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Asetek WaterChill CPU/VGA/Chipset Power kit - KT12AT-L30
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Date: Aug 03, 2005
Section:Misc
Author: Jason Gibson
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Introduction, Specificatons and Bundle

With today's ever advancing PC technology, it seems that two things ultimately remain unchanged; an increase in performance usually means an escalation in heat output.  Currently, air cooling techniques can still keep most computer hardware operating at reasonable temperatures, but those who decide to squeeze every ounce of performance from their systems will see, and potentially hear, the limitations of these methods. With some systems starting to rival the noise levels of the household vacuum, computer enthusiasts are always on the hunt for alternative cooling solutions that may quiet down their rigs.  This is where Asetek comes in.

Asetek is known for producing such infamous cooling systems as the VapoChill vapor-phase change system, but they also produce a full line of water-cooling related products as well. Asetek's latest addition to their WaterChill line of products, the KT12AT-L30, is also known as the WaterChill Extreme Edition. Sporting a massive radiator which hosts three 120mm fans, water blocks for your CPU, VPU, and Chipset, and a pump that moves about 900L/H, this kit seemed very promising.  But, as we all know that when it comes to hardware, some products don't perform nearly as good as they're supposed to. Let's see how the WaterChill Extreme Edition fared though, shall we?

Specifications
The hard numbers
KT12AT-L30 component overview:
  • WaterChill CPU Cooler Antarctica block supporting Intel P4 LGA 775 (Socket T)
  • WaterChill Chipset cooler block NB01/P1 supporting Intel, AMD, SnIS and VIA chip sets
  • WaterChill VGA cooler block VGA02/P1 supporting Nvidia/Gforce ad ATI/Radeon AGP cards
  • Black Ice Pro DUAL Radiator with push on fittings
  • 3 X 120 mm Low Noise Adda Fans with push on fittings
  • 900 l/hr SACEM Pump with push on fittings. Less heat dissipation from pump, due to improved impeller design
  • WaterChill Control Unit with SafeStartTM, NoiseControlTM and LED connection
  • WaterChill Plexiglas Reservoir
  • WaterChill Tube Set (3.0 mtr.)
  • ALL fittings and mounting accessories are included
  • WaterChill Anti Alga Fluid - WaterWetter [10mm bottle]
  • Heat Conduction Compound - 2 ml tube
  • Installation Manual
  • Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price ex. VAT [Within the US] $ 349.00


The Waterchill kit came in an eye-catching semi-transparent plastic box, which is constructed in a very similar fashion to corrugated cardboard, but is made of heavy-duty plastic.  Taking a brief gander at the box (refer to images below) we were able to find some information which gave a brief synopsis of what the WaterChill kit is supposed to do, a large Asetek logo and a round sticker advertising the "free" swag Asetek has included within the package.

top of the box box info asetek logo
swag sticker with lid open the swag

Opening the box, we found all of the hardware neatly sandwiched between three layers of egg-crate foam and individually packed in zip-lock baggies.  After a fairly intensive visual inspection of all the hardware, we did not see any signs of damage that occurred during the shipping of the product overseas from Europe.  All in all, the care taken while packaging this product will surely decrease the risk of damage during normal shipping procedures whether ordered on-line or purchased at your local retailer.

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Pump and Control Unit

Pump
The heart of the system
NOTE: The first two pumps which we received from Asetek, though shipped carefully, did have a small leak along the seem where the reservoir met the pump.  However, Asetek readily rectified this issue and we had replacement pumps in just a few days.  While we did have some minor issues initially, which ultimately could have been the luck of the draw as the last pump worked flawlessly, kudos goes to Asetek for their fantastic customer service while dealing with this issue.

The first piece of hardware we took a serious look at was the heart of the system, the water-pump.  Straying away from their older designs, Asetek decided to implement their new 900 l/hr SACEM Pump.  Featuring an integrated reservoir with new push fittings, the pump offers a high flow rate and consumes only a small foot-print within the computer chassis.  Consisting of only two separate components, the pump/reservoir and the base, the assembly of the unit was very simple.  By simply dropping the pump onto the base, we where greeted by a satisfying *click* which indicated the pump was securely locked into place.

front left side back

Looking at the front of the pump, one can clearly see the square box which houses the magnetically driven impeller and the clear plastic cylinder which acts as the reservoir.  Protruding from both the top and side of the pump, more clearly noted by their blue endcaps, one can see the push fittings.  Also, to aid in preventing leaks, which is especially important on the pump due to the water pressure, Asetek has wrapped the threads of both push fittings with white teflon tape to fill the gaps between the threads of the pump and the fitting itself.

right side mounting base on mounting base
removing the reservoir cap looking inside the reservoir pump with cap removed

The pictures above demonstrate the processes of attaching the pump to the base and the removal of the cap on the reservoir.  If you are anything like us, you are probably looking at the lid and have thoughts of it "falling off" during transport of your system.  But, in the case of this pump, once the lid is put in place it is not likely to fall off at all.  If you look at the image at the bottom left you can see the line where the rubber o-ring has made a watertight seal between the lid and the reservoir.  As well, once the pump is filled with water the moisture in the little bit of air left at the top of the reservoir helps keep the o-ring soft, thus helping keep the unit sealed.

