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  1. #1
    Registered artinhawaii's Avatar
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    Thermaltake TRIBE, a Second Look & modding approach

    The Thermaltake TRIBE external water cooling setup has not received a warm welcome anywhere. This might have to do with the 1/4" connections which constrain any real performance or the high price of about $179.

    But as was pointed out in one review, this rather nice external case has tremendous possibilities for modding.

    It looks as if most retailers are sitting on a bunch of them without too many sales happening. They are slowly loosing their patience and Directron has now started to "dump" them for as low as about $75 !

    At this price point the unit deserves a second look and I was quick to pick one up.

    I built my first water cooling rig back when heater cores were en vogue and DangerDen was THE place to buy things, so I have a bit of experience in this field without claiming to be a professional modder.

    The case is open to air on all six sides due to metal mesh covers that provide great airflow anywhere. There is plenty of room inside to add a real pump and a blackice radiator. One could rip out the old radiator and put in two single blackice plus a big Eheim pump with plenty of room to spare. (or run two fans on a radiator in push/pull fashion)

    The existing pump is tiny and not awe inspiring, being mounted directly onto the chassis, it is probably rather noisy. Replacing it with a Laing D5 on rubber mounts should improve things a lot.

    All connections inside the box are 1/4" ID rubber/vinyl hoses with clamps.


    My plan (a modest budget appproach...) is:


    a) to rip out the pump and fill container and replace the pump with a D5 or Eheim on rubber mounts, using 1/2" connections;

    b) add a second radiator/fan combo with 1/4" connections, (120mm fan);

    c) insert a 1/2" to 1/4" T-connector before AND after the radiators, so that they run in parallel, fed und joined by 1/2" hoses;

    d) insert a 1/2" T-style feeding tube before the pump and forget the reservoir;

    e) change the 1/4" connectors on the waterblock to 1/2";(Havn't figured out yet which connectors will fit the TT block!)

    The external hose connectors on the case are 1/4" only and need to be dealt with. I might just bypass them and build a quick disconnect solution on the computer case but that will come at a price obviously.

    Altogether that should easily double the cooling performance of the unit and actually bring it in the league of decent water cooling. I'll have a Prescott cpu to cool and need a good start...

    Once I get going on this project I'll supply some pics of it.
    Let me know if you have any better ideas that affect price/performance.


    mike

  2. #2
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    I just don't see the point in buying one, if you are going to replace most of the components. The 1/4" connections would kill flow rate. The rad looks pretty junkie, I wouldn't even keep it. The enclosure itself is kinda nice, although if you were to add larger ID hose, a larger pump, and a larger rad that space would fill up quickly. I would like to see what you can do with it.

  3. #3
    Registered artinhawaii's Avatar
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    The rad isn't that bad and the waterblock is worth keeping, the filling bottle is just peachy and it is in a cute external case with really nice handles. Altogether already worth more than what I paid for.
    The point is that I don't want to deal no more with a case that is cramped full with all kind of stuff, hoses,reservoirs, rads and so on. The commercial outboard solutions like a decent EXOS are well overpriced and leave no room for mods at all.
    The FUN is where I can come in and design it the way it should have been in the first place. The cute box will always look cool but it will also work properly for once.
    This is not meant to build a record temp breaker or to show off.
    It's a mod...it's a journey...

  4. #4
    Member Immortal_Hero's Avatar
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    Not the thread crap on anything but I sounds like a money sink to me. For what you are spending you could have had a nice custom kit put in an exteranl box made of an old comp case of wood. It would perform a lot better.
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  5. #5
    Member jivetrky's Avatar
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    Well, I'll definitely watch a project log of the mod. But I would have to agree with others that it's really not a worthwhile (monetarily) thing to do. Simply because you will be paying $150 for a box and a reservoir. (if you are swapping all the other stuff)
    Seems that maybe using their design and trying to make the enclosure and everything on your own. Although, I suppose not everyone has the needed tools to work with the metal to make th enclosure.

    But good luck either way!
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  6. #6
    Member seamadan000's Avatar
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    uh, did you guys miss the part about it being only $75?

    I agree, at that price point the fairly nice case that is included is worth the money. If anyone has tried to build something like this, it would cost at least $50 in materials alone, and the average computer modder is unlikely to produce something of the same quality.
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  7. #7
    Member jivetrky's Avatar
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    ahhh ok, I guess I spaced that part. Well at $75, it might be worth it. You get a decent case (although it'll only be a 1x120mm RAD (or possibly 2 if you can fit 2x 1x120mm RADs) I still would probably not do it myself, but it would probably be a fun project for someone. So for $75 I'll say why not!
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  8. #8
    Member RIG RIDER's Avatar
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    You mind posting a link, cause all I find is this.
    http://www.directron.com/clw0020.html
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  9. #9
    Member jivetrky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RIG RIDER
    You mind posting a link, cause all I find is this.
    http://www.directron.com/clw0020.html
    That looks to be the Tribe (at least from the pics I saw on tt.com)
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  10. #10
    Member voigts's Avatar
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    If you are going to do this effectively, you really should eliminate those 1/4" items all together. Why not just sell the included rad and waterblock and just spend a bit and get a decent 1/2" rad and block? There is always someone on Ebay who will buy stuff like that. I can see the $75 being worth it for someone to have a nice external case to work with as the case does look good, even if the components stink. Make sure to post a project log.

