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Digital-Daily : Cooling : vodyanki

Two water-powered coolers by EVERCOOL and Ice Hammer versus two HI-END coolers

Two water-powered coolers by EVERCOOL and Ice Hammer versus two HI-END coolers
Author: Viktor Baranov
Date: 06.01.2007

As is known, water-powered cooling is a privilege of PC enthusiasts - people for whom the computer is not much of a toy or a working tool but more likely a hobby. But these days exotics is accessible to anyone who is after that, albeit that is not cheap. The advantages of using water-powered cooling instead of the traditional air-powered cooling have long been known: higher cooling efficiency and more often a reduction of the system noise level. But both these factors are their relation strongly depend on the design specifics of each water-powered cooling system (WPCS).

All these complimentary descriptions of advantages of water-power cooling over the air-powered hold only when we use thoroughly selected WPCS components: a powerful and quiet pump, good coolers, and an efficient radiator. Such systems normally have to be assembled manually or use components specially designed for these purposes. Such a WPCS costs within $150 to $400. But there also exist inexpensive versions of ready-made water-powered cooling systems which fall within the price range $70$100. These WPCS are unable to compete versus their "elder brothers" at performance and noise level, but they are also available on the market due to their price moderateness and exoticism.

And here comes up the question: Will the inexpensive WPCS models be able competing versus HI-END air-powered coolers? Their prices are close, and the approach to cooling is really different.

Today, we are reviewing two ready-made kits of water-powered cooling by EVERCOL and Ice Hammer and will find out for sure if it is worth buying an inexpensive water-powered cooling system instead of an expensive regular cooler.

EVERCOOL WC-202

The water-powered cooling system EVERCOOL WC-202 sent to us for tests is shipped in a small but heavy enough box.


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

From the labels and pictures on its both sides we see that the system is aimed at cooling both the CPU and the GPU; besides, there is an option to ship a water block for the hard disk.

We were able to the specifications on this WPCS only at the manufacturer's web site:

EVERCOOL WC-202
Specifications
Main unit
Overall dimensions (WxDxH), mm
149 218 42
Material
plastic
Fan dimensions, mm
80 80 15
Fan's rotational speed, RPM
1600 ~ 3500 10%
Bearing type
2 x rolling
Fan's supply voltage, V
12
Noise level, dB
16 ~ 35
Pump
Supply voltage, V
5
Impeller's rotational speed, RPM
2000 10%
Throughput, l/hr
180
Secondary fan
Overall dimensions (WxDxH), mm
80 95 65
Fan dimensions, mm
80 80 25
Rotational speed of the fan, RPM
2800 10%
Bearing type
2 x rolling
Fan's supply voltage, V
12
Noise level, dB
27
Water blocks
For the processor
Overall dimensions (WxDxH), mm
63 63 14
Material
copper and steel
For the video card
Overall dimensions (WxDxH), mm
42 42 16
Material
copper and steel
Compatibility
Processors
(CPU sockets)
AMD: socketA/s754/s939/s940/socket AM2
Intel: s478/LGA775
Video cards
(Distance between assembly holes), mm
54,8 / 79,7
Approximate price, $
70 ~ 100 *

* Not available on the Russian market

It is nice to see that the model is compatible to all the processor sockets, but the compatibility of the water block fastener is there for only two standard distances between the assembly holes, which is annoying. Especially in view of the fact that these standard distances relate mainly to the video cards of the previous generations.

The throughput of the pump is definitely small - it is supposed to run water around a large circuit to which along with the CPU water block there may be included water blocks for the video card and the hard disk.

Anyway, let's not look ahead and better move on from the specifications to the box contents.


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

The reliable plastic body cast has four compartments in which there were the following components: the main unit with an instruction manual, a box of bundled items, a secondary radiator, and a container with antifreeze agent.

The large instruction manual with color pictures is made up in four languages. The assembly procedure is intuitive, illustrated with pictures and with enough details, so there won't be any problems with the installation.

The core of the system is the main unit which is meant to be installed into a 5.25" socket of the CPU unit.


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

The display on the front panel presents the details of the temperature, RPMs, as well as some settings. To the left, there is a plug to fill in antifreeze agent to the system equipped with a level indicator. To the right, there is a speed control handle for the built-in fan.


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

The display is highlighted with blue LEDs, so is the handle of the RPM regulator.

