asetek WaterChill Cooling System
To extreme overclockers, enthusiasts and power users, asetek is definitely a household name. The asetek name is synonymous for the very first “affordable” mainstream phase change cooler readily available to the public, the vapochill™. They designed and produced what could possibly be the best cooler any processor can have. They brought the term cpu cooling to the next level, the EXTREME level.
Even though the vapochill™ is within reach by a lot of users, not all can afford this fantastic subzero cooler. So when they released their watercooling line, the waterchill™, the enthusiast community became very excited with the announcement. I mean this company has an excellent record when it comes to cooling design and expertise. So, you can only expect that their watercooling gear would be of top quality and high performance as well. Of course the expectations were high but that is the price of creating products that has created such an impact in the PC cooling world.
Today we will be reviewing and putting to test asetek’s most powerful watercooling kit to date. Targeted at the extreme users, this kit promises to deliver the lowest possible temperatures for any waterchill™ product the company has ever come up with. Introducing, the asetek WaterChill CPU Power kit KT03A-L30 with Triple Radiator.
How does asetek describe the WaterChill CPU Power kit – KT03A-L30 Triple Radiator?
“The KT03A-L30 [03-L-5712] represents the most powerful water cooling kit due to its triple radiator and larger pump. This kit is for the extreme overclocker reaching for the lowest possible temperatures and sky-high overclocking. This kit will take your water cooling set-up to the highest possible level!”
“In addition to a sharp design and strong visual impact, the WaterChill™ CPU cooling kit has a superior build quality and unique safety and noise control features.”
When a company make statements like that to describe their product, you can be sure that a lot of testing has been done before such claims were made. Knowing asetek, chances are you have a product that will stand up to its promise and deliver to the user the cooling performance they need. But of course, we have to prove it ourselves…
asetek WaterChill CPU Power kit – KT03A-L30 Triple Radiator
As with most high performance kits, each part in the kit is carefully chosen to complete the watercooling system. Most use tested and proven watercooling gear that are manufactured by different companies to complement their waterblocks, which as we all know is the key to any great watercooling kit.
In this case, asetek used the same approach and complemented their waterblock with carefully chosen watercooling equipment to complete their Power kit. In our experience, such kits are usually more involved and complex when it comes to installation due to that regard. But being a high performance kit, we expected it to be as such anyway. Hopefully, asetek has made their power kit much easier to work with than others.
The asetek WaterChill CPU Power kit arrived to us straight from its base in Denmark in perfect condition. It is packed in a plastic type one-piece tuck folder box. Much like a pizza box. Upon opening you will find thick foam packaging everywhere that act as cushion and at the same time keeps everything in place inside. Parts are arranged neatly and there is no sign of any damage or scratch to any of the components.
This is very good considering that it has travelled thousand of kilometres before reaching us here. We always focus on this detail, as most parts included in such cooling system might not function properly if they have been subjected to physical damages.
Manuals and Documentation
All asetek retail kits come with an installation manual in different languages. Alternatively, you can always download the newest manual off their website. And that is what we did. Of course having to print 50 odd pages was a quite a task.
The installation manual is user friendly and explains in detail the step-by-step procedure for installing the WaterChill Power kit in your rig. It has very simple instructions that are very easy to follow and have all the things you need to know regarding its installation and use.
The kit consists of all the things you need to completely setup the WaterChill Power kit into your system bar the 1L Distilled Water. Below is the breakdown of what came with our kit.
- WaterChill CPU Cooler Antarctica supporting Intel P4 S478, AMD Socket A, AMD S754/S940/S393 (AMD 64)
- Black Ice Pro TRIPLE Radiator with push on fittings
- 3 X 120 mm Low Noise Adda Fans with push on fittings (our sample kit only came with 2 fans)
- 1200 l/hr Hydor Pump with push on fittings
- WaterChill Control Unit with SafeStartTM, NoiseControlTM and LED connection
- WaterChill Plexiglas Reservoir
- WaterChill Tube Set (2,5 mtr.)
- ALL fittings and mounting accessories are included
- WaterChill Anti Alga Fluid – WaterWetter [10mm bottle]
- Heat Conduction Compound – 2 ml tube
- Installation Manual (not included in our sample unit)
The kit is comprised of the basic components that make up a watercooling system. You need a waterblock, pump, radiator and a reservoir in order to make the system work. The asetek KT03A-L30 Power Kit follows the same setup but uses components that are extremely powerful and geared towards the power user. From the name alone we can tell that this particular kit uses their Antarctica Waterblock and a Hydor L30 pump together with some other carefully chosen components.
The Antarctica Waterblock
This is asetek’s highest performing waterblock designed for maximum cooling and overclocking. The block is made of pure copper with a Lucite (PMMA) top/lid and O-ring. The base is machine finished and feels smooth and flat. It follows the tested and proven 1 inlet and 2 outlet design for more aggressive waterflow. It utilizes a “Push on” fittings system that is also used in the entire kit for tool-less and easy assembly of tubes on the CPU block. This particular kit uses 10mm (3/8”) diameter tubings all throughout. Inside the block, it employs what asetek calls STREAM CHANNELS™, which facilitates a very fast distribution of heat from the inlet point. This intense flow speed (little internal friction) and great heat spreading gives the Antarctica waterblock maximum cooling capacity. asetek spec sheet states that the block is capable of removing at least 200W of CPU-heat.
