|AMD Pro WaterKit review|
This is not your ordinary review. Not by a long shot... You see, normally, the reviews are done by people who have done the same thing over and over again, preferably for quite some time. I haven't. But that's sort of half the point this time. We wanted to give you guys a different point of view. Of course, I'm not a total vegetable with computers, but I haven't used watercooling before. So, equipped with the AMD Pro WaterKit from our sponsor 3DfxCOOL, a standard small aluminum radiator and a lot of patience, I got to work...
In the kit you'll find a waterpump from Nova. It's capable of 200-800 liters pr hour, so it's a pretty decent pump. You'll also find 4 meters of 10/12,6mm pvc-based hose, a copper-based waterblock for SocketA/370, a Cu-Shim, a ProFix3 CPU-holder and two hose clamps. So where's the radiator? Well, seeing as you all have different space-issues depending on your cabinet, it's just as well... 3DfxCOOL included a standard small radiator for the review, but you'll have to order it separately when ordering the waterkit.
So where do you start. I got the package, looked at it, and the first thing that hit me was "where the heck is the manual for this thing??". Sorry, there is none. Well, that is, there is a manual for the waterpump... But it's first of all not very good, and secondly, not any use for us. We're not putting that thing in an aquarium, although gold-fish in my computer has crossed my mind. (Sorry, that'll be the next review).
Anyway, I used a couple of days lurking around on the internet, asking some friends and generally just gathering info on watercooling. I wanted to wait a couple of days anyhow, since I was also waiting for the Abit KG7-Raid to arrive. Combining serious cooling with the Soft Menu III from Abit seemed like a good idea at the time.
Let's get to it. The test rig used for this review:
The T-Bird was unlocked from AMD (thank you...:), so I was able to experiment with the combination of adjusting the multiplier and the FSB.
Running the T-Bird for a while with the Thermalright SK6-combo had me worried that I'd never get above the 1333Mhz. It was idling at 47-49 degrees Celsius, which is kinda hot... During stress it would easily hit 55-59 degrees. Overclocking at those temperatures is not exactly recommended. So it was with a big smile I started mounting the water kit. When mounting the hose into the pump, I noticed that it didn't quite fit. Look at this picture, and you'll know what I mean:
Using some tape, I insulated the opening. After running the water through the system for a couple of hours to check for leaks, I found one. The radiator had a tiny hole in one of the nipples, for which I used Araldit Super Steel to insulate. I've been told that this is an extremely rare occurrence, and 3DfxCOOL would have exchanged it with no further questions. After an hour I started it again, running it for a couple of hours again. This time it was totally leak free.
So, on to the mounting process. I mentioned earlier the lack of a description on how to do this. My first question was, do you mount the radiator before or after the cpu? In other words, which of these:
Now, I've tried both, and in my setup, the difference wasn't noticeable... I'd recommend trying both, and then deciding for yourself.
Well, as I said, the fun stopped. The mounting clip included in this kit is based on a tightening knob at the top, and two clamps going on each side of the cpu socket. Mounted it looks something like this:
However, I don't have words for how light you have to tighten this. And trust me, I know... Doing one turn to much on the knob just might have your equipment look something like this:
So, the next day, a new KG7-Raid was in place, and the test could go on... You might say that I was a bit more careful this time...:) After finishing up the mounting of the cpu, waterblock and all the other stuff inside the case, I booted up. Right into the BIOS, and reading a stunning 16 degrees on the CPU. Of course this was nowhere near realistic in real life, but it was fun...:)
Let's get down to business: Overclocking!
Seeing as the T-Bird was unlocked, I started out by increasing the multiplier to 11x instead of the usual 10x. No problems. Increasing little by little, I ended up at 1555Mhz. It booted in 1580 too, but wasn't stable.
I ran several cpu-demanding tests, but 1555 didn't crash any of them. So, what do you do to get that little extra? Well, the simplest trick would be increasing the voltage on the core. In Abits excellent BIOS it's a three-second job. By pumping it from the default 1,75 up to 1,85, I was back in business. Pushing 1589 was no longer a problem. No crashes. I was able to take it to 1612Mhz, and still running rock solid. However, trying 1656 proved impossible. The good'ol blue screen hit me like a baseball bat whenever I tried. However, it does post just fine, so perhaps with a bit of BIOS tweaking it might turn out to be possible. But 1612 isn't that bad...
After getting the CPU to run as I wanted, I started looking at the kit again. Why should you buy it, or why shouldn't you?
My gut feeling tells me that the kit is put together without really trying hard enough to get the kit to fit the market. The hose not fitting right, the lack of a manual, the lack of two extra hose clamps for the radiator, nothing describing how easy it is to snap the cpu-socket and so on. I'd rather have a waterblock being fastened by the four holes beside the socket, something that seems to become quite normal on today's boards.
However, the cooling effect seems quite good. Increasing the speed from 1333 to 1612 and at the same time lowering the temperature 20 degrees is quite impressive. No air-cooler can compare to this.
My conclusion would be that if you know what you're doing, or you have some friends and forums to check out, you'll be alright, and it's a decently priced kit. I'd consider buying a different fastening mechanism for the waterblock. The block itself is darn good, made of copper, but the risk of snapping your cpu-socket isn't something I'd recommend. Then again, if you're aware of it, you'll probably be alright.
All in all, here's my conclusions:
One of the regulars at our norwegian forum (diskuter) has been using this kit for some time. He's tried different waterblocks, and concluded the same as me, the waterblock included in the kit is quite good!
He's also done some interesting modifications on the pump. The best, in my opinion, is creating a small box including a 12V switch that automatically turns the water pump on or off together with the computer.
Also, he's been bothered by some noise from the Nova pump. I haven't experienced that myself, but he's fixed it by doing some modifications inside the impeller chamber. For example, he's sanded down the printing inside, as shown here:
Thanks to 3DfxCOOL for providing the waterkit for this review.