Out Of The Box
The Asetek Waterchill Xternal is composed of four individual parts, although the bulk of the system is housed in the "Xternal" unit itself, which is a combination radiator / pump / reservoir unit. In short, this means that it houses all the water in the system (reservoir), houses the mechanism which makes the water move through the tubing (pump), and houses cooling system to keep water temperature levels down (radiator + fans). The fact that all of these units are pre-assembled and self-contained in this one unit cuts down on the installation time for this water cooling system by a large factor compared to traditional water cooling systems.
Waterchill Xternal Base Unit and Waterblocks
The Xternal unit comes in black or silver, and is based around a heavy duty anodized aluminum alloy shell. The unit is sharp and looks great on top of black cases, and is roughly the size of a standard ATX tower in terms of depth. The unit is designed to sit on top of your chassis while the water cooling tubes run out of the back of the unit to the back of your chassis. It's hard to gauge the specs from images, but for those curious, the unit is 7.1" wide, 19" deep, and 4" tall, and weighs about 10 pounds without any water installed (kick it up to 12 or so with water filled). The unit is quite large in real-life, but has a great industrial look and feel to it which really showcases the quality of the product. Asetek includes rubber feet which can be applied to the bottom of the unit, allowing it to "hover" over the top of your chassis. These feet also provide an additional buffer for hot air to make its way away from the radiator.
Two (of Four) Adda 120mm Cooling Fans
Both the top and the bottom of the Xternal unit have silver fan grills (perhaps black grills would have been a better match?), which keep fingers away from the quad 120mm Adda fans which are pre-installed in the Xternal unit. These fans cool the radiator, and are both positioned to blow air downwards, meaning the top two fans bring cool air on to the radiator, while the bottom two fans move the heat away from the unit. By default, these fans run at full speed, which makes the system quite loud when first starting the system. However, using the Asetek control software, you can control fan speeds to make the unit nearly inaudible. The Adda fans are highly rated, good quality fans, although we're personally a fan of Pabst and Delta fans.
On the top of the unit, you can see a small plug which allows you to pour water directly into the Xternal from above. The unit does not use much water (only about 1/5th of a gallon), which is surprising given the size of the unit. On the side of the unit, Asetek pre-installs a see-through window which allows you to monitor water levels from the outside. This is also helpful to see if the pump is indeed active and pumping, as you can see minute variations in water flow when the unit is pumping. Great for testing purposes, and for diagnostic purposes later in the system's life, certainly. Asetek does not include any water by default (we would recommend using distilled water), but does include a syringe of Water Wetter (anti-bubble) / anti-bacterial solution with the unit.
Rounding out the back of the Xternal, we see our connectors for input and output water lines, along with a 4-pin Molex style power connector and a USB port. Asetek includes an mesh-covered 4-pin power extender-style cable which runs from the back of the unit to the system's power supply, so there is no external power brick or plug to the wall needed. (Asetek claims the unit uses between 7-12 watts of power). The USB (1.1) port connects from the back of the unit to any USB port connected to the PC. This allows you to control the unit's fans, pumps, and integrated LCD screen from a Windows Interface. Let's have a closer look at this LCD, shall we?
Power Plug, USB Port, and Input/Output Hose Connectors