MOST PC PC water cooling kits come from various, more and less reputable, Taiwan vendors. So we were pleased to find a rare European firm in this area, Aquacomputer, with a pretty comprehensive line of gadgets - and unique designa to boot.
Here, we look at the Aquaduct 240 kit, a midrange setup, on two boards - Asus' Striker Extreme and ECS' PN32-SLI+ Nvidia reference design. Both boards use the Nforce 680i chipset, which provides high performance - FSB, memory, I/O, you name it - at a cost of extreme heat, the highest of any PC chipset up to date. ECS board used Intel's QX6800 quad-core CPU, while Asus relied on the usual Xeon 3230. Both were fed by ThermalTake's Toughpower 1000 power supply.
The kit has only waterblocks and tube as internal components - the pump, radiator with fans and the reservoirs are all integrated into the slim tower. This simplifies the tubing layout. The tower looks like experimental two-way slimline speakers of a decade ago, in silver and black.
One drawback which I do find serious is that the metal connectors between the acrylic-topped waterblocks and plastic tubes need to be manually screwed, and, I noticed during the test, when the tubes are twisted, these connectors tend to 'unscrew' slightly, risking a leak - the test kit did not include any other connectors. I'd prefer full-copper body waterblocks on all points, with proper 3/8-inch standard pre-built copper connectors to the plastic water tubes, with tighteners in place as well (missing in the test kit), rather than having to screw on the metal tube links onto the waterblock.
The CPU water block, the Cuplex XT Double Impact, has an interesting design, being divided into independent halves, doubling the flow speed. AquaComputer aims this waterblock at high-end dual and quad core CPUs.
On the Striker Extreme now, using Xeon3230 UP CPU, a 2.4 GHz / FSB1066 quad-core LGA775 part, I managed to achieve reliable (for a day under WindowsXP 32) 3.46 GHz / FSB1730 1.425 volt operation with Corsair XMS6400 RAM still running at CL3-3-3-5 DDR2-865 at 2.3 volts. The Nvidia reference board from ECS, using higher-multiplier QX6800 but lower FSB, ran at 3.7 GHz / FSB 1480, but at high 1.55 V CPU voltage. Both of these were done without much extra tuning or pushing the limits - simply, what I feel are reliable bounds for running a 32-bit OS (higher-load FPU-intensive 64-bit Linux may be more demanding, for instance, and slightly lower clocks might be the stability limits).
In the BIOS hardware monitor, the Asus / Xeon high-FSB combo showed between 28 and 31 C, while the Nvidia / QX high-clock mode was at around 33 - 35 C. In the Windows while running Sandra and Everest CPU benches, the temperature was spiking up to 56 C full-load on Asus, and 61 C full-load on the Nvidia board.
The benchmark results
The Xeon Striker Extreme combo crossed 8.8 GB/s in Sandra XI memory bandwidth benchmark for the first time on an Intel DDR2 platform - here is the rest of the Aquacomputer-cooled scores:
In summary, not bad results either way, the Asus portion is decommissioned now to run another cooling system, and will see how long the Nvidia reference one lasts... As for the cooling system, Aquacomputer has created a visually appealing watercooling combo, though, frankly, I start to prefer fully integrated packages where nothing gets out of the casing, literally.
futuristic, stylish design combined with good cooling performance
I'd prefer the internal kit that the company sells too
Looks like I didn't get all the "nuts and bolts" needed in the test kit :)
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