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AMD FX-8350 Overclocking + Liquid Cooling System Review

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Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

The AMD Closed Loop System

Closed loop water cooling is not new, but it certainly is a pretty hot topic now.  Some of the first units out there had some interesting issues (like internal corrosion clogging everything up), but once those teething problems were solved the closed loop systems turned out to be pretty effective and easy to install.  Initially these units had the performance of a top end air cooler, but with a lot lower noise.  The latest generation of liquid cooling systems (LCS) is now further improved and provides performance approaching that of larger, more complex cooling systems.  These products will not replace exotic systems like phase change, but they provide a lot of cooling in a fairly decent sized package.

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Clean lines and graphics give this box a striking look without being tacky.

Last year with the introduction of the AMD FX-8150, AMD decided to create a SKU which not only included the CPU, but also a fairly robust LCS.   This unit is based on an Asetek design which features a double wide cooler/reservoir with the push-me/pull-ya fan combination.  Other manufacturers offer this particular product under a variety of names, but this is simply an AMD FX branded unit with some small cosmetic changes to differentiate it from other units.

AMD will eventually offer this cooler with the new Vishera based FX-8350 CPU (or at least we assume they will), and we wanted to take this combination out for a spin.  In our FX-8350 review we did not hit the overclocking targets that AMD had set.  In most literature that we were provided AMD stated that most FX-8350 parts would be able to hit around 5 GHz with some aggressive cooling.  In our review I was able to get to around 4.6 GHz max and around 4.5 GHz stable with better than average cooling.  The results were not as impressive as we had hoped, but we again did not have a top end cooling solution such as what AMD provides with this particular LCS.

With a brand new LCS in hand, I retested the FX-8350 to see how hard it could be pushed.  I also wanted to see how this particular unit performance in terms of thermal properties.  The results were quite surprising for me, as this is my first real experience with a LCS.

Click here to continue reading about the AMD FX-8350 overclock with liquid cooling!

The Unit

The box the LCS comes in is a nice size and heft.  The outside branding is striking without being over the top.  The unit is well protected in the box by the use of a nicely compartmentalized insert as well as a layer of foam over the top.  Everything is pre-connected, so no actual assembly is required.  The only work a user needs to do is attach the unit to the CPU and the fans/radiator to the case.

The unit is quite hefty by itself.  The water block and pump is quite heavy, and the base is made of copper.  Conduction should not be an issue here, and AMD/Asetek provides a smooth layer of thermal interface material already applied.  The integrated pump is held within the block itself.  The block also features a cover which is backlit by programmable LEDs.  Users can utilize the included software to change the colors of these LEDs to whatever they desire.  This is a nice solution for people with case lighting that may not be the default white that the unit is set for.

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The packaging protects nicely, but will likely not withstand a major beating.

The radiator is again a 120 mm double wide unit and I have heard some positives and negatives about such a design.  One school of thought is that the extra resistance that is encountered with a double wide design slows the airflow down as compared to a single wide design, so more powerful fans are needed to increase the thermal transfer.  Another train of thought is that since it is double the surface area of a single wide, the resistance is not as big of a factor as there is still more surface area for heat transfer.  A wider design will likely increase noise as air moves over the larger/longer fins when using a constant RPM fan.  Obviously there are a lot of factors here to balance, but I believe in the end that the double wide design will cool more effectively overall.  A bigger factor that some might not think about is that a double wide design will hold more liquid than a single wide, which increases the thermal mass of the product.  This should allow the unit to sustain a greater thermal load as compared to the smaller systems.

The tubing between the block and radiator is adequately long enough for most cases and quite flexible.  The grommets connecting the tubes to the block and radiator can rotate 360 degrees with very little resistance.  This makes installing the unit very simple as well as enabling the user to easily route the tubes.

The unit is powered by the USB connection and the primary CPU fan output on the motherboard.  The block features four braided wires that connect to the two fans on the radiator, the CPU fan header, and the USB/motherboard plug.  No four pin molex connector is required with this solution.

The mounting system is pretty easy, once the user actually deciphers the manual.  The manual itself is pretty useless.  I tried to follow the directions, but they made very little sense.  After some trial and error I was able to figure out how the entire unit went together.  It is nice in that only the top mounting bracket on the motherboard needs to be removed.  The back support plate is utilized by the LCS, so very little is being wasted.  The mounting screws can be hand tightened without issue.  Once the initial confusion wore off, it was very simple to get everything put together and the block installed.

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When finally revealed, everything is nicely compartmentalized and fully assembled.  The user just has to figure out how it is mounted.  The user might as well use the manual to start a fire, it would then be at least somewhat useful.

