EK Jumps Into AIO Water Cooling With New EK-Predator Coolers

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | August 27, 2015 - 12:17 AM |
Tagged: water cooling, liquid cooling, Intel, ek, AIO

EK (EK Water Blocks) is pouncing on the AIO liquid cooling market with its new EK-Predator series. The new cooler series combines the company's enthusiast parts into pre-filled and pre-assembled loops ready to cool Intel CPUs (AMD socket support is slated for next year). Specifically, EK is offering up the EK-Predator 240 and EK-Predator 360 which are coolers with a 240mm radiator and a 360mm radiator respectively.

EK-Predator 240 AIO Water Cooler.jpg

The new coolers use copper radiators and EK Supremacy MX CPU blocks the latter of which has a polished copper base so there is no risk associated with using mixed metals in the loop. A 6W DDC pump drives the loop with the pump and a small reservoir attached to one side of the radiator (allegedly using a vibration dampening mounting system). EK ZMT (Zero Maintenance Tubing) 10/16mm tubing connects the CPU block to the pump/radiator/reservoir combo which uses standard G1/4 threaded ports.

EK pairs the radiator with two or three (depending on the model) EK-Vardar high static pressure fans. The fans and pump are PWM controlled and connect to a hub which is then connected to the PC motherboard's CPU fan header over a single cable. Then, a single SATA power cable from the power supply provides the necessary power to drive the pump and fans.

EK-Predator 360 AIO Water Cooler.jpg

The EK-Predator 360 further adds quick disconnect (QDC) fittings to allow users to expand the loop to include, for example, GPU blocks. EK Water Blocks is reportedly working on compatible GPU blocks which will be available later this year that users will be able to easily tie into the EK-Predator 360 cooling loop.

Available for pre-order now, the EK-Predator 240 will be available September 23rd with an MSRP of $199 while the larger EK-Predator 360 is slated for an October 19th release at $239 MSRP.

My thoughts:

If the expected performance is there, these units look to be a decent value that will allow enthusiasts to (pun intended) get their feet wet with liquid cooling with the opportunity to expand the loop as their knowledge and interest in water cooling grows. The EK-Predators are not a unique or new idea (other companies have offered water cooling kits for awhile) but coming pre-assembled and pre-filled makes it dead simple to get started and the parts should be of reputable quality. The one drawback I can see from the outset is that users will need to carefully measure their cases as the pump and reservoir being attached to the radiator means users will need more room than usual to fit the radiator. EK states in the PR that the 240mm rad should fit most cases, and is working with vendors on compatible cases for the 360mm radiator version, for what that's worth. Considering I spent a bit under $300 for my custom water cooling loop used, this new kit doesn't seem like a bad value so long as the parts are up to normal EK quality (barring that whole GPU block flaking thing which I luckily have not run into...).

What do you think about EK's foray into AIO water cooling? Are the new coolers predators or prey? (okay, I'll leave the puns to Scott!).

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of Bitspower

The Bitspower AIX99R5E Nickel Plated water block set is a set of full cover blocks for cooling the X99 chipset and CPU VRMs on the ASUS Rampage V Extreme motherboard. The block set is split into two parts, a block for the CPU VRM circuits and a block / cover plate for the chipset area. Each block has two G1/4" threaded ports for coolant inlet/outlet.

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Courtesy of Bitspower

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Courtesy of Bitspower

The blocks are held to the board using screws through the board bottom and using the pre-existing cooler mounting holes. Thermal tape is used in between the VRM chips and the block. The chipset block uses thermal paste to interface with the board's chipset surface. The chipset block covers the left side of the board with fingers that sit in between the PCIe ports.

Technical Specifications (taken from the Bitspower website)

Dimension N+S
( LxWxH )
212m x 161mm x 26mm
Dimension MOS
( LxWxH )
104.7mm x 23.5mm x 26mm
Thread G1/4" x 2
Included 1. Backup O-Ring x 1Set.
2. Thermal PAD Included.
3. Mounting Screws/Accessories.

Continue reading our review of the Bitspower AIX99R5E Nickel Plated Full Cover Block!

