Free Water Cooling…Or Marketing Gimmick? Or Both?

Wednesday, the news email received an interesting press release. The title is simple enough but is quite the claim: “iBUYPOWER Partners with Asetek to Develop the First and Only Liquid Cooling Solution for the Level 10 Tower”. While I’m unable to prove it false with a link (quick Google search yields a whole lot of results, but the vast majority of them are republishing info from this release), I would guess someone somewhere has installed a liquid cooling solution in a Thermaltake Level 10 case since they’ve been out. I just couldn’t find any.

Not that I’d blame people for not wanting to try and put water in the thing. Its, um, interestingly compartmentalized design is not exactly water cooling friendly. But the only liquid cooling solution? I think not.

Here’s the press release itself, which is summed up as iBUYPOWER has partnered with Asetek to include their single-radiator, block/pump water cooling solution with every Thermaltake Level 10 case they sell. This unit is strikingly similar to the Corsair H50 we recently reviewed, which stands to reason – Asetek is the OEM for Corsair’s unit.

That in itself is fine. My unsubstantiated, non-sourced B.S. filter tells me that iBUYPOWER thought the Thermaltake Level10 case would be received better than it has been. Let’s face it, very (very) few people in the computer enthusiast demographic even want one of these things. The best way it can be described is a Thermaltake gimmick. Designed by BMW engineers, the Level 10 is an aesthetic failure that goes up to 11 (long live Spinal Tap!).

So iBUYPOWER probably has some stock to get rid of and they make what could be considered a smart move. ‘Hey, let’s get rid of these things by putting free water cooling in them!’ Considering they cost $850 (see Newegg link above), they darn well should include something. These are all things I understand and do not begrudge them that.

But let’s dig a little deeper and look at the quotes from iBUYPOWER in the press release.

“At iBUYPOWER we are always up to a challenge,” said Darren Su, Vice President of iBUYPOWER. “The Level 10 case dimensions do not accommodate standard liquid cooling systems, and required us to design a cooling system that fits its exact dimensions. It’s just another example of iBUYPOWER’s dedication to innovation.”

Right, that’s it. Dedication to innovation. Oh, and that THEY designed. Let’s have a look, shall we?

Asetek in Level 10

Asetek in Level 10

So…does anyone else see any innovation or change in design here? Except for the fact that the pump power cable isn’t sleeved as nicely as the H50, it sure looks like a very similar unit to me.

“When iBUYPOWER decided to liquid cool the Level 10 Chassis, Asetek’s Total Solutions Team was quick to respond with the guidance on how to optimize liquid cooling performance in this unique chassis,” said Steve Branton, Asetek’s Director of Marketing. “This our commitment to ‘Thermal Management Done Right!”

Again – really? Let me dip into the land of conjecture and see how that conversation really went.

  • iBUYPOWER – “Hmm…how can we get rid of these cases that no one will buy? I know, let’s call Asetek! Hey guys, can you sell us <insert number here> of your LCLC units and can we fit them in this case?”
  • Asetek -  “Um…yea, sure. Does it have a 120mm fan hole? It does? Well, sure, it will fit.”

Ok, ok. It was probably a little longer and more detailed than that.

What about Thermal Management Done Right? If that were the case, they’d install the fan on the radiator like it was supposed to be installed. Instead of using outside air to cool an already somewhat underpowered radiator, they’re crippling it even more by using it as an exhaust fan!

The point is there is absolutely nothing special about this solution that I can tell. They’re making it out to be some big, revolutionary step when it’s nothing more than including a cooler with a case. So say that. Say “If you buy the Level 10 case, you get a free Asetek water cooling setup!!!” Don’t pretend you’ve done something special. Don’t come out and tell us ‘Hey, non-DIY enthusiast community, come get your free custom, innovative water cooling with this lovely case! (suckers)’ Consumers, at least those in our community, are smarter than that (we hope).



