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.
If Maximum PC’s tests worked like a beauty pageant, SilverStone’s Tundra TD01 might win the swimsuit competition. Talentwise, however, this water-cooling rig would be akin to your average 18-year-old girl trying to belt out “Since You’ve Been Gone.” It isn’t horrific, but it’s no Kelly Clarkson.
Swiftech’s dual-radiator Apex Ultra water-cooling kit is the current cooling record-holder (in our Lab, at least), so when the company told us it had a Micro kit that was designed to fit in tight, cramped cases, we were intrigued. Like most hardcore PC users, we assumed a small radiator couldn’t get the job done—at least without making a ton of noise. Boy, were we ever wrong.