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Innovatek Water Cooling Kit Innovatek Water Cooling Kit: We take a look at one of the premier water cooling kits. Innovatek didn't earn its reputation with shoddy products, and we take a look at their basic kit, with a couple of upgrades.

Date: October 15, 2003
Manufacturer:
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A Closer Look


The package arrived a few days later in a nice foam padded box. All the parts were nicely packed and included in this box where my substitutions. It was nice not to have several boxes shipped to sort through or track. I checked to make sure everything was there and pulled out the instructions, they were all in German so they would be of little help (I am not typing all of that into SYSTRAN to translate), luckily HighSpeed PC has a on there website.

The waterblock had a nice adhesive cover on the CPU side to protect the sheen surface; the water pump had been pre-modified so I did not have to disassemble anything to allow me to connect the water reservoir. Included in this kit was 2 small tubes of thermal paste, which is fine, but I have never heard of "Sil-More" compound and I am not going to trust my CPU with it, I am going to stick with my Artic Silver 3 for now.

The kit includes the AGB-o-Matic reservoir which attaches directly to the pump although as you will see later I did have a few issues with this. This makes for an easy time of both filling and bleeding the system since any air moving around the system can easily escape via the top water intake of the reservoir. It also helps to keep the amount of space used to a minimum.

The radiator included is the Maxxxpert 120mm radiator and has attached nicely to the front intake of my case. The fan used here is 120mm, 2200rpm (although I'm happily running it at 7v 1600rpm approx) producing 96 CFM @ 39dBA.

Installation


I mocked the setup next to my case (a mid-tower, so it's going to be tight) and marked the tubing at the appropriate lengths. There is plenty of tubing supplied so I had some room left for error. You want a VERY sharp knife to cut the tubing with; you want the edges to be as straight as possible as to help avoid leaks. The kit included several 90 deg plastic inserts, I didn't feel I needed / wanted these as anything you insert into the tubing to connect two pieces together would have to limit water flow when you consider the internal diameter of the connecting piece, and the way I set the flow of the tubing did not require them. The positioning of the pump / water tank and radiator are very important, especially in a mid-tower. In order to install the radiator I had to remove the 3.5" rack on the bottom of the case, I wanted the radiator to get fresh outside air and I wanted it in the lower, cooler, section of the case. The pump and water tank fit nicely on the bottom of the case, this served two purposes: 1-The pump would not have to drive the water from the top to the bottom of the case and back. 2-If a leak did show up, it would not affect the electronics as there are a few holes already on the bottom, so the water would just leak out, hopefully.

Next I pieced the system together short the 120mm fan and put it into a storage bin I had that was empty, this allowed me to test the system for leaks over a long period without affecting my PC and it would gather ANY water that leaked out. Note the fan does not need to be connected during this test, as it is not removing any heat, just checking for leaks. During the initial installation it is good to ensure you build it to flow appropriately, there are two schools to the proper flow here and I will try to go over both.

School of thought #1 - From Water Reservoir to Pump to CPU Water Block to Radiator to Water Reservoir.
School of Thought #2 - From Water Reservoir to Pump to Radiator to CPU Water Block to Water Reservoir.

#1 has the advantage of stronger water flow through the CPU Water Block while #2 has cooler water flowing through the Water Block. Initially I chose #1 (as that was the recommended design from Innovatek) but I changed up 3 days later to #2 (after I received the springs to put inside the tubing).

I filled the tank with DISTILLED water and plugged the unit in, the water quickly drained and I refilled it until the system bled itself of all air and the tank was almost full (being very careful not to spill any water into the bin so I could get an accurate read on leaks). After 4 hours I checked for water in the bin, hrmm, there is a little in there. I mopped it up and let it run, just maybe some leaked when I filled the tank. 4 more hours later there was more water, so now I had to trace back to the culprit. I found that the connection between the pump and the water reservoir had a slow leak; I unplugged the unit and emptied the water out. I checked HighSpeed PC's website for any suggestions and unfortunately there was no information on how to fix this particular leak. I searched the internet and found another modder that had run into this same scenario, he used epoxy on the shaft of the pump to seal the connection, noting that doing this meant that if anything malfunctioned, you now have a non working unit. I decided that this was going to have to be the solution for me as well. If the motor fails it is more cost effective to replace it anyway, so I grabbed some epoxy and went to work (a small note here, the pump has a mounting bracket that cannot be removed and mounted prior to installing in the case if the water reservoir is affixed to the pump, thus making it slightly more difficult to mount the pump/reservoir). After 8 hours of drying I filled the tank again and went about testing for water leaks. After 4 hours it seemed dry, so I let it keep running, after 12 hours there was again, water in the bin. The culprit was once again the water reservoir to water pump connection. With the two being epoxy'd together I could not pull them apart, I proceeded to use bathroom caulk to seal the outer edges of the two together, not pretty but effective. 24 hours later, no leaks and everything seemed ready to be installed.

During the testing I proceeded to do the modifications needed to the case. I had to drill out the rivets that held the 3.5" rack and remove the rack. I also needed to drill 4 holes that would mount the water pump to the bottom of the case. This went surprisingly easy and turned out well. I was lucky enough to have 120mm housing at the front of the case so I did not need to do any drilling or cutting there.

Next I installed the system into my case (the catch 22 here is that you have ensured everything is leak proof, so you don't want to disassemble it now) and routed the tubing as to not restrict any flow. The CPU Water Block was a little clumsy to install; this unit, the Innovatek X-Flow, uses all the clips on the ZIF, and I had to bend the clip retainer several times to get the appropriate fit. The retaining / pressure screw on the Water Block however was a very nice adjunct, this applied pressure directly over the very small CPU die. Hindsight revealed that I should have gotten some springs to put inside the tubing to allow for a fully non-crimped bend, but I made due with some tie wraps and ensuring the tubing followed its "memory" from how it was shipped. There will still be some places that might crimp on you when the water gets warmer and the tubing gets more flexible and crimps easier. You might consider upgrading the tubing as well, noting that the stiffer the tubing the harder it is to work with.

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