asetek WaterChill CPU Cooler Review

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asetek WaterChill CPU Cooler Review
Water Cooling for Pentium 4, Athlon XP, and Athlon 64

By: Chris Angelini
August 25, 2003

Thermal Performance at 3.15GHz
And Then There Was One...

As you can see, the Intel reference cooler is simply unable to keep pace at 3.15GHz (the result of a 150MHz front side bus and a 1.725V CPU voltage setting).  Though the system would boot, it was unable to run even at idle for more than a few minutes.  Conversely, the water-cooled asetek configuration took the frequency increase in stride, returning excellent results for both the idle and load tests.  Incidentally, both asetek WaterChill scores are lower than the Pentium 4 running at 2.8GHz with the stock cooling solution under load. 

System Temperatures
Another Benefit of Water Cooling

 


Ambient System Temperatures At Full Load

Processor temperature isn't the only vital statistic impacted by water cooling.  Under load, the overclocked 2.8GHz Pentium 4 resides in a chassis that retains quite a bit of heat.  However, the 120mm fan responsible for cooling the radiator moves a fair bit of air, the result of which is often lower system temperatures.  The difference at 3GHz turns out to be roughly nine degrees.

 

 

In Retrospect:

asetek is already well established when it comes to manufacturing cooling components.  However, their vapor phase exchange products are relatively pricey, and consequently, many overclocking enthusiasts are destined to admire them from a far.  Water cooling, on the other hand, is a much more tangible means of milking extra performance and bolstering overall stability.  The WaterChill CPU cooling kit along costs about $230, and adding the chipset cooler drops another $25 into the equation.  If you're able to move from 2.8GHz to 3.2GHz, the WaterChill's price is more than paid for in overclocking gains. asetek has clearly done its homework in designing the WaterChill and setting a fair price.  There's very little we would say to dissuade you from considering asetek's water cooling kit with regard to its price/performance ratio or quality.

And even when you factor in strictly performance metrics, the WaterChill is miles ahead of the heatsink and fan combination included with Intel's Pentium 4 retail kit.  Each component in the system seems to compliment the others, as there doesn't seem to be a weak link in the entire assembly.  Further, asetek's forward looking design approach ensures that the kit works with the flagship processors of today and AMD's Athlon 64, which will see the light of day late in September.

The drawbacks associated with water cooling are few.  Of course, you'll need extra room inside your case for the radiator and pump assemblies.  Otherwise, those components have to reside elsewhere.  Then there is the obvious danger that comes with mixing electricity and water, though the risk is minimal as long as you observe cautious installation techniques.  The WaterChill CPU cooler is well designed and the quick-disconnect fittings hold securely.  Don't let leaking water intimidate you, as that's a worst-case scenario you can easily avoid if things are properly installed.  Finally, though the price of admission isn't unreasonable, $230 goes a long way in upgrading a graphics card or processor.  If cash is an issue, you could always repurpose those funds toward a graphics upgrade like a RADEON 9800 Pro card.  It will generally do a lot more for gaming than an overclocked processor.

Consider a couple of scenarios where the WaterChill fits nicely.  For those with deep wallets, who may have already purchased a VapoChill chassis, asetek advertises its WaterChill kit as fully compliant with the VapoChill family.  So, you could use VapoChill CPU cooling along with WaterChill chipset and graphics cooling, for what asetek terms maximum cooling performance. If you're a performance enthusiast in search of silence, try the WaterChill CPU cooler, with either the VGA cooler or one of Sapphire's Ultimate Edition RADEON cards that utilize passive cooling.  Fill the WaterChill system with reactive dye, mix in an ultra-violet cold cathode tube, and bask in the glow of your water cooling setup, literally.

  • Outstanding thermal performance
  • Everything you need to get started is included
  • Quieter than Intel's reference heatsink and fan
  • Great build quality in an attractive package
  • Reasonable price considering overclocking potential
  • Setup is complicated for novices
  • Water cooling is a daunting proposition for some
  • Consumes considerable space inside or outside case

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