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

In our previous article here, we demonstrated how to mod the EVGA GTX 970 SC ACX 2.0 video card to get higher performance and significantly lower running temps. Now we decided to take two of these custom modded EVGA GTX 970 cards to see how well they perform in an SLI configuration. ASUS was kind enough to supply us with one of their newly introduced ROG Enthusiast SLI Bridges for our experiments.

ASUS ROG Enthusiast SLI Bridge

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

For the purposes of running the two EVGA GTX 970 SC ACX 2.0 video cards in SLI, we chose to use the 3-way variant of ASUS' ROG Enthusiast SLI Bridge so that we could run the tests with full 16x bandwidth across both cards (with the cards in PCIe 3.0 x16 slots 1 and 3 in our test board). This customized SLI adapter features a powered red-colored ROG logo embedded in its brushed aluminum upper surface. The adapter supports 2-way and 3-way SLI in a variety of board configurations.

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS offers their ROG Enthusiast SLI Bridge in 3 sizes for various variations on 2-way, 3-way, and 4-way SLI configurations. All bridges feature the top brushed-aluminum cap with embedded glowing ROG logo.

Continue reading our article on Modding the EVGA GTX 970 SC Graphics Card!

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Courtesy of ASUS

The smallest bridge supports 2-way SLI configurations with either a two or three slot separation. The middle sized bridge supports up to a 3-way SLI configuration with a two slot separation required between each card. The largest bridge support up to a 4-way SLI configuration, also requiring a two slot separation between each card used.

Technical Specifications (taken from the ASUS website)

Dimensions 2-WAY: 97 x 43 x 21 (L x W x H mm)
3-WAY: 108 x 53 x 21 (L x W x H mm)
4-WAY: 140 x 53 x 21 (L x W x H mm)
Weight 70 g (2-WAY)
91 g (3-WAY)
123 g(4-WAY)
Compatible GPU set-ups 2-WAY: 2-WAY-S & 2-WAY-M
3-WAY: 2-WAY-L & 3-WAY
4-WAY: 4-WAY
Contents 2-WAY: 1 x optional power cable & 2 PCBs included for varying configurations
3-WAY: 1 x optional power cable
4-WAY: 1 x optional power cable

Continue reading our story!!

AMD's Small Form Factor Project Quantum PC Is a Dual Fiji Powerhouse [Updated]

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 16, 2015 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, SFF, Fiji, E3 2015, E3, dual fiji, amd

AMD revealed a new liquid cooled small form factor PC called Project Quantum during an E3 livestream today.

AMD Project Quantum with Dual Fiji.JPG

On the outside, an angled dual compartment aluminum case with rounded edges houses the processing hardware in the bottom and all the cooling components in the top part. AMD is using liquid cooling for the processor and graphics with the tubing running up the center column joining the two pieces together to a radiator or radiators. Red LEDs light up the center column while Radeon R9 branding sits in the bottom left corner. 

AMD Project Quantum.JPG

While at first glance that Radeon R9 branding might be unassuming, it is actually referring to AMD's latest Fiji architecture. That's correct, Project Quantum is part of the Fiji product family and is, in fact, powered by two AMD Fiji-based graphics procesors!

Update: AMD has posted a behind-the-scenes video on the development of Project Quantum which you can watch below.

In the video, AMD reveals that they are using a modified ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac motherboard (thanks to djotter in the comments for pointing that out) which means that Project Quantum is using an Intel Haswell processor in addition to the two Fiji-based GPUs. AMD has removed all of the rear IO connectors save two USB 3.0 ports and an Ethernet jack. They have also moved the 8-pin CPU power connector to the back panel of the board next to the USB ports. My guess is that they did this for cable management and height restriction reasons within the bottom compartment. Specifically, from the CAD render shown in the video, it appears that the AMD graphics card sits horizontally on top of the motherboard which meant that at least some of the rear IO ports had to be removed or relocated.

AMD Project Quantum PSU.jpg

Another bit of information from that AMD video is that Project Quantum is using what looks like an external power supply. The power brick connects to the system over a single cable to an internal board. This board provides power to a Pico PSU that is plugged into the ATX 24-pin connector on the motherboard and provides power to the AMD branded Solid State Drive (SSD) as well as the motherboard and CPU 8-pin connectors (which have both been modified to right angles for height and cable management reasons). The internal power board that connects to the socket at the back likely also powers the Radeon graphics card via PCI-E connectors, but it is difficult to tell from the photo (it is that red PCB towards the top of the photo).

