One of the fastest growing segments in the PC building arena is anything having to do with small form factor. So much so in fact, SFF enthusiast level products have begun to explode on the scene. EVGA has seen the popularity of SFF builds and has offered up their Hadron mini-ITX cases with a host of accessories to compliment them. Back in November, we published a review on the Hadron Air; and our editor, MattNo5ss was impressed enough to give it our stamp of approval. Today, we’ll revisit the Hadron series of cases, but this time the newly released Hydro version will be under the microscope. EVGA also sent along the optional Hadron Hydro water cooling kit, so we’ll introduce you to that as well. With water cooling support, the ability to house long graphics cards, and the plethora of other features included in the Hadron Hydro, it makes one wonder if all this can be pulled off in a mini-ITX sized case. Let’s go find out!
Specifications and Features
Let’s begin this section by first highlighting the Hadron Hydro chassis. Here are the specifications and features as provided by the EVGA website.
- Integrated 500 W Gold Rated Power Supply w/ 40 A on +12 V Rail
- Supports most full size enthusiast graphics cards! (Up to 267 mm, double slot)
- 2 x USB 3.0 Ports
- Supports all mini ITX form factor motherboards
- 13.8 in/350 mm height and 6.6 in/169 mm width – One of the smallest chassis available for the enthusiast!
- 2 x 2.5/3.5 in Drive Bays supports two hard drives
- Supports slim slot load optical drive (not included)
- Accommodates various types of watercooling
- Click here to learn about CPU cooler compatibility
- Width: 6.6 in – 169 mm
- Height: 13.77 in – 350 mm
- Depth: 12.1 in – 308 mm
- Weight: 13.22 lb – 6 kg
You probably noticed by reading the above specifications that this chassis comes with a 500 watt PSU. This isn’t the typical throw away PSU you find many other manufacturers tossing in their cases. No sir, this PSU is 80Plus Gold rated and has a stout 40 amp +12 V rail.
|EVGA Hadron Hydro – Power Supply Specifications|
|AC Input||100-240 VAC~, 8-4 A, 60-50 Hz|
|Rail||+5 V||+3.3 V||+12 V||-12 V||+5 Vsb|
|MAX Output||20 A||20 A||40 A||0.5 A||3.5 A|
|130 W||480 W||6 W||17.5 W|
|Total||500 W @ +50 °C|
The Hadron Hydro Water Cooling Kit features and specifications are as follows and can be found in the accompanying user’s manual. The kit is extremely detailed and has everything you need to install a single loop into the Hadron Hydro case.
|Hadron Hydro Water Cooling Kit Specifications|
|24 cm Radiator||
|CPU Water Block||
|Pump and Tank||
|Tubing, Coolant, Accessories||
Packaging, Accessories, and First Look
Both the case and water cooling kit arrived in simplistic brown boxes with just Hadron Hydro branding printed on them. Inside the box that houses the case, you’ll find heavy Styrofoam blocks protecting the Hadron Hydro with a box of accessories sitting on top. Once the case is removed from the box, we see it further protected with a foam bag and plastic film applied to several surfaces.
Inside the box of accessories are the following items.
- Power Cable
- (2) SATA Cables
- Optical Disc Drive Tray
- Various Attachment Screws
- User’s Manual
- Case Badge
- Cable Retention Loop
- Hadron Sticker
Turning our attention to the Hadron Hydro Water Cooling Kit, the box is jam packed full of pieces and components needed to install the kit. Everything inside the box is extremely well protected with foam blocks and cardboard.
Here is the breakdown of all the items included in the box.
|Hadron Hydro Water Cooling Kit Contents|
|CPU Water Block Backplate||Thermal Grease/Scraper|
|CPU Water Block||4-pin to Molex Adapter|
|Pump and Reservoir||AMD Bracket|
|Tube Fittings 90°/45°/Straight||Cooling Fluid|
|Various Attachment Screws/Bolts||Funnel|
|Bolt Caps||24-pin PSU Short|
|24 cm Radiator||Clear Tubing|
Product Tours/Up Close Look
Hadron Hydro Water Cooling Kit
Let’s begin our product tours with a detailed look at the Hydron Hydro Water Cooling Kit. The 78-3/4″ of clear tubing packed in the kit is an ample supply for installing the kit and will leave you with plenty to spare. Also included is an anti-kink coil that comes in handy anywhere a sharp tubing angle is required. The green colored coolant and funnel to fill the system are a nice inclusion, but not everyone likes using a propylene glycol based coolant. Personally, I prefer distilled water and a few drops of PT Nuke, but to each his own. You have a wide variety of included fittings and adapters at your disposal too, which include 90°/45°/straight options. There are enough included fittings to accommodate adding a video card to the loop, should that be in your plans. It’s worth noting that the tubing size is not a standard size we normally see. The ID of the tubing is 9 mm and the OD is 13 mm. That’s a tad smaller than 3/8″ ID and little larger than 1/2″ OD. Luckily, the thread size is standard G1/4, so changing the fittings will allow you to use any size tubing you wish.
