As water cooling has evolved over the past few years the quality and performance of kits has seen a similar progression and development. Today you can spend anywhere from $80-$500 on a water cooling kit. Up to this point my reviews have all been individual parts based. I have never before attempted doing any sort of kit review and wanted to try. I very much appreciate a good value and wanted to review beyond your typical unboxing or screenshot level of testing and understand the finer details of how kits compare at a more scientific level. My first round of kits is focused on “Under $150″ and ” 2 x 120mm (240) radiator” as I feel to really see worthwhile silent water cooling benefits a 240 radiator is needed and I also wanted to keep in tune with the value concept and 100-150 seems like a good price point to start with.
Kit reviews shall begin!!
Before going too far, I would like to thank my Sponsors:
I would also like to thank Gabe from Swiftech for sponsoring the H220 kit.
I am also looking to expand and include some sealed kits such as the Corsair H100i, Thermaltake Water 2.0, and other sealed AIO systems, but I haven’t found sponsors for those yet. The H220 does come filled and more plug and play, but all three kits are all easy enough to take apart and expand from a removable parts perspective.
So these kits are all under the $150 criteria and have 240mm radiators so they should be similar in terms of case compatibility being able to fit a 240mm sized radiator. So, here we go…an adventure in kit testing for those looking to spend under $150.
GENERAL TESTING STRATEGY
I’m looking for feedback on testing requests before I am done. So far I have developed the following general strategy:
- Phase 1 Kit Core vs Noise level (Core vs dbA) – Basic Kit testing with the kit fans focusing on what you get from the box and attempting to measure noise levels in both a qualitative and quantitative means.
- Phase 2 Kit + Fan Mod (Core vs RPM) – Testing each kit with the same fans.
- Phase 3 Expansion (Remaining Pump Power PSI vs GPM) – Breaking down each kit to test the remaining pump power including the kit. This will be done via pressure manometer and flow meter to understand exactly how much pumping power remains to push through additional components
- Phase 4 Expansion CPU + GPU test (GPU Core vs RPM) – While I don’t yet have a sponsor or a block for my (currently air-cooled) 570GTX, I may do a test with CPU & GPU put in the same loop as a thermal expansion test. I could see a lot of people wanting to add a GPU block to the system and I want to see how well they can handle that and do some GPU testing as part of the kit review. I will keep trying and see if I can find some support for this latter test.
- Phase 5 Mods – Possibly look at what happens if you expand the radiator or better understanding what parts should be upgraded for future expansion.
If you have any testing wishes or suggestions, please let me know. I am just getting started on these and plan to spend some quality time. The H220 showed up first at my door, so it’s going to be first in line. I will be focusing on Phase 1 in the near term.
THE CASE (XSPC H2 Tower)
I have two platforms, my Danger Den Torture Rack open test bench and my XSPC H2 Tower case I reviewed here. While I could test the kits on the open torture rack, I wanted to simulate an actual enclosed case test condition including some grill restriction to simulate the air flow restriction and to also help evaluate the installation in a case condition. I also wanted to the the kit radiators in a top mounted setup which is probably how most of these will test out. Finally, I wanted something large enough that could be expanded for larger kit testing down the road or modified testing where you add a second radiator to the existing kit. The H2 is massive in size and arguably overkill, but the grill in the top and 15mm fan spacing screw holes should make mounting the kit radiators very simple and easy to install. There will be no case modding needed to fit any watercooling kit so it makes for a good 240/360/480 kit test case as well.
This case was sponsored by XSPC some time ago, a special thanks to Paul from XSPC for the sample.
More to come…