Of the monitoring functions, the main unit is able providing information on the temperature from the external sensor, and the fan's rotational speed - on the secondary sensor. Displayed is also the indication of pump and fan operation modes.

The fan in the main unit is able rotating at 1600-3500 RPM, and its speed is adjustable manually with an external handle. As the rotational speed of the fan goes up, the highlighting of the handle smoothly changes its illumination from blue to reddish. In case of its stoppage, the illumination turns bright red and the built-in speaker starts peeping immensely.

The fan on the secondary radiator runs in two fixed modes: 2000 or 2600 RPM. The maximum speed is 200 RPM lower than the declared, but that falls within the 10% measurement error. The control of operating modes is already effected automatically, not manually. The fan switches to the maximum RPM mode only upon attaining a set threshold temperature (within 40 to 80). This temperature is read from the external thermocouple which the manufacturer suggests to position as close as possible to the CPU.


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

To remove the upper panel off the main unit, we had to unscrew merely six screws, and this is what we found underneath:


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

On the rear panel of the main unit, there is a standard 4-pin power connector, a connector for plugging in a fan, and one more 2-pin connector to plug in a thermocouple. Also on the rear panel there are two connecting pipes to which hoses of the water cooling circuit are connected. The right-hand connecting pipe is the input: the fluid heated by the water blocks is fed through it onto the copper radiator which is assembled of numerous thin fins pierced by S-shaped copper pipes. The fluid that passed through the radiator is fed to a small plastic radiator where there is the pump. The pump in its turn captures the fluid and pushes it through the plastic pipe to the output connecting pipe which is positioned to the left as is shown on the photo.

Right above the radiator there is thin fan of 80x80x15 mm in size, which covers it so that the air flow is directed downwards. The only thing of issue is the decorative grid on the fan - it is made up by the uppermost panel of the main unit and is made too thick. Thus, a substantial resistance to air flow is generated, which strongly degrades the fan's efficiency and builds up its operation noise.

The water blocks for cooling the CPU and the video card were thoroughly packaged in cellophane packs, and when unwrapped they look like this:


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

To the left on the photo, there is a water block for the video card, it has lateral connecting pipes, which allows to minimize the space taken up by the system in assembly, but you would anyway have to give up the slot adjoining the video card.


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

The copper base of the water blocks is protected against scratches with a thick film which should be removed prior to installation. The processing quality is ideal:


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

You may think at first glance that the water blocks are made of aluminum or steel with a copper base, but that is not the case. The steel chromium-plated lids are mainly for decoration and also have a pin in the middle to fix with a fastening bracket. The method of installation of the CPU water block is simple and effective:


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

For Intel platforms, there is used a thrust plate with soldered screws to which the water block is pressed by an -shaped bracket. For AMD 7 and 8 platforms, there are used standard thrust plates which are hooked by the teeth of the CPU frame (8) or the CPU socket (7). Curiously, the same thrust plates we already saw on Titan TTC-NK32(34)TZ coolers. To all appearances, they are produced by one and the same OEM manufacturer.

The water block for video card is installed in some different way. On the chromium-plated lid, there is a similar fastening pin but over its circle there is a finning which matches that over the interior side of the fastening brackets.


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

This allows installing a water block on the video card at the required turning angle of connecting pipes and fix the position with a special screw. Therefore, you can direct the connecting pipes of the water block towards the side of the board free of external components.

The fastening method is simple and convenient, but has a dark side: fixing in merely two points and with a thin bracket having plastic studs results in an unstable structure and the water block may easily get warped.

Interestingly that the manufacturer has taken care of the inveterate problem when the protective frame around the video chip had a higher level than the video chip. To this end, inside the cellophane packet there is a special heat-conductive washer which is stuck at the central part of the water block base and provides a reliable contact of the water block with the GPU even when the frame is trying to hinder that.

Connection of water blocks with other system components is done by very flexible silicon hoses of 8 mm external and 5 mm interior diameters.


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

All the hoses are originally equipped with convenient fittings which are wound on the connecting pipe of the water block or the radiator. The tight contact between them is provided by the red rubber washer every connecting pipe of the system is equipped with.


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

In the original state, all the connecting pipes are stuffed with soft rubber plugs (to the right on the photo) which protect the water blocks and radiators against litter, and besides that these plugs prevent the rubber washers from getting lost. Another interesting trait of the system is the water transport sensor which is cut into one of the hoses.