This particular block is very versatile in a way that you can remove the base and place another lid for use with other CPUs like an LGA775 which is what we’ll be using for the test. You just unscrew the bits that hold the lid with the supplied Allen key tool and replace it with the new lid. Note that each kit comes basic with the Universal CPU Cooler Antarctica. Special Lids are sold seperately. Our sample kit comes with 3 lids:
- 1 x lid (CPU01/A) for Intel socket 478 and AMD socket 754/940/939
- 1 x special lid for AMD socket 462
- 1 x lid (Socket T) for the latest LGA775.
The radiator is one of the things that separate this kit among the rest. This Power kit utilizes the famous Black Ice Pro TRIPLE radiator with push on fittings that can provide 3x the surface area at a much lower water pressure drop. Along with 3 x 120 mm Low Noise Adda fans, this combination is guaranteed to give your WaterChill system maximum cooling power. The fans can be controlled to run at 7v and 12v via the supplied control unit. Each individual fan is capable of delivering airflows of up to 80 CFM. The fans spin at its maximum of 2050rpm (80CFM) at 12v and 1300rpm (50CFM) at 7v. Noise levels is 38dBA and 27dBA respectively.
Placement of the radiator inside your case or system is a bit limited. Users buying this particular kit must either have a full tower case or place the radiator externally. In our case, we placed ours on top of the case with the push on fittings facing the back of the case. The general rule with radiators is size does matter. With the TRIPLE radiator, you absolutely get the size.
For the pump, asetek chose the Hydor L30 for their power kits. I mean why not? This small but powerful pump can deliver an output of 1200 liters in 1 hour. This pump is powered via the supplied power/control unit and is also fitted with the 10mm push on fittings. For an extremely powerful pump, the Hydor L30 is surprisingly quiet compared to the equivalent Eheim Pump with the same rating. This pump can be installed inside the case via the supplied suction plugs. Alternatively, it can also be screwed into the chassis for a more permanent installation.
The reservoir of choice is asetek’s very own DYO reservoir, the RSV02. This precision designed Plexiglass reservoir features an easy to fill and monitor setup. It also makes use of the push on fittings that is standard to this power kit. This reservoir can be fitted into the case base via the attached adhesive under the reservoir or it can be mounted together with the pump via the supplied mounting plate. Some would say its a bit small but as long as you bleed the system properly, you really only need a small amount of liquid as backup. Anyways, you can always top up when the reservoir level goes low. I guess that’s where the bigger reservoirs are better as you won’t have to top-up frequently. Honestly though, I cannot remember the last time I topped up my reservoir. So there you go. Note that the kit also comes with some WaterWetter as its Anti Alga fluid to be mixed with 1L of distilled water.
The Push On Fittings
10mm in diameter, these fittings would make your installation a lot faster and easier. No more clamps and extra equipment needed to install those hoses. Just push and you’re done. You have to make sure though that the tubes are cut straight and not in angle for this to work properly. Also, make sure that you push the tubings as far as it would go inside the fittings to make it watertight. If you don’t push it far enough, you’ll end up with leaking fittings. Working with this push on fittings has been extremely good during installation.
The Control Unit
The WaterChill Control Unit powers and controls the pump and the fans attached to the radiator. This electronically controlled device ensures simultaneous shut down/start up along with the PC system for a SafeStart™. It gets its power via a hermaphrodite power connector that connects directly into the PSU. Its NoiseControl™ feature lets you choose between 7V or 12V for a very low noise or a low noise system. They’ve also included a PCI shield to allow a tidy and organized wiring of your water cooling solution. Note that you will also find an LED connection header in the control unit. A 10mA LED can be connected here for some light effects.
Because asetek uses a single block design with their Antarctica waterblock, it is compatible with all current socket types. The removable lid/top makes it easy for asetek to upgrade the block to fit future professors as well. As long as the motherboard have holes to place the mounting accessories, then the WaterChill watercooling system will be highly compatible to any processor type.
The first thing to remember when installing a watercooling kit is to plan it. There is nothing more frustrating than having to redo your setup midway due to lack of space, tubes, etc. Planning it properly will save you heaps of time and frustration.
The first thing we thought about when planning the installation of the WaterChill Power kit was where would we place the huge TRIPLE radiator. We tried looking for ways to fit it inside the case but our midi tower just couldn’t accommodate such radiator without any modification. So the only way to mount it was externally. We ended up placing it on top of the case with the fittings facing the back. We placed some adhesive on the four corners of the radiator to hold it in place. We can screw it permanently as well but didn’t do that option.
