The Unit & Installation
The Vapochill XE II we have here uses basically the same full-tower case that was introduced in late 2002 with the updated Vapochill kit. As you can see, the version we received was equipped with a clear plexiglass window cut into one side panel, but an optional windowed panel is also available for the top of the case that'll show off the compressor and chill-control unit.
The XE II case is very large, and has three 5.25" external drive bays, a single 3.5" external bay, and five more internal 3.5" drive bays. It's vented at the top and bottom for air intake and has two large blue LEDs, one to indicate power and the other IDE activity. The location at the lower-right, that's used for a LED readout on older Vapochill units is empty on the XE II.
Generally speaking, we like the imposing monolithic look of the case, but would like to see Asetek make some updates in the next revision. For a product as pricey as the Vapochill, we expect the case to be a "no comprimise" solution. As is stands, however, the Vapchill XE II lacks any sort of front-mounted connectors, like USB, Firewire, or Audio, for example, and installing drives or add-in cards is not toolless like most modern cases. These are somewhat minor gripes, but something we'd like to see addressed in the future nonetheless.
If you remove the top of the unit (not recommended as it will void the warranty), the compressor, fans, and other cooling components are revealed. At both the front and rear of the case, there are 120mm fans used to draw cool air into the system and expel warm air out. The front fan is mounted to a radiator, that's used to cool the refrigerant that passes through the evaporator. In the center of the top portion of the case is the Danfoss compressor that's filled with R507 refrigerant.
Due to the fact that the VapoChill XE II is designed for all Athlon 64 Socket 754, 939 & 940 and Pentium processors currently available, Asetek includes quite a few different neoprene foam insulating liners to match up with your processor and socket. Also included with the XE II are a pair of heating elements, one for inside the evaporator's clamshell and the other for underneath the CPU socket. The heating elements warm the air and padding directly above and below the socket to help prevent condensation build-up, that can be caused when the evaporator hits temperatures well below ambient air temperature.
To assist with the installation process, Asetek bundles a complete owner's manual and installation guide with the XE II, along with the warranty information. On top of these items, also included with the Vapochill XE II is an important core component, the ChillControl USB module. The ChillControl USB module controls the data being displayed in the Vapochill control panel software, and is responsible for monitoring various aspects of the cooling system. It connects to the system through a simple cable, that plugs into an available USB header on the system's motherboard. With the ChillControl USB, numerous settings, including fan speed and heating element temperature, can be adjusted dynamically from within Windows using the VapoChill Control Panel software. The module also has 4 extra temperature sensor headers, that work in conjunction with the included thermal probes, and it has 2 extra fan headers as well. This is especially useful for overclockers, because a thermal probe can be mounted to your video card or onto other critical components. If any excessive temperatures are detected, a signal will be given to the ChillControl module to shutdown the system immediately.
Building up a system in a Vapochill XE II is definitely more complicated than a more traditional system, but we're not going to delve in-depth into the process here. We've already explained the necessary steps in multiple articles, and won't be rehashing things again. For a detailed explanation as to the preparation necessary and the actual installation process, we recommend you take a look at our VapoChill Retro-Fit article and our reviews of the VapoChill original, and Vapochill XE. Other than the information outlined in those articles, there isn't much more to describe. Basically, the "clamshell" needs to be mounted to the copper evaporator, and foam padding needs to be place around the CPU and socket, and on the underside of the motherboard to protect against condensation. Then the ChillControl USB module gets connected in between the XE II and the motherboard. When you press the power switch on the case, the ChillControl module powers the XE II's compressor up, which starts the vapor-phase cooling process. Then when the evaporator head reaches the designated temperature (default of -10'C), the rest of the system is then powered up.