Control Module
The brain of the system

In the pictures of the pump above, you can see a small power cord leaving the rear of the pump.  If you follow that cord to the end, you come to the Control Module for the WaterChill system.  This little black box, which is about the size of a small cell phone, houses a circuit board which includes the 3v power adaptor, fan connector and a small jumper which controls the voltage that is supplied to the system.  Also, leading from the back of the control module is the main power adaptor which draws its current from the PowerSupply via another power cord.

control module connections power plug

The only configuration option available with the control module lets you run the system at a the quiet 7v option, or the substantially louder 12v setting.  Though 120mm fans are known for producing high CFM levels with minimal noise, by running the system at the 12v setting the fans are quite loud due to the turbulence caused by the air passing through the radiator.  However, in comparison to a fully air cooled tower, the WaterChill system still produces noise levels which are in notably lower.  In the picture below you can see how the entire pump/control module systems are connected; all in all, not an excessively complicated system.

entire pump system

 

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CPU, VPU and Chipset Water Block

CPU Waterblock
Where are the penguins?

 

cpu water block top side
right hole center hole left hole

The first of the three water blocks we took a look at was the Asetek Antarctica CPU Cooler.  By sporting a solid copper base, interchangeable Plexiglas top and three 1/2" push fittings, this cooler offers not only versatility, but should allow easy movement of water throughout the block.  The center of the three fittings is shaped slightly different (note the center picture above).  Instead of being a round hole, Asetek has shaped it in such away that when water passes through it, the water is accelerated, thus moving quicker through the block as a whole.  In turn, the large openings of the left and right fittings are designed to minimize flow restriction and will allow the water to freely exit the block.

bottom with protective cover unscrewing the base water block dismantled
copper plate copper plate

Dismantling the water block was fairly simple.  By simply removing the four screws, using the provided Allen Key, the copper base separated from the Plexiglas top with minimal effort.  In the bottom two pictures above you can easily see the raised ridges in the center of the plate where the middle 1/2" fitting sprays water.  Once the water moves through the groves it pools in the slightly depressed areas of the plate where it is then forced up and out of the block, through the two other fittings, via the "fresh" incoming water.  Also note the smooth milling job Asetek has done on the copper plate.  Though it is not a complete mirror finish, it is nicely polished, thus minimizing the chance of air-bubbles/pockets forming which would decrease the cooling capability of the block.

VPU and Chipset Waterblock
Keeping the rest of the system cool

 

front left side back
right side water channels

Just like the CPU Cooler, the VPU block is comprised of a solid copper base with a clean Plexiglas top.  Located at the top right edge of the block the intake and output 1/2" fittings can be found. While this block does not come with any interchangeable Plexiglas plates, the cooler will fit any NVIDIA/GeForce and ATI/Radeon AGP card.  Unfortunately we did not have any PCI Express Cards to install the cooler onto at the time of testing, but the hardware which Asetek provides should allow attachment to most standard sized video cards currently in production (in addition, we do recommend installing a 3rd party memory cooling solution if using a newer video card as the memory runs very warm).

front left side back
right side water channels

Continuing the trend of its two predecessors, the chipset cooler is comprised of the same materials and sports the same 1/2" fittings.  Supplied with enough variance of hardware to attach to most mainstream motherboards, users should have little to no problem installing this water block, regardless of their motherboard's chipset.

 

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Radiators

Radiators
The not so little black box...

 

2x120mm Radiator
front back in/out connections
3x120mm Radiator
front back in/out connections

Unfortunately water does not release heat very efficiently.  So, to aid in this processes Asetek ships the WaterChill kit with a copper (found under the gloss black paint) two-pass radiator to accelerate the process.  With mounts for 120mm fans and the same 1/2" push fittings as the water blocks, water can get in, get cooled and get out in a very short period of time.  For our testing purposes only, Asetek shipped the WaterChill Extreme kit with two different radiators; their medium sized radiator which holds two 120mm fans (top radiator) and their new large radiator, found in the retail version of the Extreme kit, which holds a hefty three 120mm fans (bottom radiator).  The only draw back to Radiators of this size, is that placement within the case becomes a challenge and will require one to either alter the original state of their computer chassis, or mount the radiator externally.

