Asetek WaterChill 12V Waterpump System

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SUMMARY: A waterpump designed exclusively for PC watercooling – about time!

WP Alone

The good guys at Asetek were nice enough to send a sample of their WaterChill 12V Waterpump System to try out. The key word here is “System” – usually manufacturers hype products with overblown ad copy, but in this case it is accurate – this is more than just a stand-alone waterpump.

The key distinction of this waterpump is the control package that comes with it, best visualized with this screen display:

Display

Pic courtesy of Asetek

Not your usual waterpump! This waterpump is built around a PCB and controlling software that allows users a number of control and monitoring functions (Note: Windows XP only!):

  • Temperature monitoring without having the Software Control Panel open
  • Temperature notification in Windows toolbar
  • Control Panel transparency adjustable
  • Temperature graph
  • Fan speed graph
  • LCD display – custom view of settings (Optional)
  • Reservoir LED On/Off (Optional)
  • Software Version limited to Windows XP

First Look

The waterpump itself looks pretty sleek:

WP Front

The business end is at the back:

WP Back

This is where the PCB resides with hook-ups for

  • Two variable voltage fan connectors – 24 watts total
  • Two heat sensors (included)
  • LED pinout
  • USB pinouts (cable included)
  • 12 volt power plug
  • Pinouts for optional LCD

The back opens to reveal the PCB:

Back Open

You can change the back with different colored pieces:

PCB

Remove two screws and you replace the backs – the PCB revealed:

PCB Open

You can also change the reservoir with six different colors

Red

The fill plug is tight and small – I found it difficult to remove.

Red 1

Parts that ship with the unit imclude rubber feet for the waterpump’s stand, Install CD, USB and two temp sensor cables:

Parts

{mospagebreak}

SUMMARY: Very good functionality, but display software is buggy and functionality is limited to Windows XP only.

After running the Asetek waterpump for a while, I found the following:

  • The manual does not identify how the USB cable should be oriented on the motherboard – I found it to work with the red wire on the first USB pin:

    USB

  • Waterpump¹ speed can be varied from 2880 to 3780 rpm; it is virtually silent at any speed (If Asetek linked temps to pump speed, THAT would be slick).
  • Fan speeds can be varied from 0 – 100% of the fan’s top rpm.
  • The fans will remain off until the system boots into Windows. Once into Windows, the fans will speed up to their last settings; however, if you set a fan very low, it may stall and not spin up.
  • If the display panel is closed, all settings will be retained.
  • For the display Panel (HyperSnap could not capture a screenshot, this is literally a screenshot):

    Display
    • The graph displays five minute intervals – users can not set their own intervals.
    • The graph displays temps from 24 – 56ºC and rpms from 400 – 3600 rpm; users can not change these ranges; note that on the display, at a fan speed of 4944 rpm, the line goes off the graph.
    • The graph displays Temps and Fan Speeds only.
    • Transparency can be varied up to 75%; this setting allows users to leave the display up on the screen and “see through” it to whatever else you’re doing (why anyone would use this is beyond me).
    • Temps are displayed in the system tray (I found the red numbers hard to read – can not be changed):

      Tray
    • Note that the highest temp is shown for both probes in the table, even though the temp range correctly shows the second probe’s temps.
    • When I used a USB pen drive, the first temp probe read an incorrect max temp; even after I removed the drive and restarted, it continued to read an incorrect max temp:

      Temp Hi

    • If you place the cursor on the graph, a bullseye appears which shows time, temp and fan speed at that point:

      Bullseye
  • If you right click on the temps in the system tray, it brings up a Menu for System Info, About, Help, Restore (restores screen display) and Exit.
  • Help does not work.
  • System Info displays the following (this I could capture with HyperSnap):

    Sys Display

  • In this instance, it incorrectly identified the CPU as a Slot 1 part.
  • Users can save only one profile.
  • There is a green power LED on the pump’s rear PCB to show it’s powered up, and a red LED which flashes when new settings are downloaded to the pump, then off again.

  • Users should note that these functions are only available in Windows XP.

Conclusions

All features worked correctly even though the screen displays for some items were incorrect; I can not test every available USB device, but some may interfere with the unit in ways I did not experience². This version lacks the flexibility to change screen display settings, although a working HELP function might correct this.

Even so, the functionality of Asetek’s WaterChill 12V Waterpump System is very good, although users should recognize its limitations and it’s limited to users with Windows XP.

Thanks again to Asetek for sending this our way – a very interesting product.

¹Specs: Power consumption: 7 watts, Qmax: 900 l/h, Hmax: 150 cm (looks like a Hydor part).

²I received this email from Jonathan about Asetek’s USB issues:

“I’d just like to make you aware of an issue inconveniencing a large number of Asetek’s customers currently. It seems that if you have a Logitech peripheral plugged into any USB port on your system, the ChillControl panel for your Vapochill XE DOESN’T WORK. They’ve been promising an update to the app since May with no results.”

I received the following email from Per Adamsen of Asetek which clarifies the issues I identified in the review:

“As the main programmer of the WaterChill Control Panel I have a few comments to your summary on our new pump. Some of the issues could have been avoided if you had been able to read the manual – but I’m apparently not going to make that an easy task 🙂

1) The System Tray “Help…” should be working. However, after the release of the first version we discovered that if e.g. notepad wasn’t associated with *.1st files the readme.1st file wouldn’t be opened. If this is the problem you encountered you should simply associate *.1st files to notepad? Otherwise you should be able to locate the readme file in the installation dir.

2) The graph min / max values can be changed by right-clicking the mouse while on the graph area. A new window emerges where you can change both min / max y-values and the display interval.

3) Multiple user profiles are available. Doubleclicking the line displaying “Default settings…” enables you to change the name of the profile. Hitting the “Save profile” button saves the profile and adds it to the System Tray menu.

4) We tried reducing the programming time by using standard Windows WMI calls for retrieving system info. Unfortunately, we cannot control the output coming from these function calls :-/

5) The min / mean / max values will be corrected in the upcoming release.

6) The USB pen drive problem seems to puzzle me – I guess using floppy disks are out the question ;-D It’s most likely that the software was reading junk during initialization and registered this junk as a max value. After the first 5 minutes the min/max values should read the correct values since the data buffers are then filled with actual readings instead.

Hopefully, this has shed some light over the bugs you are describing.

Btw. this is not a Hydor pump.

Best regards / Med venlig hilsen,
Per Adamsen
R&D Specialist”

Email Joe

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