One of the first coolers evaluated at AnandTech was a combination of air cooling and TEC (Thermal Electric Cooling) called the Vigor Monsoon II. The Monsoon did very well in overclocking, and is still the highest overclocking cooler we have tested, reaching 3.96GHz with the standard Core 2 Duo X6800 in our OC tests. While the Monsoon did very well in overclocking it did have a higher noise level than we care for, the result of the TEC switching on and off coupled to a fan that buzzed as it was turned on and off with the TEC. Since then we have reached 3.90 to 3.94GHz with several of the top air coolers, but we have not looked at more hybrid coolers - until today.

Several new "self-contained" water coolers have shown up over the past few months. Water cooling is another ambient cooling method, like air cooling. The water temperature cannot drop lower than the room temperature, where TEC and phase-change can actually chill below the ambient temperature. This is why they are referred to as sub-ambient cooling. Water cooling is normally considered superior to air cooling because water can normally hold low temperatures for a longer period of time than air. Water is a much better thermal conductor than air and it is theoretically a better cooling vehicle.

There are many high-end water cooling solutions with water-filled tubing that runs from CPU blocks to radiators for cooling and reservoirs for storage, and pumps for moving the liquid. The water systems are usually complicated, somewhat difficult to install, and plagued with the fact that water and electricity don't play well together, so a leak can destroy a computer system. This is where "self-contained" comes in. The water system is sealed, and the radiator, pump, fan, heatpipes, and fins are all together in a package about the size of a heatpipe tower.


This is clearly illustrated in the Xigmatek AIO (All-In-One) which contains finned water-cooled heatpipes, an internal fan, and a pump and radiator in a package about the size of a heatpipe tower.


The Evercool Silver Knight, or WC-601, is based on a similar concept, but with an external water pump and fan, instead of the internal units as used on the Xigmatek. The Evercool is a bigger self-contained water system, but it still had no problem fitting our tight EVGA 680i motherboard.

The idea of the self-contained water cooling is to make water cooling simpler. These two units cannot even be recognized as water cooling systems. They mount just like a heatpipe tower and are a one-piece, no-maintenance, no-risk water cooling system. That concept is certainly intriguing, but the larger question is whether these new self-contained water coolers can give the best air coolers a run for their money. We will find out if they can in our comparison to the top air coolers tested at AnandTech.

Water cooling is also well known for the low noise levels exhibited by many of the better water cooling systems. Are these self-contained water systems as quiet as they claim to be? With these questions in mind let's take a closer look at these two all-in-one water coolers.

Evercool Silver Knight
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  • razor2025 - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    The whole "self-contained" water cooling HSF is a joke. It's basically the same design as heatpipe HSF, but use water as the thermal conductor. In which case, traditional heat-pipe design will perform far more superior than these things.

    The whole point of water cooling is allow a radiator MUCH larger than air cooling heatsinks to disperse the heat. Since a typical water cooling radiator have multiples times more surface area than typical air cooling heatsink, you can run a larger fan with lower RPM. With traditional water cooling, you would also have large reservoir that helps in keeping cool water running through the blocks. With "self-contained" units, you have very limited amount of water that is cycled back to the heat source. Thus, these units are nothing but creation of marketing department. It's not surprising that they weren't able to beat the heat pipe designs in term of cooling or noise.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    I'd guess part of the problem with these units is they contain far too little water to be a good thermal reservoir. At this size scale the typical heatpipes probably work better, as they can tailor the fluid to change phase from liquid to gas in the anticipated operating range, and take advantage of all the energy that absorbs. Reply
  • n7 - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    Seeing as how a few hybrid style coolers have been reviewed now, are you considering reviewing a Coolit Freezone?

    I realize its price tag is considerably higher, but it should best all the coolers presently tested, albeit loud at max, & pricey too.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    Yes, we have a Coolit Freezone in the lab. However, it will be several weeks before the review. Reply
  • n7 - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    Sweet!

    Based on the results i had with it compared to my Big Typhoon it shouldn't have much trouble dominating at max fan speed.

    The reason i didn't keep the Freezone was purely due to noise.

    It was nice & quiet with the fan turned down, but then i found performance to be no better than air cooling.

    Anyway, i look forward to the results with it!

    Thanx.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    Several new "self-contained" water coolers have shown up over the past few months. Water cooling is another passive cooling method, like air cooling. The water temperature cannot drop lower than the room temperature, where TEC and phase-change can actually chill below the ambient temperature. This is why they are referred to as active cooling.

    Actualy active cooling, or active whatever means to use electronics or mechanical means to do something. Passive means to use nothing of the sort (in this case, just a heatsink).

    Active cooling includes, but is not limited to; a heatsink with a fan, water cooling, phase change, or anything that uses electronic or mechanical means.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_cooling#Pass...">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_cooling#Pass...

    Lets get it right guys ;)
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    A better description is ambient and sub-ambient cooling, which we used in describing the Vigor Monsoon II. We will make changes to our description to better describe the cooling method. Reply
  • asliarun - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    Sorry in advance for the extremely offtopic message, but I sincerely hope that AT reads this. AT, I can understand you need to make money through advertisements, and I do bear with the extremely flashy, distracting, and bandwidth hogging ads. I do this because I respect your content enough to overlook the distraction (can't it be less distracting though??)

    However, the popup ads that you have started displaying take the cake! I am referring to the "Vibrant Ad" popups that popup whenever the mouse pointer moves over your double-underlined hyperlinks. It is really irritating because the popup firstly forces me to close the f**king popup, and also forces me to navigate through your page like a minefield! I literally have to zigzag my mouse pointer to avoid these landmines.

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    Sorry to say this, but in terms of usability, your site is currently sucking donkey right now.

    A loyal reader,
    asliarun
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    You can disable those ads by visiting this link: http://www.anandtech.com/siteinfo.aspx?off=yes">http://www.anandtech.com/siteinfo.aspx?off=yes :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • SunAngel - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    Good news! Thanks for the tip. Wouldn't it have been ironic that the very thing that made Anandtech prosper would have also been the same thing that brought it down? I actually like Anandtech and would have hate to see it lose patronage over something as silly as HTML ads. However, I can't say the same for DT. If those guys bit the dust...well, all I can say is, "Pabst Blue Ribbon for the masses." In fact, that is a suggestion. Dump them and find someone else. There are plenty out there to choose from. Reply

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