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Intel Upgrades Hardware Technology

Self-Contained PC Liquid Coolers Explored 86

Posted by timothy
from the very-small-submarines dept.
MojoKid writes "Over the last few years an increasing number of liquid coolers have been positioned as high-end alternatives to traditional heatsink and fan combinations. This has been particularly true in the boutique and high-end PC market, where a number of manufacturers now offer liquid coolers in one form or another. These kits are a far cry from the water coolers enthusiasts have been building for years. DIY water coolers typically involve separate reservoirs and external pumps. The systems tested here, including Intel's OEM cooler that was released with their Sandy Bridge-E CPU, contain significantly less fluid and use small pumps directly integrated into the cooling block as a self-contained solution. Integrated all-in-one kits may not offer the theoretical performance of a high-end home-built system, but they're vastly easier to install and require virtually no maintenance. The tradeoffs are more than fair, provided that the coolers perform as advertised."
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Self-Contained PC Liquid Coolers Explored

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  • Print link (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 17, 2011 @07:58AM (#38407778)
    Print link [hothardware.com]
  • Re:The money quote (Score:4, Informative)

    by Yaotzin (827566) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @08:43AM (#38407900)
    The HDD is sometimes louder than the fans when the CPU is idling, it's not a big deal. What's attractive for me is that they offer roughly the same performance as more expensive non-H2O coolers and weigh half as much. I have used Corsair's H50 and Antec's Kühler H20 620, which are made by the same company apparently, because they look exactly the same. Slightly annoying installation, but I am satisfied otherwise. Leaves a lot of space in my case, which is appreciated.
  • by RanceJustice (2028040) on Saturday December 17, 2011 @08:52AM (#38407928)

    I've always appreciated Corsair's products; in an industry where the typical MO is to push out the newest widget, sell before everyone forgets about it or gets upstaged, and never look back, they are one of the few companies that seem to understand that you're making an investment with their hardware. For instance, I wrote them a thank-you email after discovering that they offered two Upgrade Kits for their flagship 800D chassis. When the 800D first launched, SATA6 and USB3.0 weren't included. Had this been LianLi or Silverstone they would have released the "801D" and tell you to upgrade by buying a new $200+ chassis. Corsair on the other hand, offered a couple of $10 kits; one a new backplane for the hotswap SATA board, SATA 6.0 compatible and a new front port assembly with USB3.0 support. I have no second thoughts supporting them.

    For years those of us trying to make significant overclocks on our PCs, but not wanting to commit to an additional $500 or so in homebuilt liquid cooling, were left to HUGE air coolers that required $80-120 investment, plus fans and cooling paste. These were huge monoliths that were heavy and difficult to install. The advent of the Corsair self-contained coolers is the first "ready for prime-time" solution that fixes this issue. You are given equal or better cooling than high end air at an equal or better price, with a much easier install process. With Sandy Bridge-E and AMD FX, we're just dipping a toe back into the days when serious cooling is necessary to attain a high overclock, so its great that this hardware is maturing now.

    For anyone with a high-end air cooler or looking to build a new system and overclock it, these are probably the best off-the-shelf solutions you're going to find these days that don't have the learning curve of building and maintaining a custom-liquid setup and for most people who aren't trying to break records, they'll give you a ton of extra performance through the overclock.

  • by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@p10MENCKENlink.net minus author> on Saturday December 17, 2011 @10:39AM (#38408334) Homepage

    Even if you're not overclocking, water cooling is good

    The mid to high end cooling market gave up on conventional heatsinks ages ago. Nowadays they use either heatpipes or watercooling (the so-called "high end air coolers" are heatpipe based). Conventional heatsinks aren't very good at getting lots of heat out of small spaces.

    Both methods can take heat quietly from from a small and/or difficult to cool space (PC expansion cards suck from an air cooling perspective because they the motherboard and the connector plate on adjacent sides) and take it to a large radiator that can be more easilly cooled.

    The advantage of heatpipes is you don't need a pump.

    The advantage of watercooling is flexibility. Heatpipes tend to be (I don't know if they technically have to be) sealed copper pipes, slight bending is possible but there is little flexibility in the system and so the radiator has to be attatched to the pickup. This isn't a problem for a laptop where custom mounts can be designed in but in a conventional desktop it means you end up with the whole cooling assembly bolted to the heatsink mounts on the motherboard. This is bad for robustness and means you can't easilly route the heated air directly out of the case.

    Sealed unit watercoolers give a bit more flexibility, enough to bolt the radiator to the outside of the case (which is obviously superior to just having it sit above the motherboard.

    Full custom water loops are even more flexible but are more expensive and more hassle.

    especially for GPU heavy machines.

    Agreed, PC expansion slots were simply never designed for good cooling (if they were they would have the backplane opposite the connector plate rather than adjacent to it). So the only way GPU vendors can make a workable integrated cooling system for high power cards is to use a leafblower like setup.

    Unfortunately they don't make third party cooling easy either, pretty much every GPU model and sometimes even different cards with the same GPU needs a different waterblock so you are unlikely to see sealed unit watercooling for GPUs.

    They are also very quiet considering the gigantic heat output.

    Probablly about a kilowatt or so at most. That is like a fan heater on it's low setting, it's not that gigantic really.

Air is water with holes in it.

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