Performance Summary & Conclusion
Performance Summary: The LCLC performed very well in all of our thermal tests. The LCLC outperformed the Intel stock cooler by a significant margin both while the CPU was idle and during the Everest stress test. With an 800 RPM Scythe S-FLEX installed on the heat exchanger, it was able to keep pace with the Silverstone NT-06 using a 2640 RPM screamer. This is an extremely impressive result that shows how efficient water cooling is. Also note, that had we used a more powerful fan, the LCLC's performance would have been even better.
Graphics cooling performance was also good. In the case of both the GPU and graphics memory, the LCLC was able to significantly outperform the stock cooler while the graphics card was idle. While under load, the LCLC performed on-par with the stock cooler. However, this was largely because the stock cooler is thermally controlled by the graphics card and the fan significantly increases in speed while the graphics card was under load, therefore increasing in noise level as well as cooling capability. If the LCLC was equipped with a thermally controlled fan connected to the motherboard, which could increase its speed when the system is loaded, the LCLC would have performed better.
In the recent past, watercooling had long been considered an enthusiast solution, superior to air cooling, for obtaining optimal cooling performance. Another popular reason to get watercooling, especially in earlier times when air coolers used loud 80mm high-RPM fans, was to build a quiet system that still maintained decent cooling performance. The situation today is quite different. With the introduction of fluid-filled heat-pipe technology to computer heatsinks, both of these reasons for getting watercooling have been eroded by newer, more efficient heatsink designs. The current crop of top-end super air coolers compete very well with many watercooling systems in terms of both performance and noise, although not necessarily at the same time and not with the same air cooling product. If the two primary advantages watercooling had over air cooling solutions are seemingly a thing of the past, why would anyone still get water cooling?
While the performance gap between high-end air coolers and water cooling has closed somewhat, water cooling remains significantly more flexible and scalable. Air coolers depends heavily on existing airflow within the case and a poorly cooled case can cripple even the best of air coolers. Air coolers are also sensitive to the size of the enclosure since cooling capacity is directly linked to the volume of air within the case and the flow rate of air through the case. Water cooling systems are generally oblivious to both of these issues since thermal capacity is linked directly to the volume of water in the system, and not the air. This means the performance of an air cooling system would suffer in a smaller mATX enclosures while water cooling would soldier on, oblivious to the size of the case.
Although top-end air coolers can now perform nearly as well as a quality water cooling setup, water cooling still remains more thermally efficient. While water cooling's remaining advantages of better thermal efficiency and flexibility is enough to drive interest and sales for performance enthusiasts, these reasons alone aren't enough for mainstream consumers and OEMs to consider water cooling as an option. Given the numerous disadvantages such as higher cost, more involved installation process and increased maintenance, it simply isn't worth the effort for some users to bother with a water cooling setup unless they planned to install it in an especially hot system.
Asetek has also mediated and eliminated other traditional issues with water cooling such as maintenance and difficulty of installation. The LCLC is an all-in-one, pre-built system. While you lose the ability to upgrade the system in the future, the LCLC offers a turn-key solution that is straight-forward to install. Since the system is filled and sealed at the factory, you don't need to worry about leaks and plastic tubing means there is virtually no need to refill the system, reducing maintenance.