Test Conditions and Methods
The ambient temperature of 20°C is maintained artificially in the room. There’s no additional air cooling (save for the default air cooling of the reviewed cooling system). We used KPT-8 paste as a thermal interface between the heating element and the cooler.
The cooling system is mounted on the testbed and the temperature is read under zero load. Then the testbed is turned on to output a min load (25 watts), and the system works for 10 minutes before we write down the temperature data. Then we are increasing the load to 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, 200, 225 and 250 watts every 10 minutes or we stop if the heating element becomes more than 80°C hot. We take the temperature data at the end of each 10-minute interval and then increase the load further – our experiments show that 10 minutes is enough for the temperature of the heating element to stabilize after a load growth of 25 watts. After 250W we return to the minimal load (25W) and measure the temperature after 1, 5 and 10 minutes more to check out the thermal inertia of the system. After that the testbed (not the cooling system!) is turned off and we make the last measurement of the temperature under zero load, a minute after we have stopped the testbed.
We also perform a max load test. We find the precise value of load when the system maintains a stable temperature of 80°C. Our requirement is the lack of deviations to either side for 10 minutes.
We took two inexpensive water cooling systems for the comparison’s sake. A $130 all-in-one Aucma CoolRiver system cools the CPU, graphics card and the North Bridge, and is very quiet. The recently released Titan TWC-A04 is curious for its effective and handy single-unit design.
Following the above-described methods, we constructed the performance diagram for the Asetek WaterChill Antarctica KT12A-L30 cooling kit in the said operational modes:
It’s easy to feel the difference between “consumer” and “true” water-cooling systems. Those 20°C of advantage in the harshest modes are another confirmation to our words from the previous review of a hi-end water-cooling kit: ‘“Consumer” water-cooling systems can’t offer efficiency like that to those users who don’t just need a complex solution, but aim at the maximum performance. True enthusiasts can choose from much more serious solutions, and one of the leaders in this market is Swiftech.’
Today we have made our acquaintance with another market leader. Asetek’s WaterChill kits have won recognition among PC enthusiasts all around the world, although appeared much later than earlier models from Swiftech. We haven’t yet got products from other super-brands of the water-cooling market, but it’s hard enough even to choose between Asetek and Swiftech. We guess we need a separate section to do that…