close up fan mounting holes back of in/out connections

In the first picture above, you can see the copper between the fins of the radiator.  Though the black paint does not help with the expulsion of heat from the radiator, it does make it much more esthetically pleasing and should match many more computer cases.  The second picture above displays one of the mounting brackets for the 120mm fans.  As you can see their are no threads in the holes, this is because the screw for the fan cuts its own, so, be careful not to strip the hole during installation or else you will end up with a loose fan which may be prone to vibration.

two 120mm fans info sticker airflow arrows
bottom of power connector top of power connector

The fans provided with the radiator are 120mm, 12v, brushless fans with seven fins.  When installed all of the fans are daisychained together, using the standard 3-pin fan connector, so they can plug into the control unit which was discussed two pages back.  Also, for ease of installation, the fans have the direction of blade spin and path of airflow clearly marked by two arrows along the side of each unit.  For best cooling, be sure to place the fans in such a way that the air is being pushed through the radiator, not being pulled through from behind.

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Miscellaneous parts and Plexiglas tops

Miscellaneous parts and Plexiglas tops
The stuff that's in the small baggies...

 

cpu waterblock hardware chipset waterblock hardware vpu waterblock hardware
15 feet hose no kinks 1/2" diamter
anti-algae  fluid pump base and suction
cup cable guides
power cord, y-adaptor and
screws for fans

The pictures above are a mix of the remaining hardware which is included within the WaterChill kit.  Ranging from bolts and springs to anti-algae fluid and power cords, the kit holds everything one needs to affix every part to the hardware within one's case.

Water Block Socket Adaptors
Intel P4 AMD Intel - Socket T

The last thing we wanted to quickly cover before looking at the kit's performance are the three different socket adaptors.  Whether you are running an Intel or AMD system, Asetek has ensured that their CPU Cooler will fit any standard layout motherboard via the adaptors above.  Installation only requires a minute and the large rubber o-ring on each adaptor helps eliminate the chance of leakage once you swap the top.

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HH Test Bed and Stock Speed Comparison

HotHardware's Test System
Our test box
Hardware
Processor -
Mainboard -
Video Card -
Memory -
Audio -
Hard Drive -


Optical Drive -


Cooling -


Software
Operating System -
Video Drivers -

I
ntel Pentium 4 3.0CGHz
ASUS P4P800-E
ATi Radeon x800XL
1024MB Kingston HyperX PC4000 CAS 3
Sound Blaster Audigy2 ZS
Western Digital "Raptor"
36GB - 10,000RPM - SATA
MSI XA52P 48x24x48x
Plextor 48x24x48x
Lite-On 16x DVD-ROM
CoolerMaster Jet4
Asetek WaterChill Water Cooling Kit


Windows XP Professional SP2 (Fully Patched)
ATI Catalyst v5.6

Stock Speed with Low RPM's
Just like out of the box

For comparison, we put Asetek's WaterChill kit, sporting both the 2x120mm radiator and 3x120mm separately, up against CoolerMaster's Jet4 in an open air configuration on our test bench (stock heatsinks where left in place during Jet4 testing).  We strayed away from the stock Intel cooler becase a potential WaterChill kit buyers is probably a PC enthusiast who is upgrading their system from, or in the past has had, a high-end fan/sink combination.  The Jet4 is a little bit different from other fan/sink combinations because it uses a blower, rather then your typical rotary fan.  This difference in design is supposed to help eliminate the "dead-zone", which is found beneath the motor, where air can not typically reach on conventional fans.  We also choose this fan because of its adjustable speed which corresponds nicely to the variable speeds of the WaterChill kit via the 7-12v jumper on the control module.

To start things off we fired up our test rig and set the fan speed to "low", 7v for the WaterChill kit and the slowest speed for the Jet4, and let it idle for about 20 minutes to assure the temperature had stabilized.  We then took a temperature reading of the processor using the manufacture's monitoring software and record the results.  We followed the same procedure for the load test, but ran two copies of Prime95 to ensure our P4 processor with Hyper Threading was being fully utilized.

In reference to the graphs above, you can see the difference in temperatures between the Jet4 and the WaterChill Kit.  When the processor was Idle, the Jet4 was able to cool the processor to a respectable 89oF.  However, the WaterChill kit was able to lower the temperature by an additional 9oF.  The same trend occurred during the load test;  the Jet4 maintained a temperature of 113oF while the WaterChill kit subdued the temperature to an impressive 86oF.  The only other noteworthy area during this portion of testing was the temperature difference, or lack there of, between the two different sized radiators.  It seems, at this point, that the addition of the extra 120mm fan had no impact on the overall cooling ability of the WaterChill system.