The water block and backplate have a chrome finish and are both very attractive looking. The backplate has a foam cushion with punch out areas on one side, which will eliminate any potential grounding issues when installed. The water block is very unique in appearance and comes with the Intel brackets installed out of the box. By removing the screws on each side of the EVGA emblem, you can easily swap the brackets over to the included AMD ones. The copper block appears to be nickel plated and is highly polished to a mirror-like finish. I removed one of the fittings to give you a glance at the interior of the water block where you can see a portion of the heat transfer channels.
Having a look at the pump and reservoir assembly, we can see that it’s assembled in a custom mounting bracket for installing into the Hadron Hydro case. The pump has a decent amount of flow, which is rated at three liters per minute. The pump draws 0.4 amps (4.8 watts), which easily makes it compatible with just about any motherboard’s fan header. There are two 3-pin power leads coming from the pump/reservoir assembly; one for the pump itself and another for the LED light. A bag of additional mounting hardware was found tucked inside the bracket. There is a plugged, threaded hole on the side of the reservoir, which is used for filling the system with fluid.
The 24 cm (240 mm) radiator features copper tubes and an aluminum fin array. Looking at the pictures below, you can see the tubes inside the radiator are quite large and will certainly minimize any flow restriction. Both G1/4 threaded holes are located at one end of the radiator. These hole locations and the bracket that surrounds the radiator give the assembly the customization it needs to fit seamlessly inside the case.
Hadron Hydro mITX Chassis Exterior Tour
Simplistically elegant is the best way I can describe the exterior looks of the Hadron Hydro. To break up what would otherwise be a solid glossy front panel, there is only a power button near the center and an inconspicuous EVGA logo near the top. At the very bottom is a rounded bracket that acts as the front pedestal and gives the Hadron Hydro a distinct “tilt” effect.
The left side of the Hadron Hydro features a large window that encompasses the vast majority of the side panel. The right side panel is where the headphone/mic jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, and the slot load optical drive opening are located. The small button to the right of the slot load opening is the eject button. Additional ventilation holes span most of the distance across the bottom of the right side panel.
At the back of the Hadron Hydro, we can see the two ventilated expansion slot covers and where the 500 watt PSU is installed. Above that, you’ll find the motherboard’s I/O shield opening and some cut outs for hanging the water pump bracket inside the case. At the very top, there are two pass through holes and two more holes that are plugged. All four of these holes will be used when installing the water cooling kit (more on this later).
Both the top and bottom areas are comprised of an air flow enhancing mesh design. At the bottom, there is a rubber strip applied to the rear area to keep the case from sliding around. The front pedestal does not have any rubber pads, which might have been a good idea to include for surface protection. The top panel’s ventilation holes not only cover the top area, but continue on down each side to provide even more airflow. As you’ll see when we assemble the water cooling components, this top panel design will be put to good use.
Hadron Hydro mITX Chassis Interior Tour
Inside the Hadron Hydro, we can see EVGA has attempted to make good use of the tight space. Look no further than the use of a 1U server form factor PSU in this attempt to maximize the available space. Although thin in nature, the PSU does span a good distance across the bottom of the case.
Along the interior back side of the case, we get another look at the two ventilated PCI expansion slot covers, the mounting tabs for the pump/reservoir bracket, and the opening for the motherboard’s I/O shield. Under the top deck, there are two Power Logic PLA12025S12L 120 mm fans that will supply the needed air flow for the radiator. The fans have 3-pin power connectors, and the cables are an unsleeved flat design.
Along the interior’s right side, we see the two vertically positioned 3.5/2.5″ tool-less drive trays. The trays easily slide out of the cage by simply pinching inward on the two tabs located on each side of them.
