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VapoChill Retrofit
Date: Apr 09, 2004
Author: HH Editor
VapoChill Retrofit - Page 1


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

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...

VapoChill Retrofit - Page 2


By, Marco Chiappetta
April 8, 2004

We've already done comprehensive reviews of the Vapochill, and the new Vapochill XE, so we won't be going in-depth here again.  The cooling element hasn't changed, only the housing that is used to mount the copper evaporator is new.  However, we did want to update the overclocking results using some newer hardware.  After assembling the new CPU kit, we installed it onto an Abit IC7-MAX3 motherboard, powered by a 3.4GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition and 1GHz of Kingston PC3500 RAM.  This particular CPU happens to be an unlocked engineering sample, so we were able to experiment with its multiplier as well as raise the Front Side Bus (FSB).




What we have for you here are three WCPUID screenshots representing our CPU's stock clock speed, it's maximum stable overclock and the peak overclocked speed that allowed us to boot into Windows, but wasn't quite stable.  We gave the CPU a slight bump in voltage to 1.65v, and then raised its multiplier to 18.  Next, we slowly raised the FSB until the system was no longer stable.  Our system peaked at just a hair under 3.9GHz.  At 3.87GHz, the system was able to run Stamford's U's Folding@Home graphical client in the background while gaming with UT2004 for a few hours.  We continued to push things a bit further and were able to break the 4GHz barrier with the Vapochill, but the system could not be considered stable.

Idle Temperatures with the Vapochill




The Vapochill was designed with one thing in mind - to keep processor temperatures as low as possible, and it does this very well!  Using the information provided under the "PC Health" section of our motherboard's BIOS, we recorded a few temperatures with the Vapochill while our CPU was sitting idle, at both stock and overclocked speeds.  For reference, we've also included the temperatures reported while using the stock Intel heatsink that came with our CPU.  As you can see, the Vapochill kept the processor at sub-zero temperatures regardless of whether or not it was running at its stock speed of 3.4GHz or overclocked to almost 3.9GHz.  We should mention that with the stock heatsink, we were only able to overclock our CPU to 3.72GHz (18x207MHz).  So, not only was the Vapochill overclocked significantly higher, but it obviously kept the processor much cooler.  As well it should considering it costs over $800...

Load Temperatures with the Vapochill
Baby, It's Cold Outside!




This next set of temperatures were recorded at the same clock speeds as above, but this time, we ran the system at 100% CPU utilization for about 20 minutes.  At stock speeds, the Vapochill still managed to keep the processor running at temperatures below freezing.  While overclocked, and under load, however, our CPU hit 7°C.  Not bad considering the stock heatsink hummed along at a toasty 62°C!  Clearly, for hardcore enthusiasts with the budget, the Vapochill is a fantastic choice.

At $100+ dollars, the new Vapochill CPU kit isn't exactly cheap.  Then again, if you sprung for a Vapochill in the first place, $100 is probably a drop in the well for you.  The new CPU kit is definitely a worthwhile upgrade for current Vapochill owners, as it makes changing the CPU and mating the evaporator properly much easier.  There is a fair amount of work involved getting it installed, but it's nothing an experienced user can't do in under an hour.  Should you be in the market for the Vapochill itself, up-to-date models will be shipping with the new CPU kit, so you'll be good to go right out of the box.  For more information about the Vapochill, be sure to check out our reviews of the original Vapochill, the updated P4 / Athlon version and the latest Vapochill XE.

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