Asetek Vapochill and Abit CX6 Adventures In OverClocking

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The Asetek Vapochill and Abit CX6
An Adventure In Over-Clocking

June 27, 2000 - By Dave Altavilla 


Art form, hobby, addiction.... whatever you want to call it, Over-Clocking and the quest for every last MHz. that can be wrung out of a CPU, is beginning to become a national and global past time.  With each new Motherboard, CPU, Heat Sink or Over-Clocking tool, new plateaus of performance are being reached that were unattainable with standard equipment.  The "need for speed" has truly been the mother of invention.  Some extreme over-clocking setups begin in the lab and others still are conceived in a garage or basement.  In either case, the people behind the cause usually have a relentless drive for more power.  There is a certain "machismo" in this breed of person (yes, even the Lady Overclockers too) and when something new comes to market that breaks new ground with respect to over-clocking, people just have to have it.

This is HotHardware's look into the netherworld of "hardcore" over-clocking with a new tool that is available to the "Speed Freaks" of Personal Computing, the Asetek Vapochill Vapor Phase Refrigeration System and Case.  In addition, we'll take a look at a new i820/RAMBUS Motherboard from Abit, the "Godfather" of the "Over-Clockable" Motherboard market. 

First, let's take a look at the cooling environment that our CPU and Motherboard will operate in, the Asetek Vapochill

 


Specifications and The Theory Behind The Vapochill
Keeping your CPU crisp and cold.

The theory behind the Vapochill is the same technology that drives the refrigerator in your house or car, only in this case the system transfers the coolant to a Copper Cold Plate that is attached to your processor.  Environmentally friendly Freon (134A) is pumped down an insulated copper tube to the cold plate.  When the Freon liquid heats up, it boils and vaporizes.  It then returns back to the system and builds up in a Condenser which returns the Freon to a liquid state and the Compressor can then pump it back out to the Cold Plate.  That is it in layman's terms.  The principal is quite simple actually and has been around for many years keeping your food fresh and your car cool.  Why not chill down your CPU, right?  Here are some specifics on the Vapochill System.

Weight
20 kg/44lbs

With packing:
25 kg/55lbs

Dimensions

Depth: 43 cm/17 inches
Height: 55 cm/21.7 inches
Width: 22 cm/8.7 inches

Noise
Noise-level:
35 db (A)

Polished and Painted Aluminum Construction with no sharp edges

Mini Refrigeration Compressor Unit

Main board types supported
ATX, extended ATX, Micro ATX

Mid Tower Form Factor

    Slots for extension cards     
7

Drive Bays
2X 5 1/4"
3X 3 1/2"

300 Watt Power Supply

Wiring Harnesses for all accessories

"Chill Control" Module For Eliminating Hot Starts

Various CPU Kits for Slot A, PGA, FCPGA and Slot 1 Processors

The first thing you may have noticed in the above spec is that this is one quiet system.  Specified at 35db, I can think of a few processor fans that are louder than this on their own,  never mind having a refrigeration unit running as well.  The compressor unit itself is VERY quiet.  In actuality the entire system was significantly quieter than our own high end system we have here in the lab.  The Vapochill was remarkably quiet when compared to our LiteOn case with two 120mm fans running.  Incidentally, there are locations for extra fans in the Vapochill case but there are none installed standard with the unit.

Here's a look at the case and the compressor.

 

The general construction of the unit is solid.  The metal is heavy gauge and the edges are smooth and rounded for no nicks or cuts during installation.  However, the power supply is not installed in these shots in order to give you an idea of the area available inside the case.  Take a look at the top left picture.  See the cut out in the back side of the case?  That is where the power supply is mounted.  This is a bit of an inconvenience since it completely obstructs access to the CPU Slot and the area around it on the motherboard, when it is installed. A recommendation would be to have a slightly taller case that could house both the power supply and compressor in the top of the unit, leaving full access to the motherboard area.  Regardless, we got use to this setup fairly quickly and if you just pull the four screws from the back of the power supply, it is removed easily giving you access to the CPU slot etc.

The Compressor Unit itself is very small for the power it packs.  It does consume 1 - 3 1/2" and 3 - 5 1/4" drive bays at the top of the chassis and adds a lot to the total weight of the case.  Other than that, it is quiet, efficient and trouble free.  There is one large fan in the unit and that is really the only noise it makes.  It is a very nice design and seems like a natural for this application.

Let's drop down from 10,000 feet here and get into the core of the Vapochill. 

 

CPU Kit, Chill Control,  Installation, Setup and Tweaking

 

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