Whenever we see an all-in-one water-cooling setup that combines a pump,
radiator, fan, and miniature reservoir in a small enclosure, we get
nervous. They remind us of those wacky commercials from the
black-and-white era of television, when a slick-haired man in a fuzzy
gray suit would try to sell you some mystery tonic that could cure your
coughs, polish your car, and kill your cat. Just as those elixirs are
little more than junk science, we’ve found that budget water “coolers”
attempting to put too many operations under one roof tend to perform
marginally better, and often worse than, your processor’s cheapo stock
There comes a time in every young PC builder’s life when he seriously considers outlandish ideas for modifying and cooling his smokin’ new gaming rig. But you don’t need to mod your PC into a refrigerator to reach subzero temperatures, not if you have CoolIT’s latest 12 TEC cooler, the Boreas.
Zalman is no stranger to gigantic external liquid-cooling devices. We’ve become so accustomed to seeing its huge, tower-like Reserator coolers that we nearly choked when the 15-pound Reserator XT arrived in our Lab. For starters, it’s not a large, awkward-to-carry cylindrical column. The rectangular apparatus is comparably compact and sleek, more akin to a subwoofer than a home-theater speaker.
Sweet mercy, at first glance Koolance’s PC4-1025BK case seems like a perfect power-user box. Unfortunately, this water-cooling-enriched case is simply too small to contain certain enthusiast hardware and too complicated for the average user.
Our first thought upon opening AVADirect’s new Core 2 Duo SLI Gaming
System was, “Wow, this is heavy.” Our second, “Oooh, but it’s pretty!”
was followed shortly by a third, “It’s bleeding!” A cursory
inspection revealed that the system was shipped without one of its two
CPU-cooler hose clamps, and was indeed leaking AVA’s “bloody red”
coolant into the machine. Disconcerting, to say the least. We notified
AVADirect of the problem, and they dispatched a tech to fix it.
Thereafter, despite some red residue on one of the 8800’s DVI ports,
the rig worked perfectly.
A lot of the enclosed “for newbs” water-cooling kits we see at Maximum PC are pretty lame. You get a pump/heatsink combination that’s mildly irritating to install, connected by tubing that’s slightly wider than the veins in your arm. The tubing goes to a radiator that’s often unable to handle the heat output of the processor—even with a noisy 12cm fan pushing more air through it than a jet engine. You spend half an hour installing the device for a whopping cooling difference of three degrees versus what you get from a stock air cooler.
If we could give points for looks, Cooler Master’s new Aquagate S1 liquid cooling system would rank among the top products we’ve tested. But sadly, we base our judgments on performance. This thing is supposed to be able to cool a quad core, but it’s obviously designed for CPUs less powerful than even the FX-60 in our test machine.