the control panel software and the sleek-yet-rugged elegance of the unit. It’s expensive, but it’s a freaking massive cooler with three water blocks, so the price is justified.
Month Reviewed: August 2006
+ CHILLING: Love the aesthetic, the quiet cooling, and the software.
- KILLING: GPU water block is dangerous, and the software isn't user friendly.