The Asetek Vapochill Vapor Phase Cooling System
Taking the Pentium 4 To 3.3GHz And Beyond

By, Dave Altavilla
October 23, 2002

The last time we checked in with the folks at Asetek, back in July of 2000, we were working with the Pentium III at its highest core clock speed of 933MHz at the time.  The world of Personal Computing has changed dramatically since then and so has the Vapochill, Asetek's Vapor Phase Cooling System for Pentium 3/4 and Socket A Athlon platforms.  Back then, we were impressed with the capabilities of the unit but were set back a bit by its somewhat complicated and cumbersome setup and assembly process.  Regardless, once the product was properly setup, it delivered on its promise of allowing the end user to take their CPU to new found heights in clock speeds and performance, unachievable by any other reasonable cooling method.  It seemed, at the time, that the Vapochill served as a niche' product for the enthusiast, that just had to have the fastest machine on the planet, regardless of cost and in some cases practicality.

Since then, the Vapochill has matured significantly and what was once thought of an extreme high end product, is now being targeted much more toward the mainstream and even the corporate sector.  There is no doubt that the maturation of techniques in cooling and case modification, has opened wider, new found emphasis on style and performance above and beyond the standard "gun metal gray" PC box of days gone by.  With a new, slick looking chassis and a lower cost of ownership, we're taking a HotHardware.Com look at the new and improved Vapochill, to see what sort of tricks we can pull off with a 2.8GHz Pentium 4.  Sound like fun?  Let's get started then, shall we?


How The Vapochill Works
Modern Vapor Phase Cooling For The PC


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

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

The Vapor Phase exchange process of cooling, is fairly straight forward and simple to understand, at least from this application perspective.  The CPU Kit, which contains the evaporator, has a round cold plate which makes contact with the heat slug on the processor.  The evaporator returns the warm R134a refrigerant gas to the compressor, where it is pressurized inside to the point where it produces condensation of the refrigerant.  Then the condenser unit lowers the temperature of the coolant and returns it to a fully liquid state for passage back down the capillary tube to the evaporator to keep the cooling process going.  In short, this is the exact same process that your average household refrigerator uses.  The end result is that the cold plate in our "Standard Edition" unit, while under no load, maintains an idle temp of about -20C, while the system is running a Windows session with a heavily overclocked Pentium 4 processor. 

The actual Pentium 4 on chip thermal diode at this point, registers around 1C or 33F, again without load.  We'll get into more detail on all this later but it's pretty safe to say that beyond using liquid nitrogen (a highly volatile and impractical process) to cool your CPU, Vapor Phase Refrigeration delivers thermal performance like no other method of cooling for the PC.  We'll take a good inside the new Vapochill, next.


The Design And Setup