Drugless's Avatar

At least they could have used a clean new H50 unit. Check the dust on the fan and tubing!
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Hahaha, good point.

Just to be 100% clear - the unit used in this thing is NOT an H50. The H50 is designed to Corsair's specs. How it differs from the LCLC in things other than appearance is I'm sure proprietary, but Corsair should not be associated with this scheme.
EarthDog's Avatar
Interesting take on this. Personally, I love that Thermaltake Level 10 case. LOVE IT. But for my needs, and most enthusiasts here at the site as you mentioned, its just not functional.

Seemed like a split opinion on it from these threads with a bit more weight leaning on the "Nay" side:

Common denominator - Looks are pleasing to some, not others. Cooling concerns. Price.
thideras's Avatar
That is pretty sad, to be honest.
Ben333's Avatar
Seems the same as bundling a heatsink with a case... but I don't exactly see the problem here. This small kit does come pre installed, their job is to sell the item. The consumer's job is to research.
thideras's Avatar
The item isn't the problem. They claimed they designed a totally custom system (and I quote):

They didn't design anything, they paid a company for a pre-existing product.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Cooling concerns & price are the two main reasons I hate it. If it cost, oh, $150-$200 (like some of the posts you linked to said), it would be just another case that I'm not particularly fond of. There are a lot of those and to each their own.

EDIT - FWIW, I attempted to find a Level 10 build both here and XS. Didn't dig extremely deep, but from a cursory search, I could not find one, just a few threads talking about it when it came out like the ones you linked to. That's why I commented "Let’s face it, very (very) few people in the computer enthusiast demographic even want one of these things."
I have no problems with what they are doing. The problem is how they presented it.

To assuage anyone who doesn't like that I don't like the case, I understand. There will be differing opinions on looks and that's fine by me. If we all liked the same things, building computers would be much more boring. Even if cases aren't to my taste, I thoroughly enjoy watching their build logs and looking at the photos.

The long and short of it is, well, everybody knows the saying "opinions are like..." I just happen to have been asked to place mine on a web site, hopefully in a slightly interesting/entertaining manner.

EDIT - Thideras got in there while I was typing and hit the nail on the head. Thanks Thiddy!
Ben333's Avatar
Still though, I've seen way worse statements. Plus, this is from Thermal Take... and that kit certainly doesn't look like anything THEY have offered before. It is what it is... maybe I just don't see the extent to which wrong is being done.
thideras's Avatar
That still doesn't justify it. They flat out lied about the "improvements" to the case to improve sales. It is silly to try and say "that isn't what they meant" or "there is worse out there". That has no impact on their words; they were not truthful. I'm sure they didn't just throw it out there at a press conference, but instead worded it very carefully to fool any unaware buyer.

Call me paranoid, but I take anything a company says very literally as they usually take a lot of time to see how it could be interpreted. Why? Because my company does it.
Ben333's Avatar
Lets say I'm just an inexperienced user with a lot of dough, what's the difference between "We had to design a special cooler, just to fit this new case" and "Now included with this case, is an excellent watercooling kit to get the most out of your overclock". Now, the first one is a lie. The second one is based on opinion, but is still desceptive. This discussion wouldn't be though if they had simple used the second example I have... like companies do most of the time?

Am I missing something or do you see where I'm coming from?
hokiealumnus's Avatar
I see where you're coming from, but couldn't disagree more. The difference between saying both of the things you said and saying "Come buy this case and you'll get free water cooling!" is that the examples you gave are a lie & a half-truth and the one I said is not.

