Over the last four months, I have noticed a drastic drop in my computer’s ability to run games. I have Call of Duty 4 and Call of Duty: World at War, both of which ran perfectly at 1400x900 with all settings at max or medium. But when I go to play them now, I experience momentary freezes, which I can “fix” with Ctrl-Alt-Del and then hitting Cancel (32-bit Vista Ultimate). But eventually, while playing the game, there will come a point where it just freezes the entire computer and blue screens. There are also many artifacts within the game, as well as other rendering problems. Now I have to play the games on the absolute lowest settings to delay the inevitable crash, which helps a little. Once rebooted, Vista will report either a fault from my graphics card—an Nvidia 7900 GT—or an unknown error. I have updated all my drivers, defragmented my hard drives, and re-installed the game. What’s going on here?
CoolIT is somewhat notorious for enormous but effective closed water-cooling systems: its Boreas and Freezone Elite kick the pants off of conventional air coolers and are much more user-friendly than piecemeal water-cooling setups. Now CoolIT wants to bring self-contained water-cooling to the masses with the Domino Advanced Liquid Cooling.
The Domino eschews both the large heatsinks and the Peltier thermoelectric coolers of its predecessors in favor of a radiator and single 12cm fan, which gives the Domino less oomph than the Boreas or Freezone Elite, but confers several advantages to the water-cooling newb.
First, the Domino costs a cool $80, compared to $600-plus for the Boreas and $350 for the Freezone Elite. Second, the Domino is much smaller and easier to install; CoolIT boasts that an amateur with no CPU-cooling experience can install it in 10 minutes.
The Cooler Master V10 is a monster. It weighs two pounds, 10 ounces, stands 6.3x9.3x5.1 inches, and contains one thermoelectric cooler, two fans, and two heatsinks: one on the CPU and one on the TEC. The TEC, which needs to be powered by a 4-pin Molex on a dedicated power lead, activates only when needed.
The V10’s installation is the worst we’ve ever experienced. Two retention clips attach to the cooler, which you then attach to a bracket you mount on the back side of the motherboard. This means removing your motherboard and balancing the cooler on your lap while you screw it in. Unfortunately, the V10 is so huge that it blocks the motherboard’s top three ATX screws, making it difficult to mount the motherboard in even the roomiest cases. And the V10’s bulk made it difficult to connect both the 8-pin and the 24-pin motherboard power cables on our test system’s motherboard—impressive, since they’re on opposite sides of the motherboard.