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-   -   Reviewer Tryouts: NCIx Essentials 120 Water cooling kit (http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/member-reviews/3264-reviewer-tryouts-ncix-essentials-120-water-cooling-kit.html)

3.0charlie November 14, 2007 06:14 PM

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:


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.

Size of components
Ease of installation, even in small mid-tower cases
Good quality components

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...


Apollo4g November 14, 2007 08:15 PM

Very nice review charlie!:thumb:

Cptn Vortex November 14, 2007 08:23 PM

Nice! Finnaly able to see this nice affordable kit in action! Would be ideal for a small case and Dual Core CPU.

Thund3rball November 14, 2007 08:24 PM

Yup good stuff. Great reviews on this site by members!

Prof. Dr. Silver November 14, 2007 11:43 PM

For sure a nice review! Can't wait till Santa comes by my house this year and brings me one of those!

enaberif November 14, 2007 11:50 PM

Because you used the T line you don't need a reservoir unless you want to use one.

Secondly I the way you have your lines hooked up I must say probably isn't the greatest as thats a long ways for that pump to be pushing liquid.

3.0charlie November 15, 2007 08:16 AM


Originally Posted by enaberif (Post 26211)
Because you used the T line you don't need a reservoir unless you want to use one.

Secondly I the way you have your lines hooked up I must say probably isn't the greatest as thats a long ways for that pump to be pushing liquid.

Meh... can a guy try something new? Anyway, the kit has proven itself capable of cooling just about any CPU out there.

Thanks guys for the comments.


Synth November 15, 2007 08:26 AM

Great review, it cleared some doubts I had about a single radiator setup :thumb:

BTW, are you planning on trying the radiator with 2 fans in a push-pull config to see some more results?

Also, a question for you: do you think the kit is really worth it, when you consider I just ordered the following liquid cooling accessories separately from DirectCanada:

- Apogee GTX block
- Danger Den CPX1 pump
- Masterkleer tubing
- Black Ice Stealth GT single rad
- clamps
- Y connector
- Danger Den Plug

And all that for roughly the same price as the NCIX kit, mind you you could also get a dual fan rad for 35$... :ph34r:

3.0charlie November 15, 2007 10:56 AM

Yup, that kit has a lot of potential, for a single fan radiator setup.

I did not want to change any components from the original kit, to stay true to the review; but if you look closely, the second installation in the black Lian-Li case... check out the last picture and you will see that the first rad has fans in a push-pull config.

As for your kit, it is roughly the same - but I never used the Black Ice rads. I can't compare them to the Swiftechs. I strongly recommend using a reservoir though. It's so much easier to bleed and fill the system. As for the single fan radiator, it all depends if you will want to add components later in your loop - then you'll need a dual fan rad.

Misoprostol November 15, 2007 01:12 PM

It is normal for a T-line to take between 5-48 hours to bleed. Personally I prefer them because once the system is bled, they flow better, and are smaller than a reservoir making it easier (for me) to manage it.

Part of the reason your T was having trouble bleeding was the fact that air floats UP. If you have the T positioned somewhere that allowed the air to float UP into the T, then it would have bled much faster.



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