  11. #11
    Registered artinhawaii's Avatar
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    Is the TRIBE trite? Sure it is!

    Oh well, at least a few people chime in with a positive slant...

    For a moment I was thinking it must be the cold weather on the mainland


    The point of this project is to build a relative simple WC outside box for a 3.0 Prescott on an ASUS P4P800SE mb. Since the Prescott is pretty tough to overclock I don't expect too much in the first place. At least my case will stay a lot cooler and here in Hawaii that counts for a lot. Temps here today ~84 degrees...

    I agree that budget is an issue, I really don't want to spend more than necessary, it's just to find out what minimum parts need to be added to make the TRIBE actually perform.

    There are only three reviews on the net that I remember and their results are "friendly", meaning that they claimed it was "OK" and actually pulled even with the NAUTILUS outboard system in one test. (not that this is any accomplishment in my book)

    The 1/4" hoses are a general problem. I first encountered that a couple of years ago when I built a system around the Koolance WB, that was sold at the time even at CompUSA. I had a fat heatercore, a huge fountain pump and two commercial 140mm fans in push/pull and it still struggled to cool a P4 2.6 overclocked to 3.2 gigs.

    After a bit of research I noticed that TT (ThermalTake) uses the same but shorter fittings on most its WC related items, so by buying its radiator/fan combo from the BigWater I get extra 1/2" fittings for free. I need them for the cpu WB!

    I'm ready to take a little gamble here and go with two TT fan/rad combos since the investment is so low. If I loose...I only loose the $24 for the second one..BUT then I'll have to spent real money on BlackICE rads.

    The good news is that NewEgg is selling that TT rad/fan combo for $24 or so. The inside tubing is copper with aluminum fins crimped on. It's not a bad design for a 120 mm radiator and it has pre-threaded holes on both sides to allow a push/pull without much effort. The fan can be regulated in speed.

    So my next step will be to order the second radiator/fan combo and hook them simply in parallel, no P/P yet, everything still 1/4", and then see what influence that has on temps. (take some numbers...).

    After that obviously the old pump has to go, I mean it's the size of a cell phone! The TRIBE pump is by far the weakest link.

    Once the pump get's replaced it is also time to switch to 1/2" tubing and kick out the reservoir since it's limited to 1/4" fittings. To make things simple I'll pick a pump that has natural 1/2" connections.

    Add a T-line as fill tube in front of the pump should be easy, maybe with a DangerDen cap to close.

    Fitting two radiators and a decent pump into the case is no challenge I think.

    Once the new pump is working on two radiators thru 1/2" feed tubing one should see very good temps. The WB has natural 3/8" opening inlets (still with 1/4" fittings right now) and has a very simple wide path in S-shape, very little flow resistance I suspect, but generous surface contact. It's a monster, size wise, weighs in at 440 grams, lucite over solid copper.

    So it looks like there are no great challenges ahead and it is a matter of budget how to finish the whole thing up (pricey quick disconnects or not?)
    My current outlook on budget is:

    1 TT radiator/fan combo ~$25
    1 1/2" pump ~$60-$70
    tubing & fittings ~$20-$30
    (TT temp gizmo ~$26) not needed but handy.

    I still don't know what pump to buy. Does the Hydor still have problems with that plate coming loose? The big Eheim is overkill for that case. Leaves the D5, doesn't it?

    btw, that link to DIRECTRON is accurate, other dealers have the TRIBE at ~ $95 to $179.
    Last edited by artinhawaii; 01-25-07 at 06:25 PM.

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    I don't see the why you want to get another Thermaltake rad for $24, when you could get Black Ice Pro or a Black Ice Extreme for about the same price. Unless living in Hawaii is limiting your choices.

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    IMO - Save yourself all the hassle and grief of switching 1/4" to 1/2" - go with 3/8" instead. Use the 18W DDC+ (aka, DDC-2, MCP355) for your pump - it has 3/8" fittings, is smaller than the D5, and has plenty of power for your needs (quiet too!). A 3/8" tube can easily feed the 2x 1/4" tubes for your rads (3/8" tubing has 2.25 times as much cross-sectional area as one 1/4" tube) and the extra resistance you'll get between the Tribe and your block using 3/8" tubing instead of 1/2" tubing will be minimal to the DDCs pumping power.

    Other than that I think you've got a great project in mind - keep us posted ...!

  14. #14
    Registered artinhawaii's Avatar
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    Unhappy choices...so many choices...

    Well, some good points obviously. BUT have a look at my post about the D5 and the fake DDC out there...scary. They look almost like the original.