The reservoir was similarly easy to install, once the user got away from the manual.  The flexible tubing allowed me to easy mount the unit inside the case with four screws, with a further four screws and washers for the second fan.  Installation only took about fifteen minutes, with the majority of that spent trying to figure out what the manual was trying to tell me.

The software provided by AMD is the Chillcontrol V solution from Asetek.  It has some skins provided by AMD that should differentiate it from competing solutions.  Chillcontrol V is pretty good, but it did not afford me the level of control that I really desired.  While it allowed me to set temperature levels for when the fans sped up, it did not allow me to directly control the fans.  I would have preferred to set the fans to a certain audible level, and then see where cooling leveled off.  Instead the software solution lets me choose what temperatures that the fans start ramping up in speed.  I have no direct control with speed except when using the “Extreme” setting which boosts both fans up to maximum speed.  This is simply deafening after a time.  Think back to the Delta Black Label fans.  The silent option is silent, and a user will have to try very hard to hear the fans as well as the integrated pump.  The custom setting allows the user to adjust the temperatures at which the fans start ramping up.

December 30, 2012 | 08:55 PM - Posted by D Kizz (not verified)

There are several other things you could try to hit 5GHz. Try upping the FSB and adjusting the hypertransport frequency accordingly. Also turn off turbo mode/other options that could hold the OC back. Not all CPU's are created equal and 4.8 at 1.5 is pretty solid, but I bet you could go further. Also we don't know anything about your memory timings/motherboard make and model. The power phasing could be holding you back depending on the board.

December 31, 2012 | 11:12 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Excellent questions!  I used the Asus Crosshair V Formula for testing.  Turbo mode was disabled.  Pushed the phases to Extreme in settings.  I ran the HT bus/NB at stock (2.2 GHz) with the memory running at 1866.  I just used the multipliers to overclock, and I am sure I could have eked a few more MHz out by adjusting the bus speed.  As is though, it paints a pretty broad picture of what a LCS can do and how it affected the overclock of a CPU such as this.

August 20, 2013 | 04:38 PM - Posted by LaMorte (not verified)

Thanks for a well written review.

I have only just purchased a new M/B and PSU due to hardware fatigue and a rediculous amount of overheating of my motherboard components due to a failure of my GPU's cooling system, and was looking into liquid cooling my AMD Phenom II x6 1100 processor, with the idea in mind to retain the cooling system for a new AMD FX 8350 CPU.

After reading this, I believe that I will save the extra $$$ and wait until my budget allows the CPU purchase, with a good LCS in the box.

Bravo.

December 30, 2012 | 09:28 PM - Posted by Sandy Bruce (not verified)

Nice article. I was curious on how the LCS from the 8150 would do on the 8350. Thanks for the story.

PS plow the dust out of your system before posting pics. That PSU looks terrible.

January 2, 2013 | 01:11 PM - Posted by nabokovfan87

It's real easy to blow the dust out and take the pictures, not realizing all of it is there until you see it on the picture after the fact.

At least we know that it's a realistic cramped case.

I just put in an H100i with push/pull in my antec 1200 case. Hardly got it to fit, but half the screws got in. The 7970 lightning has the crossfire connector in just the wrong spot also.

Point being, I know when Josh does his articles on overclocking someone always says he should have done this or that. My 965 won't even go to 3.8 reliably because of the motherboard voltage or the chip itself just doesn't like voltage changes. Tough to tell, some days it runs fine, other times iI have major issues. Some chips just don't oc and it's nice to know it is an option down the road, but keep in mind it is never a sure thing.

Thanks for the article Josh.

December 31, 2012 | 11:18 AM - Posted by Onion (not verified)

the motherboard looks like a Asus Crosshair V Formula which has loads of power and control options, like josh says he didnt spend that much time overclocking etc, but thats a nice overclock im betting as the 8350 goes through steppings more reliable results will be achievable.

ps, nabokovfan87 just to illustrate your point i have a 965 with h100 push/pull thats sitting at 4.2 ghz, so it goes to show what you were saying.

December 31, 2012 | 05:50 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'm sorry but i do not believe those temps one bit.

BTW, I'd be EMBARRASSED to show that old ass case and the filthy components inside as the setup you used.

December 31, 2012 | 07:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

As if the dust is really that bad, seriously. Some of you don't know what a dusty or filthy case and components really looks like because if you did you wouldn't be making a mountain out of a molehill. That's normal use dust from a weeks use.

Anyways, great job Josh. Keep up the good work and keep the dust.