The impact is no's free water cooling for pete's sake (if you purchase an $850 case). They shouldn't outright lie just to make it sound better than an already good offer.
Ben333's Avatar
Well, aside from the main points here, I don't think the person buying this case would care that much about a free $60 - $70 product (like the Corsair kit) but I guess that making the kit look better than it is, and as unique as the case, and the only option for the case is wrong. Now... other than the lie, that add on seems like a nice incentive for someone looking to buy the case. lol
Detale's Avatar
Personally I don't feel that simply using an H50 is "watercooling" The time, energy, consideration and skill that goes into a real watercooling rig is way harder than simply installing a pre-fab CPU cooler and a 120mmm fan. It's almost insulting to call the H50 a WC unit at all. It's a CPU cooler period
Ben333's Avatar
Ehh... Actually, water cooling is simply the usage of water as a coolant to carry heat away from something and then dissipate it. Breaking it down to time and effort in the building of it doesn't make sense at all. Is your car not watercooled because a factory built it??
Grnfinger's Avatar
Anything from Asetek has to be free cause no one would actually buy it....
It will be hard to find a Level 10 build as the cost of the case is ridiculous but I see no reason why you cant mount a rad internally or a pump that 140mm fan in the front would be ideal for a rad, I think the case is interesting and I would love a shot at doing a build with it but I cant see my spending 700USD for that.
Detale's Avatar
lol, Yes I am fully aware of the definition of water cooling and Yes the car is watercooled as well. Is it in the same family, fine, but certainly not even in the same league. The performance of the thing will show you that. Figure the comparison between a 5 star restaurant and McDonalds do you consider them the same because they both serve food?
hokiealumnus's Avatar
H50's and Asetek solutions are water cooling, as it meets the definition. No, they aren't as good as a custom loop (see this review of the H50), but they're not meant to be and don't cost nearly as much.

Please keep the "is this water cooling?" argument out of here. It got way out of control in the original thread about the H50, people got out of hand and punishments / admonishments were given out by the administration. Let's try to avoid that one in this thread and keep to what it's about ... lambasting ridiculous marketing lies!

p.s. - Grnfinger, the H50 is built by Asetek and Corsair has sold tens of thousands of these units. I'd say that's more than nobody.
Grnfinger's Avatar
I know who built it and who is marketing it, Thats why Asetek had to slap a Corsair sticker on there so ppl would buy it.. Seems ther own branding of "LCLC" was not enough to sway the consumer or maybe its there reputation ...who knows.
The point I was trying to make was Asetek's name, they are the bottom barrel in the WC game but ppl still buy it, kinda like thermaltake you just avoid it like the plague.
muddocktor's Avatar
This "Free water cooling" solution looks to me like it's something that iBUYPOWER dreamed up to try to move a bunch of those overpriced TT chassis that they can't sell for $850 a pop to me. I've sure they got a good price on their H5O clone they decided to throw in with the case. I think the only engineering they might have done would be to decide on what fan to mount to the rad and the length screws to do so.
corrosion231's Avatar
I used to work for iBuypower. That is the same cooler they have been installing for at least 3 years now. The same cooler they get from asetek for $13.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
I figured they were cheap, but that's insanely cheap. I don't think they could even produce them that low. Asetek has to make a profit. It doesn't sound reasonable that unit could even be made for $13, much less sold for it.
corrosion231's Avatar
I'm not going to go into the failure rate. We used to get at least 10-15 systems a week in the RMA department with issues directly related to this cooler. Leaking, pumps failing, bad contact between the head and the cpu. They are a nightmare.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Wow, that's horrible. Rest assured the H50 is not of this unit's ilk then. Corsair couldn't divulge numbers when I interviewed them, but let's just say they are on the far, far other end of the spectrum from what you're talking about.
QuietIce's Avatar
By a slight bending of certain rules of English - and ethics - I can see where this statement might be true. Since advertising copywriters don't hold to either of those values as a general rule what I see is indeed hype but nothing you don't see everyday, 10 to 15 minutes apart, on every TV in the world - and nothing that can be taken into court either.

I agree it's sad, very sad, when computer vendors have to stoop this low but face it guys - the average computer user today (especially the ones that would buy that case!) are not very, uh, "reason-oriented" people. This seriously emotional appeal is exactly what should prove most successful for getting the target audience to part with their money. In the end, that's what advertising - any and all advertising - is about ...
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