We then installed the waterblock to the motherboard by following the manual’s instructions step by step. We changed the block’s lid, as we needed a different one for our LGA775 board. asetek uses a spring-loaded retention mechanism that you tighten at the 4 corners of the block. Although this is a common and effective mounting technique, it is not the best. Because the mounting force is not in the center, it always causes the motherboard’s PCB to bend, which might cause the waterblock to be slightly off die. A backplate would have helped remedy this effect. Remember that you need to make sure that there is good contact between the block and the processor. To do this, I always look at the imprint made by the thermal paste applied on the processor’s die on the waterblock. If you get a good imprint, then that means there is good contact. If you get none, then there is something wrong in your mounting procedure. Note that this check was not mentioned in the manual. Something that is very important I guess for anyone installing a waterblock to their processor.
Once we got the board inside the case, we proceeded to setup the pump and the reservoir. We decided to use the mounting bracket supplied with the reservoir so that the reservoir is almost directly connected to the pump. We then mounted the pump/reservoir using the suction plugs to the base of the case.
Once the radiator, pump, reservoir and waterblock were installed, we proceeded with measuring the length of the tubes. We then cut and connected them to the different components via the push on fittings. The tubes are very easy to work with, as they can be easily bended and adjusted inside the case.
Once all the tubes were in place, we connected all the wirings from the radiator fans, pump and the 3-pin power connector from the PSU to the control unit. We then mixed 10mls of the supplied Anti Alga fluid to 1L of Distilled Water. We bled the system and checked our WaterChill watercooling system for leaks, faults, etc.
The WaterChill watercooling system ran flawlessly during the bleeding process. We then let the system run for 6 hours before we started the PC. There were no leaks and everything worked like the way they were meant to be.
This power kit was assembled taking into account both performance and noise factor. The choice of pump is indeed a very good choice as we found the Hydor L30 extremely quiet considering its massive output. The 120mm ADDA fans used on the radiator were also very quiet even at 12v settings. At 7v, we can barely hear the 3 fans sucking air away from the TRIPLE radiator. This WaterChill Power kit delivered its promise of high performance at low noise levels. Something that is quite surprising when it comes to high performance watercooling kits.
With such very small temperature difference between running the fans at 7v and 12v, we strongly suggest always running at 7v if you want a very low noise system.
Safety Alarm and Emergency Shutdown
As I’ve said before, every watercooling system should have a safety alarm and emergency shutdown feature. This I think is vital in ensuring that the use of such cooling systems will always be safe. I have seen my share of pump and fans dying and the aftermath is really not a good thing to see.
Unfortunately, the asetek WaterChill Power Kit is absent of a pump failure alarm and shutdown feature. But so do most kits. Even though they have the SafeStart feature, this only safeguards the system during the start up process. There is nothing that will alert you if the pump fails. I know you can hear it if it stops and you can see the fans if it stops too but what if you are not there beside the computer? I must say the pump is highly reliable and has an excellent track record but like with everything else, you never know. So be sure to enable the CPU temperature shutdown option in your BIOS if you have it. This will somehow safeguard your system against such disaster.
If we are to use the results from our tests, we can safely say that asetek’s WaterChill Power Kit with TRIPLE radiator is indeed designed to reach the lowest possible temperatures and enable sky-high overclocking for your system. This Power kit was created solely for those wanting extreme performance combined with low noise levels.
Installation was a breeze in watercooling kit standards and everything worked as promised. We tested the unit 24/7 for 10 days and encountered no problems whatsoever. The choice of high quality components had greatly contributed to its reliability, stability, compatibility and extreme performance.
Overclocking wise, well, the results speak for itself. With such cooling power, we were able to take our 3.6GHz processor to almost 4.3Ghz. Compared to air cooling, this processor could only afford around 3.9GHz. If you want to maximize your chip’s potential, then this cooler is up for the job.
However great, it is not perfect. There are of course a few things that we thought we needed to point out with this system. Having a TRIPLE radiator would definitely pose a challenge as to where it can be mounted. That’s the price of extreme performance. Upgrading your case is one solution. When mounted externally, it defeats the purpose of having a much quieter system. Saying that though, I found that it was still very quiet even when mounted outside.
Next is the mounting of the waterblock, if you’ve got a new system, it’s fine but if not, some might find removing their motherboard a big hassle and time consuming. Also, I am quite worried about the bending of the PCB. I tried unscrewing the bolts a bit but it was still bending. I am pretty sure I have applied equal force on each corner. But then again it is always hard to do this on this type of mounting technique. A backplate might solve this issue though. Note: The WaterChill block will supply exactly the force specified by Intel. So I guess the bending is unavoidable to follow Intel specification. Aside from these minor issues, the WaterChill is excellent for anyone contemplating of setting up an extreme watercooling system.
This kit is not for everyone though. It was never intended to be anyway. The target of this kit is obvious from the name alone, POWER kit = POWER users. Enthusiast and overclockers alike won’t be disappointed on the kind of cooling performance this kit will deliver. This kit will bring your watercooling to the next level. At what price, you ask? Well, high quality watercooling kits are not cheap. Especially those manufactured by tested and proven outfits. Currently, the WaterChill CPU Power Kit KT03A-L30 Triple Radiator is priced at US$280-300 from resellers worldwide. Not bad for the kind and quality of cooling performance you get at that price. If you want to maximize your processor’s potential, then asetek’s WaterChill CPU Power Kit with Triple Radiator is the answer.