No-Name Watercooling System

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My Canadian friends have asked me about this system available in Canada, and someone sent me a sample to test out.

SUMMARY: Underpowered, Undersized, Underperforming – Underwhelming.

It is not pleasant to write a review like this; the folks who put this package together have invested time, effort and money to market a watercooling solution. It looks like, however, rather than do some basic research, they put their efforts into copying the Senfu system. In so doing, they copied all the drawbacks along with it.

Stuff

The packaging is quite nice – it comes in a clear plastic attache case with a LOT of parts. The idea (a good one) is to give the buyer everything he needs in one neat little package. This includes plastic tubing, clamps, clips, adapters, grease, waterblocks and a 12 volt submersible water pump (I believe a 110 volt unit is also available).

With all the pieces, it looks like you can assemble a cooling solution from everything ranging from a PII, Athlon Slot A, PGA, FCPGA or Athlon Socket A CPU. This is a good move. Of course, when you buy the kit, you pay for stuff you might never use. Not so good, but depends on the price.

It DOES NOT include a water reservoir or radiator – these you must supply from other sources.

The sample I received did not have directions yet, so I really can’t tell you exactly how the PII/Slot A stuff goes together. I have a good idea based on the parts, but I’m not going to second guess the designers. When I get directions, I’ll revisit this aspect.

However, I did test two key elements of the system: One of the waterblocks and the water pump.

THE WATER PUMP

Let’s cut to the quick: Inadequate. Noisy although not as bad as some I’ve heard, but overall not something I would put in a watercooling system for two reasons:

  1. Lift: This pump can not lift water more than 18″. This restricts the user to putting together a system in which the distance from the lowest to highest point is not more than 18 inches. Forget about a radiator at the top of a tower case with the pump at the bottom and the CPU in between.
  2. Flow Rate: Inadequate. I measured flow by timing how long the pump took to fill a quart measuring cup: 2 minutes, 4 seconds. This calculates to a measured flow rate of about 7 1/4 gph. This did not include a radiator and waterblock, so the friction associated with these components will lower this figure somewhat.

I did not use this pump in real live testing – I would not take the chance. If you use it within the 18″ lift zone, it will pump water; it’s just not a pump I am comfortable using.

THE WATERBLOCK

Block w Qtr

Waterblock with an American Quarter.

These are cute little buggers; certainly doesn’t overwhelm you with bulk. However, they are doing some things right – at least they use a copper base for the block with a brass top (Question: Does this introduce a corrosion issue?). The base is flat and looks pretty well finished, so no problems there.

Now to a BIG drawback – the intake tubes are 1/4″/6mm in diameter. You can’t get a lot of water through these tiny openings, and for me this is the major problem I have with these waterblocks. If you use this with a better water pump, you will be confronted with mating a pump that uses 3/8″ tubing (most larger ones start here) to a block that has 1/4″ nipples.

I solved this by cutting some 1/4″ tubing and using it as a sleeve over which I slipped 3/8″ tubing. I’ve used this approach before and it works very well.

THE TEST

With great trepidation, I mounted the waterblock on a Duron 650 in an ASUS A7V. I used a Danner 1.5 submersible pump with a Senfu radiator modified to take 3/8″ tubing; this is way more powerful than the 12 v pump.

Mounted

As you can see, the CPU’s base is larger than the waterblock; this is not a problem as you are only cooling the CPU core. Before I set this up, I backed the Duron down to 650 and 1.6v as I did not know how effective the waterblock would be.

Fired it up and son of a gun – not too bad! Held temps around 40C/104F, so I worked the Duron up to 900 MHz, 1.89 v, keeping an eye each time I ratcheted the speed and voltage up on CPU temps in BIOS. Satisfied that it was at least not going to allow the CPU to self-destruct in a silicon funeral pyre, I booted into W98SE and proceeded to run Prime95:

TEST RESULTS

Heatsink

Idle Temp

Prime95 Temp

No Name

41C/106F

45C/113F

BE Cooling Copper

38C/100F

40C/104F

Ambient 20.8C/69F, Duron 650 @ 900, 1.89V, ASUS A7V.

Certainly not terrible! But not overwhelming compared to a larger copper waterblock that uses 3/8″ nipples. Performance is better than any air-cooling solution (by about 5C) I have tested to date, so that’s a plus. Frankly, I was surprised at how effective this diminutive waterblock performed. It raises the question: How big does a waterblock have to be? And what does this block have that others do not?

I looked inside the 1/4″ nipple and found something really interesting:

Inside

The copper base has a forest of little raised bumps inside. The idea is that it increases the cooling surface area and increases turbulence – good things to see in waterblocks. Seems to work – very neat design! Unfortunately, it’s hampered by its small diameter tubing.

CONCLUSIONS

As nicely as this waterblock did, its performance is not comparable to what’s generally available from other sources. Further, the pump packaged with this unit just does not cut it.

Purchasing something like this depends on your budget; at $50, this is not a bad start to watercooling, but at best I think you will outgrow this setup very quickly. At worst, you will be turned off on watercooling. If you look at this as a short term investment, you’d be better off biting the bullet and buying better gear from day one.

If you are really hampered by availability of other products, I would suggest you purchase only the waterblock, not the whole kit. Scrounge up a radiator and go to an aquarium store and get a decent water pump. With these components, you can upgrade over time as more products become available.

I have introduced Canadian vendors to a number of US watercooling producers – Canadian users can help by asking vendors to import more watercooling products. US producers are looking for Canadian distribution, so the ball is in the Canadian retailers court on this one.

I also have to believe, in a great country like Canada, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and kicking. This is a business opportunity for the right person.

Email Joe


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