January 15, 2013 | 09:37 AM - Posted by Droobius Maximus (not verified)

Looks like any power supply that is used in an open air configuration for many hours. I have had repair jobs crawling with roaches and mouse shit.. a little dust is nothing you numpty. Embarrassed by a little dust indeed... who are ya... Howard Hughes?

December 31, 2012 | 06:57 PM - Posted by Nilbog

Great article as always Josh.

That is very interesting that just changing your cooler will give you that extra headroom. Clearly good cooling is KEY for these parts to perform. Nice OC BTW
Too bad about the 5GHz though, that would have been badass.
Maybe the next chips will hit it, I've got my fingers crossed.

As for the dust... who cares.
I actually like that fact that this is being tested in a dustyish case. It much more realistic that way, and i appreciate it. My case isn't clean, i bet nobody here has a clean case, unless you just built it. I never clean it unless it is absolutely necessary. So if you are bitching about dust in the pic, maybe you should go clean your case too.

January 1, 2013 | 12:29 AM - Posted by Myopic (not verified)

1... After living in Wyoming for 20 years, I'd like to see what would happen if you set it outside. It'll freeze in minutes this time of year. That should be nearly as good as LN
2...Live south of the red desert and NOT have dust, that would be a miracle.
3...Thanks for another great article

January 1, 2013 | 02:14 PM - Posted by warpuck (not verified)

I use a Sabertooth and a Corsair A70(air), Finding a water cooler that will fit inside a Smilodon case is not that hard. Finding one that makes a significant difference in cooling over a A70 and still fits inside the case is another story. My 8350 on 8 cores is good for 4.45Ghz 24/7 with temps in the CPU 40-49*c room temps 22-27*C. I can get 4.95Ghz 24/7 running 4 cores. I call this my game profile.
As for the dust that is about a weeks worth in El Paso.

January 1, 2013 | 03:26 PM - Posted by Rotorheadman (not verified)

you should say at overclocking or overclocker

January 5, 2013 | 05:24 PM - Posted by Just a Reader (not verified)

A few things about the review, link at start to the very same review????

Your results are nothing really to use as a guide as your original system is sitting a cheap-n-nasty case with a poorly mounted HSF. Dude, your trying to draw airflow from the back of a very hot card. Turn it 90 degrees and compare to current vertical laugh that is pictured.

The Overclocks are suggestion you have missed the mark. I have seen plenty of the 8150 and 8350 climb to the these speeds on 40 dollar air-based solutions with better temps.

Please clean the case and system before taking photos next time.

January 15, 2013 | 09:43 AM - Posted by Droobius Maximus (not verified)

The case and it's condition are indicative of the vast majority of cases out there in use in the real world. I rather like the fact that it's not ornate or particularly fancy. My $60 Antec 300 has been fantastic for 4 years through multiple upgrades and will be so for another 4 years.

January 12, 2013 | 02:25 PM - Posted by Patriot (not verified)

What are the full system specs?

Crosshair IV is good.
What psu... a board with great vrms only goes so far unless you are also feeding it pristine power.

Also try with LLC off and completely manual voltages... sometimes the vdroop compensation is not fast enough.

It has been awhile since I played with an AMD desktop... might have to get one to play with.
Currently running a 2011 octo for a desktop and a 4p 48c opteron rig (overclocked :) )

January 25, 2013 | 05:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Excellent job!
Yea I might replace the PSU (it might help), but otherwise that case isn't that dusty. I clean mine every week or so and it gets more dirt than that.
A lot of things (some of which were mentioned) can stop your OC short. I did not see APM in the BIOS (turned off) mentioned. Also set voltage control to Ultra if you can.
But great job anyway.
Have fun. That thing is a BEAST.

February 7, 2013 | 11:37 AM - Posted by David (not verified)

I agree that testing this in a cramped case proves even more so the effectiveness of liquid cooling. I also think that that air cooler didnt stand a chance at is drawing heat directly off the gpu. That said I went from a 3.8 ghz overclock on stock voltage on a hyper 212 that would hit 45-50 degrees, to a custom loop at 4.0 ghz at 1.5 that never bumps up above 39. So obviously liquid cooling is just better lol.

February 7, 2013 | 11:40 AM - Posted by David (not verified)

On my 965 BE fogot to add that lol

November 25, 2014 | 04:04 PM - Posted by john duncan (not verified)

hi i just done my first build so gone a bit wrong with a few thinbs but my main problem is that i got the AMD FX-Series Liquid Cooling System and i cud not get it to fit in my case so i have one of the fans on the back of my case now so just wanted 2 know if i cud just use one of these fans and take one off and it still keep my 8 core at a cool temp :)

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