CoolIT Systems Vantage A.L.C. CPU Cooler Review
Retail Packaging, Components, Design
Coolit has put together an attractive package for the new Vantage CPU cooler. The front panel has a studio photo of the product with a diagram outlining the key features available with the Vantage. I actually think this form of marketing is more helpful than some that are littered with words and small case badge graphics because they are clear, concise, and visual at the same time.
The back panel includes more literature about the design features and specifications.
The entire unit and accessories are secured with molded styrofoam and wrapped in plastic. Everything arrived perfectly without any defects due to packaging and shipping.
Here's a good shot of how the unit was wrapped in plastic during packing and shipping.
The Vantage includes multiple mountain brackets and backplates for every modern AMD and Intel CPU socket type on the market today. This is truly a universal cooler in the truest sense and makes sense for consumers who like to upgrade frequently to new CPUs.
Coolit Systems also bundled a very detailed user manual with a spiral binding. This is definitely how manuals should be compiled for consumers.
I had to include an example of how the user manual was packaged because everything is written clearly and the photos help users through the installation process a lot better than other forms I've seen in the past. Kudos to Coolit for creating an easy to use and read manual!
Components and Design overview
Here is the entire Vantage unit out of its retail packaging. One of the first myths that got busted right away was that the Vantage does not have a push-pull fan configuration like the popular Corsair H70. The second fan on the outside of the radiator is just a spacer to add more room between the radiator and the chassis. I was highly disappointed about this, but I'll try to focus on the other positive aspects of this unit instead.
Here is the outer spacer that does not include a fan to help exhaust (or pull in cool air) into the case. It will be interesting to see if this configuration works better than push-pull configurations on other heatsinks and CPU coolers we will pit the Vantage against in our load testing.
The lone 120mm fan on the Vantage is on the inside portion of the radiator and blows hot air through the radiator out the back of the chassis. This doesn't seem like the best approach in my opinion, but I'll hold judgment until I see the Vantage in action later in the review.
Here's a quick shot at the water relay lines going in and out of the radiator. It also looks like they added a third outlet to add another relay line, but as you can see it is closed. Might be nice to find out how Coolit was going to utilize this extra relay line. You can also see the four-pin power connector that goes from the radiator/fan to the motherboard.
One of the top selling points for the new Vantage CPU cooler is the programmable LCD display on the top of the waterblock/pump configuration. The LCD can be used in horizontal and vertical configurations and change into six different colors depending on the user's preference. There are two buttons to toggle between menu items on the display and another button to select different options in the display menu. You can also see that there are four thumbscrews that can be hand-turned or secured to the motherboard with a screwdriver. I prefer to save my hand and use a screwdriver because it also give me even pressure that will produce even contact with the CPU cooler and processor.
The base of the pump/waterblock on the Vantage is a bit larger than the previous Domino A.L.C. and Coolit took the liberty of applying a thin layer of their own thermal paste blend. The stock mount can actually be configured to use the Vantage with LGA 1366, LGA 1156, and LGA 775 processors.
Here's a close-up shot of the thermal paste that Coolit applied when they shipped the unit. In my opinion, it looks like the thermal paste was spread a bit too thin because I can see pores in the paste, which could cause issues later during load testing. The copper base itself has more of a matte finish instead of a polished finish, but it still looked to be milled very well and I didn't any deep grooves or swirls in the copper to indicate the milling process was done inappropriately.
Lastly, the water relay lines going into the pump/waterblock housing swivel so users can move them around to fit their particular case. This is a great idea because there are some instances where you need a little flexibility to make the unit fit into your setup. Overall, I liked the new LCD display and mounting system, but I was turned off a bit by the lack of a push-pull fan configuration that has been successful on other self-contained watercooling units.