Stock Speed with High RPM's
Just like out of the box

This round of testing again used the same mythology as the CPU test above, but this time we maxed out the fan speed of both the WaterChill (set to 12v) and the Jet4 (fan speed set to high).  The drop in temperature between the high and low settings is noticeable, but, the noise level surely increased with both cooling solutions.  While the WaterChill's temperature dropped by about 2oF, the Jet4 took the biggest gain with a temperature drop of nearly 3oF.  With that said, the WaterChill kit still took the overall cooling advantage while under full load.

 

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Overclocked to 3.3GHz

Overclocked to 3.3Ghz with Low RPM's
Turning it up one more notch

During this round of tests we overclocked our system to 3.3GHz and took thermal readings in the same manor as the stock speeds, then record the results to produce the graphs below.

With the clock speed being kicked up a notch, both cooling solutions seemed to turn in very similar results as the last run of tests.  Maybe we have a trend established?  Nonetheless, the WaterChill took precedence again over the Jet4 by about 4oF while at idle speeds and roughly 30oF while the processor was under load.

Overclocked to 3.3Ghz with High RPM's
Turning it up one more notch

As expect, the increase in fan speed did drop the temperatures in both the Jet4 (roughly 8oF) and WaterChill (about 9oF).  And just as before, the WaterChill is found in the lead with a 7oF advantage in cooling efficiency while idle and a 27oF difference while under load.

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Overclocked to 3.44GHz

Overclocked to 3.44GHz with Low RPM's
As fast as it will go.... without crashing

During this round of tests we overclocked our system to 3.4GHz and took thermal readings in the same manor as the stock speed, then record the results to produce the graphs below.

During the last fully stable set of tests we ran, the WaterChill System yet again rose to the top and obtained about an 4oF advantage in cooling over the Jet4 while idle and about a 29oF difference when under full load.  Though both systems faired well during this set, the Jet4 reached its limit during this round and we where unable to overclock the computer any further with this particular CoolerMaster product while keeping the system running fully stable.

Overclocked to 3.44GHz with High RPM's
As fast as it will go.... without crashing

 

As expected, in reference from the previous results, the increase in fan speed continued to impact the temperature slightly.  And as previously established, the WaterChill system took the lead once again with a difference of about 9oF while idle and 29oF while under load.

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VPU Cooling Results

VPU Cooling Results
Visual splendor maxed out...

Using a similar method as in the CPU tests on the preceding pages, we placed the WaterChill system up against another fan based VPU cooling solution. This time around though we used the stock heatsink/fan of the ATi X800 XL we where using as out test card.  Though there are plenty of third-party cooling solutions available for video cards, the stock fan/sink was able to handle the heat produced by the VPU effectively and kept the temperature within comfortable limits.

The results displayed in the above graph undoubtedly show the difference between the WaterChill and Stock cooling solutions.  In both instances, idle and load, the Stock fan/sink combination caused temperatures, which on average where, roughly 9oC greater then the WaterChill System.  Between the two Asetek systems, the 3x120mm setup did perform better then the 2x120mm system, but only by a few degrees.

 

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Conclusion

In retrospect, we can confidently say that Asetek's WaterChill Extreme cooling system is a very effective water cooling kit.  The performance advantage of the system is very apparent when compared to a standard fan based cooling solution.  Of course this method of cooling does come with its risks and small disadvantages.  Most obvious being the risk of mixing water with electricity, and the extra space needed within the chassis.  Though the thoughts of losing a system due to a small leak lurk in the back of our minds, with a little care taken during installation, this risk can be minimized dramatically.  Coupling that notion with the great build quality and easy to use quick connect fittings, Asetek has done their best to ensure that end users experiences little to no issues during installation/use.

As for the drawbacks, the only one that we can see is the size of the 3x120mm radiator.  Though there is a small increase in cooling delivered by the 3x120mm radiator, some may want to consider the 2x120mm version if they are not comfortable with case modifications. In our instance, we decided to use the 3x120mm radiator, but mounted it externally atop of our Silverstone TJ06 chassis, using the mounting brackets for the 120mm fans on the reverse side of the radiator.  However, if you want to keep things looking clean and try to mount the larger radiator within a case, you may have to mod the chassis somewhat to make it fit.

Overall though, whether you are an enthusiast looking for an alternative way to boost your system's speed, reduce the noise level below vacuum cleaner levels, or just want to fill the system with reactive dye so your rig looks sexy at the next LAN party, the Asetek WaterChill Extreme is definitely a safe choice.  With fantastic performance, great build quality, easy assembly and a cost below $350, we're comfortable recommending Asetek's WaterChill Extreme.  We have decided to award this kit an 9 out of 10 on the Heat Meter.

____ ____
  • Great Performance
  • Great Build Quality
  • All Inclusive Kit (minus the water)
  • Good Price vs Other Kits
  • Swank Hat and Lanyard
  • Large Radiator
  • First Two Pumps Leaked

 

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