Cooling is a major component in almost about everything in a PC system. Hardware and components gets very hot and when this happens, there could a lot of consequences if it is not remedied. System becomes unstable, hardware’s life shortens, overclocking potential becomes limited, etc. So getting the whole system and not just the processor cool is now a necessity to most enthusiasts and performance seekers.
Up to now, there is only one way of getting your entire system cooled and that is by placing a fan inside the case. Sometimes you need a handful just to get the desired effect. You bring cool ambient air in, circulate it and then move the hot air out. This system works every time. Very simple, right?
So when a company like Waffer Technology introduces something innovative and unique in the table, you get excited as to what performance it would bring in terms of system cooling. The product we are talking about is called the PC AirCon PAC 400. Manufactured and invented by Waffer Technologies, this product promises to bring system cooling to the next level. Let’s have a look to find out what it can do.
Well the company has been around for a long time. They are better known for their expertise in plastic injection manufacture and Thixomolding. In fact, Waffer Technology Corporation is Taiwan’s 1st plastic injection manufacturer and the world’s largest, most advanced Thixomolding leader. Customers include Asus, HP, Dell, Gateway, Toshiba, Hitachi, IBM, Mitsubishi, Chrysler, Alcatel, 3M, Compaq and many more.
The Waffer Thermal Division, which was established in 2001, was created to construct a platform with innovative thermal concepts, advanced manufacturing technologies, highly flexible production modules, and customer-oriented service attitude. It is this division that designs and manufactures thermal products like various desktop CPU coolers, chipset heatsinks, customized heatsinks, and heat transfer devices that are now on the market.
Today we are testing one of their latest creations designed at providing maximum cooling for the entire PC system through a new and innovative approach. Introducing, the Waffer PC AirCon PAC 400.
Well to make it simple, the Waffer PC AirCon PAC 400 is basically an air conditioner for your PC case. It brings in cold, below ambient, air inside your case to cool the entire system. It uses a thermoelectric device (TEC), known to most of us as peltiers, to cool the ambient air coming from the outside of the case to below ambient once it goes inside the case. For a more technical explanation of how a peltier works, go here.
CPU coolers, chipset coolers, and graphic card coolers are all designed to cool/protect a specific component, so these coolers are regarded as “component level” thermal solutions. The PC AirCon PAC 400 is a new cooling concept, which targets at providing cooling/protection to all components within a PC system. Different from the others, the PC AirCon is regarded as a “system level” thermal solution.
At first glance on the packaging, I thought that’s one big hella of a cooler. The PC Aircon PAC 400 is divided into 2 parts. The actual cooler and the 5 1/4 drive bay bracket, which also acts as its power source. The bracket gets its power from the main system PSU via a molex connector. Note that you need a minimum of 52w to spare on your PSU. Waffer recommends at least a 350w PSU when using the PAC 400. Of course, if you’re already using that much wattage in your current system, a higher PSU model is needed. BTW there is a locking mechanism present to keep the PAC 400 in place in the bracket. This ensures that the unit is always locked in the bracket and is getting a good power connection.
The power/settings switch is located on the right front side of the unit. The 1st symbol on the top denotes OFF, the second one below it denotes FAN mode and the 3rd one denotes SNOW mode. Next is the LED display. This gives you a visual readout of the air’s temperature that is coming out from the PAC 400. Readout is taken via a thermistor that is suspended directly in the way of the air outlet of the PAC 400. This display emits a blue light. There are two fans that cool the heatsink attached to the TEC. The first one is located under the unit and the other is on the top. The Thermoelectric device must be cooled by a heatsink and fan for it to work effectively. In the case of the PC Aircon PAC 400, it makes use of two fans and heatsinks for maximum performance.
Installation is very easy. You just place the bracket in a free 5 ¼ drive bay, and then screw it into place. Attach the molex connector to the PSU and you’re done on the bracket side of things. It is recommended to supply a dedicated 4-pin power molex from the PSU, not to share the molex connector with other devices. Waffer suggests that using the lowest drive bay is preferred for maximum performance. However by not using the topmost bay, you will end up occupying two drive bays instead of one as the unit covers the bay directly above it. Losing 2 drive bays might prove too much for a lot of users.
Next connect the PC AirCon PAC 400 by sliding it into the bracket. Once fully connected to the bracket, you can lock it in place by turning the locking mechanism. Waffer also suggests that when assembling the PC AirCon PAC 400, please do clear out the obstacles, like the cables or any others which might block the air flow in front of the air outlet, for its smooth delivering of the cooled air.
Turn your computer on. The PAC 400 readout should light up. Turn the settings switch to FAN or SNOW mode to start the PAC 400. In FAN mode, only the fan below is running. The noise is hardly noticeable in this mode. In SNOW mode however, both fans are running and the noise might be too much for some.
We tested the effectiveness of the unit’s cooling potential by getting the case temps before and after the PAC 400. We also measured the cpu, video card and hard drive temps with and without the PAC 400 both at idle and full load to find out its effect on individual components as well. We used the thermistors from our CoolerMaster gadget to give us the thermal reading inside the case and the components. Both the PAC 400’s FAN and SNOW mode were used on the test. We will also make note of the temperature readout from the PAC 400’s LED display.
The Waffer PC AirCon PAC 400 works as advertised. With all system component getting a couple of degrees drop in their operating temperature, we can see a total system cooling package here. By providing a below ambient airflow inside the case, it was able to lower not only the case temps but the entire system as well. Note though that it didn’t help in improving our overclocking. This is not the PAC 400′s fault though as the system has hit its limits anyway and a 1-2°C drop in cpu temps is not going to change that.
Even though the unit did its claim of lowering the entire system’s temperature, it is not perfect. First thing that would turn off most is the sheer size of the cooler. It is bulky and obtrusive. You place it in the lowest drive bay as advised and you lose 2 bays just like that. For owners of full tower cases this would be of a lesser impact. However, most midi tower users will simply pass at this option no matter what cooling performance it brings. Next factor is the power consumption. Adding another 52w load on your current 300-350w PSU might prove too much for the system. This will require most thinking of using the PAC 400 a PSU upgrade. Also remember the added bill on your energy consumption. Noise is another factor.
At FAN mode, the noise is bearable but on SNOW mode, it is quite noisy even for those used to having multiple case fans. Being an “external” PC component, it is a sort of “in your face” thing. And to be able to maximize its performance it has to be in SNOW mode, so there you go. One important thing that I would like added on this product is some safety power cut-off feature due to its use of a thermoelectric device (peltier). Having played with so many peltiers in my watercooling and overclocking years, I strongly feel that there is a need for this. I mean, what if the fan fails and you are away from the computer? Well we know what happens next. A simple power cut-off feature once the fan fails will solve this fear.
We have to applaud Waffer though for producing such an innovative and unique product in the PC AirCon PAC 400 system cooler. Their heart and mind are definitely in the right direction when it comes to system cooling. A few improvements and they will have a product that not only works but also ideal for most users. I can’t wait for future products coming out of this company.