AMD Radeon R9 Quantum Dual Fiji SFF Prototype.jpg

Interestingly AMD has switched out the power and USB 3.0 headers with right angle models and removed the blue ASRock heatsinks covering the VRMs and PCH. AMD is instead using two large waterblocks to cool the components on the motherboard and graphics card. A large radiator and pump sit in the top compartment cooled by an 180mm Enermax Apollish fan. The 180mm radiator should result in quieter, or at least less annoying, fan noise since the large fan can spin slower while moving similar amounts of air as smaller fans paired with 120 or 140mm radiators. Using a single large radiator for both the CPU and GPU is an interesting choice here, and I think a correct one.

AMD Project Quantum Waterblocks.jpg

A rendering of the water loop layout on Project Quantum. Image from AMD with annotations by Aibohphobia.

It was actually djotter and Aibohphobia in the comments who spotted the Pico PSU and provided an example. (I did not notice that in the video initially, so thanks for pointing that out!)  This power brick and tiny Pico PSU setup would certainly help to explain how AMD was able to make Project Quantum so thin (though an external PSU isn't necessarily a bad thing). The Pico PSU does suggest that the dual Fiji GPUs may be closer to lower end R9 Nanos than two high end Fury Xs (heh) or maybe some other yet unannounced cut-down Fiji chip entirely.

(End of update)

Update 9:30PM:

During the PC Gamer E3 Twitch stream, AMD CEO Lisa Su showed off Project Quantum, and Ken was able to snap a photo of the back panel.

AMD Project Quantum Rear IO.JPG

Project Quantum has, from left to right, a single power input (see above), two analog audio jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, an Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet jack, four USB 2.0 ports, and a single horizontal PCI slot. A Radeon R9 graphics card is installed in this slot and features three DisplayPort and one HDMI 1.4 video outputs. We still do not know all the specs of this card, but is is Fiji-based and supports LiquidVR along with AMD's other features including FreeSync and Frame Rate Target Control.

(End Update 9:30PM)

Beyond that, we do not know many details on Project Quantum. From the other announcements around Fiji today, particularly the R9 Nano and R9 Fury X, this little machine is going to be a powerhouse with impressive power efficiency and performance per watt – especially for its size!

Of course, pricing and availability were not discussed at the event. Stay tuned to PC Perspective as we get more details closer to its official release!

Source: AMD

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

The measure of a true modder is not in how powerful he can make his system by throwing money at it, but in how well he can innovate to make his components run better with what he or she has on hand. Some make artistic statements with their truly awe-inspiring cases, while others take the dremel and clamps to their beloved video cards in an attempt to eek out that last bit of performance. This article serves the later of the two. Don't get me wrong, the card will look nice once we're done with it, but the point here is to re-use components on hand where possible to minimize the cost while maximizing the performance (and sound) benefits.

EVGA GTX 970 SC Graphics Card

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Courtesy of EVGA

We started with an EVGA GTX 970 SC card with 4GB ram and bundled with the new revision of EVGA's ACX cooler, ACX 2.0. This card is well built with a slight factory overclock out of the box. The ACX 2.0 cooler is a redesigned version of the initial version of the cooler included with the card, offering better cooling potential with fan's not activated for active cooling until the GPU block temperature breeches 60C.

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Courtesy of EVGA

WATERCOOL HeatKiller GPU-X3 Core GPU Waterblock

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Courtesy of WATERCOOL

For water cooling the EVGA GTX 970 SC GPU, we decided to use the WATERCOOL HeatKiller GPU-X3 Core water block. This block features a POM-based body with a copper core for superior heat transfer from the GPU to the liquid medium. The HeatKiller GPU-X3 Core block is a GPU-only cooler, meaning that the memory and integrated VRM circuitry will not be actively cooled by the block. The decision to use a GPU only block rather than a full cover block was two fold - availability and cost. I had a few of these on hand, making of an easy decision cost-wise.

