VapoChill Retrofit - HotHardware

VapoChill Retrofit

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By, Marco Chiappetta
April 8, 2004

Almost four years ago, we took at a look at Asetek's original version of the Vapochill designed for the Pentium III, and we came away impressed.  The enclosure was a basic beige full-tower, which by today's standards isn't very exciting. The installation was tedious, but we were able to take a Slot 1 933MHz Pentium III all the way up to 1.16GHz, using an Abit CX6 motherboard.  No small feat considering it was June of 2000 and Intel was still using a .18 micron manufacturing process to build their CPUs.  A couple of years later, Asetek updated the Vapochill for compatibility with newer Athlons and Pentium 4s. They also introduced a much more contemporary and stylish enclosure.  We took a look at that model as well, and were equally as impressed.  With the updated model, we were able to keep a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 stable at speeds over 3.3GHz.  Next came the Vapochill XE, which again upped the ante and gave us the ability to run a 2.4GHz "Northwood" Pentium 4 at almost 3.7GHz.  Although its cooling performance has always been stellar, the universal consensus what that the Vapochill was fairly difficult to install.  Asetek listened to their customers and Tech Journalists around the world that have worked with the Vapochill, and have recently released an updated CPU kit, that makes working with the Vapochill much easier.  We've documented what it takes to retrofit a Vapochill with the new mounting kit, and have some updated temperatures to report using some new cutting edge hardware.  Read on and check it out...

Specifications & Features of the Vapochill
The King of Coolers
Case Feature Set
Main board types supported ATX / extended ATX
Full length graphics adapters supported
Slots for 7 extension cards
3 x 5 1/4' drive bays (external)
1 x 3 1/2' drive bay (external)
5 x 3 1/2' drive bays (internal)
ATX connector shield
Mounting options for fan cooling of HDD, 120 mm fan
Mounting options for fan cooling of case, 3 x 60 mm fans
Dimensions (DxWxH)
Weight: 11.8 kg / 26.0 lbs


Visuals
Larger Mid-Size ATX Case
Case cover coated with black or white powder paint (granular surface)
ChillControl LED Readout For Temperatures and Clock Speed


Standard and Optional Equipment
Designer front bezel
Power and reset switches
Blue LEDs for power and HDD indication
120 mm fan (optional)
Power supply (optional)
Thumb Screws For Power Supply and Case Side Panels
ChillControl Protection Circuit w/ LED Display
ChillControl Software For End User Performance Setup

Asetek's new CPU kit is not yet illustrated on their site, but we have the full the package on display for you right here.  The kit includes form-fitted foam shrouds for 478, 754 and 940 pin sockets, a CPU shroud that incorporates a heating element, a metal plate that reinforces the motherboard underneath the CPU socket, thermal paste, mounting hardware and lastly a piece of foam tubing.

If you head on over to this review and peruse the installation process for the original Vapochill CPU kit, you'll see that it was somewhat complex, and required the use of tools and adhesive foam.  Once installed, swapping out processors meant pulling out your screwdriver, and unscrewing a U shaped bracket from a couple of custom rails that ran through the stock plastic P4 CPU mount.  The problem with this setup was re-mounting the U shaped bracket was difficult and getting the cooling element to mount flush with the CPU took some practice. There were only two screws on either side of the socket holding the bracket in place, so an extra half turn on one of the screws meant the cooling head was no longer perpendicular to the CPU.

 

The new CPU kit mounts using four, spring-loaded thumb screws, which makes it much easier to get at your CPU, and results in perfect mating of the cooling element and processor every time.  Before we could enjoy the benefits of the new kit, however, we had to retrofit our existing Vapochill with the updated hardware.  The first step was disassembling the original mounting kit.  We removed the mount, and took apart the plastic clamshell surrounding the Vapochill's cooling element, until we were left with only its copper evaporator.  Then we discarded the original heating elements and foam, as they are no longer used with the new CPU kit.

 

Next, we outfitted our motherboard with the new mounting hardware.  First, we removed the stock plastic CPU mount from our motherboard.  Then, a layer of foam and a heating element meant to prevent condensation from forming under the CPU socket is attached to the metal plate.  Next, four threaded poles are screwed to the plate, through the holes in the motherboard.  At this point, we installed our CPU, making sure to coat its pins with non-electrically conductive thermal paste (this prevents condensation from forming on the pins, corroding them), and slid one of the fitted pieces of foam over the poles around the socket.   Then another piece of foam is installed over that, so only the CPU is exposed.

We had to install the CPU shroud, heating element and protective foam around the Vapochill's cooling element next.  The piece of foam tubing included in the kit slides over the original down-tube, followed by the new CPU shroud.  Two plastic, interlocking keys are then installed between the copper evaporator and shroud and the whole unit is locked into place with a large piece of hardened foam insulation.  When all is said and done, a small portion of the copper evaporator should be left exposed.  From here, all that is left to do from here is slide the assembled shroud over the socket, and mount it in place with four spring-loaded thumbscrews.

 


Some Overclocking & Temps...

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