I think we are on the verge of a new era of partnership with government - Steve 'Understatement' Ballmer
Why? Well last time, you'd just cool the CPU this way. Now, it is CPU, up to 2 x GPU, sorth bridge, south bridge, up to 2 x VRM modules, and, for the really addicted, DIMMs and hard disks too. Which all means many more connection points for the tubing, and many more feet of it too.
Now, all that needs space to mount - it would be hard to fit it inside a Shuttle shoebox, for instance. So, the water-cooled PC casings were getting larger, to accomodate all the stuff internally.
Before you see some really monstruous offerings in our Computex reports, here is the initial take on a very interesting casing Thermaltake sent for a review.
Kandalf (yes, pronounced like Gandalf, but avoiding the IPR issues) is a big, metallic silverish ATX/EATX or BTX casing made of aluminum, roughly the same colour as the beard of old Gandalf before he was reborn in LOTR. It is a huge unit, 54x22x64 cm HWD measurement. So, you can fit nine 5.25-inch and two 3.5-inch drive bays, yet still mix them with the relocatable power-reset button bay, and an "accessory storage" bay of the same format. Weight-wise, the "light" aluminum version is at over 14 kg - but the steel version tips the scales at 50% above that!
What's most unique about Kandalf LCS is its front door - more precisely, a full 1.5-foot tall radiator with three 120 mm fans built into that door! The inlet / outlet water and power cables link it with the rest of the water cooling systems (the pump, 350 cl reservoir and of course the water blocks). That's one of the keys to the thing's cooling power despite the single-box integration.
All you need to add is the combined pump/reservoir element (see it in the photo at the bottom) to fix in the lower portion, and a choice of waterblocks for the board. Instead of the default waterblock, I mounted the large heat exchanger cum waterblock combo from Thermaltake, called Volcano 4008, a nearly 1Kg heavy unit that uses copper pipes and radiator not unlike those on heat sinks to cool the water after it heats up in the CPU waterblock, so that it can be somewhat cooler when it reaches other hot componentry like north bridge or GPU.
However, Thermaltake's north bridge chipset waterblock is, I feel, way underpowered knowing how hot Nforce680i can get. I borrowed the Aquacomputer Twinplex XT chipset waterblock from my other testing kit (another Nforce 680i system is being cooled by it right now in the lab) as well as two VRM waterblocks by Aquacomputer as well. Another Thermaltake waterblock was used for the South Bridge, though.
You can see the complete system, sitting on top of Intel QX6800-powered Asus Striker Extreme, on the photo, with all the cable mess - the whole thing, assembled in about two hours, is powered by Thermaltake's own ToughPower 1000 PSU. It was strong enough to get those two GeForce 8800 Ultra cards to finally complete the 3DMark06 run at least at stock speed, compared to the CoolerMaster unit which failed at that. You'll see the benchmark runs after the exhaustive and painfully time consuming tuning stage is done. And, by the way, ToughPower 1000 PSU depth prevented me from mounting the bundled top-side 9 cm fan on top, as it blocked the fan's mounting points.
Overall, Kandalf LCS represents a good concept, but it still needs more work on the road to perfection. Some of the critical points for Thermaltake: smoothen the metal edges, they can still cut the skin; adjust the mainboard support plate so that there are no raised metal elements that touch the mainboard bottom; fix the top fan mounting and add more vent holes; get a more powerful chipset waterblock, maybe a mini heat exchanger too, and also create proper VRM cooling blocks; and, replace the side panel with one that includes an added intake fan for all those heat exchangers. And, did I say that, with all these devices to cool, it is time for a bit stronger pump?
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