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 

The first time you open up the Vapochill kit, you think to yourself "wow, there are so many pieces"!  The Vapochill is not for the novice user.  It is a fairly complex system that requires attention to detail when you assemble it.  We setup and tore down two motherboards and 4 CPUs with the Vapochill.  The first time took serious effort to get things tweaked and running correctly.  However, once you have done it the first time, you will become comfortable with the subtle nuances that bring the Vapochill together for peak performance.
 

Installation / Setup with the Vapochill
NOT for the novice...

These are shots of the Vapochill CPU kit for an FCPGA/Slotket setup.  The CPU is mounted inside of a foam insulated plastic "clamshell" case or boot.  The Copper Cold Plate, that is connected to the Compressor, is then clamped on top of the CPU (with a fair amount of thermal paste as you can see in the picture below) much like a standard heatsink.  We also attached two Thermistor Probes directly to the Copper Plate for accurate measurement of Cold Plate temperatures, one for the motherboard and one for the "Chill Control Unit".

Click all images for full view

FCPGA and Slotket Kit

FCPGA and Cold Plate mounted

P3/Athlon Kit

"Chill Control" PCB

 
Also visible in the top left shot, are the ends of the heating element (protruding just below the card edge fingers of the Slotket)  that is lined inside the boot but on the outside of the foam insulation.  Believe it or not, this element gets hot and eliminates the build up of condensation inside the CPU Kit.  The Copper Cold Plate gets VERY cold and will develop frost on its surface when exposed to the air.  Once full assembled, the processor is insulated from the outside air and the heating element keeps condensation from building up on the outside of the boot. The bottom left is a P3/Athlon Kit spread out so you can see all of the parts.  As you can see, there is also a different retention clip used for the P3 or Athlon Kit. 

Finally, in the bottom right shot, the "Chill Control" unit is a Circuit Board that you mount inside your case with double sided tape that is included.  This is basically a temperature sensor that is connected to one of the Thermistor probes that you attach to the Cold Plate and another wire that you attach to the "Reset Header" on your motherboard.  The Chill Control PCB, upon power-up, then holds your motherboard and system in "reset" mode until the correct temperature is reached at the Cold Plate.  You can set the desired temperature with jumpers all the way down to -17C.  The Chill Control unit prevents "hot starts" which will obviously keep your system from booting when extremely over-clocked.  The Chill Control unit performed very well for us and was very accurate.  The system, when set to start at -10C, took only 2-3 minutes to cool down before it booted.  All told, this is a very elegant and effective solution.  Once the system is on, the Cold Plate continues to chill the CPU down even further.  More on this later.

 
Here is a shot of what an Athlon mounted inside the P3/Athlon kit looks like.  The same basic setup applies here.  The Cold Plate is mounted directly to the CPU with a retention clip and the entire assembly is insulated in foam padding (see bottom shot) and buttoned up tight. 

click for full view

Athlon Mounted in kit

Athlon GFD provided

Athlon with Cold Plate and Clip

The Athlon Gold Finger Device, that Asetek includes, is enclosed inside the CPU kit as well.  This is a very tight squeeze and once you close the kit, the GFD is not accessible for changes easily.  We are hoping Asetek comes up with some alternative solutions for the GFD setup.  Perhaps a ribbon cable with a connector on the end and the switches mounted on the other end, OUTSIDE the CPU kit, will do the trick.  Something tells us that it is not that easy though.

Let's take a look at some fully assembled CPU Kits.  (click for full view)

The top two shots show you the full assembly and the bottom shot shows you the power supply mounted in its position.  Again, not the most optimal location but at least you can still get at the AGP and PCI slots.  If you are the type of person that is switching out a CPU every month or two, taking out the P.S. and breaking down the CPU Kit, will be a fair amount of work before you have access to the CPU.  On the other hand, there aren't many folks (other than those crazy people in the Hot Hardware Labs) that will be changing processors that often.  Finally, notice our little Chill Control PCB is mounted in the lower right hand side of the case.

Let's show you the other important component in this Over-Clocked Monster Rig, the Abit CX6.
 

The Abit CX6 Motherboard and The Chilling Details

 

 

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