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asetek WaterChill Extreme KT12AT-12VX/10mm Watercooling Kit asetek WaterChill Extreme KT12AT-12VX/10mm Watercooling Kit: A 12v Pump with software control, three blocks and six 120mm fans are just some of the highlights of this kit.
Date: December 2, 2005
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WaterChill 12V Pump Control Panel

The 12V Extreme pump with this system acts as a Rheobus for both the supplied 6 fans and the pump itself. You can even control the output of an LCD display and even the optional LED for the reservoir.

The software itself is a one page item split into two halves. The left half, starting at the top, has the name of the current profile you are running (more on this shortly) followed by the sliders to control the fan and pump speeds. I found that 20% was the lowest speeds for the fans; any lower and they would stop turning. Just below this are sliders to control the LCD backlight and contrast.

Below this is an area for the LED (simple on/off) and for setting the info displayed on the LCD. Below this are two buttons for saving/deleting profiles and also a slider for controlling the transparency of the window.

The right side has line graph that monitors temperatures vs. fan speeds. While it is a nice addition and interesting, none the less I believe that most users will be happy with the information below, which shows the current temperatures, fan speeds and even the supply voltage to the unit. Strangely, the pump and software appear capable of measuring fan speeds, yet the supplied Adda fans have not fan speed monitoring wire, although with more than one fan connected to the same header, it would likely just confuse things.

Ok, going back to the profiles; once you have set up your system fan/pump speeds, your LCD settings etc., you can then double click the title top left and name this current configuration as you see fit. A press of the Save Profile button will save this configuration. You could conceivably lower the fan speeds to the lowest speeds, along with the pump, set the LCD brightness to dark, LED off and save these for quiet/night time operation. Put everything to the MAX; rename the profile to full speed/gaming and again save the profile. From then on, you can simply right click the WaterChill application in the systray and choose which profile you wish to use. While the same end results can be achieved manually with a Rheobus, the ‘preset’ function of the profiles for instant changes are what makes this whole software over hardware ‘Rheobus’ solution appealing. Coupled with the LCD control and temperature display, you have a simple and easy software control panel for all functions of your watercooling system.

The other thing that is great about this software is that it is stable. I’ve not had a single stability problem with it in the (at time of writing) three weeks it has been running. I have however noticed that the second temperature probe seems to incorrectly report the temperatures low. My first thought was that this was an issue with the probe itself (one of mine was a little bent out of shape when it arrived) but swapping the probes on the rear of the pump didn’t fix the issue. I can only assume this is a software problem.

Testing

Test Setup - Albatron PX925X Pro, Intel Pentium 4 520 (3.2GHz) (@ 1.4v, 3456MHz), 2 x 512MB Kingston HyperX PC2-5400 (4-4-4-12), 2x 80GB Maxtor 7200 SATA's, Windows XP w/SP2

Cooling Setups

· asetek WaterChill Extreme system with CPU and Chipset block, 6x 120mm ADDA Fans, Triple Radiator, asetek Antarctica CPU waterblock, asetek Chipset Waterblock, asetek Extreme 12v Pump and Reservoir unit (@ 3600 RPM)

· XSPC Setup with Dual Radiator, 2x120mm Low Speed Evercool Fans, Passive Aluminum Reservoir, Xern Waterblock, XSPC 12v pump

· Standard Intel HSF to use as a baseline, connected to motherboard header for automatic fan control according to system load

As with all temperature related reviews we do, the system was allowed a few days to bed in and settle down, then readings were taking both from idle and under load multiple times, with the temperatures averaged out for the final results. Results were taken when the room temperature was 21C (+ or - 0.5 C) and any other results ignored. For idle, the PC was warm rebooted and left doing nothing for 15 minutes before taking a reading. For load testing, SiSoft Sandra 2005’s CPU Burn In Wizard was used and ran for at least an hour. Temperatures were taken using a Lian Li temperature probe placed next to and touching the CPU. Temperatures are measured in Celsius.

CPU Temps

I don't think there was much doubt from the start that the asetek WaterChill Extreme kit would be the better of the 3 setups, but it is quite a big difference. Prescott CPU's as everyone knows are hot runners, so cooling down to sub 30's under load is very impressive.

Chipset Temperatures

The asetek WaterChill Extreme kit comes with 3 blocks, and we are also using the Chipset block in the cooling loop which yielded the above results; quite a difference from the stock cooling.

With the supplied Control Software you have quite an adjustable system, being able to adjust the fan speeds as well as the pump speeds.