Continue reading our article on Modding the EVGA GTX 970 SC Graphics Card!

Computex 2015: Zotac Reveals Custom Cooled GTX TITAN X ArcticStorm Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 2, 2015 - 05:56 PM |
Tagged: zotac, water cooling, titan x, gtx titan x, computex 2015, computex, arcticstorm

NVIDIA’s AIB partners are out in full force at Computex 2015 with new graphics cards and new coolers. Among the fray is Zotac with a customized GTX TITAN X card using the ArcticStorm Hybrid cooler which is an air cooler that also features a water block and can be integrated into your custom water cooling loop.

Zotac GeForce GTX Titan X ArcticStorm Graphics Card.jpg

Of course, the TITAN X is NVIDIA’s top end Maxwell (GM200) graphics processor built on a 28nm process. It has 3,072 CUDA cores, 192 texture units, 96 ROPs, and a 250W TDP. 

Zotac is factory overclocking this GPU to 1026 MHz base and 1114 MHz boost. The 12GB of GDDR5 memory sits on a 384-bit bus and is also (slightly) factory overclocked at 7010 MHz.

The card itself has the same array of video outputs (three DisplayPort, one HDMI, and one DL-DVI) and the same PCI-E power connectors (6-pin + 8-pin) as the reference card.

The ArcticStorm Hybrid cooler can work as an air cooler or as an air + water cooler similar to ASUS’ Poseidon cards. The Zotac cooler features a copper cold plate paired with heatpipes and a large aluminum fin array cooled by three 90mm shrouded fans.

Zotac GeForce GTX Titan X ArcticStorm Graphics Card PCI-E Power.jpg

This cooler should run quieter than the NVIDIA reference card and, especially when connected to your custom liquid cooling loop, and offer lower temperatures. Zotac did not opt for two 8-pin PCI-E so extreme overclocking might be out of the question, but the card should still be heavily overclockable in general should you get a good chip.

Naturally, Zotac is holding off on pricing and availability details of the GTX TITAN X ArcticStorm (ZT-90402-10P) until it is ready to ship which should be soon. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more details.

Source: Zotac
Manufacturer: Fractal Design

Introduction and First Impressions

The Define S from Fractal Design is a mid-tower enclosure based on the company’s excellent Define R5, and this version has a new interior for enhanced cooling support with an innovative approach to storage.

define_s_cover.jpg

Introduction

I've mentioned before that the PC enclosure market is crowded with options at every price point, but this can actually be a good thing because of the high level of individual preference this permits. Selecting a case is a multi-faceted thing, and while they all (well, mostly) keep components safely housed, once that need has been met there's a lot more to consider. Let's face it, aesthetics are important since the enclosure is the outward-facing representation of your build (and personal style). Support for your preferred type of cooling, storage, and future expandability are high on the list when selecting a finalist as well, and then there's the thermal/noise performance element to consider. It was Fractal Design's own Define R5 (review here) which offered a balanced approach to these needs, and while not looking especially flashy with understated style and a standard ATX layout, the R5 was an exceptionally well-done effort overall. Now, months later, enter the Define S.

With the Define R5 offering a solid combination of silence, expandability, and build quality, why would Fractal Design create another very similar case right on its heels? It’s all about giving people choice, and that’s something I can certainly stand behind - even when it means further segmenting a market that seems almost impossibly crowded now. And when we dive deeper into the Define S we see what is essentially a companion to the Define R5, and not a replacement. At first glance this might appear to be an identical case, but the interior layout clearly separates the two. In summary, the Define S loses 5.25” storage support found in the R5, and while that previous model had no less than 8 hard drive trays the S employs a novel approach to HDD support, but cuts the drive support from 8 standard 3.5" drives to just 3 in the process.

define_s_powered.jpg

Continue reading our review of the Fractal Design Define S enclosure!!

Dual watercooling loops in a Mid-Tower

Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 11, 2015 - 05:21 PM |
Tagged: define r5, fractal design, water cooling

Over at Techgage is an interesting post about installing dual watercooling loops, GPU and CPU, in to a Fractal Design R5.  It is more of a work log than a how to but it covers all the basic investigation you should do before installing a watercooling loop as well as the steps involved in putting it together.  That they managed to fit a pair of 240mm Nemesis radiators into a mid-sized case is impressive, the overall tidiness of the build even more so.  Check out the build log with pictures right here.

