In recent years, closed loop liquid coolers have risen in popularity, bringing some of the highlights of liquid cooling to consumer segment. The latest in a long line of coolers, Cooler Master has unveiled their MasterLiquid Pro 120 and 240 liquid coolers with a daring new design. The two replace the current Nepton 120XL and Nepton 240M with potentially improved performance and durability.
The headline change is the new and improved pump with dual chambers. By moving critical pump parts to a separate chamber and exposing them only cool liquid, lifespan is improved. Cooler Master has also built the pump using ‘silent driver’ technology that they claim will lead to quieter operation. Another change is to the waterblock, where the coolant is now sprayed onto the middle. This spray down design isn’t actually anything new though as we’ve seen in previous Cooler Master coolers like the Nepton 240M.
The final and most noticeable change is to the radiator. Instead of the usual triangular fins, Cooler Master has moved to rectangular ones. This should lead to improved fin/radiator contact and better airflow at a cost to surface area exposed to the fan. The fans are also improved to MasterFan Pro Air Balance 120-mm models. The Pro 120 carries a $99.99 price tag, while the Pro 240 will sell for $119.99. It remains to be seen if the redesign will get around Asetek’s patents.
After many months of waiting, AMD has finally unveiled their dual Fiji graphics card. Though not called FuryX2 as we originally expected, the name Radeon Pro Duo is just as fitting. For now, AMD still has not revealed the full specifications but the most important one, price, is a lofty $1,499 USD. For 2 Fiji GPUs and 16TFLOPs of performance, it may well be enough to entice the VR developers AMD is targeting.
As expected of the most powerful single card GPU yet, the power requirements are massive. The 2 GPUs draw power over 3 PCIe 8pin power connectors for up to 525W of power. Memory bandwidth is doubled but the memory remains split as with CFX or dual-GPU cards, with 4GB of HBM1 each over a 4096bit bus. In total, the card has 8192 Shader Cores, 512 TMUs and 128 ROPs with 4DP display connectors. Cooling is provided by a Cooler Master CLC unit with a 120mm extra-thick radiator.
Targetted towards VR and game developers, it makes sense as it offers the performance necessary to the run the most demanding of titles, especially in their unoptimized form. Furthermore, the use of AMD’s affinity multi-GPU, LiquidVR and DX12 will all serve to limit the impact of having 2 separate GPUs. This should allow for better scaling than we usually see with CFX and other solutions.
By targeting VR developers, AMD is able to get away with the hefty price tag, just as Nvidia was able to do the same with their Titan series. This may limit the market though some AMD fans and prosumers won’t mind too much. The price is only $200 more than 2 Fury X’s but it will use up fewer slots and be less of a hassle to arrange the cooling for it. The late launch however, is more of a problematic issue as Polaris and Pascal are fast approaching. It remains to be seen if AMD’s gamble will pay off.
Closed-loop liquid coolers have become extremely popular in the CPU market due to the cleaner build, and greater space around the CPU socket compared to traditional air cooling hardware. This means you can install an all in one liquid cooler without having to make concessions in terms of memory compatibility or worry too much about your motherboard’s PCI-E arrangement. As you might expect, all in one liquid coolers have progressively moved into the GPU sector to offer improved overclocking headroom and a lower noise output. There are some interesting parallels between CPU and GPU all in one liquid cooling though which needs to be addressed.
Firstly, many air coolers like the Noctua NH-D15 can outperform Asetek units, while being much quieter. It’s a similar picture with graphics cards because proficient air cooling setups including the Gigabyte Windforce X3 and Sapphire Tri-X provide a superb noise to performance ratio. Liquid cooled graphics cards have a price premium and involve a more complicated installation process. It’s important to remember that Maxwell is a very mature and efficient architecture which allows vendors to enable a 0dB idle fan mode. Despite my own qualms about closed-loop liquid cooling, it’s fantastic to see products which cater to a different target market. There’s clearly a demand for pre-assembled liquid cooled graphics cards, and their appeal is bound to grow in the next few years.
Today, we’re taking a look at the Inno3D GTX 980Ti iChill Black which utilizes a very powerful hybrid cooling solution. The GPU incorporates a traditional fan which only switches on during heavy load, in addition to a 120mm fan/radiator combination. The Arctic Cooling radiator fan is constantly on but has a very low RPM curve to maintain silent running. This impeccable hardware allows for an impressive core clock of 1203MHz and default boost reaching 1304MHz. The memory has also been increased to 7280MHz. As you can see from the chart below, this isn’t the greatest configuration we’ve encountered from the factory, but it’s exceedingly fast and should be a top performer. It will be fascinating to contrast this graphics card with the marvellous Inno3D GTX 980Ti X3 Ultra DHS which opts for a hefty air cooling design.
Packing and Accessories
The Inno3D GTX 980 Ti iChill Black comes in a huge box to properly house the closed loop cooler’s tubing and protect against leaks during shipping. Honestly, the picture doesn’t provide an accurate depiction of the packaging’s size. I have to commend Inno3D because they have taken the precautionary steps to reduce the possibility of damage occurring and utilized strong foam inserts as cushioning materials. The box itself features an attractive render of the GPU, and outlines its specification.
On the rear portion, there’s a brief synopsis of NVIDIA’s Maxwell architecture. I’m a bit surprised to see the back doesn’t contain any information about the liquid cooling solution and the acoustical benefits compared to NVIDIA’s reference cooler.