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

Inside it, there is an impeller in the shape of a lead propeller which rotates as the water runs through the hose. On the same photo, you can very well see the clamps which fix the hoses on the fittings, they rigidly embrace the hose and can be removed only with a special tool which comes bundled with the system.

As we remember, the main unit of EVERCOOL WC-202 comprised a copper radiator, a pump, fluid reservoir, and the electronic components. But the copper radiator which is installed in this block is definitely not enough for cooling the CPU and the video card, so EVERCOOL WC-202 is equipped with an additional radiator.


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

Numerous fins are densely pierced with pipes, which provides quite good enough heat emission.


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

The couplings of pipes are filled with something like epoxy resin, with the screwed connection pipes turned conveniently to the side. The fan of the secondary radiator has to be plugged in to the matching connector on the main unit.

System assembly

The assembly passed very easily, without surprises. The detailed description of the process in the instruction manual is illustrated with numerous colorful and visual images, so you don't have to be able reading Chinese to understand what to do next.

The manufacturer recommends to connect components as follows:

CPU only Pump -> CPU - water block -> Secondary radiator -> Pump Video card only Pump -> GPU - water block -> Secondary radiator -> Pump CPU and video card Pump -> GPU - water block -> CPU - water block -> Secondary radiator -> Pump

That's right. But we have to make a reservation regarding the last mode.

It is the ideal option if a video card of small heat emission is used in the system. That is, there works the principle following which the component of less heat emission should be washed by water first, followed a component of greater heat emission, so that the hotter component not heat up the colder one. In fact, situations may be such that in our system we use a CPU Intel Core 2 Duo and a video card ATI Radeon X1900XT whose maximum heat emission can easily go beyond 100 W, with the nominal temperature of the video chip fluctuating at about 90. It turns out that you can't say which component in the system is hotter: the CPU or the video card. We should also take into account a number of specific traits of these components: the nominal temperature of the video card is at about 90, whereas stable operation is possible at temperatures not higher than 105. But the CPU in overclocked state loses its stability at temperatures over 80, and the temperature mainly fluctuates within 50 to 70C. Besides, the CPU Intel Core 2 Duo is more sensitive to temperature variations than the video card ATI Radeon X1900XT, that is why we assembled the system so that the CPU water block is first washed by water, and then the water block of the video card.

Once all the specific traits have been taken into consideration and the system is assembled at the table, we should refill the system with fluid (coolant). For that, the manufacturer has provided a reservoir with anti-freeze which should be mixed with distilled water in the proportion 3.5:1 (water/antifreeze). The antifreeze itself is inside the plastic container with a thing and long spout.

EVERCOOL WC-202

The end of the spout is factory-soldered and prior to using it, it has to be cut off. Then all the antifreeze is poured off to some nonfood container and then required quantity of water is added. By the way, it can be added from the container for convenience. Because it can hardly be filled to the full, the mix can be diluted in a volume as much as four times larger. The coolant is poured into the system out of the container, and the spout has to be inserted deeper on the main unit and squeezed neatly. In so doing, the main unit should be better held at some height so that the fluid pour down the hoses. Once the fluid level reaches the 'H' mark, the power supply of the pump has to be applied so that the fluid circulate through the system and just at this stage all all the air bubbles and air-locks have to be expelled. It is much easier to do on the desktop rather than in a CPU unit - we leverage the property of air going upwards. When all the air has been driven to the overflow bottle, it makes sense adding more coolant up to the "H" mark. On finishing assembly of the system on the desktop, we recommend that you leave the system running for at least a few hours or better for 24 hours. If no leaks have been found after this time, then all is fine, and the system can be fitted into the housing.

To install the assembled and filled system into the PC, remove a couple of 5.25 plugs on the front panel of the housing and stretch water blocks and the secondary radiator through that opening. The last to insert is the main unit which takes up of the 5.25" compartments. The secondary radiator has to be installed at the place of one of the housing fans, with water blocks installed on the CPU/video card, respectively.

Our test configuration in end has been shaped up as follows:


EVERCOOL WC-202

Click to enlarge

We once again note the exceptional flexibility of the hoses, they can be tied in a bungle without fear of bend. In general, EVERCOOL WC-202 left a positive impression by the thought-out design and love for details.

Content:

  • Page 1 - EVERCOOL WC-202
  • Page 2 - Ice Hammer IH-NIAGARA FULL
  • Page 3 - Tests. Final words




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