The top panel can be uninstalled by removing a few screws at the back of the case. Once the screws are off, simply slide the panel forward and off. Once removed, we can have a better look at the the two 120 mm fans I spoke of earlier. Compared to the Hadron Air, the top panel is much taller to accommodate the radiator’s height. Just as we found to be the case with the Hadron Air, the bottom side of the top panel is not painted black. It really doesn’t matter though because it’s not seen when installed.
With the right side panel removed, you can see the opening for the slot load ROM drive at the upper left corner.
The power supply is not a modular design, but luckily, there aren’t many cables you won’t actually use. There is a single PCI-E power cable that has two 6+2 power connectors. So, even if you have a graphics card that requires two 8-pin power connectors, you’re covered. The 20+4 main power connector and 4+4 CPU AUX +12V connector are smartly designed to accommodate motherboards with varying connector types. Additionally, there are two cables that provide a total of four Molex power connectors (two on each cable), and one cable that provides two SATA power connectors.
The I/O case cables consist of a USB 3.0 motherboard lead and a HD Audio cable. There is no reset button or HDD activity light found on the Hadron Hydro, so we’re left with just needing the power switch and power LED cables.
Now that we’ve explored both the Hadron Hydro case and the accompanying Hadron Hydro Water Cooling Kit, let’s get to putting this thing together!
Putting it all Together
Here is a list of everything I’ll be installing in the Hadron Hydro.
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus VI Impact|
|CPU||Intel i7 4770K|
|Video Card||EVGA GTX 750 TI FTW|
|Memory||G.Skill 2×8 GB TridentX Kit|
|Storage||Samsung 840 EVO 500 GB SSD / WD 500 GB SATA III Caviar|
|DVDRW Rom Drive||Panasonic UJ8C5 Slot Load|
|Case||EVGA Hadron Hydro|
|Cooling||EVGA Hadron Hydro Water Cooling Kit|
Because of the limited space mITX cases have, it’s usually a good idea to install as many components as you can on the motherboard before it gets installed. With that in mind, I loaded up the motherboard with the water block, memory, and all the add on cards the M6I comes with. Once that was complete, I went ahead and installed the motherboard in the case. It’s a good idea at this point to see if you have anything else that could be plugged in before you install the Water Cooling Kit. You might find there will be some motherboard headers or power connections that could be difficult to access once the pump/reservoir assembly is mounted. Plan ahead!
Next in line is installing the radiator at the top of the case. The first thing that needs to be done is to install a couple of alignment dowels near the center of the top deck, which correctly position the radiator. Once aligned, then install two standoffs at the rear of the radiator for attaching the support bracket. The support bracket then gets screwed to the back of the case. About the only thing you need to pay close attention to here is that the radiator’s threaded holes align correctly with the rear support bracket.
The pump/reservoir assembly is a snap to install. Everything comes pre-assembled in the mounting bracket, which makes the process painless. All you have to do is align the four tabs on the back of the mounting bracket with the four slots at the back of the case, then simply slide it downward to lock it in place. You can further secure the mounting bracket with four screws through the back of the case.
With all the the Water Cooling Kit’s major components installed, it’s time to get the fittings and tubing attached. In order to get coolant from the back of the radiator to the interior components, EVGA provides a set of custom adapters to get the job done. Two 90° fittings are installed to the radiator first, then the two long adapter fittings. The long adapters will swivel, which allow you to line up their threaded portion with the pass through holes. Working from the inside of the case, you can now push two straight fittings through the pass through holes and attach them to the long adapter fittings. The back of the case should look like the picture below when finished with this step.
The last step is to install the tubing using the compression fittings. You’ll need to cut three pieces of tubing ranging from roughly 5.5″ to 7″ in length. EVGA suggests configuring the loop to go from the pump to radiator, radiator to the CPU block’s upper hole, and finally, from the CPU block’s lower hole to the reservoir. The two hoses that connect to the pump/reservoir assembly will need to have the anti-kink coil installed because of the angle they require. I simply cut the included coil in half and shared it between the two hoses. The anti-kink coils do their job quite well, but I’m not a huge fan of introducing metal into an otherwise all copper loop. However, if you use a coolant with anti-corrosion properties, you can mitigate any potential problems this might cause. EVGA recommends cleaning the system every six months and installing new coolant, which is probably a good idea if you use the anti-kink coils.
Once the hoses were installed, I added a couple of well placed paper towels and tested for leaks. I used the PSU jumper provided in the kit and let it run overnight. No problems were encountered and no leaks were detected!