In terms of accessories, the graphics card is bundled with mounting screws, 6-pin PCI-E to molex adapter, case badge, DVI-D to VGA adapter and installation guide. There’s also a driver’s disk which you should disregard, a copy of 3DMark, and other documentation. This is a great selection of items and provides everything you need to get started! The mouse mat is surprisingly high-quality and relatively thick.
Corsair has undoubtedly dominated the closed-loop liquid cooling market for some time and provides an impressive array of products to suit a variety of form factors. However, it’s important to reiterate that the actual units are built by either Asetek or CoolIT and not Corsair. As a result, most of the CLCs around are identical apart from a few slight aesthetic adjustments. Out of all the CLCs I’ve tested so far, Corsair’s latest H100i GT and H110i GT are the most impressive due to an attractive block design, LED lighting and gorgeous textured tubing. Nevertheless, at around £90-£100, these are an expensive proposition especially when you consider the core components are almost identical to cheaper alternatives.
On the other hand, Corsair provides a fantastic 5-year warranty on the Hydro series while their competitors like the EKWB Predator 240 only offers a 2 year guarantee. This peace-of-mind is worth the extra to many customers as there is a lot of anxiety regarding liquid cooling and the catastrophic damage from leakage. Technically, Corsair will replace any damaged hardware from a pump failure, although the probability of this occurring is very small. Nevertheless, it’s great to have that extra bit of confidence when purchasing a liquid cooling product. I’ve not heard the official terms and conditions from some of the other manufacturers as replacing hardware is a costly endeavor. I honestly believe hardware companies should clearly outline their cover for any leakage and the RMA procedure.
Antec is expanding their water cooling line-up and bringing two new models to market incredibly soon. Apparently, both of the new models will arrive in Europe during late December or early January. The Antec H600 revolves around a 120mm radiator and 20mm deep heat fin array. Furthermore, the included fan opts for a blue LED and speed range between 600-2400RPM. Mostly impressively, the estimated launch price is remarkably cheap at £39.95.
At the higher end, the Antec H1200 utilizes a 240mm radiator, 20mm deep heat fin array and high quality FEP tubing. Here is a complete rundown of this product’s specification:
“High-Performance Pump with LED Status Indicator. The integrated Status LED lights up during operation
7-Blade PWM 12cm Fans with Blue LEDs, Rifle Bearing keeps it whisper-quiet, while filling your rig with blue light.
High-Performance 240mm Radiator. A complex structure of 0.28 mm thick heat fins with 1.3 mm empty space in between each of them maximize the heat dissipation
Maximum Heat Fin Surface Area: 20 mm deep heat fin array increases the surface area for a maximum heat dissipation
High-Quality FEP Tubes: With minimal moisture absorption and high thermal & kinetic tolerances for a prolonged life
Block and Pump Array: – High-density array of only 0.15 mm thin Micro Heat Channels with 0.2 mm space in between them – For whisper-quiet operation with an incredible lifetime – For maximum pump speed and cooling cycle – Heavy-Duty Graphite bearing for a long and whisper-quiet life time
Specification: – Noise Level Range of Fan: 16~35dBA – Fan Speed: 600-2400RPM – Radiator Dimensions: 271mm x 120mmx 25mm – Fan Size: 120mm x 120mm x 25mm – Tube Length: 315mm”
The H1200 is an Asetek-based unit so it should be very reliable and perform remarkably well. Given the radiator size, LED fans, and block LED, you would expect a price around £80. However, Antec is going to offer this performance CLC at £59.99!!! This is a major price cut compared to similar AIOs and a great value proposition. On the other hand, have Antec been able to offer this price due to poorer warranty terms?
The Antec rep at Overclockers UK directly addressed these concerns and said:
“If we have one leak I personally promise to come and visit you if yours leaks and I will replace all damaged components.
Trust me they WILL not leak but seriously if one does we will 100% replace any damaged components for you if it does.”
This level of customer service and honesty is admirable and I wish more companies provided a more direct answer to the leakage question. In the next few weeks, we should have a review of both units and I cannot wait to see how they perform!
Silverstone has launched its latest update to the Tundra all-in-one liquid cooling series. The Tundra Lite or TD-Lite comes in two variants, a compact 120mm model and dual fan, 240mm version. Both units feature a 0.2mm micro-channel water block design which allows for enhanced heat dissipation. This is accompanied by a large 100% copper base which features an attractive blue LED indicator. The tubing is constructed from rubber and has a thick diameter to improve reliability and add flexibility. As you might expect the radiator is aluminium based and not copper to reduce production costs.
Each product is fully compatible with pretty much every socket on the planet including LGA775, 115x, 1366, 2011, 2011-v3, AMD2, AMD3, FM1 and FM2. The bundled fans look remarkably similar to the highly regarded FQ121 but operate an RPM of 1500-2500. In terms of specifications, the fans are powered by a 4 pin PWM, hit a peak airflow of 92.5CFM whilst maintaining an acoustical noise of 18-35 dBA. When it comes to static pressure, the fans are capable of 3.5mm/H20. From the press release, it’s difficult to say what the exact fan structure is but it looks like a Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) SKU.
Silverstone have assured me that the TD02-Lite and TD03-Lite will be in stock on the 13th July. The recommend end-user price which is subject to change and retailer margins is $64.50 and $83.44 excluding VAT. Notice term used there is VAT and not tax which is rather strange. VAT should apply to the UK region and perhaps it was a miscommunication in the press release and simply meant sales tax. Nevertheless, I’m surprised Silverstone has launched another water cooling revision considering the TD02-E and TD03-E are still relatively new. Perhaps the Lite refers to a new budget line and designed to take on the Rajintek Triton and other coolers around the £70 price point.