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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  • Spanki - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    Off-topic or not... Woot!! Thanks much - I've always hated those mouse-over links.
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    I never noticed them until I had to visit the site with IE. Guess AdBlock blocks those dumb underlined links too.
  • asliarun - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    Thanks, Anand! This helps a great deal. Sorry if my rant sounded too much like a... rant.
  • tuteja1986 - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    I would like to see thermalright design a cooler like that with better result :) Some has to break the 4Ghz :(
  • Griswold - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    This technique isnt going to take off no matter who makes it because it defeats the purpose of watercooling by design. Just stick to old fashioned aircooling if you want a somewhat space efficient cooling solution.

    If you want high performance and silence, stick to "real" watercooling with a reasonably sized radiator and fan, not some mini-toy that crams everything in a small box and puts it on top of the CPU like this - and this article proves it.
  • goinginstyle - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    I think the air cooling reviews are just about played out unless we start seeing AMD results. How well does some of these units already tested work on a 6000+ X2 for example. When will we see reviews with true water cooling setups and products like CoolIt's Freezone? I think a lot people would like to know how well a $100 to $150 water cooling system compares to the top air coolers. How does a custom water cooling solution that might run over $250 work for instance and will your processor do 4.2GHz at acceptable temperature ranges with this type of setup. Otherwise, glad I did not buy one of these self contained hybrid units. It once again appears to be marketing over substance.

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