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Performance

Cooling Efficiency

The test results of the Thermaltake Bigwater A80 system and its opponent are summed up on the following table and diagram (the results are sorted in descending order):

 

Quite predictably, the new Bigwater lost to the efficient air-cooler. And the defeat was pretty dramatic. Moreover, the system could only cope with an overclocked six-core processor when its fan was rotating at 1200 RPM or higher, which is not a quiet mode, as you may have already guessed. The cooling efficiency of Bigwater A80 is obviously restricted by its modest aluminum radiator, which is very sensitive to the intensity of the airflow going through it, just as we have suspected in the beginning of this review. At the maximum speed of the default fan, Bigwater A80 was as efficient as Thermalright HR-02 Macho at 600 RPM.

The cooling efficiency of Thermaltake Bigwater A80 improves when we switch to two alternative fans, but it is still lower than what HR-02 Macho is capable of. Nevertheless, I have to say that the system became 6°C more efficient at 1200, 1600 and 2000 RPM, and managed to cool the overclocked 6-core processor at 1000 RPM on both its fans. Unfortunately, the cooling efficiency of this system is pretty low, so it doesn’t really make sense to include its results into our summary diagrams as well as perform additional tests for maximum CPU overclocking.

Acoustic Performance

We measured the noise from our testing participants in the entire supported speed range of their fans following the methodology described above. The results are summed up on the following graph:

The fan of Thermaltake Bigwater A80 system becomes acoustically uncomfortable at 1250 RPM, and it may be considered quiet only at 950 RPM or lower and with a few additional reservations. However, I have to point out that in quiet fan mode we could still clearly heard the sound of the fan rotor. At high fan speeds, Bigwater A80 is pretty noisy, as you can see from the graph above. At the same time, we have to give due credit to a relatively quiet pump, which is not noticeable against the background of a noisy fan. If we disconnect the fan completely, you will hear the pump working, but the noise it produces is not acoustically uncomfortable in any way. So, in our opinion the fan deserves a “C” and the pump – a definite “A”.

Conclusion

This new test of another compact liquid-cooling system, Thermaltake Bigwater A80, didn’t produce any unexpected results. We have already seen this level of performance from similar systems before and Bigwater A80 stayed on it or even a little lower than that.

However, Thermaltake Bigwater A80 does have some indisputable advantages. First of all, Bigwater A80 is a universal system and supports the new LGA 2011 platform. Secondly, the system is very easy to assemble and install, and doesn’t require any special tools other than a screw-driver and any special servicing other than dusting the radiator every now and then. Thirdly, the new Thermaltake liquid-cooling system costs only $65, which is a very democratic price point for a system like that, even though it loses to a 40-dollar air cooler.

Frankly speaking, Thermaltake was very late to their market with their Bigwater A80. Corsair and Antec went through that stage about a 1-1.5 years ago, and today they already offer significantly improved H100 and KÜHLER H2O 920 systems. Therefore, the newcomer will most likely be able to compete only against air coolers. Although there may not even be a competition, after all.

 
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