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Corsair Ice T30 Memory Cooler Review
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Date: Jun 19, 2009
Section:Misc
Author: Mathew Miranda
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Introduction and Bundle


How cold can you get your PC? It seems like enthusiasts and overclockers constantly find new and creative ways to cool down the heat producing parts of their computer. We've already brought you coverage of liquid helium and liquid nitrogen being used to achieve sub-zero temperatures in order to achieve huge overclocking results. But using these methods doesn't provide a 24/7 solution that people can use without having to fill a pot every few minutes. Phase change, thermoelectric cooling, and watercooling attract a larger audience since they require little maintenance after initial setup, but they carry a hefty price tag. Still, exotic cooling enthusiasts want more variety with new designs and better performance in order to keep up with the constant flux of new technology. 

If there's a demand, you better believe that companies will find a way to supply consumers with highly sought after products. And as the PC enthusiast sector grows, we see more parts being released that focus on cooling high end components. While it seems like every company makes a RAM cooling fan these days, Corsair has decided to take it up a notch. The Ice T30 sub-ambient cooling system is the first of its kind and made specifically for Corsair's enthusiast grade memory. Is it all just hype or does cooling your memory provide measurable benefits? Read on to find out what this cooler has to offer.        


Corsair Cooling Ice T30 for Dominator GT Memory
 

Corsair Cooling Ice T30 Thermo-Electric Cooling Solution
Specifications and Features

Model
CWCDHXTEC
   
Features
First sub-ambient memory cooling

Humidity monitor eliminates condensation

Cools up to 20 degrees C below ambient

Watercooled TEC
   
Package Contents
TEC cooling subsystem
  Watercooling block
  Humidity sensors and control circuitry
  Installation instructions
   
System Requirements
3/8" inner diameter tubing
   
Warranty
 One year



The TEC Heat Pump Controller sits in a metal housing that can be secured in a 5.25" drive bay. If desired, the orientation of the PCB can be rotated within the housing. To operate the T30, the TEC Heat Pump, temperature sensor, and dual molex power adapters must be connected. Sensors detect ambient temperature and relative humidity inside the computer and the controller adjusts the voltage to the TEC according to the current environment.

Corsair also includes two Allen wrenches,six screws, and a large thermal pad. These items are necessary for installation. Clamps, zip ties, and 3/8" to 1/2" ID barbed couplings are provided for broader compatibility with more liquid cooling solutions. 

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Our Test Setup and Installation

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEM: In order to provide comparable data, we recorded our results both with and without the Ice T30 installed in the same, high end test system. The components we used consisted of an Asus Rampage II Extreme X58 motherboard, Core i7 920 processor, and 6GB of Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 memory. Within the BIOS, we initially configured the processor and memory to their rated specifications of 2.66GHz and 1600MHz respectively. The T30 memory cooler was isolated to its own watercooling loop which consisted of a D5 pump, triple radiator, three 120mm fans, reservior, and 3/8" vinyl tubing. 

HotHardware's Test System
Core i7 Powered

Hardware Used:
Core i7 920 (2.66GHz)

Asus Rampage II Extreme
(X58 Express Chipset)

GeForce GTX 295 EVGA

6GB Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 C8
(3 X 2GB)

Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Western Digital VelociRaptor 300GB
(10,000RPM - SATA)

Watercooling:
Liang D5 Pump
Thermochill PA120.3 Radiator
3 Yate Loon 120mm Fans
EK Res400 Reservior
3/8" Tubing


Software Used:

Lavalys Everest Ultimate 5.0


Installing Corsair's Ice T30 is a tedious process that requires time, patience, and attentiveness. As is the case with most watercooled components, installation is much more involved than their air cooler counterparts. Within the manual, there are 15 pages worth of instructions and diagrams to help explain the procedure. Rather than go through each step, we will just give notice that this is not a plug and play solution. 

This product is made for enthusiasts already familiar with liquid cooling who can integrate the cooler to an existing loop. During installation, we realized the hose barbs located on top of the cooler were not removeable and did not allow us to replace them with different barbs. This becomes an issue if the cooler is being added to a loop that uses a tubing size with an inner diameter other than 3/8", like 1/4" or 1/2" for example.

