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Asetek WaterChill Asetek WaterChill: We take a look at the latest revision of Asetek's WaterChill, which has been making waves within the enthusiast community.

Date: November 18, 2003
Written By:
Price: 230$ USD

is no stranger to high-end cooling. They were the first to introduce extreme cooling to the consumer market with their Vapochill, and although the pricing was prohibitive for a lot of people, it made quite an impression on those looking for those looking for the best overclocks possible out of their rigs.

The was introduced as an alternative to their Vapochill product. Though cooling performance won't be as extreme, the price point isn't anywhere near their high-end product. Don't think that Asetek just slapped together a bunch of parts and called it a day though, as a lot of R&D went into the creation of the WaterChill to make sure it is right up there in performance compared to the competition.

Here's a bit from their product page:

The WaterChill product line consists of a number of components, which in combination offers the demanding PC end user a state-of-the-art processor cooling system. Utilizing the effective heat transfer capacity of fluid cooling the WaterChill system allows the end user to realize two value objectives normally mutually exclusive: Maximum PC performance AND an extremely low noise level.

Knowing full well their target audience, Asetek designed the WaterChill with the intention of being the best product in the watercooling market. With the number of companies making similar claims, we're going to see if Asetek's intentions bear any merit.

The Asetek WaterChill Kit

We received the complete package from Asetek, though depending on your budget, there are different packages to suit your needs. Everything was shipped to us in one box, with plenty of padding to protect the various parts. I would have preferred to have each item individually boxed, but the current packaging does a fine job of protecting the components. The first item(s) most people will probably take interest in first are the blocks.

The universal CPU block is made up of a copper base and a thick acrylic lid. The base of the block is well finished, and lapping the heatsink was not necessary for us (we tested for this, which we will explain during the installation portion of the review). The rubber gaskets provide a firm seal, and are reusable anytime you need to take it apart. The standard acrylic lid has ten holes in it, providing compatibility across current Pentium 4 478, Athlon 462, and Athlon 64 CPUs.

The standard lid works fine for most Pentium 4 motherboards, but for some AMD motherboards, there will be some issues with installation if your motherboard does not follow AMD clearance specifications. Asetek included a replacement lid for those scenarios, and it was needed for our ABIT NF7-S Rev2.0 motherboard. Installation is as simple as removing the screws and placing the new lid on top.

The VGA block is designed much like the CPU block, though the obvious difference is the 2 O'Clock alignment of the tube fittings. The block is also universally compatible with both nVidia and ATI, though we only tested them on a GeForce FX and ATI 9600 Pro. According to Asetek, previous GeForce and Radeon cards are compaitble, though there is obviously no guarantee with upcoming technology from the video card giants.

The chipset cooler looks like a smaller version of the CPU cooler. Like the other blocks, the base is well machined, and features the same acrylic lid as the others. Compatibility covers the Intel, AMD, SIS and VIA chipsets. We had no problems fitting them on the ABIT IC7-MAX3, ASUS P4C800-E, and ABIT NF7-S.

On a side note, I found the waterblocks to be very attractive in appearance, and I think if you got some UV water treatment, it's gonna look really slick as the acrylic lids are all translucent. I did have some concerns when replacing the CPU lid (water leaks + PC equipment = very bad), but the seal is quite secure so long as you do it right.

All the blocks (as well as the radiator, pump and reservoir) use the quick connect fittings, similar to our Swiftech H20-8500.

Asetek includes six feet of tubing that measures 1/2" outside diameter (OD) and 3/8" inside diameter (ID). The tubing is very hard, which negates the need for quick connect tubing found in Swiftech's kit. You'll need to lubricate them (and thus, another use for Vasoline :P), and push them in with a slight turning motion. If you try to jam them right into the blocks, you are asking for trouble, as the tubing will bend.

The reservoir included with the WaterChill is designed to be installed directly into the pump. Serious watercooling users may feel that the size is a little on the small side, but the benefit is that the reservoir will be able to fit in a lot of tight spots. There are two quick connect fittings at the base, with one going into the pump, and the other to the first block in your chain (likely the CPU via the 1/2" OD tube).

Though we received two pumps, the default configuration is with the smaller Hydor L20 700 L/H (liters per hour), or 175 gallons per hour (G/H). Depending on your region, you'll either get a 115V or 220V pump, though being in North America, we were sent the proper 115V.

The larger Hydor L30 is a 1200 L/H (300 G/H) pump, which I would recommend for those of you who need more tubing should you own a larger case, and have to push more water in an upward direction. This is known as head, which is the pump's ability to lift water. If the head is, say, three feet, and the distance of tubing inside your case is four feet, you are going to have a lot of cooling issues. The Hydor L20 is rated at a maximum head of 135cm (or 4.429'), whereas the L30 is rated at 6.4'. The full thoroughput (700 L/H or 1200 L/H for the L30) is only at zero head, so you should expect slightly lower numbers depending on the amount and the height of the tubing used.

To save the end-user the trouble of modding a relay into their case, Asetek has what they describe as SafeStart. Think of it as a PCB in a box. For the device to work, a cable through a PCI shield, and connects to the PSU. This cable (from the other side of the PCI shield) then connects to the SafeStart PCB. You then connect a floppy connection to the PCB (as shown below), which will then turn on the pump when the PC is powered on.

By default, the SafeStart's fan speed jumper is set to 7v, which is their "quiet" mode (85%). Moving it to 12v will increase the speed of the fan (100%), though at the penalty of more noise. Serious overclockers will certainly switch the jumper to 12v right away. Further explanation about this can be found in Scott's 7v article.

The Black Ice Pro Radiator is designed to accomadate a 120mm fan. The fan that Asetek includes is by Sunon, and at full speed, the radiator and fan does a great job of cooling the system.

You won't find loose scraps of paper here, as Asetek includes one of the most impressive manuals I've seen for a cooling kit. Unlike earlier revisions of the WaterChill, you get full installation instructions for all the waterblocks, as well as optimal component setup, which is great for those of you who have never dabbled in watercooling.

Unless you want a nice colony of bacteria streaming through your setup, it would be a good idea to use the algae prevention solution to your water. You also get plenty of case stickers, installation screws, clamps, zip ties and some thermal compound.


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