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Old November 14, 2007, 05:14 PM
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3.0charlie 3.0charlie is offline
3.0 "I kill SR2's" Charlie
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Laval, QC
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Default Reviewer Tryouts: NCIx Essentials 120 Water cooling kit



NCIX Water Cooling Essentials 120 CPU Water Cooling Kit


Price: $149.99 - NCIX.com - Buy NCIX Water Cooling Essentials 120 CPU Water Cooling Kit - ESSENTIALS 120 H20 KIT In Canada.
Availability: now.
SKU: 26521.
Parts warranty: NCIX.com - Canada's Premier Computer Store - Great Technology, Service and Selection.

Table of contents

1. Introduction
2. Packaging
3. Features
4. Installation
5. Performance
6. Conclusion
7. A twist to the story?

1. Introduction

Who amongst us does not know NCIX? For those who don't, NCIX is one of Canada's premier online computer store. With four stores located in the Greater Vancouver area and a website, NCIX offers a wide array of components in order to satisfy everyone's wishes - from the very simple CD to the complete system.

With names like Swiftech and Danger Den, water-cooling has become mainstream in the computer cooling arena. What used to be an extreme way of cooling a CPU is now an option seriously evaluated even by first time builders. Even though water-cooling has disadvantages (mainly leaks and cost), it sports characteristics highly sought after by system modders: low noise and high heat dissipation.

NCIX has managed to create a water-cooling kit that takes care of the disadvantages while making sure the performance is still there. Enters the Esssential 120 water-cooling kit.



2. Packaging

What can I say... except that NCIX decided to use a plain brown box to show off their product. Is it a way to save cost and offer the product at a price you can't beat? If that's the case, I don't mind the package as long as the contents are worth it...


Speaking of components, here there are.

Swiftech APOGEE GT CPU Block
Swiftech single 120mm Quiet Power Radiator
D-TEK DB-1 Water Cooling Pump
Yate Loon Sleeve Bearing 120mm fan
Included T-line fill/drain/bleed system
Clearflex 3/8" ID Tubing
Magicool UV Green Zip Ties



Links to manufacturer websites:

http://www.swiftnets.com/
http://www.dtekcustoms.com/index.asp
http://www.yateloon.com/
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=21322
http://www.flextubing.com/ClearFLEX60.htm
http://www.magicool.biz/

3. Features

Though the selected components are not for the highest performance, there are still of very good quality. A single 120mm Swiftech radiator coupled with the Yate Loon fan offers very good cooling performance while keeping the fan noise to a minimum. The Swiftech Apogee GT CPU block combined with the D-Tek pump is a great combo capable of cooling even the hottest CPUs, as will be shown later in the review. The addition of a T-Line fitting and a hose plug removes the necessity of a reservoir, and is easier to locate inside small cases.

4. Installation

Water-cooling installations will differ from case to case. It is difficult to judge how easy an installation can be. But since this kit does not have a reservoir, the installation becomes relatively easy - until I tried to install the fan and radiator...

The case used for this trial installation is a Thermaltake Tsunami, modded with a top Plexiglass window. This case is my main rig that I have updated recently. Shown are the pump, CPU block, fan and radiator installed. Speaking of the radiator: typically the fan and radiator are installed together using long screws, through the case wall. Well, this Tsunami case uses a 120mm fan holder with a screw pattern that is not the standard. In order to install the radiator, Velcro had to be used to secure it to the case back wall. I was quite surprised how well the Velcro held the radiator in place.


For the hose routing, I wanted to try something new with both hoses coming out from the top case panel and twisted onto each other... well, this is what happened.



Here is the kit fully installed, ready to be started for the first time and bleed the system. It is also my first time using a T-Line fitting and I wonder how well it will bleed the air.




Well, once started the bleeding did not go too well. It took me over 20 starts to completely fill the system, and over 24 hours to remove all the air bubbles from the system. Either I’m not used to have a T-Line fitting in the loop, or I wrongly located the T-Line fitting... but the result is still the same: give me a reservoir any day!

5. Performance

Test Setup
Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R
Intel Q6600 G0 stepping
2 x 1 Gb Mushkin HP2-6400
HDD WD Raptor 36 Gb; HDD Maxtor 320 Gb
OCZ StealthXstream 600W
Evga 8800GTS w/Thermalright HR-03 Plus after-market cooler
Thermaltake Tsunami

In order to validate the performance of the Essentials 120 kit, OCCT (http://www.ocbase.com/perestroika_en/) was used to load the system for 2 hours, with the temperature readings taken at a 1 second interval using Coretemp 0.95.4. The ambient temperature was kept at 21C. The thermal compound used was the Arctic Silver 5. The kit was validated first at stock settings, and then the FSB was progressively raised to 400 MHz (3.6 GHz). Actual 2 hours test were at:

266 MHz – 2400 MHz – 1.2375 Vcore
375 MHz – 3375 MHz – 1.3000 Vcore
400 MHz – 3600 MHz – 1.3750 Vcore

A change in multiplier resulted in a higher FSB: 8x was stable at 460 MHz, resulting in a speed of 3680 MHz (1.4725 Vcore).




I was surprised to see high Temperature numbers, even at idle – especially the stock numbers. I was expecting high 20s, not low 30s.




Now that is a surprise, and a positive one at that. 41C average on 2 hours using OCCT at stock settings and barely a whisper. OC’ed numbers are also more than acceptable for a single fan radiator. I do find the 3.68 GHz numbers high, but they never exceeded the 70C threshold I set for safety.

6. Conclusion

First impression? A very good bang-for-the-buck kit - nothing less. The small size of all components makes it easy to install the kit in any case without prior knowledge in water-cooling. The fact that NCIX has added a nifty video on the installation of the kit on their website closes the issue of not having any procedures to install the kit.

This kit is a little powerhouse, able to cool an overclocked Q6600 at 3.6 GHz. Would I recommend using this kit to cool the Q6600? No. I would recommend to install a dual fan radiator, which would lower the load temperatures to a more acceptable level. Or lower the overclock. Or change the CPU.

On the downside, a reservoir would be a nice addition, but cost would also increase. I’m still dumbfounded with the T-Line fitting and how to use it. Since the two are related, I would gladly pay the price difference to have a reservoir added to the kit (the Swiftech Micro-Res comes to mind). No more bleeding and filling problems.

Pros:
Size of components
Ease of installation, even in small mid-tower cases
Performance
Price
Good quality components

Cons:
T-Line fitting
Missing reservoir

7. A twist to the story...

Since the kit trial installation did not go too well for my rig, I was offered a new case to replace the damaged one. A brand spanking’ new Lian Li PC-V1000. Now that’s a case... And since I had a few parts lying left and right (including a second single fan radiator), I decided to change cases and go for an internal water-cooling installation – using the Essentials 120 kit as a base.

Changes to the kit were:

Addition of a second single fan radiator
Addition of a reservoir – Swiftech’s Micro-res

Also in the same time period, I jumped in and bought a PNY 8800GT. The stock cooler was quickly replaced with the AC Accelero S1 (thanks Enaberif!).

Here is the installation sequence. First order of business was to remove the 2 HDD cages, to allow installation of the 2 single fan radiators.




Then the complete kit was installed, without any issues.





Results? While folding, this revised kit is posting some awesome numbers. With a load of 96% (24/7), the kit is able to cool the same Q6600 running @ 3.6 GHz while maintaining an average temperature of 52C! I can’t ask for more...

John
__________________
Hydro-Quebec is salivating...

Last edited by 3.0charlie; November 14, 2007 at 05:46 PM.
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