CPU Temperatures - various settings

Using the WaterChill Control Software to adjust the fan speeds and therefore the noise levels also produces some very favorable results. I think this graph illustrates the main plus points of the WaterChill Extreme setup; you can have your cake and eat it, since the performance is some of the best we have seen at 12v with 6 fans and is still exceptionally good with only 2 fans running at a near silent 4v. The idle temperatures vary only a little, between the various fan speeds, simply because it's pretty much as low as you will get it without some form of cooling to get lower than ambient temperatures

Of course with this kit and the control software you can also adjust the pump speeds from 2,880 RPM to 3,780RPM, so let's see what effect this has on temperatures.

CPU Temperatures vs. Pump Speed

Click the images to enlarge

Idle left, Load right

Adjusting pump speeds has very little effect on the temperatures, although the temperature difference between slow and fast pump speeds increases the warmer things get. With low fan speeds and therefore less efficiency in heat expulsion, the difference becomes (at its greatest) just .4 degrees. Of course, keeping things in concert with one another, then every little bit helps, be it silence or ultimate performance. From a noise stand point, it's not really going to make a difference to you what speed you run; you can certainly hear the pump increase speed but the overall 'noise' is so minimal that I had to shut down all the fans to hear this change.

Final Words

A watercooling kit is nothing new, and not even a kit that has multiple blocks is going to stand out overly so. Having a triple radiator with six 120mm fans is obviously up there with turbo's and V8 engines on the 'things blokes/geeks like to boast about' table, but the big star of this show has got to be the pump and it's software control system. That’s not to detract from the fact that each of the components in this kit are certainly worthy of being part of it, and end result is a good one.

The three supplied blocks are of a great quality, all three in matching copper and clear acrylic. I personally had a (embarrassing) problem with the push fits on the Antarctica CPU block, and do feel that this could be remedied by stressing that the tubing should be pushed in very firmly all the way, and can likely still go further into the block itself. Once running though, the Antarctica block is an exceptional performer. I would like to see come up with a better mounting system for the Chipset block (spring loaded counter loops come to mind) but the zip ties on Intel boards works well enough.

The Radiator based on the Black Ice Extreme with six 120mm Adda 2000RPM fans supplied certainly does a good job in keeping the temperatures low. The main caveat is of course its shear size will make mounting it an issue all of its own, however if you are considering a kit like this, is it is very probable this will be a small issue when held up against the performance.

The pump is fantastic; no doubt about it. Integrated reservoir, 12v 4pin Molex power, USB control software, twin fan outputs, temperature probes and even the possibility of adding a two line character LCD. The reservoir portion can be lit by an optional LED, again powered by the pump itself and controllable (like the fans and optional LCD) by the USB Software. The software does seem to have a bug in its temperature reading on the second probe but I've no doubt this can be fixed easily enough with a software update, and the multitude of cables will add to your cable management, but overall it is a great addition to the kit.

Editor's Note: Our PR rep at asetek just informed us this morning that there is a new software version that can be downloaded from their support section. This should debug the issue Scott had with one of the temperature probes.

Everything you could need (with the exception of deionised water) is included, from mounting options, to 3M of 10mm hard walled tubing, to instructions for each component, and even a syringe filled with Water Wetter Anti-Algae fluid. asetek even include some stickers to label your components with (or not) as you see fit.

Performance is great; be it silence or low temperatures you are after, the asetek WaterChill Extreme kit will provide you with both options. Even when the system is running at it's quietest, the performance is very good, and at full speed (loud, but not overly so; I've heard louder air cooling solutions that didn't perform half as well) the temperatures are simply the lowest I've seen, and the lowest I'm likely to see short of chilling the water.

The kit isn't cheap, but when you total up the costs of all the individual components it does become a fair price for the performance. I've become quite accustomed to being able to right click the tray icons and choose a profile for the system load, and I've no doubt that others will find it as equally efficient. The silence is great, the kit is very complete and there aren’t any real glaring issues aside from the two I mentioned. Highly recommended, there isn't much on the market that can compete with this kind of performance, and none offer the software control of the pump and fan speeds. There is a 1/2" version of this kit, but considering the temperatures we have seen here I do have to wonder if it would make any difference to the performance over the 10mm kit. The is absolutely fantastic; I'm in love with it.

Pros: Everything in one box, 12v pump, Fan control, Temperature measuring, Profiles for different system loads, six 120mm Fans, Quiet operation, Impressive performance, Pump and reservoir in one unit, Triple size radiator, Three waterblocks, Push-Fits, Easily routable 10mm hard walled tubing.

Cons: CPU block needs to be double triple checked the tubing is far enough in, large radiator can make for interesting mounting.

Bottom Line: If you have the cash and you want the best, there is very little on the market that can compete. Add in the software control and you have a very impressive setup to cool your main system components.

If you have any comments, be sure to hit us up in our forums.

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