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Temperatures

To get an idea of how cool the T30 is keeping the memory, we recorded the idle and load temperatures of each stick during benchmarking. Our testing environment is climate controlled at 27C / 81F and we used a mini digital thermometer to monitor temps via a temperature probe. 

DIMM Temperatures
Monitored with Scythe Kama Thermo Mini

Heat is the enemy of every high end system. Enthusiasts understand that keeping each component cool benefits more than just a specific part. With less heat introduced into the system, the overall operating temperature stays lower and benefits the reliability and longevity of the PC.  Corsair's T30 lowers memory temps by about 20 degrees in both idle and load conditions.

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Overclocking and Power Consumption

After getting everything set up, we wanted to see if the T30 could give us more overclocking headroom. To do this, we started with the memory kit's stock speed of 1600MHz and 8-8-8-24 1T timngs. With a voltage of 1.75V, we raised BCLK and tested for stability at every step. We used the RST Pro3 memory tester from Ultra-X to make sure our settings were stable.

Overclocking with the Ice T30 TEC Cooler
Pedal To The Metal


Does the Ice T30 enable higher overclocks? Yes, our testing revealed that the cooler provided higher, more stable overclocking by allowing the memory modules to operate at lower temperatures. We reached 1779MHz with the stock heatsinks installed and a 120mm fan blowing air through the fins. With the T30 installed, however, we hit 1829MHz using identical timings and voltage. Lower operating temps also enabled us to tighten the memory's latency settings even further. At 1600MHz, we lowered timings from 8-8-8-24 1T to 7-8-8-18 1T with the stock cooing fins installed. But the T30's cooling ability allowed us to achieve 7-7-5-16 1T timings at the same speed and voltage.   

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet

Throughout all of our testing, we monitored how much power our system was consuming using a power meter. Our goal was to give an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the memory alone.

Obviously, the addition of another component requires more power to operate, but we wanted to know how much. Our results show that the Ice T30 added approximately 22 watts to the system's power consumption.
 

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The Ice T30 performed very well in our thermal tests and provided a boost in overclocking performance. We measured a 20'C difference in temperature when comparing the stock heatsinks to the TEC cooler. In turn, the lower temps allowed us to reach 1829MHz which was 50MHz higher than our air cooled result. While not a gigantic increase, the improvement shows the advantage of lower memory temps and potential to achieve higher overclocks with cooling solutions such as the Ice T30. 


 

Currently, the Corsair Ice T30 is the most expensive memory cooling system on the market. Memory fan kits can be found for less than $20 and a handful of memory waterblocks are being sold for about $100. But considering the components used and the relative complexity of the device, it is not a surprise that the T30 demands a high price tag. At $200 though, you should definitely weigh the benefits of adding this product to your system. If you have a 1333MHz or 1600MHz memory kit that doesn't overclock as well as you'd like, it may be advisable to purchase a faster kit instead of relying on better cooling to gain additional performance. On the other hand, Dominator GT owners with 1866MHz or 2000MHz kits could make use of the T30's capabilities to hit high speeds that air cooling simply can't support.

The T30 is a great looking product that will enhance the memory performance and cooling of a properly equipped high end system. If you're on a budget, its not for you. But if you're looking for ways to raise your benchmark scores at any cost, Ice T30 may be just what the doctor ordered. From a convenience point of view, we really wished the 3/8" barbs were removable in order to use other tubing sizes without relying on adapters. Also, we think the cooler should be a little bit larger in order to support six DIMMs for users who own two triple channel kits. And as is the case with all tools designed for overclockers, your mileage will likely vary performance-wise, but enthusiasts looking to squeeze every last drop of performance from their Dominator memory kit may want to consider Corsair's Ice T30 TEC Cooler.  

     
  • First subambient memory cooler
  • Provides overclocking headroom
  • Drastically lowers memory temps
  • Self adjusting controller
  • Condensation monitor

 

  • Expensive
  • Fixed 3/8" barbs
  • Only supports three sticks

 



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