    Tygon tubes at 1/2" get tricky to bend in tight spaces and I'm aware of it.
    Going with 1/2" will give me some decent reserve to use the flow capability to split between cpu and vga WC in the future.
    Also if I use use a D5 and a Black Ice extreme (a new consideration, only adds about $20 over my old budget...ooops...plus one more fan!$10) I would have already natural 1/2" connections on pump and rad. The rad with its 10" length would nicely fit in the TRIBE case(12.5" long), two fans blowing to one side only, I start to like that idea.

    The DDC would limit future expansion for very little cost savings.

    To throw a real curve ball....you've seen the pics of the TRIBE stacked on top of each other? Another $80 bucks and a conversion from two 1/4" fittings to one 1/2" on the WB and....nah...that's just too crazy!!

    Keep the ideas coming...I probably order the stuff Sunday night.

  15. #15
    Helpful Senior Member Captain Slug's Avatar
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    The Tribe enclosure is made out of T-Slotted Aluminum so it will be very easy to modify.
    If you want a cheap adaptation I would recommend getting a via aqua 1800 pump from drfostersmith.com for $16 and a BIPI or MCR120 for around $24.
    http://www.jab-tech.com/Swiftech-MCR...k-pr-3070.html

    You'll need 1/2" NPT to 3/8" barb adapters for the pump, so Mcmaster part# 5463K467 will be $4.53 per pack of 10. And for tubing you can use 3/8" ID in opaque black (part #5231K6) or clear (part #5233K63).
    Last edited by Captain Slug; 01-25-07 at 11:15 AM.
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    I wouldn't recommend a via aqua pump for non submersed use.

  17. #17
    Helpful Senior Member Captain Slug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by downer
    I wouldn't recommend a via aqua pump for non submersed use.
    Why? It's easy to adapt to an inline pump. You just have to adapt it to the right barb size and lock the anti-clog feature on the impeller.
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  18. #18
    Member greyharte's Avatar
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    for the record i have the TT bigwater 12 kit ... and i know that you can get 1/2" fittings for that cpu block in kit form from TT .. the TT cpu block performs remarkably well on my opty 144 oc'd 50% (from 1.8ghz to 2.7ghz) i get load temps of 50c max running the 1/4" lines this is also w/ the stk radiator, pump, res and a swiftec mcw50 gpu block added to the loop ... tho i did have to replace the original cpu block when the acrylic top started cracking ... they were very responsive and x-shipped the replacement without any issue and i rcvd w/in 5 days as i recall ... the fittings are a non-standard (by our standards) thread sz and i wasnt able to find anything local .. also the res is setup for the 1/4" tubing ... btw the TT bigwater 775 kit ships for 3/8" tubing instead of 1/4" .. so there might be some negotiating room w/ TT accordingly

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Slug
    Why? It's easy to adapt to an inline pump. You just have to adapt it to the right barb size and lock the anti-clog feature on the impeller.
    They are designed to run submerged only, I believe it helps cool the pump. Via Aqua's are known to fail frequently when used inline.

  20. #20
    Registered artinhawaii's Avatar
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    At this point in time it seems more natural to go all out and go 1/2" tubing everywhere. It is a little bit more expensive and only uses the cpu block and the case itself from the original TRIBE but it makes more sense.

    Going with a smaller pump saves only ~$30. I think we all agree here that two single rads or one Black ICE Extreme is necessary in todays WC.

    At worst I have extra cooling power but if I feel crazy enough I could cool my second rig with the extra potential.(P4 2.6)

    As you can see I'm a bit stuck with last generation rigs on P4's. But I figured a decent upgrade to Core 2 with new memory and decent stuff would cost me about $1400 for just one machine and I wondered how much improvement I could see in the graphic work I do as an artist. I don't game much other than Sudden Strike II or other RTS stuff.

    So I decided to use that money on something much more exciting and ordered a decent home video projector (Sanyo PLV-Z5) (1280p x 720p) which should be here on Tuesday.

    Since they're "only" $1299 at Visual Apex after mail-in-rebate, I even saved a few bucks. They shipped it for free to Hawaii by accident ...good things do happen...I worked sooo hard on my karma...

    Let's look at the budget one more time: (ignoring shipping costs for now)

    TRIBE case plus innards: $80 (includes useful cpu-block)

    D5 pump .......................$70 at Directron

    Black Ice extreme II.. ....$40 at Directron

    tubing,fittings,fan etc.. ....$50



    That adds up to ~ $240, about the price of an ASETEK internal set, but now in an outboard box, removable.

    In the end I should be able to beat a $450 EXOS 2 without much of a fight and they/re still at 3/8" connections.

    The 1/2" connection route allows for some fringe benefits since there is an abundant supply of commercial plastic fittings for agricultural use out there.
    (I used to build irrigation systems on a farm once)

    Straight couplings, manual shut-off valves etc are very cheap in specialized supply stores and they're built to hold 40 to 60 PSI without a sweat or even a clamp for months.

    We're talking 50cents coupling/barbs made from tough ABS plastic with quadruple ridges for improved tension hold, out in the sun for months at end. These are really worth to look at.


    later
    Last edited by artinhawaii; 01-26-07 at 01:45 AM.

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