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"After we posted our look at Fractal Design’s Define R5 a couple of months ago, it didn’t take long before Matt was craving not just a chassis upgrade, but a water cooling one, as well. With the chassis in hand, join him as he takes you through the process of setting up a dual loop setup, and tells you what he thinks of working with the Define R5."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: Techgage

Cougar Launches QBX Mini ITX Case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 20, 2015 - 06:47 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, mini ITX, Cougar, air cooling

Cougar recently launched the QBX mini ITX case. The small form factor chassis is aimed squarely at gamers and enthusiasts looking for a high performance PC in a tiny box. 

The QBX is a completely black angular case measuring 7” x 10.2” x 14.5” packed with filtered vents. Front I/O is fairly standard including two USB 3.0 and two audio jacks. The case supports both air and water cooling while holding a ton of hardware. Specifically, the QBX is built to host Mini ITX motherboards, standard size (140mm) ATX power supplies, dedicated graphics cards (350mm), and CPU coolers up to 105mm tall. As far as storage, the QBX can hold a single 3.5” hard drive and four 2.5” solid state drives as well as a single vertically mounted slim optical drive.

Cougar QBX Mini ITX Computer Case.jpg

The case comes pre-installed with a single 90mm rear fan, and users can install up to six additional fans on the front, top, and side panels. The front and bottom vents have removable dust filters. A 120mm or 240mm radiator can be installed on the left side panel, but at most you can install one 120mm fan to cool the radiator.

Cougar QBX Mini ITX Case Interior.jpg

Cougar has engineered the case such that the power supply draws in cool air from the right side panel and exhausts it out of the top of the case to prevent adding extra heat to the system (it will be difficult enough to cool high end components in such a small case). Further, removing the left side panel reveals a hinged bracket that holds a fan (or the water cooling radiator) as well as the 3.5” drive bay and two 2.5” bays. Note that with a 240mm radiator installed, you will only be able to access a single 2.5” bay. This is a neat design but installing the CPU block of a closed loop water cooler is going to be a challenge depending on the length of the tubing.

Cougar QBX Mini ITX Motherboard Tray.png

There is some space behind the motherboard try to hide cables but you will likely need to do some custom cabling to not have it ultimately look like a rats nest considering how small this case is and how little area you have to work with, especially if you do end up installing all seven fans and five disk drives!

The Cougar QBX has an MSRP of $60 and will be available soon. More information can be found on this product page. Hopefully we can get one in for review to see how it stacks up to the Ncase M1 and Lian Li PC-Q33 Mini ITX cases.

Source: Cougar
Manufacturer: Cooler Master

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of Cooler Master

Cooler Master is known in the enthusiast community for their innovative designs with product offerings ranging from cases to desktop and laptop cooling implements. Cooler Master also offers their own line of all-in-one (AIO) CPU liquid cooling solutions for better system performance without the noise of a typical air cooler. With their Nepton 240M cooler, they enhanced the existing design of their previous AIO products, optimizing its performance with an enhanced pump and radiator design. We measured the unit's performance against that of other high-performance liquid and air coolers to best illustrate its abilities. The Nepton 240M's premium performance comes with a premium price, at a $139.99 MSRP.

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Courtesy of Cooler Master

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Courtesy of Cooler Master

The Nepton 240M AIO liquid cooler features a 240mm aluminum-finned radiator tied to a base unit consisting of a 120 liter per minute pump and a micro-finned copper base plate. Unlike the Glacer model, the Nepton 240M does not feature the ability to drain and refill the unit. Cooler Master designed the Nepton 240M with a 27mm deep, 2x120mm copper radiator with brass internal channels, bundled with two of its 120mm Silencio model fans. The Silencio fans are optimized for low noise and high pressure, perfect for use with a liquid cooling radiator. The radiator and unit base are connected by ribbed FEP (Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene) tubing, allowing for high flexibility without the worry of tube kinking.

Continue reading our review of the Cooler Master Nepton 240M CPU AIO liquid cooler!