EVGA offers a slot load DVDRW drive that is a perfect match for the Hadron series cases. If you require an optical drive, then I would suggest the one EVGA sells. The reason I say that is because the eject button implemented into the right side panel may not align properly if a different ROM drive is used. The DVDRW is a Panasonic UJ8C5 and can easily be installed by using the included bracket that comes with the Hadron cases. The bracket attaches to the drive with four screws and slides into the chassis from the right side. EVGA also includes a combination data/power cable with the DVDRW drive, which keeps you from having to source it separately.
Next up was to install the SSD and HDD. The tool-less designed trays make this operation quick end effortless. The trays are flexible enough that you can set a 3.5″ HDD in place and flex the sides to engage the alignment pins. When installing a 2.5″ drive, you will need to use four screws to attach the drive from the bottom.
At this point, all that was left to do was install the video card and the last of the cabling. Cable management can be a bit tricky given the size constraints, but there is a nice pocket available in front of the PSU to tuck some of the excess cables. Here are a few pictures of the completed build.
Water Cooling Kit Performance
While I won’t be doing a full blown performance review with comparison coolers, I did want to give everyone a sense of how well the Hadron Hydro Water Cooling Kit performs. I ran 10 passes of LinX stress test at stock speeds and again while overclocked to 4.5 GHz @ 1.35 V. I also took idle readings at both of these settings. LinX takes right at an hour to complete a 10 pass run, so the cooling system temperature should have leveled off by then. I also kept both side panels on to simulate what the most likely usage scenario would be. The chart below depicts an average of all four cores at their highest recorded temperature and with the fans set to 100% speed.
As you can see by the above numbers, the Hadron Hydro Water Cooling Kit is up to the task of keeping the CPU cool, even with a hefty overclock. Nothing to complain about here!
As far as noise goes, the two fans under the top deck are very quiet, even when set to 100% speed. Personally, I just leave the fans set to 100% speed, and I don’t find myself being annoyed at all by them. As far as the pump goes, it too is very quiet and only omits a faint whining sound that’s similarly found with most water cooling pumps. All in all, a pretty nice showing by the Water Cooling Kit.
The Hadron Hydro and Hadron Hydro Water Cooling Kit are examples of EVGA once again catering to the enthusiast crowd. Kudos to EVGA for recognizing how popular small form factor systems are becoming among computer enthusiasts and providing products aimed squarely at them. While aesthetics are subjective to the individual user, there is no denying the Hadron Hydro case has a clean and elegant look that should appeal to the masses. Even though we used EVGA’s Water Cooling Kit, the case is more than capable of housing a custom kit designed by the user. The slot load optical drive was a great design idea that results in extra room being available inside the case. The included 500 watt PSU adds a lot of value to the case, especially considering it carries a 80+ Gold certification. Speaking of value, the Hadron Hydro case sells for $209.99 at EVGA’s web store, which at first glance might seem pretty high. However, shopping around for a 1U server PSU with similar specifications to the one included in the Hadron Hydro case, you’ll quickly find out they easily run anywhere from $115 to $130. Looking at it from that angle, I think the price is more than fair.
The Hadron Hydro Water Cooling Kit performs quite well as far as keeping temperatures under control. There is plenty of hardware packed in the kit to get it installed… and then some. I also like the fact EVGA includes enough fittings to add a video card in the loop, if you so choose. If you’re new to water cooling, then you will enjoy that fact there is no guess work or confusion about what components you need. All that work has been done for you, which makes your first endeavor into water cooling a lot easier. Installation is fairly straight forward, and the instructions provided are easy to follow. I really only have two minor gripes about the kit, and those are the irregular tubing size and the anti-kink coil. Standard 3/8″ tubing and an anti-kink coil that gets installed on the outside of the tubing would have been nice to see. Luckily, the fittings use standard G1/4 threads, so you could conceivably swap them out at a later time. You could also get an anti-kink coil designed to be used on the outside of the tubing. Both of those remedies will add to the cost of ownership, but if you keep a clean and well maintained water cooling loop, neither should be necessary. EVGA sells the Hadron Hydro Water Cooling Kit for $179.99, which is about right for a kit packed with as many components as this one has. It’s the perfect mate for the Hadron Hydro case.
If you’re new to water cooling or a seasoned vet looking to assemble a mini-ITX computer, I think EVGA might just have what you need to get that project going. The Hadron Hydro case and accompanying Water Cooling Kit are unique products that definitely deserve your attention and our Overclocker’s Approved stamp.